The best capture cards for PC gaming

best capture card for PC gaming

It’s a great time to get into streaming or recording; capture cards are easier to use and more affordable than ever. That said, the best capture card for you will depend on what you want it to do. Looking for an entry-level device? The Elgato HD60 S or the AverMedia Live Gamer Extreme are good shouts. Want serious power and 4K capabilities? Go for Elgato’s 4K60 Pro. To help you decide what to buy, we’ve put together some recommendations below. 

No matter what you choose, the main things to keep in mind are resolution, frame rate, and ease-of-use. For instance, many cards can record at 1080p but may not be capable of streaming at that level. Don't get caught out! Likewise, don’t feel beholden to the biggest and best numbers. While ultra-HD cards will make your recordings look drop-dead gorgeous, they’ll also be too much for all but the most powerful rigs. As such, the best capture card for you may not be the most ‘advanced’ one.

PC build for gaming |  Best microphones for streaming |  Best webcam

Elgato Game Capture HD60 S

Elgato Game Capture HD60 S

1. Elgato Game Capture HD60 S

The best capture card for newcomers

Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 60fps | Interface: USB 3.0

Excellent capture quality
Good price
Editing software isn't great

This is the perfect card for anyone wanting to get their gameplay online with as little hassle as possible. Elgato are experts in their field, and the HD60 S proves it; reasonably priced and simple to use, it’s probably the best place to start if you’re new to streaming. Crisp 1080p recordings at 60fps are a feather in its cap, while USB 3.0 connectivity is a happy bonus. Built-in software to get you up and running seal the deal. In fact, the only downside would be the card’s fairly limited editing suite—it’s not much good for anything beyond trimming video. However, it does have ‘Flashback Recording’ to help you retroactively capture even if you forgot to hit ‘record’.

AverMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus

AverMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus

2. AverMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus

A brilliant, user friendly pick

Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 60fps | Interface: USB 3.0

Ease-of-use
Play in 4K while you record
Doesn't stream in 4K

Straightforward and reassuringly unsubtle, the Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus packs smooth 60fps and 1080p recording, 4K pass-through so you can still play in ultra HD (even if it’s not captured in 4K), USB 3.0, Mac compatibility, and dirty great flashing lights to tell you if you’re capturing or have left HDCP on. Besides an attractive form-factor with black casing, red trim, and neon-blue strip lighting, it packs intuitive software for live editing and the ability to record straight onto a Micro SD card if you’d prefer to keep your HDD clear of space-absorbing video. This is a capture card with flexibility, particularly if you record on the go. It works straight out of the box too—always a plus.

AverMedia Live Gamer Extreme

AverMedia Live Gamer Extreme

3. AverMedia Live Gamer Extreme

The best capture card for streamers

Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 60fps | Interface: USB 3.0

No lag
Perfect for streaming
No editing software

AverMedia’s Gamer Extreme card is one of the best streaming-focused solutions on our list; it gives the competition a run for its money thanks to zero latency, no lag, super-fast USB 3.0, uncompressed 1080p HD footage, and 60fps for both streaming and recording. This is what you want if you’re aiming to the storm the treacherous beaches of Twitch. While some features are more useful for console gamers than those using PC, it still allows you to focus on the whatever you’re capturing instead of needing a dual-screen setup. Two audio inputs for adding voiceover or music is equally welcome, and (as with many of the cards above) live editing software helps.

Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro

Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro

4. Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro

A great card for pros, although it won't do 4K

Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 60fps | Interface: PCIe x1, HDMI

Advanced encoder
Bitrate of 60mbps
Only streams in 720p

If you want to take your recordings to the next level, Elgato’s internal HD60 Pro card is a good shout. Indeed, their website claims that this card features “an advanced, onboard H.264 encoder that enables you to record unlimited footage in superb 1080p [60fps] quality, at a bitrate up to 60Mbps.” Not too shabby. Although it only streams in 720p, it still manages a solid 60fps. Petite, classy form-factor are in the HD60 Pro’s favor as well. At around $150/£150, it’s a sound option that gives great results for less.

Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro

Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro

5. Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro

The best 4K capture card for serious pros

Resolution: 4K | Frame rate: 60fps | Interface: PCIe x4

4K capture with 60fps
Video encoding
Needs a high-end PC

For pro-users who will settle at nothing but the best, Elgato’s 4K60 Pro is your jam. It builds on the HD60 Pro’s ultra-low latency with 4K 60fps capture, 1080p 60fps streaming, and all the benefits of Elgato software. Even though it needs a high-end PC to get off the ground, this is an excellent piece of kit for those who are set on capturing gameplay at the highest resolution and frame rate possible. We’d recommend an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 20-series and at least an 8th gen Intel Core i7 CPU (or better) to avoid any latency. Although it’s wise to make sure you’ve got enough space on your HDD for all those videos as well, the 4K60 Pro has an encoder to reduce file size and save you much-needed memory real-estate. Oh, and one more thing: the best way to play while using this card is with a lag-free HDMI passthrough that shoots the feed to a 4K screen or second monitor.

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