Get Top-Notch Video Streaming With the Best Capture Cards
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Buying Guide: Capture Card
Those of you tech geeks interested in streaming online games or any other kinds of apps onto Youtube, Twitch, or Facebook most likely also need a way to compile your camera footage from your consoles. To make that happen, you need to get your hands on a decent capture card.Video encoding can take a lot from your system’s processor and when you try to capture gameplay internally, the encoding ends up being pretty poor quality. Capture cards deal with that problem by allowing you to easily customize the quality of your gameplay and streams, while also providing you with the ability to record for longer periods and at significantly higher resolutions.Here’s a list of some of the leading capture cards of 2023 to help you make a well-informed decision.
Elgato Capture Card
AVerMedia Capture Card
Lyrat Capture Card
Easiest To Use
BlueAVS Capture Card
Best for Beginners
Naivaunsin Capture Card
How To Use a Capture CardA capture card is typically a hard drive that sits between the system you’re using and your screen. Essentially, it steals a copy of what’s happening on your screen and stores it. With most capture cards, an HDMI cable will run from your console or computer to the capture card and another HDMI cable will connect the capture card to your screen, whether that’s your TV screen or your monitor screen. You’ll most likely have a USB cable that also connects the capture card to your PC. When you have everything hooked up and switched on, all you have to do is add the capture card as an input device in the streaming or capturing software that you intend on using and you’re good to go!
Things To Consider When Buying a Capture Card
HDMI countHDMI count is probably the most important specification you need to look for when buying a capture card. Check the number of ports the card offers to ensure that’s suitable for you. For example, if you’re planning on using a video capture card for recording the feed from off your camera, you won’t need more than a single HDMI port on the card. But if you’re looking for a capture card for your gaming console and want to display the video output from the console on your monitor rather than just capture it, you’re going to need a capture card with dual HDMI ports.
InterfaceWhen you’re using a capture card to get video signals transmitted to your computer, you need to connect it through some kind of an interface. Older capture cards typically use USB 2.0 connectors, while most of the ones today use USB 3.0, which offers better image quality and speed. These cards are also able to handle higher resolutions. If you’re looking for a capture card that will offer you the best performance out there, you should go for PCIe capture cards, which are usually a lot faster and offer much better image quality than USB 3.0 connectors. The downside of these is that they need to be installed directly onto desktops and so they can’t be used with laptops.
SoftwareEvery card manufacturer has their own software that they include with their card. This software is required to use the card to record, stream, or edit your footage. The quality and overall functionality and efficiency of the software differs among manufacturers. Ideally, you should look for a software that offers the most functionalities or the ones you feel you will be able to get the most out of. For instance, you might want the ability to add commentaries, add your webcam over your gameplay, and stream overlays.
ResolutionIf you’re looking for higher image quality, check your capture card’s resolution. You will likely come across two different ratings that will be your judge: the input resolution and the output resolution. The input resolution is the resolution that your capture is capable of handling in terms of sending to your monitor (but not to your computer) over USB. The output resolution is the resolution that is sent to your computer and informs you about the actual resolution that is recordable.
Internet connectionFinally, if you intend on live streaming, make sure that you have a high speed internet connection to support your chosen resolution. Also, check your upload speed because getting an expensive capture card without having the bandwidth to handle it is going to be pretty useless.
The Elgato Capture Card might just be the most popular USB-based capture card this manufacturer has ever developed thanks to its hassle-free recording and streaming via HDMI. Plus, the new model comes with big improvements over the earlier models.This capture card is compact in size, hardly weighing more than your average smartphone. It features a light strip across its sleek body to inform you when it’s active. Sitting between two HDMI cables to connect to your TV and gaming device, along with a USB-C and USB-A cable to send data to your PC, this capture card offers several hours of no-issue streaming with 4K HDR signals. Its 1080p60 capture, HDR10, and true fk60 passthrough makes it one of the best capture cards for modern consoles. If you’re looking for something to help you with streaming or even just to create more professional-looking Youtube gameplay videos, this capture card is your ideal choice. Thanks to these impressive features, we’ve chosen this product as our best overall pick.
- Features flawless 4K HDR passthrough
- Has limitless, lag-free capture
- Compact, sleek, and lightweight design
- Comes with a two-year warranty
- Software doesn’t support native HDR playback
The AVerMedia Capture Card is a PCIe card that you can easily install into a 1x slot in your PC. The board itself is small and compact, but cased in a stylish aluminum enclosure. This capture card supports 1080p video at 60fps, which is more than enough for streams of the highest quality. It comes with its own proprietary software (meant specifically for streaming) to capture video.The card offers uncompressed video, scaling support, zero-lag passthrough, and MJPEG compression. It comes with four ports: an HDMI-in, an HDMI-out, an audio-in, and an audio-out. Its latency is pretty low, which means you’ll experience zero delay while recording. Plus, this capture card is a driverless card, which allows it to work straight out of its box and makes it compatible with any streaming software and platform of your choosing. If you’re looking for house-built software suites to go with your cards, the manufacturer provides a RECentral 3 recording software as well.
- Works without a driver
- Features a flexible audio connection
- Low latency offers zero delays
- No native driver support for Linux
This capture card by Lyrat can capture resolutions up to 1080p at 60fps while offering video-scaling features. It has the ability to automatically detect the format of the input audio and adjust the size and frame rate of the output accordingly, which makes it great for high definition acquisition, video recording, and live broadcasting. The card comes with a USB 3.0 cable and an HDMI cable, which can be connected to your display device. Its high-end design does not require driver installation, which makes it super easy to use. Plus, this capture card comes with functions built into the software, offering a seamless and frictionless experience.The card is constructed of an anti-rust and wear-resistant aluminum alloy shell with fast heat dissipation and consistently stable performance. It also features a power indicator that shows when the card is connected and being used. An additional bonus is the built-in 3.5 millimeter microphone and audio port that allows you to stream and record your voice alongside your video and add external commentary to your playthroughs.
- Captures resolutions up to 1080p at 60fps
- Provides no-lag streaming and recording
- Does not require driver installation
- Low-quality casing
The BlueAVS Capture Card captures HDMI video and audio and sends the signals to your computer and smartphone for previewing and storage. This card is great for high definition acquisition, medical imaging, and teaching recording. It supports an input resolution of 4K 60Hz and an output resolution of 1080p 30Hz.This card can easily be connected to your device, whether that’s a DSLR, a camcorder, a PC, or a laptop. It offers real-time feedback while recording videos directly onto the hard disk with zero lag, and captures a resolution of 720p or less at 60fps. Keep in mind that higher resolutions will run at 30fps only. This makes it a great entry card for a streamer who’s only just starting out and doesn’t want to splurge on a capture card.
- Very affordable yet great quality
- Ideal for beginning streamers
- Easy and simple to use
- Offers resolution of up to 720p at 60fps
- No passthrough functionality
This HDMI video capture card by Naivaunsin offers wide compatibility, which means that it will work with most softwares and third-party platforms. Its video output resolution supports up to 1080p at 60fps, which makes it great for smooth, clear live streaming and video conferencing with no delays or blue screens. What’s great about this capture card is that it doesn’t require a driver or an external power supply. It also offers fast transmission thanks to its high-end smart chip, 4K HDMI input, and USB 3.0 high-speed transmission port.The card’s anti-rust and wear-proof shell is made of a high-end aluminum that dissipates high heat and stabilizes its overall performance. It features two separate indicator lights: one is the signal indicator to show when the device is capturing video normally, and the other is the power indicator that lights up when the capture card is connected and being used.
- Offers high-speed transmission
- Durable casing improves overall performance
- Does not require driver installation
- Not recommended for TV
People Also Asked
Do capture cards work with laptops?
Yes. Some of them need to be installed into a PCIe slot, but others can be connected via USB 2.0, 3.0, or Thunderbolt. Check the specs on your device before buying your capture card.
Do I need a capture card to stream?
Without a capture card, you can stream and you can game, but it can be difficult to perform both tasks simultaneously. A capture card will allow you to complete the recording and encoding process while giving you a lot more flexibility.
Is an internal capture card better than an external one?
Internal capture cards are faster, but more expensive. External capture cards are slower, but better for those on a budget. External cards are also more portable.