While the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have built-in methods of capturing gameplay, the systems only provide the basic technology. If you’re planning on being the next big Twitch or YouTube superstar, you need a better way to record your gameplay. What you need is a capture card, a device that lets you capture crystal-clear gameplay and broadcast it to your legions of fans. However, don’t just buy the first capture card that you come across, as knowing the basics about this hardware will allow you to get the perfect one for your needs.
The Best Capture Cards 2020
In this guide, we’ll discuss what a capture card is, who benefits the most from one and how to make the most of the device. Before we go into the detail, we’ll present the ten best capture cards on the market today that will give you the most bang for your buck. Whatever you’re looking to do with a capture card, you’ll find at least one card on this list that is perfect for your needs.
Elgato is known for their high-quality capture cards, and the Elgato Game Capture HD60 External Capture Card is no exception. This capture card lets you capture as much footage as you want in 1080p quality and at 60 frames-per-second. This external capture card also works on both PC and Macs. The Elgato Game Capture HD60 External Capture Card not only features built-in streaming to Twitch and YouTube but it also features built-in live commentary features as well.GET IT HERE
When you need the highest quality capture card that money can buy, then you need the Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro internal capture card. This capture card features all of the same great features as the Elgato HD60 external capture card but with an increase in the quality of your recorded or streamed video. This capture card also includes everything you need to start streaming immediately, including an HDMI cable and a USB cable.GET IT HERE
Magewell USB 3.0 video capture dongle is a plug and play video capture card that is designed to offer superior image control as well as an excellent recording and streaming speed. In fact, we would say that Magewell USB 3.0 HDMI video capture dongle is one of the best capture cards in its price category. Some of the outstanding features that set this video capture dongle top of the competition include, the universal compatibility with Windows, Linux, Mac, and OX operating systems.
Furthermore, Magewell USB 3.0 video capture dongle is compatible with popular third-party software like VLC, Real Producer Plus, Windows Media Encoder, Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder, Wire Cast, and QuickTime Player. This allows you to watch the recorded gameplay footage using any PC.
Despite its slim size, this video capture dongle supports the production of 1080P video resolution, one of the best resolution delivered by most capture cards. However, you should note that the video capturing dongle is programmed to regulate the resolution depending on that of your operating system. As such, the resolution may be lower than that advertised.
The gameplay videos captured by this gadget are clear, stable, and free of errors. Therefore, you can share them on YouTube, Twitch, UStream, and any other social platform that you like. If your computer or game console does not have a USB 3.0 port, you can opt to use a 2.0 USB port. Be aware though, the reduced bandwidth in a 2.0 USB port may not provide the same resolution and frame rate of the videos you record.GET IT HERE
Have you been looking for a video capture card that can offer a high fidelity video processing pipeline? If you have, then this high-end capture card from Magewell might be the one for you. Like many of the best capture cards, Magewell’s video capture card is compatible with multiple operating systems like Windows, and Linux, Mac OS X. The video capture software supported by this card are VidBlaster, Wirecast, VLC, VirtualDub, xSplit, Microsoft media encoder, Adobe Flash media encoder, and any DirectShow application.
For an enhanced video recording experience, this Magewell capture card supports a maximum video resolution of 2048 X 1080 pixels, an excellent resolution similar to that used in commercial class videos. It can also up or downscale the resolution according to that of your computer.
Other additional features that make Magewell Pro a high fidelity video recording pipeline are the 4- channels, an automatic input detection function, SG- DMA transmission mode, and LEDs that indicate the status of your capture card. It also comes equipped with a high-speed memory, multiple output color spaces, hardware time stamp, rotary switch, and a remote firmware upgrade. It is designed to support a 24/7 workflow.GET IT HERE
This stand-alone unit lets you record from your Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, and PS4 without the need of a computer. As such, this unit can be a great deal for those who do not want to incur an extra expense of buying a laptop or purchasing drivers and software to support the game capture card. It’s also good for using on the move, perhaps capturing videos when at a friends having a Call Of Duty or Madden marathon.
Globmall Game capture card supports 1080P capture resolution giving you the freedom to display your recording in a commercial grade gameplay footage. If required, you can downscale the resolution to 720P using a switch button on this unit.
Other notable features of the Globmall capture card are its sturdy shell built from premium metal for longevity, the slim design that lets you carry your gadget wherever you want to go, and its microphone input that lets you spice up your recording with your commentaries. Globmall game capture comes in a kit containing a detailed user guide, a power adapter and two HDMI cables that help you connect your capture card to your gaming console or a PC. The one-year manufacturer warranty is another great feature for peace of mind.GET IT HERE
Firetech’s HDMI Video capture dongle is a compact sized and lightweight capture card that you can conveniently store and carry around. For this reason, this gadget would be an ideal solution for mobile people. Its plug and play design works well with operating systems like Linux, Windows, and Mac OS, and the capture card does not require special drivers to work on your computer. Similar to the other capture cards reviewed in this post, this capture card supports a resolution of 1080P.
Unique from some capture cards that can overwork or possibly slow down your computer in the event of recording, Firetech’s capture card has its own built-in DDR2 that relieves your CPU of any unnecessary burden. Its 12 Month Firetech warranty lets you receive free repair services in the unlikely event that something breaks.GET IT HERE
RIIAI 930 Dual HDMI 1080P HD Game Capture Card
RIIAI 930 capture card lets you record your favorite games from your PlayStation, Wii, Xbox, and any other gaming console. After recording the gameplay footage, you can watch it on any PC using the windows, Linux, and Mac OS X operating systems.
This universal compatibility is one of the reasons why it is ranked top of the capture cards for recording and viewing to a particular device. Furthermore, RIIAI 930 is compatible with popular third party software like VLC, OBS, XSplit, and Amcap. These third party software let you live stream your game to YouTube, Twitch, or UStream.
With a video quality of 1080P 60fps, this game capture lets you record commercial class games, which will deliver perfect results while live streaming. The recorded video will be saved in an Mp4 multimedia file format.
Unique from other multimedia file formats, the MP4 format has less loss of quality, and you can compress it in low rates. Another of the recording- friendly features that make up the RIIAI 930 are the two-channel audio input that let you customize your recorded game by either commenting or playing some background music. RIIA1 930 also has two channels HDMI input with a switch.
LinkStable’s HD Game capture card is affordable but a feature rich unit intended for low budget users. The gameplay footage captured by the HD game capture card is compatible with Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. Different from some capture cards that require special drivers to work with your PC, LinkStable’s game capture card does not need any drivers. Hence, you can start using the capture card immediately after you unpack it.
LinkStable HD Game capture card supports a maximum resolution of 1080P at 60Hz. However, the unit is programmed to upscale or downscale the resolution according to that of your computer. Moreover, the game capture card can convert audio formats to 48 kHz PCM stereo audio automatically and its USB 3.0 spices up the quality of game footage captured. LinkStable HD game capture card works well with Blu- ray players, Xbox One, Wii U, PS3, PS4, and any other game console with the HDMI output.GET IT HERE
Imillet HDMI video capture dongle is another excellent option for those who are looking for a compact sized capture card that they can conveniently stack up into their backpack and carry around comfortably. Despite its compact size, the Imillet capture card comes with a plethora of features that deliver straightforward recording, file conversion, storage, and sharing. Like its competitors in this list, Imillet capture card supports the production of 1080P resolution.
In addition to the 1080P resolution, this capture card also uses a USB 3.0 that provides low latency for streaming as well as sharing the footage captured on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and any other social platform of your choice. You can view the footage captured using a personal computer using the windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
The Imillet capture card comes with a one-year free repair warranty, and a three-month hassle free replacement guarantee.GET IT HERE
Reshow game HD video capture is fully compatible with all consoles like PS4 and Xbox One. You can also use Reshow game’s HD video capture box with a PC, Mac, DVD, BR player, or a VHS. For an enhanced video recording experience, this HD video capture supports the production of 1080P 30fp videos, a quality that is closely similar to the most commercial class video that you would watch out there.
Different from some capture cards that are quite hard to use, this type features a streamlined installation process that facilitates easy assembly, and a detailed and easy to use manual that guides you through the assembly process. Since this capture card is remote controlled, you can directly record your favorite gameplay without the need of a computer. To record your preferred gameplay, you just need to hook the capture card to your console, choose an input mode, and then press the snapshot function on your remote to start recording.
The game videos recorded can either be saved in FAT32 or NTFS formats that are easy to edit using the software that comes along with the capture card. You can integrate the unit with a mic in order to add a voice or a commentary to whatever you have recorded.GET IT HERE
What is a Capture Card?
In simple terms, a capture card is a device that allows you to stream live gameplay or record it to later upload to websites such as YouTube. Capture cards are one of the best ways to capture footage from consoles such as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and handheld devices such as the Nintendo 3DS.
Why Do I Need One?
At this point, you’re likely asking yourself “Why do I need a capture card? Isn’t the technology built directly into the Xbox One and PlayStation 4?” While both consoles do feature capture technology built directly into the console, it pales in comparison to what a standalone capture card offers.
Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 stream video in a low resolution, often resulting in YouTube and Twitch streams that are pixelated and choppy. A capture card will stream your gameplay in high resolution, resulting in a crystal-clear picture that looks just as good as what you see on your television. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 also have limits on the amount of video you can record at one time, while a capture card is only limited by the size of your PC’s hard drive. Lastly, a capture card makes it easy for you to take recorded video and upload it onto media sharing websites such as YouTube.
Since handheld consoles have no way of capturing video directly, a capture card is the only way to record gameplay from your Nintendo 3DS or any other portable system. If you want to share your Nuzlocke run of “Pokemon Sun” with the world, you’re going to need a capture card.
If you’re streaming on the PC, you typically don’t need a capture card as you can record the data directly to your hard drive. A capture card is only ideal if your PC can’t handle the strain of both playing a game and recording it at the second time. By using a capture card and a second PC, you can remove some of the strain from your first PC. However, most professional streamers recommend you upgrade your PC if you plan on streaming rather than using a second computer.
Capture Card Benefits
Since a capture card lets you record video directly to your PC’s hard drive, it makes it easy for you to edit the footage using software on your computer. Editing your footage allows you to make it more attractive for viewers, resulting in more views than just uploading raw footage directly from your console. However, this isn’t the only benefit a capture card provides.
A capture card will allow you to set up stream overlays on Twitch, enabling you to customize your stream further and make it more appealing to your viewing audience. Your stream and the game you’re streaming also won’t suffer from additional lag when using a capture card, letting you show off all of your pro moves without needing to worry about any slowdown.
How Do You Use a Capture Card?
At this point in the guide, you already know you need a PC and a game console of some sort to use a capture card. However, you need a bit more hardware and software than that to successfully use the card.
The most important thing you’ll need is two HDMI cables: one to connect from your console to the card and another to connect from the card to your television. You’ll also need a USB cable to connect the capture card to your PC.
Lastly, if you’re planning on streaming or uploading, you’re going to need the appropriate software to edit your videos. There is a variety of different software solutions available, so our best advice is to experiment with a few different programs and find the one that fits your needs the best.
External or Internal?
Lastly, you need to decide if you want an internal or an external capture card. An external card is portable and doesn’t require any knowledge of the inner workings of your computer to use; however, external cards feature a decrease in quality compared to internal cards. Internal capture cards provide the best quality, but you need to manually open up your PC and install it, which can prove challenging for novice PC users. Internal capture cards also lack the portability aspect of external capture cards.
In the end, there is no right or wrong decision over which type of capture card to use. The decision you make comes down to how much experience you have with the inside of your PC and how much you value portability. If you’re planning on professionally streaming, we suggest you get an internal capture card.