20 Best Capture Cards of 2020

Last Updated on by Nicholas Frost

If your next step as a gamer is to stream or create content, then a capture card should be up there on your shopping list. A capture card will let you stream, record, and save gameplay locally from your console through your PC without any restrictions. With programs like OBS and XSplit, you can also customize your frame-up however way you wish. For more advanced content creators who want a dual PC setup, having a capture card will let your broadcasts go uninterrupted. All the capture cards included on this list can go with a couple of setups and are compatible with PC, Xbox One, and PS4, so there should be something for everyone. Picking out the right model can be a bit of a hassle. Luckily for you, we’ve gathered the very best capture cards for every budget and recording requirements. Let’s dive right in.

Elgato Game Capture HD60 S

If you don’t know where to start and you’re looking for a plug-and-play type of situation, this model is right up your alley. Elgato understands the essentials when it comes to streaming, and it certainly shows in their HD60 S offering. It’s relatively cheap, and the functionality that you get for its price is stellar.

You can record gameplay at 1080p 60fps, with added USB 3.0 connectivity to boot. The editing suite that comes with it is a bit limited, with only video trimming capabilities. You may want to download external software should you wish to do some hardcore editing. If you’re going for a more simplistic approach, you’re pretty much ready to get to work as soon as this unit arrives at your doorstep. As a bonus, the HD60S has a sleek and premium design that minimalists would surely love.

AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2

If you’re a gamer who is looking to get his/her feet wet in the massive ocean that is content creation, you might want to check out this capture card. With this model, switching between PC and micro SD is as easy as one, two, three. One thing that a lot of folks appreciate about the Live Gamer Portable 2 is its large flashing lights that indicate you’re recording. It’s an awful feeling to have spent hours playing, thinking that you’re recording great content, only to find out that you have nothing to show for it. This capture card will prevent instances like that.

The video quality is excellent at 60fps, and you don’t have to worry about lagging. You can continue to play in 4k as you record. You will need a micro SD card instead of your usual flash drive for file transfer, though. It’s a smart investment because you don’t want your CPU working extra hard while you’re capturing.

This unit comes with a RECentral, which makes it easy to overlay text and customize your picture in picture layout. There’s not much to complain about this Toblerone-shaped gizmo, with its impressive and intuitive features.

Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket

What makes the HD PVR Rocket unique is the fact that you can record from your console without having to plug it into a PC. It comes with a USB cable, which you will connect to your TV or console, and that’s how it’s powered. You can record gameplay by popping in a flash drive. It’s that simple.

Its bright LED lights indicate that everything is recording just fine, so you don’t have to worry about missing precious game time. When it’s glowing red, it’s recording. When it’s glowing green, it means that HDCP is still running on your console.

Unlike the first two entries on this list, the HD PVR Rocket doesn’t record at 60fps. This kind of setup doesn’t allow that. Instead, you get a decent 30fps, which is not terrible. The video output that you get is in MP4 format, so there’s no conversion needed when it’s time to import and edit. This unit holds its weight by having a mic, allowing users to make commentary on what they’re recording.

If you plan on recording gameplay from your PC, it’s worth mentioning that this unit is not compatible with Mac. You also don’t want to play graphically challenging games because you’ll get some artifcating. However, it does come with software (Hauppauge Capture), which makes it easy to edit your footage and upload it onto the platform of your choice.

AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme 2.0

If you need to get a capture card that focuses mainly on streaming, this unit is the optimal choice. The Live Gamer Extreme has zero latency, ensuring that you won’t get delays when broadcasting. You get the option to play on a PC or TV display. Either way, there is no lag.

You might want to get this unit if you’re considering having a setup with a camera, so you don’t have to keep switching eyes between two screens. Users also appreciate the fact that it has two audio inputs, meaning you can add commentary and music separately. Overall, the Live Gamer Extreme is easy to set up, and it can record at 1080p 60fps without a hitch. However, it doesn’t come with an editing suite, so you’ll have to download one separately to edit your footage. There are several excellent free options for that anyway.

Elgato 4K60 Pro

If a professional setup is a must for you, then you probably need to record at 4K 60fps. Here is an option for you. The 4K60 Pro can record gameplay at the crispest resolution and the fastest frame rates. This is an internal capture card, meaning it’s only compatible with higher-end hardware. If you’re playing on an Intel Core i7 CPU with a graphics card in the GTX 10 series, then you should have no problems. When you have all the right equipment, you can stream up to 140Mbps like it’s nothing.

You’re probably thinking that you’re going to need massive amounts of space to record all this crisp footage. Luckily, it comes with software that encodes what you record so it won’t take up as much space. This software is fast enough to keep up with your recording, but it’s still better to use this unit with an HDMI passthrough to another screen. While this might be too much for the standard streamer, if you think this card is the right choice for you, then you probably have all that equipment handy anyway.

Razer Ripsaw HD

If you’re looking for a 4K option that won’t break the bank, then the Ripsaw HD is worth checking out. You won’t find its capabilities in other capture cards in its price range. You get a true 4K passthrough, whether you’re streaming on an Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, or PS4. It also comes with a hardwired mic and headphone jacks if you want to record and mix audio, saving you from the hassle of using software for audio mixing.

The major downside of this unit is it doesn’t come with software. You’ll have to pay for an XSplit premium membership to customize your footage. While that won’t usually deter interested buyers, it can really be an inconvenience. It’s also worth noting that this unit doesn’t support dated consoles. Unlike its predecessor, it doesn’t come with an array of adapters.

AV.io 4K

It’s still widely acceptable to stream in 1080p because most folks don’t watch in 4K anyway. But if you want to get the very best video quality for your users and you play mostly on PS4 Pro, then the AV.io is a viable 4K option. You should be warned that playing on Xbox One X with games with higher frame rates might present some problems. If you’re a Playstation person at heart, then you should be able to use this capture card hassle-free.

This model’s size is as modest as it can get, making it the best choice for portability. You can slip it in your bag or your pocket if you’re gaming on the go. It doesn’t come with software, so you’re free to use any app that you’re most comfortable with. With its 4K capabilities, it’s astounding that it’s almost lag-free. All you need are the cables that are included in the kit, and you’re good to go.

What’s the major caveat here? It’s not the most affordable choice on this list. However, if portability and 4K capturing are on the top of the list of your priorities, this capture card will do the job just fine.

Roxio Game Capture HD Pro

If you don’t have lots of cash lying around for proper streaming equipment, that doesn’t mean you’re automatically out of the game. For under a hundred bucks, you can have a decent capture card that comes in the form of the Roxio HD Pro. It’s by no means a nonviable contender. This unit even comes with software, which you can use directly to stream on your chosen platform. With the software, you can edit your footage and add everything from transitions to music. It’s also a breeze to input text.

If you prefer PC to consoles, you can also use this card. It comes with a built-in H.264 encoder, which will lift a lot of strain from your CPU. Its notable downsides are its incompatibility with Mac and lack of USB 3.0. Other than that, it’s a great choice for streamers on a budget.

MIRABOX USB 3.0 HDMI Game Capture Card

If you game on multiple consoles, then the MIRABOX USB 3.0 should cover just about everything, even DSLR. Its USB 3.0 interface is much better than 2.0 because it allows for smoother recording. Plus, its HDMI output lets you stream without any annoying lags. Its nondescript boxy design might not be for everyone, but it’s a lot more capable than it looks.

With the MIRABOX, you can record video at 1080p 60fps, and it works on Mac and even Linux. It also supports the most popular streaming platforms like YouTube Live and Twitch. This is all you would need to get started in streaming without making a dent on your bank account.

AGPTEK MYPIN HDMI Game Capture Card

If the MIRABOX 3.0 piqued your interest, but you’re not sold on its design, check out this one from AGPTEK. With this unit, you get full HD recording and streaming at an impressive 60fps. It works on the Mac and Linux OS too. You also get the USB 3.0 interface, which, again, is much better than 2.0 if you don’t want to see some lagging.

The one thing that makes the MYPIN different from MIRABOX is the design. This unit has rounded corners and a sleek brushed metal covering that some folks might prefer over the boxy, industrial-looking MIRABOX. But when we’re talking capabilities, they’re pretty much identical. There are different uses for this capture card, as it’s compatible with multiple consoles and operating systems.

ClonerAlliance HDML Cloner Box Pro

If you’re trying to avoid spending upwards of $200 on a capture card that can handle a 4k passthrough and 1080p recording, look no further than the ClonerAlliance HDML Cloner Box Pro. You can record gameplay from your favorite consoles, as well as your PC. The footage can be stored directly to an external drive or PC, wherever you have space for it.

It also has decent connectivity, with its HDMI, VGA, MMI HDMI, AV, and audio jack outputs. With connectivity like this, you can stream on your favorite platform without any hassles. You will need third-party software to edit your footage, but that’s hardly the end of the world. With its plethora of features, it’s surprising that it’s offered at such a modest price.

ClonerAlliance Flint 4KP

ClonerAlliance’s latest offering comes in the form of Flint. It can stream at 1080p 60fps via a USB 3.0 port without a hitch because of its ultra-low latency capability. You won’t get any lagging or sound issues with this card. If you plan on streaming on Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook with commentary, it’s possible with this device because of the mic input with built-in mixing. This unit is compatible with all operating systems, including Android.

Best of all, you get a bundle of useful software for recording and editing game footage. If you prefer more familiar programs like XSplit and Wirecast, this unit is compatible with those too. You won’t even need to configure them to recognize the unit. This is capture card will surely get your channel off the ground.

AVerMedia GC553 Ultra

Right out of the box, the GC553 Ultra will work without any fussy configurations. Fans look to AVerMedia for actual plug-and-play functionality, and it’s undoubtedly evident is this unit. With its high refresh rate passthrough and 4Kp60fps output, your content will be crisp and brilliant.

It works on both Windows and Mac operating systems, and it’s compatible with most recording and editing software like Streamlabs and RECentral. It does come with Power Director 15 if you feel like using that. You get USB 3.1 connectivity so that you won’t experience any lag at all. Overall, this is quite a beefy offering by AVerMedia, and it’s honestly not that expensive for what it can do.

Magewell Pro Capture Quad

The Magewell Pro Capture Quad is targeted for more specialized users. Who really needs a capture card with 4-channel capabilities? Some might. This high-end device has 4 HDMI’s, all with embedded audio. It works across all operating systems and has automatic input detection.

Its firmware is updated remotely, so you don’t have to worry about your workflow ever getting disrupted. If we’re talking live streaming at a professional scale, this is the card that’s perfect for that. Some might think that this piece of hardware is way overpriced, but a lot would disagree with them. For the steep price tag, you get all the features you would need if you intend to make a career out of streaming. Imagine four channels of 1080p video. What could be more hardcore than that?

Plugable Performance NIX

For under $100, you can stream and record all your favorite games without worrying about any latency. The Plugable Performance NIC has USB 3.0 connectivity that works on all operating systems. On the console, it’s noteworthy that PS4 users have to disable HDCP for this unit to work smoothly. Otherwise, it works just as well. You can record on a Mac setup, but you can’t use it as an input source.

The HDMI passthrough will get you a clear 1080p video resolution at 60fps. You can also use outside software to edit and record with this unit. For under a hundred bucks, this is a steal. This capture card is another option for those who would like to start streaming but not blow a hole through their pockets.

Homful Capture Card

The Homful Capture Card is an all-around champ. If you’re particular about the resolution that you want to record in, this unit will automatically convert the input signal by using your setup’s existing drivers. By that line of reasoning, you’ll be able to record anything that your computer can run.

It can stream footage for up to 1080p 60fps, and it’s usable on all operating systems. Plus, it meets UVC and UAV standards, which we can’t say for all the cards on this list. It doesn’t come with an HDMI cable, which is weird, but it’s not much of a hassle to add one to your online order. It’s also very small, which makes it easy to bring everywhere you might want to do some gaming. It’s a great card for beginners.

Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4K

For a while there, the Intensity Pro was on all the list for best capture cards on the market. Now, its updated version, the Intensity Pro 4K, blows its predecessor out of the water. It comes with DaVinci Resolve, which lets you edit your game footage in such a way that it looks professionally done.

It also allows users to record gameplay without any compression so that the quality is not compromised. You would think that a feature-filled device like this is complicated to use, but that’s not the case at all. On top of that, it has 8 HDMI audio input and output embedded in Ultra HD. Folks use this device not only for streaming and recording games, but reformating old tapes too – all without having to purchase additional software.

Diamond Game Caster HD GC2000

This capture card operates in three modes: streaming, capture/edit, and standalone. With streaming, the unit lets you broadcast your gameplay onto online platforms. Just plug it in via the ethernet port, and you’re good to go. It comes with its own software called Shareview, and real-time voice commentary is supported.

In capture/edit mode, you can tweak your recorded files to get them ready for publishing. You can add transitions and commentary to make your content more streamlined. Like most editing programs, you burn your file to your desired format before uploading it on the net.

In standalone mode, you won’t even need a PC or laptop to record footage. All you need is an external SD card, and you’re golden. This gives the user to chance to concentrate on what’s important: the gaming. You can then edit your files later before they’re uploaded. It only takes one push of a button to start recording.

StarTech HDMI Video Capture Device

As reiterated on this list, you will need USB 3.0 bandwidth to record completely lossless footage at high resolutions. This card from StarTech offers that kind of connectivity with a 1080p 60 fps output. You can use it on Twitch or YouTube Live because it’s decked out with H.264 encoding.

Each unit comes with lifetime tech support by the company, so you’re guaranteed to get some help should you encounter any issues with it. Other than that, it’s a standard mid-range capture card with an attractive design.

Pinnacle Dazzle DVC100

Are you looking for a capture card that can record directly from analog sources as well as modern-day game systems? Yes? Then this unit certainly has a place on this list.

You get video editing software and a comprehensive guide on how to use the unit. This is perfect if you want to stream gameplay and do other stuff like preserve home movies. You can have polished content with the editing suite that it comes with, where you can add transitions, text, and effects. In it, you can also upload your content directly onto the web or your mobile device.

A quick guide to choosing the right capture card

Why would you need a capture card anyway? As illustrated in this post, you will need one to record game footage from a source (PC or console) and transfer it to an output source for editing, publishing, or streaming. All this is necessary to create the kind of content that you want. CPUs don’t usually have enough horsepower to record and stream footage. When capture cards enter the picture, they alleviate a lot of that stress from your CPU. You can then dedicate most of its capabilities on your gaming.

We made sure to include both internal and external capture cards on this list so that everybody can take their pick. Of course, internal cards are the ones that you have to attach to your motherboard. The external ones can be plugged in through a USB port. Users who need more portability would go for the external kind, while users who need more power go for the internal.

How do you use a capture card? Well, you’re going to need the device you’re going to play on, a dedicated PC for storage and editing, the capture card, and connective cables to sync them all together. Sometimes, you will need to install a capture card. Sometimes, it’s more of a plug-and-play scenario. Once everything is connected, you should be able to start recording or streaming.

Now, what should you be looking for in a capture card for the type of content that you want to produce? Here are the following factors to consider:

Resolution

Most streamers are happy with a 1080p 60fps output. That’s the resolution that most viewers watch their favorite players in because it’s usually on smaller displays anyway. Less expensive options naturally have to downgrade in resolution and frame rate, which is not the worst thing, especially if you’re not playing visually dense games. However, if you want to cater to a pickier audience who like watching streams in bigger displays with better resolutions, it’s worth the extra money to get 4K options.

Type

What do you think you would need? An internal or external capture card? Internal capture cards are more equipped to handle graphically complex games, and they take on the brunt of your CPU’s work. External capture cards, on the other hand, are easier to carry around and can be used on multiple devices much more easily.

Software

We always appreciate software that comes with a specific unit. In case you don’t want to use a third-party program, it’s there as an easy editing and publishing solution. With software, it’s also likely that your capture card can be updated for future optimizations.

Ease of use

Streaming can become a lucrative career these days, so a lot of people are quick to jump on that bandwagon. However, we can’t say that everyone has the technical knowledge to tweak their recording and streaming options according to their viewers’ preferences. If you’re unsure about your skills as a streamer, you want to get a capture card that’s easy to use, preferably something that can be plugged in and used right away without any extra configuration. If you already consider yourself a pro in streaming, then you could stand for a capture card that has higher customization.

Price

Capture cards are not cheap. For that reason, a lot of consideration has to go into deciding on the right one. All the capture cards on this list fit into any budget, but all of them are capable in their own right. Just make sure that you weigh your options against each other because there might be a cheaper alternative for what you’re looking for.

Last-minute tips

  • A powerful capture card won’t account for anything if you don’t have a fast and reliable internet connection for streaming.
  • Always remember to update your capture card’s software if it’s available. Manufacturers usually find ways to fix bugs and improve their products’ features as time goes on.
  • Understand your PC’s capabilities and match it with an appropriate capture card. It’s not a good idea to mix and match the high-end with the low-end.
  • Your streaming setup is key to a smooth experience. Make sure you have all the necessary connective cable, and everything is installed before you start gaming.

Conclusion

Capture cards have different capabilities. For example, some cards have limited video resolution. Most streamers usually go for 720-1080p, which is crisp enough for most viewers. However, if you’re a stickler for quality, you could also look into 4k capture cards. These, of course, would be on the pricier side. Another thing to consider is the software that comes with a specific capture card. While you could download more popular programs like OBS, it doesn’t hurt to have backup software that is easy to use and has a decent range of usability.

Streaming is a major form of entertainment these days, and it’s smart to want to get into it for fun or monetary gain. You can make money off of what you truly love: playing games! That seems like a dream to most gamers, but some actually make it into reality. It’s a cool feeling to have a growing audience and a community that follows your virtual adventures. Whether or not you make it in the streaming world is entirely up to your charm and skills as a gamer. Of course, the right equipment wouldn’t hurt too.

 

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