Do you frequently visit sites like Youtube Gaming and Twitch? If so, you’ve probably seen a lot of game streamers. Nowadays, you can stream content directly from your PC or game console because they have a built-in system already where you can do such a thing. If you own an Xbox One, for example, there’s a Game DVR feature which allows you to stream footage directly to a streaming website like Twitch.
There is also a feature on the Playstation 4 called the “Share” functionality which basically does the same thing. For the PC, there are a couple of software that can let you stream to popular websites such as OBS or Xplit. Heck, if you have a Nvidia graphics card, you can also use its Shadowplay feature as well.
Now, you might think that streaming content over the internet is easy, but it actually requires a lot of CPU horsepower to do so. You might be suffering from lags and stutters whenever you start streaming and that is because it uses the processor to record, encode, and stream the content. These tasks are CPU-intensive.
If you want to stream without any worries and compromises, you may want to get a game capture card. What are these, what do they do? Well, in this article, I will talk all about capture cards and I will also give recommendations to some of the best ones you can buy on the market.
All Featured Capture Cards in this Guide
|Best Capture Cards||Specs||Type - Interface||Price$||More|
|Elgato Game Capture HD 60 Pro||60fps - 1080p||Internal - PCIe||190||Read Review|
|Razer Ripsaw||1080p - 60fps||USB 3.0||150||Read Review|
|Elgato Game Capture HD60S||1080p - 60fps||PCIe||150||Read Review|
|AVerMedia Live Gamer EXTREME||1080p - 60fps||USB 3.0||150||Read Review|
What are Game Capture Cards?
Simply put, capture cards record the footage from your input source (game console/PC) and it puts it in an output source (a dedicated PC) for streaming and sharing. You not only have the power to record footage and stream in real-time, but you can also edit, convert, and save the recorded footage as well. As previously mentioned, recording and streaming content over the internet would require a lot of CPU horsepower, and that is where the game capture cards come in.
They alleviate the stress from your game console and PC by taking on the brunt of the work. Thus, leaving you with more resources for your games. There are mainly two types of game capture cards: internal and external. Internal game capture cards are placed in the PCIe slot on your motherboard while the external game capture card can be plugged in via the USB port. They do have advantages and disadvantages. An external game capture card is portable, but it is not as powerful as the internal capture card.
So, how do you setup a game capture card? Well, you will need the following:
- Game console/PC
- Another PC
- Game Capture Card
- A couple of HDMI cables
Usually, you plug your game console via an HDMI cable to the input source on the capture card. You will then use another HDMI cable so that you can plug it into the capture card and ultimately plug it to your PC. Once that’s done, you will then need to install the software of the game capture card. After installing, fire it up and you should be good to go.
So, the biggest question here is should you get a game capture card?
Well, if you’re going to record and stream content from your game console, then yes, a game capture card is definitely a must-have. But, if you’re going to use a computer, then it is not really necessary as computers can record and stream without a lot of problems. All you need to have is a powerful CPU and that’s it. Although game consoles like the Xbox One and the PS4 have built-in recording and streaming features, they are somewhat limited in what they can do. Game capture cards offer more versatility and gives you more performance than what is already inside your game console.
With that being said, I will now recommend some of the best game capture cards you can buy.
Best Capture Card for Streaming in 2017
Best internal capture card – Elgato Game Capture HD 60 Pro Review
Pros: Gameview, 60 fps 1080p recording, lag-free performance
Elgato is a household name when it comes to game capture cards as they have created a number of them that have enticed the masses. They’re at it again with another capture card that will surely warrant your money. The Elgato Game Capture HD 60 Pro is a handful to say, but it equally has a handful of features that you will truly want in a capture card.
For one, it has an impressive and constant 60 fps 1080p recording. When you’re just using your game console’s streaming feature, you will usually be limited to 720p, which in most cases is still okay. But, if you want a full HD resolution footage, you will truly love the HD 60 Pro. It does this by default, but you can tone down the resolution a little bit on the settings menu.
The HD 60 Pro has a predominantly black exterior with a simple HDMI IN and OUT ports for your game console and PC, respectively. Because this is an internal capture card, it uses the PCI express X1 slot of your motherboard. All motherboards that were released a few years ago should have enough PCIe slots that you can utilize for this capture card.
Aside from the consistent 60 fps recording feature, the HD 60 Pro also has the “Gameview” functionality which allows you to see your footage in real-time without any lags or hiccups. This is perfect if you want to see a lag-free footage of your stream in real-time. You can also record your footage and edit it as you so desire. The software of the HD 60 Pro is pretty straightforward, but it does require some setting up before you can truly enjoy what it brings.
Overall, the Elgato Game Capture HD 60 Pro is a very good game capture card. The only problem is its one of the priciest on the market. But, with a good performance and features, you’re getting your money’s worth.
Top External Capture Card – Razer Ripsaw Review
Pros: USB 3.0 for faster data transmission, plug and play, 1080p 60 fps, great aesthetics
Cons: Not compatible with Mac, requires another streaming software instead of their own
Razer is a well-known brand when it comes to gaming peripherals. The Razer Ripsaw is their take on the game capture card and it is pretty good. The company has been known to have pretty designs and the Ripsaw is no different. It sports a small form factor; a small rectangular box that is predominantly black with a green LED light strip on the front. On the top, you will see the three-headed Razer logo which surprisingly, doesn’t have that usual green color scheme.
At the back, you will find the HDMI in and out ports, a component in port, and a USB 3.0 port so that you can connect it to your PC or laptop. On the front, you will see the LED indicator which lights up red or green depending on whether it is recognized by the Razer Synapse program or not. Just beside it are two 3.5mm jacks for both the audio input source and the microphone.
What Razer did is actually impressive. You can plug in an MP3 player so you can add your own music while you stream and you can also talk using a microphone by plugging it into its respective port. Now, most game capture cards come with their own proprietary software, but Razer is going to utilize either the Open Broadcasting Software (OBS) or the Xplit Broadcaster instead of the Razer Synapse.
The Synapse only enables the game capture card, but all of the streaming options will be available depending on which software you’re going to use. In terms of performance, the Ripsaw is able to stream at a consistent 60fps at 1080p resolution. It is pretty good and there is little to no lag because it uses the USB 3.0 interface. Another downside of the Razer Ripsaw is that it doesn’t support the Mac operating system, so you’re only limited to using either a Windows PC or laptop. Razer also recommends that the PC/laptop you’re going to use should have at least an Intel Core i5 Haswell processor (4 cores/4 threads).
Despite its shortcoming when it comes to software, the Razer Ripsaw is still a good choice coming from a reputable company.
Elgato Game Capture HD60S Review
Pros: Portable, Various improvements over its predecessor, USB-C Connector (USB 3.0 Interface), Easy recording and cutting through proprietary software, OBS and Xplit support
Cons: Stream functionality is resource-intensive,
The first recommendation is a game capture card from Elgato and although it comes with robust features and functionality, it is not portable as it resides inside your PC. What if you want a reliable game capture card that you can bring anywhere? If that is the case, then you can get the Elgato Game Capture HD60S.
This is actually an improved version of the original HD60. One of its biggest new features is that it now uses the USB 3.0 interface via a USB Type-C connector. Because it uses the new USB 3.0 interface, like the Ripsaw, it doesn’t suffer from lags when streaming because you are using a much faster stream in the form of the USB 3.0 protocol.
That being said, the Elgato Game Capture HD60S sports a small form factor and it has the usual HDMI in and out ports as well as the USB port. It sports a predominantly black design like its predecessor. It really looks nearly identical to the previous version, but the new iteration now has a small “S” on the front.
Anyway, the HD60S has its own software and it is pretty much streamlined that even the novice streamer can understand. Of course, it is not as robust as the OBS or Xplit Broadcaster, though, you can use these programs if you want. The software is straightforward and you can even add some preloaded overlays or you can even add your own.
Unfortunately, even though the software is easy to use, it is resource-intensive. You will need a fairly good PC if you want to use this game capture card, with having the Intel Core i5-4460 as the minimum requirement. Otherwise, you will have a hard time streaming at a consistent 60fps at 1080p resolution. But, if you’ve got the system covered, everything should be smooth sailing.
If you want more functionality, then you should definitely use either of the popular streaming applications. The Elgato Game Capture HD60S is another great capture card that you can bring with you anywhere. Just be sure that you have a fairly powerful system to accommodate it.
AVerMedia Live Gamer EXTREME Review
Pros: Ultra-low latency, Pretty aesthetics, 3.5mm audio and microphone inputs
Cons: Rec 2 software is hit or miss
Just when Elgato takes the crown as the “go-to capture card”, other companies are making their best efforts to sway consumers to buy their products instead. The AVerMedia is a company that is committed to producing amazing capture cards as well. The AVerMedia Live Gamer EXTREME is just one capture card that is worth your attention. Since “Live Gamer EXTREME” seems to be too long for comfort, I will just refer to this capture card as the “LGX” from now on.
Anyway, the LGX sports a pretty black/red form factor. It has pretty good aesthetics and it has a relatively light form factor as well. That being said, this portable game capture card’s main feature is that it can capture, record, and stream content at a solid 60 fps at 1080p resolution. And, I have to reiterate that this is uncompressed data, which means that it needs to be encoded for use. You see where I am going with this? The LGX is pretty fast in terms of performance and you get a consistent and reliable 60 frames per second at the Full HD resolution.
Just like the Razer Ripsaw above, the LGX also comes with 3.5mm jacks for the audio input source and the microphone. You can plug in your favorite music player so you can add in some music while you stream and you can also speak via your microphone using the analog input. Do not worry, the LGX is able to save both the audio and your voice recording in separate files for easy editing later.
The AVerMedia Live Gamer EXTREME also supports a picture-in-picture and overlay support and it doesn’t have any lag when you incorporate them into your streams. The LGX is supported by the company’s own software called the “REC 2”. It has basic capture and streaming options, though. It is great for first-time streamers, but seasoned ones won’t get much benefit from it.
Well, if you want to use a more robust streaming software like OBS, for example, you can pretty much do so since it is supported by the LGX. And, AVerMedia is kind enough to include a 3-month subscription to the Xplit Broadcaster software if you want to use that instead of the Rec 2. The AVerMedia Live Gamer EXTREME has the aesthetics and the performance that can entice people who want to buy and use a capture card.
What to look for when buying the Capture Card?
Game capture cards are amazing if you want to record, capture, or stream content right from your game consoles and or PC. The capture cards I’ve recommended are great, but if you want to buy another one that is not on this list, then you need to be aware of the things that you need to look for when buying a game capture card.
The very first thing you need to consider is what type of game capture card you’re going to get. Are you gunning for a PCIe or internal capture card? Or, do you want more portability and go for an external, USB-powered one?Resolution- Next thing you’re going to want to consider is the resolution that the capture card can support. Every capture card in this list supports
Next thing you’re going to want to consider is the resolution that the capture card can support. Every capture card in this list supports Full HD (1080P) resolution at 60 frames per second, which is the maximum FPS a game console can output at a time.
3: Ease of Use
A lot of people want to stream their gameplay nowadays and most of them do not have the technical knowledge to fiddle with the different streaming options. You want to have a capture card that is easy to use and has all the features that you want.
Most game capture cards come with their own software which is pretty decent for most people. But, if you want to use a familiar and more robust streaming software like OBS or Xplit, then get a capture card that has support for these programs.
Game capture cards are a bit expensive and that is why you need to put the price into consideration. The ones that I’ve recommended above might be a bit pricey for some, but rest assured that their quality and feature set pretty much warrants their asking price.
Game Capture Card Tips
To truly bring out the best in every game capture card, you need to know some tips. Here are some of the most useful ones:Always set things up properly- and by this, I mean the physical and on the software side of things. You have to set up everything properly; from the necessary cables and inputs to the software settings. Always make sure to check the settings and fiddle with them according to your ideal setup.
1: Always set things up properly – and by this, I mean the physical and on the software side of things. You have to set up everything properly; from the necessary cables and inputs to the software settings. Always make sure to check the settings and fiddle with them according to your ideal setup.
2: Always Update the software – companies tend to dish out software updates to either fix any bugs and performance and feature improvements. Always make sure to use the latest version of their software. This is also true if you want to use popular streaming software like OBS or Xplit.
3: Make sure you have a fast and reliable internet connection – When streaming, you not only need to have a fast game capture card, you also need to have a fast and reliable internet connection. For the most part, you’re going to want to have a fast upload speed of at least 5mbps. The higher, the better. Also, the higher the resolution, the higher the internet speed that you’re going to need for a smooth stream.
4: Have a reliable PC – A game capture card does what it says- it captures and records footage from your game console or PC. But, it will ultimately end up to a PC for further editing or streaming. For a hassle-free experience, you want to have a reliable PC. Most recommendations will require at least an Intel Core i5 4th generation processor or higher. You can also use AMDs newer Ryzen processors if you can afford it. Basically, you want to have a PC that has enough CPU power and you also want to have a considerable amount of RAM as well.
After everything that’s been said, do you really need a game capture card? Well, to reiterate, if you want to capture, record, or stream game console content, then you definitely need to have one. However, if you have a fairly powerful PC, you do not need a game capture card at all since you can directly record game footage using OBS or Xplit. Streaming has become a mainstream hobby. It is actually a pretty fun experience and it can be addictive as well. You can stream as a hobby and you can also earn money from it as well, especially if you’re the type of person who can entice people to watch your streams.
I hope that this article has helped you get the best game capture card for you.