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reviews of the best capture card in the market

What's more fun than playing video games? Making videos about playing video games! Whether you're interested in streaming, making walkthroughs, or building a video archive of your gaming adventures, a capture card can give you recording and broadcasting options that wouldn't be possible with just your gaming PC or console. Capture cards transform your gameplay and are primarily aimed towards console gamers. What follows are 10 of the best video cards you can buy for video game streaming and recording purposes. We’ve provided an option for external capture cards which all offer a game capture HD pro for every gamer.

What is a Capture Card?

The way people play games has dramatically changed, and gamers love to record their footage. But how can you achieve that without disrupting your gameplay and not having to use an unsuitable device, such as an iPhone?

Capture cards essentially make it easier to record playing games from your console to watch your gameplay back, or share with other gamers. These are two types of capture cards - external and internal options - which go inside your PC or console to begin recording. An HDMI capture card links to your console via an HDMI connection and acts like an input data receiver.

Capture cards are ideal for streaming and recording an array of gameplay - no matter the type of game you’re playing - and you can use them on a console that suits you. Therefore, you needn’t adjust your preferences just for recording purposes. This enables you to continue playing your favorite games as smoothly as possible. A capture card is ideal for people who own a Switch, because it only takes a few seconds to record your gameplay. This is great for anyone hoping to stream or record with Switch - which is naturally longer than other game consoles.

Why You Should Think About Using a Capture Card

The capture card offers advantages over the recording features built into your console. When you use the built-in recording features, they affect game performance because it is another resource-heavy drain on the same system. Consequently, this isn’t the highest quality you can receive. The built-in features also frequently come with set recording limits, either to preserve memory or as a deterrent to piracy. The use of a capture device allows you to bypass those limits and free up resources on your computer or console to improve game performance by sending your video data to a dedicated streaming computer, where you can edit later. Every gamer loves to improve their performance, and sometimes even share with others. However, if you already record gameplay, you’ll notice there’s little control over the quality of your recording. However, a game HD capture card enables you to adjust the recording resolution so you can much more influence over how your overall recordings look. A portable video capture card is that you don’t need additional software to record gameplay.

What to Look for When Buying a Capture Card

To enhance your gameplay, research how your chosen capture card will record gameplay. Does the card save to a format compatible the software on your console? The best capture card for gaming will stream simultaneously whilst you’re playing to not disturb your network. Look for the receiving data on your chosen HDMI game capture card.

You should also look out for the difference between an internal and external capture card. An external card installs via USB to your device, or with HDMI cables. If you choose a HDMI capture card, we recommend, considering your environment, as the wiring could be a potential danger for pets and young children. An internal capture card is more suitable for PC gamers, than console owners, as not all Playstations come with a suitable device for this input.

How to Set up a Capture Card

Setting up and connecting your capture card to your console is simple. The most popular way is to connect the capture card to your console via an HDMI connection. Many TVs have an HDMI port with an HDMI cable you can connect the card to. Make this connection first, and then connect the capture card to your TV set with your existing HDMI cable. Using the USB cable inside the box, connect the HDMI cable to your PC or MAC with the capture card.

Before purchasing a capture card, you’ll need to consider your current connections and the requirements for your system. This includes having a USB cable, 2 HDMI cables, console (X-Box, PlayStation etc.), PC/Mac, and a solid Internet speed.

What Makes an Appropriate Capture Card?

There are many features that differentiate a good capture from a bad one.

First, the image quality is probably the most important requirement of a capture card. This enables you to record and stream videos in high quality, without any distortions or blurs. To achieve this, choose a capture card with a at least 1080p image resolution. This resolution means that the capture card will stream in full high definition. Consequently, the price will increase for this additional feature, but we highly recommend looking out for this. If you’re passionate about gaming and streaming in high quality is exceptionally important to you, look out for capture cards that record in Ultra HD or 4K as these features offer a higher image resolution, but you’ll also need a computer that can format and edit the images and videos to suit you.

The capture-card software also makes a huge difference in the overall experience and image quality. You’ll require a software that functions well with the capture card so it can record and stream your gameplay, as well as edit any content. This will typically depend on the manufacturer and your budget. You can even add webcam to your gameplay as an added option. Many capture cards also enable you to commentate while on your game - which is a great asset if you love to communicate with friends while playing.

Another factor that makes for an appropriate capture card is ensuring you have a suitable input for the device you’ll use to record. The most popular gaming consoles are XBox 360 and One, Playstation 4, and Wii U. If you need a capture card for an older device, this will forfeit the image and video quality, so consider this when making your purchase. 

How We Chose Our Ratings

In rating these capture cards, we looked at three different criteria. First is the video quality, measured in frames per second: the higher the fps, the higher quality video. Bitrate is important to watches. Second, we looked at the price. Generally speaking, console gamers can expect to pay for a new capture card. The third is the popularity of the capture card, as gauged by reviews from the experts, as well as actual customers on Amazon.

For informational purposes, we've also included the interface by which the capture card connects to the computer. This interface did not factor into our rankings, but it's important to pay attention to the interface to be sure the capture card you choose is compatible with your existing gaming system.

Best Capture Cards for Video Game Streaming 
Comparison Table


PRODUCT

IMAGE

DETAILS

Elgato Game Capture HD60 S

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AVERMEDIA GL310 Live Gamer Portable Lite

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AGPtek HD Game Recorder

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Elgato Game Capture HD60 PRO

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AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2

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AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme 2

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AVerMedia Live Gamer 4K (GC573

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Elgato Game Capture HD

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AVerMedia Live Gamer HD2

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Roxio Game Capture HD PRO

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Best Capture Cards for Video Game Streaming 
Full Review


No products found.

This product is no longer available. Check out the newer version of this product( the Elgato Game Capture HD60 S) below.

Quality: 60 fps

Interface: USB 2.0


Popularity: (per Amazon reviews): 3.9

Comments: Users compliment the HD60's sleek design and portability. After a simple software download, the device is easy to just plug in and go via a HDMI input. Video quality was highly praised, with the comment made that it is similar to the quality of the live feed of your video game. With an FPS recording of 60 frames per second, this capture card is on the ball. Expert and user reviewers mentioned a slight stuttering to the recording under certain circumstances but suggested easy workarounds, and a 2016 update has resolved most of the problems. Many of the negative reviews on Amazon were specifically regarding refurbished units.

Users appreciate this capture card’s design because it’s thin and comes with a curved, matte plastic exterior. Measuring only 0.7 x 3 x 4.4 inches, this capture card is small and durable enough to store in any home on an any shelf. The bright lights give the capture card a stunning, unique design while maintaining practicality for the user. For example, these lights display when the capture card is connected and recording so you’re always aware of any malfunctions.

Elgato uses an excellent software to make this capture card HD. This software enables users to record and stream gameplay at any time, which makes the whole experience more possible and fun. When you’re done recording, the Game Capture software allows you to stream to a video service of your choice, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, Dailymotion, and more. Also, with numerous streaming options and controls, you can adjust the capture settings to suit you. The software also allows users to adjust the audio levels so you can stream and record with a sound suitable to you. We also appreciate that you can use ten scenes and overlays pre-installed in the software, or make use of the customization settings and create your own. 

PROS

  • sleek design and portability
  • easy to just plug in and go
  • great video quality

CONS

  • slight stuttering to the recording under certain circumstances

AVERMEDIA GL310 Live Gamer Portable Lite

AVerMedia Avercapture HD, Game Streaming and Game Capture, High...
  • Stream and record Xbox, PlayStation, WiiU, Nintendo Switch, or NES Classic Edition console gameplay. TimeShift –...
  • Capture in full HD 1080p with H.264 hardware encoder. Windows 10 , Windows 8.1 , Windows 7 , Mac OS X 10.7 or later
  • Stream or share directly to YouTube, Twitch, and more with built-in commentary and RECentral software

Quality: 30 fps

Interface: USB 2.0

Popularity: (per Amazon reviews): 3.7

Comments: Perks of the LGP Lite include portability and versatility due to its drawing power from its USB connection and one-click recording via the center logo. This capture card is one of the most flexible devices on the Internet right now, because it can connect easily with a PC or laptop, as well as via USB interface. With an array of connection options such as HDMI and component inputs, you can record or stream your gameplay. Experts were not impressed with the included RECentral software but felt mollified by the three-month XSplit Broadcasting software premium license included with purchase. Regarded highly for all platforms, the LGP Lite also gained rave reviews from customers using it with webcams. The proprietary background software required was negative, but its overall performance was compared favorably with USB 3 capture cards. Despite this flaw, the capture card is compatible with many devices. The gamer can also record their on-screen performance with an SD card.

If you want to own a capture card so you can share your gameplay with others, you’ll love how easy AVerMedia Live Gamer makes this. With sharp and clear images and videos, you can efficiently post these to your social networks without having to edit them. AVerMedia Live Gamer also quickly connects to these streaming services to streamline the uploading process.

Not all capture cards offer voice commentary, but we’re excited that this device does. Live commentary enables you to commentate your gameplay for entertainment, communicating with friends, or generally offering advice during your gameplay. When you’ve finished your commentary, you can save this voice file separately or stream it onto streaming platforms via the Internet.

Finally, this capture card enables you to focus on your gameplay and not become distracted by monitoring your tasks. With full automation, it’s never been easier and more possible to record and stream your gameplay each time you play. It’s also easy to edit your work in the post-editing software. This is quick and easy, plus a fun way to get creative and customize your gameplay.

PROS

  • portable and versatile
  • easy recording capability

CONS

  • proprietary background software needs improvement

AGPtek HD Game Recorder

AGPtEK HD Game Capture Video Capture 1080P HDMI/YPBPR Recorder Xbox...
  • Hemi & Yapper input - a game capture card to record videos or audio files. Records full HD 1080P video quality with HDMI...
  • 1080P Resolution - Record 1080P HD video for HDMI device into USB disk/Hard drive directly, support up to 128G for USB...
  • Mic-in for commentary - supports connecting a microphone and record your voice to comment when playing a game, not...

Quality: 30 fps

Interface: USB 2.0

Popularity: (per Amazon reviews): 3.5


Comments: For those who don't need a higher frame rate, this is considered a good budget option. A resolution of 1080p was considered a decent compromise for a unit. Don’t underestimate this capture card though, as you can record audio via a HDMI input card also. Experts liked the remote control that allows users to switch input modes and settings easily. Some users complained that it didn't have enough recording time, perhaps because it captures video only in 15-minute increments, but the following recorded files save under related names, so they are easy to find and edit later.

This game recorder is user friendly and makes the setup and functioning processes easy. To record, simply press the record button, and press the button again to pause/stop recording. However, one flaw is that you need an HDMI cable to connect this device to most consoles. This isn’t necessarily a problem for using the device and it won’t affect its performance, but it can look messy in your room, and make the capture card harder to transport.

PROS

  • considered a good budget option
  • awesome remote for mode switches and settings

CONS

  • it didn't have enough recording time

Elgato Game Capture HD60 S

Elgato Game Capture HD60 S - Stream and Record in 1080p60, for...
  • Stream and record your finest gaming moments
  • Stunning 1080p quality with 60 fps
  • State-of-the-art USB 3.0 type C connection

Quality: 60 fps

Interface: USB 3.0, Type C

Popularity (per Amazon reviews): 4

Comments: Experts rave about the HD60 S and its reliable efficiency. The HD60 S is an upgrade to the HD60, replacing the USB 2.0 interface with a USB 3.0 Type C connection, which optimizes data transmission. The experts point out that there's not much else to differentiate the HD60 S from the HD60 but that the updated interface is worth the price of the upgrade if you can afford it. Of all the capture cards on this list, the HD60 S is also among the highest rated on Amazon.

Users likes how easy and quick it is to set up this capture card. However, this device requires a laptop with excellent speed to operate efficiently. For example, if your laptop only has minimal graphics and slow downloading and uploading speeds, you’ll find that it’ll have difficulties uploading and running any streams. This is important to consider, as you might believe that your capture card is underperforming, when actually, it’s your laptop to blame.

When you own a capture card, streaming and uploading your gameplay is important, but some users neglect monitoring how easy it is to transfer this footage off your console onto a hard drive. Users found that Elgato’s game capture software made this process easier on an Xbox One than a PS4. It’s worth considering what console you team your capture card with. You can also save the recorded footage to your hard drive in any format which suits you. As soon as you stop recording, the video file is ready for you to edit. This streamlined and easy transition is great if you need to save time on editing and processing.

PROS

  • faster data transfer
  • easy to set up

CONS

  • some users experienced to have PS4 connectivity issues

AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2

AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2, Full HD 1080p60 Recording Without PC...
  • Stream and record Xbox One, PlayStation, WiiU, Nintendo Switch, or NES Classic Edition console gameplay.
  • PC and PC-Free modes: record games with or without PC. Micro SD Class 10 card is required for PC-Free recording, Micro...
  • Console party chat: capture teammates' voices without hassle. Compatible Software - DirectShow compliant software such...

Quality: 60 fps

Interface: USB 2.0

Popularity (per Amazon reviews): 3.5

Overall score: 3.5/5

Comments: Perhaps the greatest boon of this capture card is that it’s a recorder sufficient unto itself, not requiring to be connected to a PC for recording purposes, although you have that option as well. Experts appreciate its plug-and-play capability and portability, as well as the ability to connect directly to your preferred streaming platform at the push of a button, but would prefer a USB 3.0 interface to the USB 2.0. Some users reported overheating, video artifacts, and difficulties with audio recording when operating without a PC.

AVerMedia’s capture card uses its own software called Recentral 3, which gives you numerous options for playing and streaming your games.

First, this software gives you the opportunity to add layers or scenes to your gameplay. What we love most is that this software personalizes your experience when playing. For example, if you step away from the screen, you don’t have to alert your watches, but the capture card will register this and set an away picture to your screen. Although this software can sometimes crash, it’s incredible in what it does and performs every task a gamer could need.

AverMedia makes capturing your gameplay as easy as possible. It also has an appealing look to it which presents itself in high-quality materials. This unique and polished look sets this capture card apart from other devices and helps it to stand out when on display. Visitors will admire its red colorway and edginess combined with a sleek attitude. It’s also portable, so you can take this capture card wherever you want or simply move it around the house if you have multiple consoles in different rooms.

PROS

  • amazing recorder
  • great plug-and-play capability and portability

CONS

  • some users experienced to have difficulties with audio recording when operating without a PC

AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme 2, USB3.0 Game Streaming and Video Capture

AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme 2, USB3.0 Game Streaming and Video...
  • Operating System: Windows 10 x64, does not support Win 7 and win 8
  • 4K pass-through: experience 4K while recording at full HD
  • Ultra-Low Latency: Stream and record uncompressed 1080p60 video with virtually no lag

Quality: 60 fps

Interface: USB 3.1 (Gen 1)  Type -C

Popularity (per Amazon reviews): 1

Comments: The AVerMedia Live Gamer comes in a high-quality 4K resolution which can support 60 frames per second. This is ideal for gamers who are looking for high frame rates for quick and efficient downloading and streaming. With excellent connectivity, this capture card uses technology to completely revolutionize your gaming experience. To further enhance your capture cards, this software works with an editing 4K gameplay to help you edit your game creations your way. The AVerMedia Live Gamer captures data and streams it in a near-zero latency. This enables streamers to use one monitor to easily play their games while streaming to friends. Finally, this capture card helps to prevent any lag.

The main advantage of this capture card is that it provides a clear stream. As a result, you’ll attract more viewers who will want to return to watch more of your gameplays. Users are impressed that you don’t need numerous additional devices and cables to attach to the device when using it. Users also appreciate that this device is thin and light, which makes it a great addition to your TV stand rather than adding a bulky object to your room. You could comfortably take this device to events and easily transport it if necessary. Simply plug in the HDMI Out cable into your capture card and plug the cable into the option in your TV.

The Live Gamer Extreme 2 isn’t as powerful as the Ultra capture card, and this is mainly evident in the 1080 pixels it offers. Therefore, it might be surprising to you that the Extreme 2 device is larger and heavier than the Ultra. With this in mind, you’ll need to carefully consider where you’ll store the capture card when using it.

PROS

  • The removable lid is nice touch to add some customization to your designs.
  • Supports high definition 4K resolution at 60 frames per second
  • The capture card prevents any lag - even with low download speeds

CONS

  • The device can freeze after hours of streaming

Elgato Game Capture HD

Elgato Game Capture HD60 S - Stream and Record in 1080p60, for...
  • Stream and record your finest gaming moments
  • Stunning 1080p quality with 60 fps
  • State-of-the-art USB 3.0 type C connection

Quality: 30 fps

Interface: USB 2.0

Popularity (per Amazon reviews): 4.3

Comments: Experts recommend this older version for gamers on a budget, finding it to be simple and serviceable with regularly updated, smooth-running software. Though a portable capture card, this one does require the use of a PC or laptop. The editing software that comes with the card is also noted to be simple, but this may not be a positive as most gamers probably want to do more detailed editing. However, users who own it said that recording and editing videos is easy with this capture card, and much more so than other devices. Users like the commentary feature but point out that you can’t edit after the fact.

This capture card from Elgato utilizes a software that is easy to use and set up. Simply press a button to initiate live video and audio at the same time. Once you have your captured footage, the software can automatically compress this for you, or you can do it yourself. This is great for beginners or people who don’t enjoy the editing stage. Elgato also provides example videos so you can analyze the results for yourself. If you want to create a short clip of your gameplay footage, it’ll only take a few minutes to do so - which includes uploading the recording too.

For even easier use of this capture card, we recommend teaming it up with the XBox 360. You can also use this Elgato device on a Wii U, and it’ll still capture in HD at 1080i. Also, older devices are compatible with this capture card which makes it great to explore other consoles and even bring one out from the closet. Finally, the main reason you should purchase this Elgato capture card is because it makes using software and the uploading and editing an easy process - so much so that anyone can record and use it, even with little or no experience.

PROS

  • Smooth running software
  • Straightforward with regularly updates

CONS

  • Does require the use of a PC or laptop

AVerMedia Live Gamer HD2

AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2 Full HD 1080p 60 Record and Stream...
  • Stream and record Xbox, PlayStation, Wii U or Nintendo Switch and PC gameplay in Full HD 1080p60
  • Plug and play support for Windows (except Win7). Real-time gameplay with low latency HDMI pass-through
  • Supports uncompressed video output for superior picture quality and compressed video output with low bandwidth demand

Quality: 60 fps

Interface: PCIe

Popularity (per Amazon reviews): 3.5

Comments: This internal capture card is an excellent choice for the serious gamer looking for the highest possible performance, while the newbie may find it too much to handle. The upside is that the highest picture quality is attained via the capture of uncompressed video output, so every gamer will love it. The downside is that the uncompressed files take up a lot of hard drive space, and an external hard drive may be necessary. If you try to upload an uncompressed file to the Internet, your connection will start to lag, and you’ll want to compress the file in another format. This can be a little tricky, but is one way of getting around the file size. Users reported issues with audio, color artifacts, and an actual frame-per-second rate of less than 60.

The Live Gamer HD capture card ensures that there’s no lag with recording and streaming gameplay videos. This is because the output enables the video to travel out to your TV in real time, so there’s no delay or distortion in imagery. If you’re able to increase your budget, you can add more features. The video quality is one of the best features of this capture card. With 60 frames per second, this creates a smooth output for the highest streaming quality you could achieve. This capture card also automatically keeps the pixels high despite some consoles dropping to 720p. As a result, you’re left with a clear and consistent stream each time and high-quality materials that are crystal clear.

One of the biggest advantage of this capture card is its software, Recentral 3. This shows a real-time video in the center of the screen and is a great way to see how your settings work together. You can adjust the picture’s brightness, contrast, saturation, and hue. Also, you can adjust the volume and mix in audio through your microphone for a fun twist to your commentary. This enables you to customize your experience and increase your number of viewers.

PROS

  • Excellent choice for the serious gamer looking for the highest possible performance
  • Great picture quality

CONS

  • Uncompressed files take up a lot of hard drive space, and an external hard drive may be necessary

Roxio Game Capture HD PRO

Roxio Game Capture HD PRO Video Capture Device and Editing Software...
  • Capture, edit, share, and live stream your gaming footage from your PS4, Xbox One, PC, and more in crisp HD video (up to...
  • Stream gameplay from your console as well as your commentary directly to YouTube and TwitchTV, with the ability to test...
  • Edit H.264 encoded videos, add 1 of over 95 transitions, up to six picture in pictures, soundtracks, special effects,...

Quality: 30 fps

Interface: USB 2.0

Popularity: (per Amazon reviews): 2.9

Comments: This capture card may be a controversial item, although its audio is exceptional. We include it primarily because of its affordability, but it is important to mention that there have been reports of issues with software, compatibility, and customer service with this product. There's been a recent fix to the software that is reflected in more recent reviews. This fix is potentially a good budget product, but we advise you to proceed with caution and be sure you do your homework before purchasing.

This capture card excellently captures videos and images of your gameplay. Using the capture mode is the most limited mode, and you can only add audio commentary during the editing stage afterward. Many users found that this capture card isn’t suitable for Windows 8, as the software crashes for no particular reason. However, this capture device is still a great choice for PC gamers on Windows 7. This glitch could be due to softwares on a PC conflicting with the capture card’s software, so this is something to consider when refreshing your laptop.

This capture card includes a software called VideoWave. This is a fairly new editing software, so the majority of gamers won’t be educated on using it. Therefore, you might find this slightly frustrating and confusing, but there are many benefits to it. For example, you can use the editor to adjust transitions, effects, and text. You can edit your voice on the commentary and add text to transcribe what you’re saying. Although it might seem complex to edit and add these effects, this software makes these edits simple and possible (even if you’re experienced in this area).

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Great picture quality

CONS

  • Software needs improvement and buggy

The Benefits of HD PVR for Recording Games

An HD PVR is a high-definition recorder that provides real-time recordings with a resolution up to 1080i. This video recorder works great with cable TV, satellite boxes, and game consoles. An HD PVR provides up to two hours of recording - all of which comes in a high-quality result. Use the HD PVR to record your gaming and share your best games with your friends. This is one of the most popular uses of this device and it enables you to connect with other gamers while playing your favorite games.

An HD PVR’s video passes through your TV monitor and enables a high-definition video quality at the same time. This video footage passes through your video input and output to leave you with HD game play. This type of recorder is suitable with capture cards so you can save your gameplay at any time you need to. The recorder is also suitable with an array of cable TV and satellite TV receivers with an optical or stereo audio input. With a resolution of 1080i, you’ll record your gameplay with excellent quality each and every time. Many of these HD PVRs include a high-quality software video player so you can record playback onto your PC screen.

Finally, another benefit of this recorder is that you can upload your gameplay to video websites such as YouTube and convert the files into a format you need. If you choose to edit a file, you can create a project file that can be burned to a blu ray compatible DVD. At this stage, you can rip the recording to a disk and convert it to an appropriate format for the website you wish to upload it to.

What is the Best Capture Card For Streaming?

Console gamers deserve just as many opportunities as PC gamers. Aside from budget, we highly recommend the AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 capture card for gamer extreme individuals out there. It’s compatible with many devices and you don’t need a HDMI outlet on your console to use this card. If we had to limit our options to only one capture card, the Live Gamer is a winner for us. It’s simple to set up, with no long-winded software to install. Simply add the card to your device or hard drive, and you’re good to go. There’s no additional external devices to operate the card, and you can easily record on the go, whilst recording your gaming ability to watch later on.

Editing is simple and fun too, as there’s no need to look back on hours of recordings to dissect your favourite highlights. You can extend your gameplay whilst enjoying the highest quality capture card available. You can merge videos together and begin editing the audio and gameplay at the same time as recording. And when you’re happy with the results, share to social media via the integrated plugin.

Who Should (and Should Not) Use a Capture Card

There is one crucial thing to mention concerning these ratings: capture cards do not operate in a vacuum, and performance depends mainly on the hardware and the software within the overall system in which you run it. That's why it is vitally important that you do your research before buying and understand your system and its specifications, and which cards are going to be compatible with them.

Another critical thing to mention: A capture card will not make up for any hardware or software shortcomings in your overall system. In other words, having a top-of-the-line card isn't going to do you any good if you're trying to run it with a standard CPU that's not equipped to do encoding; you're still going to have performance issues because the system itself isn't up to snuff.

Consoles 

Newer consoles have recording and streaming capabilities built in, so on the surface of it, a capture card may not seem necessary. However, while the streaming capabilities may be sufficient for your purposes without a capture card, the record and editing features leave a lot to be desired in that regard. Its editing abilities is one of the best advantages to this capture card. The Xbox One and PS4 have recording limits built in so that you can only record in short chunks. On the PS4, you can record video in 15-minute increments, and the Xbox One is even more restrictive, allowing recordings of only 5 minutes at a time. These short bursts of video are going to be difficult to edit together to create an entire walkthrough or movie-length project. With a capture device, you can bypass the limits and transfer your data directly to a PC where it will be ready for you to do some detailed editing.

Keep in mind; this is for newer consoles, so setup is quick and easy. Older consoles that lack recording capabilities, like the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360, require a capture card for streaming purposes.

PCs

PC gaming capture happens via one of two set-ups: a dual system or a single system.

Dual System

A dual-PC gaming system is what it sounds like, a system in which one PC is devoted to the gaming itself, while another PC is set up for recording and streaming. Splitting these two resource-absorbing tasks between two computers improves gaming performance. For those of you who remember VCRs, think of it this way: Your gaming PC is like the TV on which the program is broadcast, the streaming PC is the VCR that records the program, and the capture card is the cable that connects the two and facilitates the recording. It's not a perfect analogy, but it gives you the general idea. The point is that the capture card is essential to the process. Just as the TV and VCR need to talk to each other, so does the gaming PC need to be connected to the streaming PC for the latter to receive data.

Single System

With an advanced system that's powerful enough to record and stream while playing, a capture card is probably not worth your money. You would have to buy a capture card, and you'd be better off putting that money towards improving your CPU. If your game performance is suffering due to the demand on your CPU to stream and encode at the same time, it would probably make more sense to invest in a dual system rather than trying to solve the problem with a capture card alone.

For The Serious Gamer

For the passionate gamer seeking to stream and share, a capture card has huge advantages over the in-game recording features. With so many different capture cards available, you are sure to find the one most suited to your needs. Just remember to check the specifications for compatibility before you buy. It's always a good idea to focus more on what you need rather than what you want.