In a world where social gamers are increasing by the day, so is the need for the best game streaming devices. For every online gamer, effortless recording and high-quality streaming isn’t a necessity but a must.
To achieve this feat without overworking your gaming PC, you just must add the best capture cards to your collection of devices.
What is a Capture Card?
A capture card helps gamers to keep a tab of their favorite gaming moments and also stream it online. It’s essentially an input device responsible for converting input signals to understandable digital data. This digital data is made available as video content that can be edited and uploaded online.
Capture cards coupled with the right accessories including cable and USB cable can be used to stream an entire gaming session online. This content can be edited or uploaded on platforms such as Twitch and YouTube without editing depending on a gamer’s or content creator’s discretion.
Also, these devices are compatible with the PlayStation console, Xbox console, Wii console, and PCs. Hence, there’s no limit to the satisfaction you can get with this incredible piece of creativity.
So what are the categories of capture cards? Continue reading below
Categories of Capture Cards
The categorization of capture cards is based on the type of consoles they work with. Majorly, there are five types of capture cards depending on the console.
This type of capture card works perfectly for PlayStation and some other consoles. PlayStation, especially the latest versions are known to have high-quality graphics, which can be hard to stream with software.
With a capture card, you’ve got the flexibility to execute interesting pieces of stuff. Also, you’ll be able to stream, record and edit your game footage effortlessly.
Mac is one of the special consoles requiring capture cards. This is because the OS has some special features peculiar to it alone. Hence, to stream footage at standard resolution level on Mac, this type of capture card is a must to have.
This is the most common type of capture card. Because using software on your gaming PC for streaming slows down operation and affects performance. A PC capture card allows you to play games and stream in real-time. As it helps connect the gaming PC with the streaming PC.
With this, you’ll get the best performance from your gaming PC without losing anything on the streaming and recording front. For competitive online gamers who play and stream at the same time, you must possess this type of capture card.
Game streaming and editing can be difficult on Xbox when you make use of the software. This is due to the large footage size of gameplay on Xbox. So, to meet the requirement of recording and streaming on this device, you need to get an Xbox specific capture card.
3DS and Wii
These are special devices requiring capture cards specially designed for them. To successfully transfer contents between a 3DS and Wii, you’ll need a capture card specially made for either of the devices.
It’s worth mentioning there are capture cards suitable for more than one console. Because they offer greater flexibility and versatility.
Features to Consider when Selecting the Best Capture Cards in 2021
With a plethora of capture cards in the market, choosing the appropriate one might be tasking. To ensure you choose the best for your needs, below are the major features you should consider in a capture card.
Graphic quality is probably the most important feature for your viewers. Whether you’re recording or streaming, you must do so with high image quality. This along with high-frame-rate makes your content appealing to viewers.
With the current state of technological advancement, you should get a capture card with the minimum image quality of full HD or 1080p. If you’ll be recording games with high effects or you need videos in high-quality, you should get a capture card with Ultra HD or 4k image resolution.
Note: To edit or render videos recorded in Ultra HD or 4k quality, you need a strong computer with the latest version of the processor.
The input option is another important factor that can render a capture card useless if of low-quality. Because the input terminal of your capture card must match the devices you’ll be using with it.
The latest consoles such as PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 and one, and Wii U make use of HDMI compatible terminals. But older devices such as Nintendo 64 uses component cables and as such works with capture cards featuring component video input.
If you intend to record and stream footage from your PC only, you should get a PC specific capture card. But to serve more than just one console, you must acquire the best value in capture cards with HDMI input.
The method through which the capture card connects with your streaming computer is called the Interface. The easiest and well-known interface is USB. It’s common in laptops and desktops.
One other well-known interface is PCIe. This interface is mostly suitable for desktops. PCIe are more difficult to connect than the USB interface, but they record footage at an impressive speed.
Even if there are ways to manipulate a PCIe with a laptop using a PCIe adapter, as a laptop owner you should stick with the USB interface. This is because using a PCIe adapter affects the stability, speed and quality of your recording.
Internal or external
This is purely based on choice and requirements. The external capture card is preferred in a case where you’ve only one laptop for gaming and you cannot afford another. It’s also suitable for console gamers intending to use the capture cards on various devices.
Internal capture cards on the other hand are connected to the motherboard through the PCIe slot. It’s suitable for PC desktop owners.
The major advantage of internal capture over the external type is speed. It’s notably faster than the external capture card due to its direct connection to the motherboard. The external capture card on the other hand is more portable and versatile.
This feature usually flies under the radar. Whereas, it can decide how much you’ll enjoy your capture card and if you’ll need to shell more on it later. The software feature of a capture card is responsible for additional features such as using webcam when gaming, the addition of commentary and other enhancing features.
Popular capture cards manufacturers mostly have their software accompanying their products. This type is the best even if it might be costly as the software is more reliable. It’ll also save you from incurring extra costs on software in the future.
Some capture cards don’t come with their software and only works with third-party software. These are more difficult as you need to ascertain the quality of the software. They also take more time to install and might require you to get new software down the line.
The cost of a capture card like most hardware largely depends on the quality and brand. For professionals and serious gamers, it’s best practice to get the best capture card available even if it cost a little more. Because the better the capture card, the more features you get and the higher the quality you enjoy.
Best Capture Cards Available In The Market of 2021 Review
|Best capture card for Ps4|
|1. Elgato Game Capture Card HD60 S-Stream and Record||Best for Effortless Streaming||5.0|
|2. ZasLuke 4k HDMI Game Capture Card||Best for Streaming Without Lagging||4.6|
|Best Capture Cards for Xbox One|
|3. ANSTEN HDMI Game Capture Card||Most Versatile||4.6|
|4. Elikliv USB 3.0 HDMI Game Capture Card||Most Durable||4.4|
|Best Capture Cards for Nintendo Switch|
|5. Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro-Stream and Record||Best for High-quality Videos||4.8|
|6. Basicolor HDMI Video Game Capture Card USB 3.0||Best for Live Streaming||4.5|
Best capture card for Ps4
Elgato Game Capture Card HD60 S-Stream and Record – Best for Effortless Streaming
Elgato is a superb game capture card for Ps4, making game streaming and recording easy. The versatile, adaptable device also works perfectly with Xbox One and Xbox 360. And it’s a compact and portable design, making it comfortable to carry.
This unit streams and record in the always impressive 1080p quality at 60fps. And it makes use of state-of-the-art USB type C interface. Thus, making it streams effortlessly on Twitch and YouTube in real-time. It also streams with low latency technology, making streaming smooth and fast.
Elgato capture card incorporates software packed with fantastic features. These features include adding webcam, adding the streaming overlay, and built-in live commentary.
To achieve the best result, your streaming or recording PC must have the following as its minimum spec; Windows 10 (64bit), fourth-generation, quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GB RAM, built-in USB3.0 port and internet connection. Also, make sure you disable HDCP mode on your Ps4 before using this device.
- Streams effortlessly in real -time.
- Crisp and smooth graphics.
- Comfortable to use.
- Sturdy and compact design.
- Customer service could do with improvement.
ZasLuke 4k HDMI Game Capture Card – Best for Streaming Without Lagging
Are you a professional looking to stream games at 4k image quality? The ZasLuke game capture card makes the task a breeze. And it’s well-designed and portable.
This device supports high-quality 4k at 60fps. And it works based on high-speed USB 3.0 technology and HDMI 2.0 input and output. It also incorporates the plug and play style, requiring no installation of drivers to get started.
Streaming on the ZasLuke capture card is smooth and trouble-free. Plus it allows up or down-conversion of video to about 1920 x 1080 at 60fps. Also, with the help of the USB 3.0 high-speed transmission and the HDMI loop-out, you can easily transmit your streaming to YouTube, Potplayer and twitch without lagging.
The capture card works on computers like Mac OS X 10.9 and above, Linux, Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10. It also works well with software like AMCap, Skype, Potplayer, Google Hangouts and VLC.
- Light in weight and portable.
- Easy to use and setup.
- Fast and streams smoothly.
- Pocket-friendly and top quality.
- The audio does not work with some software like wire-cast.
Best Capture Cards for Xbox One
ANSTEN HDMI Game Capture Card – Most Versatile
Do you need an inexpensive capture card that gets the job done efficiently? You might want to have an extra look at ANSTEN HDMI Capture Card. As it’s pocket-friendly and high-quality.
This capture card has versatility and compatibility to its advantage. As it works effortlessly with Xbox One, Ps4, Ps3, Nintendo Switch, Xbox 360 and other consoles. And it’s a high resolution of 1080p at 60fps and can work with about every 1080p, 720p HDMI port devices.
Also, the unit works efficiently with a USB 3.0 fast connection port and can only capture a single channel of HD HDMI video signal at a time. Owing to this feature, it recognizes the input automatically and gives a fitting output. Streaming is made easy and effortless on this device as it’s zero latency when using the HDMI loop-out port.
The Ansten capture card is simply plug and play with no driver needed to get started. And it’s compatible with virtually all video software on Windows, Mac and Linux. Also, it’s a 3.5mm microphone and audio I/O port. This makes it easy to add external commentary while streaming and also add your voice while recording. Lastly, it has a one-year manufacturer’s warranty and free lifetime technical support.
- Easy to understand instruction manual.
- Well built and robust.
- Doesn’t overheat.
- Doesn’t work on Microsoft teams.
Elikliv USB 3.0 HDMI Game Capture Card – Most Durable
This is another capture card that represents value for money. As it’s inexpensive and packs in great features associated with premium prices. It is also portable and lightweight, making it a good companion on travels.
Amongst the impressive features of Elikliv capture card are earphone and audio i/o. These features work with lots of audio input and output devices without the need for an adapter. It also records and streams from consoles like Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii and other consoles with zero latency.
Elikliv capture card is comfortable to operate as it incorporates the plug and play style. It is also compatible with lots of video streaming software like OBS Studio, QuickTime broadcast and Adobe flash media live.
Lastly, this fantastic product works well with Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, OS X (10.10 and above) and Linux ubuntu 14.04.
- Top-notch image quality.
- Pocket friendly and effective.
- Easy to use and set up.
- Very strong and well-built.
- The audio i/o sometimes needs the system to be restarted before it can be heard.
Best Capture Cards for Nintendo Switch
Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro-Stream and Record – Best for High-quality Videos
Are you tired of low quality and ineffective capture cards? Have you been wondering if you can ever stream your Nintendo Switch games without lagging? Elgato game capture card will help alleviate all these issues.
This device can record and stream high-quality videos of 1080p at 60fps on various devices like Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and Xbox. It’s the built-in capacity to stream effortlessly to YouTube, Twitch and other streaming platforms. Also, its capture bitrate has an impressive 60mb/s.
On the flexibility front, the Elgato game capture card is top of the chart. As it can record at 1080p H.264 while streaming. This gives you the option of saving your favorite gaming moments while also mesmerizing your viewers.
Finally, the software has lots of enhancing features. These features include adding stream overlay, adding webcam and a satisfying built-in commentary feature.
- Streams with low latency technology.
- Comfortable to use.
- Creates high-quality recordings that can be saved in mp4 format.
- The software is solid and doesn’t crash.
- Installation is a bit difficult
- The customer support isn’t responsive.
Basicolor HDMI Video Game Capture Card USB 3.0 – Best for Live Streaming
The Basicolor capture card is an adaptable capture card that works well for Nintendo Switch and other consoles like Ps3, Xbox 360, Ps4 and Xbox One. And it’s well-designed capture card, portable with high functionality.
This external capture card is compatible with Linux and Windows operating systems. And it works well with UVC video recording and YUV 422 video output. Also, it supports 1080p at 60fps (frame per second) while also working impressively with 720p devices, delivering at standard frame rate.
The capture card is suitable for live streaming as it automatically identifies the formats of its input and immediately set the output size and frame rate. Add its ability to capture just one HDMI video signals at a time and you have a top-notch streaming device.
Also, it’s fast and transmits at a standard rate. And works at about 300 to 350mb/s throughput. Similarly, it’s compatible with high-speed USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 port. With this, you can effortlessly stream on YouTube and Twitch in real-time. Finally, it doesn’t need drivers to work as it’s purely plug and play, saving you time and effort.
- Zero-latency from the HDMI loop-out.
- Fast data transmission.
- Easy to use and set up.
- Value for money.
- Accessories such as HDMI cable are not in the package.
Now that you’ve purchased the best capture card for your needs, below is the guide on how to install it by yourself.
Let’s dive in!
Basic capture card connection
For basic capture card set up, you’ll need a USB cable, console, two HDMI cables and a PC with i7 processor.
Below are the steps for the basic connection of a capture card
- Connect an HDMI cable between the “in” HDMI slot of your capture card and the “out” HDMI slot of your console. In older devices where HDMI ports are absent, you’ve to make use of AV ports or other components.
- Connect an HDMI cable between the “out” HDMI port terminal of your capture card and the “in” HDMI port of your Television.
- Lastly, connect the capture card to your PC or Mac via a USB cable and you’re set.
This connection can be expanded further depending on what you desire. But for basic capture card connection, this will get you going smoothly.
FAQ on Best Capture Cards
- Do I necessarily need a capture card as a social gamer?
- The short answer to this question is yes, you do need it. Though, some software allows you to stream games and videos, but none is as effective as a capture card.
It’s worth noting that using software affects the performance quality of your PC. Another downside of the software is it’s not reliable. Add the fact that the software doesn’t have most of the added features like the addition of commentary and webcam.
Some people might want to remind you that PlayStation 4 incorporates some features allowing you to record and stream games. But there are serious limitations to this too, such as the time limit which is about an hour. Hence, as a serious online gamer, you need a capture card to get the best gaming experience.
- Which regular feature is not common in capture cards?
- Most capture cards don’t have the features to record audio signals at the time when they are processing captured videos. Another feature not yet incorporated is the ability to stream audio from multiple sources.
- What are the types of capture cards?
- There are two main types of capture cards. They are the internal capture cards and external capture cards.
The internal capture cards connect directly to your motherboard through the PCIe slot, hence, the faster of the two types. The external capture card on the other hand is connected through USB or some kind of adapter. They are more versatile and portable than the internal capture cards.
Based on everything discussed, your task of selecting the best capture cards should be easier even with the mind-blowing number of products currently in the market. Some products on various categories of capture cards have also been reviewed to help you narrow down your options.
Lastly, a capture card being hardware, there are likely to be lots of fake or cloned products out there. It’s advisable you buy directly from manufacturers or trusted retailers. Another way of knowing a pretty good product is by going through online reviews on such product. With this, you’ll have more insight into the flaws and strength of any product you are purchasing.