Whether you’re looking for quality capture cards or inexpensive but decent ones, you should be able to find one on this page.
The gaming era entered a new social realm some time ago, with more and more gamers starting their own YouTube channels or sharing their tips, triumphs, and hilarious foul-ups via social media and gaming sites. It’s possible to use the built-in capture features of many gaming systems and consoles to step into the world of social gaming, but serious gamers typically need independent capture cards and a more robust streaming setup to achieve their dynamic online productions.
The Six Best Capture Cards
Capture Cards come in two varieties: Internal and External. External cards connect to your setup via USB or HDMI cables, while internal cards interface with a desktop computer via a PCIe slot. PC gamers often prefer the latter, while external capture cards appeal more to console users instead.
Whether you’re primarily a PC or console gamer, if your streaming setup includes a PC, then you’ll want to consider the Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro. This is an internal card for the PCIe slot on your computer. The Elgato HD60 Pro can record at 1080p and stream in HD simultaneously, and all without producing any HDMI output lag.
Elgato offers two excellent options for external capture cards as well: the HD60 and HD60S. Both provide 1080p capability and can catch 60 frames per second (fps). Both also feature the same bonus capabilities, including flashback recording. There isn’t a significant difference in the price tag either, so if you’d like to reduce the chances of compromised game performance and ensure you have the power for top data transmission, the HD60S is the way to go. This external card has a USB 3.0 Type C connection, which is the latest and most reliable available.
A king in the game capturing world, and one of Elgato’s biggest competitors, AVerMedia has a couple of exceptional external cards, including the AVerCapture HD and the Live Gamer Extreme, or LGX. Both afford 1080p and 60fps along with all the usual bells and whistles, like flashback recording. The AVerCapture minimizes the need for additional cords by running off a USB connection, and the LGX features the advanced USB 3.0.
AVerMedia has an internal card solution for PC gamers as well: the C985 Live Gamer HD. This PCIe slot card even has an external, portable button, to simplify the steps necessary to initiate a recording session. Low CPU drain is one of the main advantages of this card, though its ability to handle game console as well as PC capture, via RECentral, is a big selling point too.
A Word about Streaming Sources
Even the best of the best capture card can only do so much. The quality of your game stream, in other words, is always dependent upon your video source. Streaming from an older console, like a Nintendo 64, for example, won’t produce as crisp of gameplay footage as streaming from a PS4. This is true even if you have the best possible capture card.
A quality card does however ensure you have the tools necessary to stream the most dynamic content possible. An HD connection will also allow you to set yourself apart from other streamers, as will the capabilities of your other streaming equipment.
System Requirements for Streaming
The quality of your streaming productions depends just as much on having the right setup as it does your card choice. In fact, most gamers would say the minimum system for high quality streaming includes upload speeds of 5 and 10 mb/sec for 720p and 1080p, respectively. You also need a PC with an i7 processor or better, the console of your choice, and at least two HDMI cables as well as a standard USB cable for connecting your console, PC, and TV.
Although a capture-card based streaming setup may seem like a hassle at first, given all the components and the need to invest in multiple pieces of new equipment, the control a card gives you over your gaming productions is unmatched. The built-in options with PS and Xbox consoles simply can’t compete with capture card enabled streaming, particularly since most cards come bundled with robust software platforms and lots of bonus features these days.