PC capture cards are dedicated hardware devices that allow you to record gaming footage for YouTube or livestreaming. Unlike gameplay capture software, capture cards don’t negatively impact performance, and they always capture exactly what you see on the monitor.
There are two main types of capture cards: internal and external. An internal capture card connects to the PCI Express slot on the motherboard. Such card usually has at least one analog and one digital video signal input port, usually VGA and HDMI. Using an external video signal splitter, which is a small box that lets you share a single video source between multiple devices, you feed the signal from your graphics card both to the capture card and to your monitor. The capture card then records high-quality, unprocessed footage directly from your graphics card.
An external capture card works in a similar way. The only major difference is that you don’t need a video signal splitter to record gameplay footage. You simply connect a video cable from your graphics card to the input port on the external capture card, and then another cable from the output port on the external capture card to your monitor. The recorded footage is then either stored on a hard drive built into the external capture card or transmitted to your computer via USB or Thunderbolt.
Best Capture Cards For PC Gaming
1. Elgato Game Capture HD
Elgato offers an entire range of easy to use capture devices, and the Elgato Game Capture HD is their most affordable model. Design to capture Full HD at 30 frames per second, the Game Capture HD is a small, external capture box with one HDMI input and HDMI output for straightforward capture of gameplay footage from a computer or gaming console.
One HDMI cable is included with the capture box, so you can just hook everything up and start recording. It’s also possible to record analog signals through the included analog input. Power is delivered via a Mini USB port.
But the Elgato Game Capture HD isn’t really where the magic happens. That would be the Game Capture software that you can download on Elgato’s official website. The software is designed to be an all-in-one recording, editing, and streaming solution.
You can control every aspect of the recording process, down to the bit-rate and volume. The software helps you organize your recordings, do basic video editing, and include audio commentary, just to name a few things.
Buy it now: here
2. Elgato Game Capture HD60 S
The Elgato Game Capture HD60 S is an upgrade version of the more affordable Game Capture HD gameplay capture box. In terms of their design, the two models look similar, but a closer inspection reveals some important differences. The HD 60 S is sleek, curvy, and has an integrated LED status strip that lights up to indicate that video footage is being captured.
A USB-C connector is used to supply power to the capture box and bring you real-time video preview, and a 3.5mm microphone connector simplifies the process of recording live audio commentaries.
The Elgato Game Capture HD60 S can capture Full HD video footage up to 60 frames per second through an HDMI pass-through. Other supported resolutions include 1080p at 30 frames per second, 1080i, 720p at both 30 and 60 frames per second, 576p, 576i, and 480p. The maximum capture bitrate for all resolution is up to 40 Mbps. With the Game Capture HD60 S, you can easily capture footage from your PC or console.
Buy it now: here
3. Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro4
If you’re a professional content creator, then you deserve professional tools to help you do your job and give your audience what they want. The Elgato Game Capture HD 60 Pro internal capture card offers unrivaled performance and features that will take your workflow to the next level. Connect a PC or a console to the HDMI input port and record high-quality gameplay footage in Full HD at 60 frames per second.
The HD60 Pro can handle bitrates of up to 60 Mbps, giving you more than enough processing bandwidth to cover even the most demanding recording scenarios.
One feature unique for the HD60 Pro is called Master Copy. With it, the card simultaneously records your gameplay and streams the action in real-time on Twitch or elsewhere. Master Copy saves the footage from your webcam and your streaming overlays as separate layers, making things simpler for you when you get to post-processing and uploading to YouTube.
Buy it now: here
4. Mirabox Capture Card 3.8/187
Next up, we’re looking at Mirabox’s Capture Card. This one is a 1080p HDMI Capture Card, and works with most HDMI-supported devices, like the PC, Wii U, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo Switch, and so much more.
This one is one of our favorites for game streaming, because this capture card can support HDCP 1080p with 60 frames-per-second. Suffice to say, you’re going to get nothing but top-notch streaming quality for your viewers, whether you’re streaming via Twitch, or uploading VODs to YouTube.
Buy it now: here
5. Razer Ripsaw 3.3/67
Now if you really want a top-tier capture card, look no further than the Razer Ripsaw. How this one rises above the rest is by featuring a 4K 60 frames-per-second pass-through for uninterrupted, smooth gameplay. You should have zero latency, and get powerful streaming performance out of the 1080P at 60 frames-per-second streaming abilities.
It supports other, lighter resolutions, too, including 2160p, 1080p, 1440p at 30fps , 720p, and even 480p.
Buy it now: here
6 .AVerMedia Game Broadcaster HD
The AVerMedia Game Broadcaster HD is a popular internal capture card designed to plug into the PCI Express slot. The card has two inputs, VGA and HDMI, and it comes with a component to VGA cable, and an RCA to 3.5mm audio cable, giving you the option to easily record video footage from virtually any analog source. You can capture Full HD content at 30 frames per second and see a live preview on your monitor using the intuitive capture software that comes with the card.
Like most capture cards, the AVerMedia Game Broadcaster HD can’t capture content protected using HDCP (High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection), which is an encryption standard used to protect Blu-Ray movies and the video output of some gaming consoles.
Because HDCP is a digital protection, it only works over digital outputs. As long as you can transmit the protected content over an analog output, you’ll be able to capture it with the AVerMedia Game Broadcaster HD. What’s more, you can also livestream everything in Full HD using AVerMedia’s streaming software solution, hence the name Broadcaster HD.
7. Blackmagic Design Intensity Extreme
The Blackmagic Design Intensity Extreme is a Thunderbolt capture box that can record video footage from both analog and digital sources. It records Full HD footage at 60 frames per second and is optimized to work flawlessly with the Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio Production Switcher. The switcher allows for live production and simultaneous generation of H.264 files for the web.
If you’re a Mac user, the Blackmagic Design Intensity Extreme is an excellent capture solution that lets you leverage the high throughput of the Thunderbolt connector and capture video in the highest possible quality.
Best Capture Cards For PC Gaming Verdict
As you can see, there are plenty of options out there as far as capture cards go. Most of these will all work with your PC, but you can also use different adapters and cables to make them work with consoles, like the Xbox One or PlayStation 4.
Ultimately, when it comes right down to it, these are all going to make it possible to record your gameplay and upload it to a platform like YouTube or Twitch without a hitch. Or, you can just keep it on your PC to play around with a video editor, or to keep somewhere for memories.
Do you have a favorite capture card? Let us know in the comments below.