The video streaming world has consistently evolved to invent more efficient ways to produce online content for viewers. Among these convenient tools are capture cards, used mostly by video game streamers to record their gameplays and stream them online. They act as the middlemen in transmitting raw gameplay to video streaming platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, or Twitch. Here are our top picks for the best capture cards:
1. Razer Ripsaw HD
The Razer Ripsaw HD is perfect for streamers that need high-resolution streaming. It can stream videos at 1080p and capture 4k pass-through with 60 fps, whether you’re using PC, PS4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch.
- 4K pass-through
- Supports current and last-gen console
- No HDR pass-through
- May need to connect through a third-party software
2. Elgato HD60 S+
Elgato is the most widely used brand by gamers for capture cards precisely because they are easy to use and are relatively durable. It best captures 1080p HDR at 60 fps and can capture 4k as well, though limited at 30 fps. The S+ also boasts excellent image quality, letting you stream and record live videos at 40 Mbps.
- Instant streaming
- Hardware encoding (H.264/H.265)
- Limited HDMI slots
- Editing software is too basic
3. AVerMedia Live Gamer Mini
The Live Gamer Mini by AVerMedia is the friendliest option for new streamers. Priced at a lower range, it has a fairly simple build with HDMI input and output ports and a micro-USB connection. It also comes equipped with AVerMedia’s full-featured RECentral Software, allowing you to edit and stream across multiple platforms. It also supports 1080p with 60 fps streaming and recording and is so lightweight on your CPU because it takes the encoding workload off.
- The StreamEngine application captures backup stream recordings
- Audio mixing
- Small and portable
- Average video quality
- Slightly-compressed recordings
4. AV.io 4k by Epiphan Systems
AV.io’s best feature is its small-build, portability, and ease of access — it demands no extra software installation and is easy to set up in whatever video application you want to use in your device. It comes with a 4k passthrough at 30 fps, and users have also praised it for being mostly lag-free.
- Easy installation
- No extra software needed
- May cause problems for machines that require a higher frame rate
5. AVerMedia ExtremeCap U3
The ExtremeCap U3’s biggest edge is its high image quality (1080p resolution videos captured at 60 fps), making it extremely popular among Twitch streamers. A delightful perk is its free plugins for professional video editing softwares, such as Sony Vegas and Adobe Premiere CS6.
- Timeshift option
- Uncompressed recordings at 1080p
- No HDMI pass-through
Capture cards improve the whole streaming experience by allowing taking on the heavy work. Hence, it’s essential to keep in mind what best fits your devices and which features, whether that be the resolution, portability, and others you value most.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Do I really need a capture card?
If you’re serious about streaming and planning to monetize or build a career around it, higher-quality gameplay should not be sacrificed. Though some gaming devices can capture gameplay, they usually have lower quality because of how heavy video encoding is. Capture cards give you higher quality and longer recording hours.
What should I keep in mind in choosing a capture card?
The first thing you should check is the maximum resolution and its corresponding frame rate. The second thing is its connection method, whether it connects via USB, USB-C, or PCIe. Lastly, check the passthrough, because it affects the resolution and frame rate while streaming.
What do I need to have to use a capture card?
Most capture cards are compatible with current generation video game consoles (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox), PCs and Macs, and cameras with an HDMI output. The primary device should have an HDMI output and HDMI cable in order to transmit video feed from one device to another for encoding.