Whether you want to build out a professional streaming channel or just want to share your gaming footage with friends, a quality capture card can help you get great recordings without impacting your play. Some capture cards are ideal for PC gaming while others work well with consoles. You can even find some that’ll let you combine a video feed from a camera with your game footage, giving you an all-in-one solution for streaming with a picture-in-picture video of yourself.
Some of the best gaming capture cards have been offering impressive capabilities with 4K/60Hz recording and HDR. Now, the hardware you need to take advantage of those cards has become a lot more abundant. The latest graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD, like the GeForce RTX 3080 and Radeon RX 6800 XT, now include all the muscle you need to start running games at that level. The consoles aren’t left out either, as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X both are geared up for 4K/60 and HDR as well. So, if you’re looking for capture cards that are ready for the new generation of gaming, you’ll find them here – and click here to see them in the UK.
TL;DR – These are the Best Capture Cards:
1. Elgato HD60 X
Best External Capture Card
Elgato has this whole capture device thing all figured out, and the Elgato HD60 X is another prime example of what the company is capable of. You can use this external capture card with pretty much any setup, whether it be your gaming PC, Mac, laptop, PS5, or Xbox X/S. It connects to your devices via USB-C and works with a wide variety of streaming and capture software like Twitch, YouTube, OBS, XSplit, and Streamlabs. So, unless you have very particular setup needs, it’s a one-stop shop to get sharing all your high-quality visuals with your audience.
The Elgato HD60 X provides pass-through for up to 4K with HDR10 video at 60Hz. That’s lag-free pass-through with VRR, too, so you’ll be able to stay as competitive as ever while you’re playing. Though it’s worth noting that the unit can’t output any faster than 60Hz, so you’ll want to take a look at some of our other options if you’re gaming on a high-refresh-rate monitor or TV. As far as recording goes, the unit can capture 4K footage at 30fps or 1080p footage at a smoother 60fps. It’s even capable of capturing HDR10 footage.
2. NZXT Signal 4K30
Best Budget External Capture Card
You don’t need to break the bank to snag a quality capture card. The NZXT Signal 4K30 is an external USB-based option that totes all the capabilities you’re looking for at well under $200. Its zero-lag pass-through with support for 4K at 60Hz plus HDR and 1080p at an impressive 240Hz, means this device should keep up with your consoles that have an HDMI port. And when you’re ready to start recording, you might be sacrificing a few framerates dropping to 4K30, but you’ll still have a nice, crisp image. If you want the smoothest possible stream with the highest framerates, you can always drop down to 1080p/120Hz.
All that functionality comes in an easy-to-use device with a compact form factor. The NZXT Signal 4K30 is about the size of your typical external hard drive and is pretty much plug-and-play — just be sure you have a USB-3.2 connection. Unlike some other capture cards, it doesn’t require you to download any new programs, so if you like using OBS or other streaming and capture software, you’ll be good to go.
3. EVGA XR1 Lite
Best Ultra Cheap External Capture Card
The EVGA XR1 Lite is both compact and affordable, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a capable companion for any gamer getting into video capture or streaming. This device provides a 4K/60fps passthrough–perfect for use with the latest Xbox and PlayStation. And, it records all your action-packed moments at 1080p/60fps without any compression or lag. The unit is also simple to use, with a USB Type-C and a pair of HDMI ports that plug into your PC or console to capture gameplay, or you can connect it to a DSLR camera for a quality webcam option.
Housed in a plastic chassis, the EVGA XR1 Lite is still sleek and seemingly durable. There is a convenient light indicator on the unit that changes color depending on the status of the capture card, so you’ll know when it’s active, idling, updating, or not working. It comes certified to use with OBS software–which is an open-source option for recording and live streaming. Overall, the plug-and-play nature, low price, and solid performance make the EVGA XR1 Lite a great capture card option.
4. Elgato Game Capture 4K60 S+
Best High-End External Capture Card
Whereas most external capture cards still need to be linked up to a gaming laptop or gaming PC to store any captured gameplay, the Elgato Game Capture 4K60 S+ only needs an SD card. All you need to do is hook up this recorder to the console or PC of your choice while routing the display out to a gaming monitor or TV, connect it to a wall plug or power bank, hit record, and you’re good to go.
The Elgato Game Capture 4K60 S+ is also one of the few capture solutions that let you record gameplay at 4K, 60 frames per second, and in HDR all at the same time. You’re looking at one of the most versatile and powerful capture solutions around and it’s completely portable to boot.
5. AVerMedia Live Gamer Bolt
Best External Capture Card for Streaming
The AVerMedia Live Gamer Bolt is hands down the best capture card for streaming. It delivers the lowest level of added latency we’ve seen out of any capture solution at only a couple of milliseconds. This makes it perfect for games that require cat-like reflexes like Spelunky or twitch aiming like Apex Legends.
The AVerMedia Live Gamer Bolt also records great looking footage at either 4K60 HDR or 1080p240. The only tricky thing about this capture solution is you need a Thunderbolt 3 port, which means you can use it with only a few compatible gaming motherboards and gaming laptops. You should definitely double check your system’s ports before buying this capture card.
6. Asus TUF CU4K30
Best USB-C Capture Card
A lot of video game capture cards are counting on you to have either an open PCIe slot in your gaming PC or a classic USB-A port. But, if you’re running a thin-and-light laptop as your streaming PC, those two connections might not be an option. But, then there’s USB-C and the Asus TUF CU4K30 to save the day.
This USB-C based capture card will let you easily wire it up with a laptop to capture your game footage. And, it can capture some serious footage without holding you back while you’re gaming. On the capturing side, it can support a 4K resolution at 30fps, or you can drop it down to 2K for a smoother 60fps stream or even 1080p for a super-smooth 120fps capture. Meanwhile, the card can pass the video signal from your game system through to your monitor or TV at 4K/60Hz with HDR, 2K/144Hz, or 1080p/240Hz. This is all built into a compact, aluminum chassis that includes RGB lighting, which doubles as a status indicator.
7. AVerMedia Live Gamer 4K
Best Internal Capture Card
With the Live Gamer 4K from AVerMedia, you’ll have the cheapest capture card that currently allows you to capture 4K60 footage in HDR. No, you can’t broadcast that yet (or edit it with the included shareware), but once streaming software and services catch up, you’ll be ready. Until then, you can toss the video to YouTube.
Bump your capture resolution down to 1080p and you’ll be able to capture at frame-rates up to 240 frames-per-second. Whoa indeed. The Live Gamer 4K also has RBG lighting for visual customization, in case your PC case needs a few more lights.
8. Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro Mk. 2
Best High-End Internal Capture Card
The Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro Mk. 2 is the perfect way to celebrate just getting Partnered with Twitch. It’s pricey, but hey, all those late nights have finally paid off. This PCIe internal card captures footage up to a 4K resolution directly to your hard drive without breaking a sweat, with an up to 140 Mbps bitrate.
Beyond the basic ability to record 4K HDR footage—which is pretty great on its own—the Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro Mk. 2 offers a few extra features like Multi App Access so you can have multiple pieces of streaming and/or recording software accessing your capture card at the same time. Additionally, the Elgato’s HDR tone mapping allows users to play at 4K HDR while streaming in standard dynamic range.
9. AVerMedia Live Gamer Duo
Best Internal Capture Card for Streaming
If you want to step up your streaming game with dedicated hardware, then the AVerMedia Live Gamer Duo is a highly capable option. As the name suggests, this capture card is meant to handle two tasks simultaneously. So, it has two separate HDMI inputs, with one to handle gameplay from your console or gaming PC and another to take the HDMI video feed from a digital camera. That’ll let you forget about a webcam and use the high-quality sensor and optics of even a hefty DSLR to upgrade the quality of your on-screen appearance with 1080p60 video.
As far as the gaming feed goes, this capture card has quality in mind there as well. It will capture 1080p60 video game content, including HDR. The AVerMedia software will let you handle both video input sources individually, so you can set up your streams however you prefer. As for the gaming itself, the AVerMedia Live Gamer Duo is incredibly flexible with latency-free passthrough for 4K60 HDR, 1440p144, or 1080p240 footage. So, you won’t have to sacrifice your gaming experience to land this capture quality.
10. Genki Shadowcast
Best Wireless Capture Card
If you don’t want your streaming setup to require a ton of wires running to and fro, the Genki Shadowcast is what you’ll want. Now, make no mistake, there will be some wiring involved, but far less than you might be used to. That’s because the Genki Shadowcast plugs directly into the streaming video source via HDMI without requiring an extra HDMI cable in the middle. So, you can plug it into a free HDMI slot on your Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch dock, or gaming PC to receive the video feed. You can even plug it into a digital camera with HDMI output.
Once you’ve got the Genki Shadowcast wired into your source device, you’ll connect it using a single USB-C cable to the laptop or desktop computer you’ll use as a capture device. This not only provides a tidy and compact setup for capturing game streams but also gives you an option to use a laptop’s display as a monitor for your game console. That is some serious flexibility for a $50 capture card, though it’s worth noting that the max output resolution from the Shadowcast is 1080p at 30fps.
11. Atomos Ninja V
Best Professional Capture Card
The typical gaming capture card may be good for plugging into a game console or PC, but a professional capture card can do quite a bit more. The Atomos Ninja V works as both an external monitor and a serious capture card at the same time. You can use this card to capture game footage one day then run it as a monitor and capture card for vlogging the next. The capture device features a 5-inch touchscreen capable of displaying 10-bit color and a 1000-nit brightness, giving you a way to preview HDR content as you record it.
This card can also capture impressive quality at up to DCI-4K and UHD 4K and up to 60 fps (or even 1080p at 120 fps) with very little compression. Of course, going for the highest quality will mean large file sizes for your recordings, so you’ll have to customize the storage for your media by attaching a SATA SSD, but that gives you the option to go as large or as small as you need. Depending on your needs, you also have the option to run the Atomos Ninja V on either battery power or wired power.
Where to Get the Best Capture Cards in the UK
What to look for in a Capture Card
In the roundup above you may have noticed one name popped up a lot in particular: Elgato. The company’s offerings are the go-to standard in the consumer capture and pro streaming community. In my personal experience, their products offer the easiest setup and most compatibility across a variety of streaming apps and hardware setups. The company’s built-in streaming software also natively works with Macs, which is a huge plus.
There are a lot of other options, but if you’d rather not go for an Elgato, stick to models from AVerMedia. They’re a solid alternative and the company has a range of products to suit just about every budget. Software support isn’t as good as that of Elgato’s, but AVerMedia tries making up for it with more features. For example, one of its external units will record to an SD card thus eliminating the need to lug out your laptop just because you want to record some footage. Its latest products support 4K and HDR passthrough, and its high-end internal card records 4K HDR footage.
While there might be a duopoly with streaming gear manufacturers right now, trust me: taking a gamble on a cheap no-name capture card with fewer reviews than you’ve got fingers isn’t worth the hassle. Also, if you’re not looking for anything serious and just want to record in-game footage for the amusement of your friends, we’ve put together a list of the best game recording software right here.
Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam
This article was originally published here post