If you're thinking about streaming on twitch, you may have thought about a capture card for streaming. The world of capture cards can be overwhelming because there are so many capture cards in the market. I'm going to explain some features that I think are important when you're shopping for capture cards, or features I think are important to understand. In this post I will discuss types of capture cards, what to looks for when you're looking for a capture card, and the capture cards I think are best for streaming.
What is a capture card?
A capture card is basically a device that captures video between the source and display. Capture cards are really popular for people that want to record their gameplay from their PS4 or Xbox One. A capture card does exactly what it sounds like, and that is that it captures or records video. A capture card acts like a pass-through for a video signal. For example, normally you plug an HDMI cable into your Xbox One or PS4 and then you need to plug the other end into the TV. The difference with a capture card is that you need to plug the HDMI cable into the capture card, and then use another HDMI cable to carry the signal back to your TV. The capture card will record everything that goes through it, and store it on your computer via USB cable.
Capture cards can record in all sorts of resolutions and framerate, but the best capture cards record in 1080p and at a framerate of 60fps. The capture cards that record in high resolution and high fps are also more expensive than capture cards that record at lower resolution and fps. Capture cards also come in many form factors, some capture cards are called external capture cards, and they are connected to a computer via a USB cable, and usually use USB 3.0. Another type of Capture card is a internal or PCI capture cards, and these capture cards need to be installed into a desktop tower computer, which is why most people that are new to capture cards buy an external one. I will cover the different types of capture cards further into this post, and help you choose the best capture card for your needs.
Something to consider when looking to buy the best capture card for your needs is to make sure the capture card software is decent. Once all of your footage is on your computer you can edit it all you want and upload it. You can also stream whatever your capture card records. The best capture card for you depends on what you're looking for and what you need. If you need a capture card that is easy to use and provides great video quality, I would recommend an external capture card like the Elgato. One of the cons of many external capture cards it that they do not give you a live preview, meaning there will be delay while you're recording. The delay will not affect your video, but you won't be able to play a game while looking at the preview window. The best capture card for new users is definitely an external capture card, because all you need to do is plug it in with a USB cable. The best capture card for more experienced users would be PCI or internal capture card. An internal capture cards is connected to the PCI Express slot of your desktop PC and allows you to have a live preview of what you're recording and usually offers superior quality compared to a external capture. The best capture card depends heavily on what fits the needs you have.
Do you even need a capture card
Capture cards are extremely useful for streaming and can really benefit every type of streamer. If you want to stream a gaming console like an Xbox one or PS4 than a capture card is an absolute necessity. If you want to stream from your PC and you don't have a very powerful CPU, than a capture card that can hardware encode would be ideal. If you're thinking about streaming and need to step up your video quality than a capture is a great piece of technology to buy.
PC or Console Capture Cards
A capture card is needed for anyone that wants to record their gaming console, but only a few can do both PC and Console recording. If you want to stream your Xbox One or PS4 console then you need to buy a capture card, so you can transfer the footage to your PC and then to your streaming software. A capture card is not necessary if you want to stream PC games, but buying one that can hardware encode will take a lot of stress of your CPU. Almost every capture card can be used to stream pc, but many external cards have a delay which makes it impractical to use for PC streaming.
Delay and No Delay Live Preview
When you're looking for a capture card a preview delay may be something you want to avoid. Many external capture cards and even some internal capture cards have a preview delay. A preview delay is exactly what it sounds like, and that is a delay in the video stream from the capture card. If you're going to be streaming a console then I highly recommend getting a internal or PCI based capture card because than you can play your console game on your pc while simultaneously streaming. Capture card manufacturers try to reduce preview delay as much as possible, but only a few capture cards have no preview delay.
External and PCI capture cards
Capture cards come in two forms and that is in PCI form or an internal capture card, and an external capture or one that needs to be connected to a computer with a USB cable. If you want to get a internal capture card than you need to have a desktop computer tower with a open PCI slot. One of the reasons people purchase external capture cards is because they have a laptop and can only use a USB cable. If you plan on just recording your console and uploading to Youtube than an external capture card like an Elgato HD60 is probably the best option. If you plan on streaming your console then a internal PCI capture card is the best choice.
Capture Cards that Hardware Encode and Capture cards that don't encode
If you plan on streaming PC games than a capture card with hardware encoding is the way to go. When you stream to Twitch.tv, your CPU encodes the video. Encoding basically means getting your video into transferable form, and this process can be very CPU intensive. If you have trouble streaming because your computer isn't powerful enough then a capture card with hardware encoding will greatly increase performance. Hardware encoding capture cards are like having a 2nd cpu in your computer for streaming.
Capture Card Pricing
Capture cards for twitch streaming and youtube recording range in prices from $50 all the way to $500. I've found that the best capture cards for gaming are in the $150-$200 range. Below are short reviews of both of my highly recommended capture cards. They work amazingly for streaming onto twitch and work even better for recording your gameplay for youtube. Capture cards also last a very long time, you can probably use the same one for generations of consoles, so investing now is a good idea.
Elgato Game Capture HD60 S External Capture Card Review
Elgato Game Capture HD60 S offers streaming, record and share options for your gameplay with a superior low latency technology. It is the best capture card available with its stunning 1080p quality with 60 fps, state of the art USB 3.0 Type C connection, built-in live streaming for YouTube and more. You can use it with your PS4, Xbox One or Wii U, and you can choose to add webcam or overlays through steam command. A built-in live commentary feature is also available making your game capture experience an interactive one. The best part is that it comes with free shipping, and you can have it gift wrapped for your friends.
You can stream and record your finest gaming moments with HD60 S and leverage the perfect base to showoff to your friends what you’re actually capable of. It is faster and more efficient than other game capture cards available thanks to the state of the art reversible USB C connector. You don’t have to think twice before purchasing HD60 S and you’re hooked up instantly using a plug and play option. You can add your voice with the built-in Live Commentary feature or stream live on YouTube or Twitch. You have endless options to customize your stream layout, and add overlays or alerts to change the layout on the fly with different scenes.
HD60 S is always ready to capture your memorable moments even when you don’t hit the record button through its instant recording feature. Using Flashback recording, simple scroll back in time on your Windows or Mac PC and press the record button retroactively to seamlessly record hours of your gaming experience. You can access them whenever you need to and instantly create a history record. Capturing your gameplay is just the start, and with frictionless performance, HD60 S lets you focus and perfect your production. Your audience and sure to notice and get impressed with your game capture card.
You can continuously evolve your content, and through the high performance USB connector, bring instant gameview to an external capturing solution. The recording quality is exceptional and the technology is far superior to other game capture cards available in the market. The Elgato Game Capture HD60 S comes with a USB 3.0 A to Type-C cable and a 6 feet HDMI cable giving you all the connections in a single box. When you purchase the item, you don’t have to worry about any accessories because the capture card comes with everything you need, so you can get connected instantly. HD60 S is surely the best capture card, and you would be hooked to it the moment you start using it.
AVerMedia Live Gamer HD PCI Capture Card
AVerMedia is a company that sells a variety of audiovisual technologies. Their website splits these technologies into five categories; Gaming, TV & more, Education, Industrial Video Device, and Industrial Video System. AVerMedia is known for their gaming technologies and one item that has been very popular over the past few years is the Live Gamer HD streaming capture card.
Streaming capture cards are used to record computer activities, such as a gaming session or recording footage to be used in a YouTube video. This streaming capture card is designed to be used with a PC. One scenario is to have a computer set up with two monitors. The object is to play on one monitor while recording on the second monitor. A popular piece of equipment that is necessary to make this happen is AVerMedia’s Live Gamer HD card.
This streaming capture card allows the user to stream and record gameplay on the WiiU console, the Xbox and the PlayStation. It can stream video content up to 1080p. It also allows the user to stream gameplay directly to YouTube with built-in commentary. The Live Gamer HD card is a streaming capture card that has received numerous positive reviews. Users complement its ease of set up and use, and its ability to capture almost anything with an HDMI device and RCA/component devices. This capture card also allows the user to add his choice of background music to the footage captured. Moreover, this streaming capture card allows gamers to add live commentary while uploading footage.
AVerMedia also offers a limited warranty on any piece of their hardware. Customers will need to confirm the details of this warranty from the original seller of the equipment. An important thing to note about receiving warranty service is that the hardware could be reset to factory settings. This means a loss of data or settings is possible. AVerMedia is not responsible for reinstalling updates or other software onto the streaming capture card. AVerMedia also wants gamers to know that there are no legalities in place to keep AVerMedia from replacing the card instead of working on the original streaming capture card that was returned to them. There are not many issues reported with the Live Gamer HD streaming capture card. Some issues that customers have faced include a slight latency between synchronizing visual and audio feeds. Another complaint is that the capture card does not record at the speed that is supposed to.
There is a lot of information online about this streaming capture card, and many review websites are overwhelmingly positive. AVerMedia’s Live Gamer HD streaming capture card is an investment that will pay off and will do exactly what gamers need it to do.