What is a Capture Card?

A capture card is a receiver, either external or internal, to input data- they are used to transfer video & audio signals from one device to another. This is particularly useful if you are using two PCs, one to stream on and one to game on. The signal goes from the GPU on your gaming PC to the capture card connected to your streaming PC. The signal is then captured and sent to sites like Twitch or saved to your streaming PC.

A capture card can increase your gaming PC’s performance while giving your stream a better picture quality and decreasing any lag. Most commonly streamers who use a console to game may use a capture card to stream to Twitch. You can play on your PS4 or Xbox One Games and still use your computer to broadcast. For example, if you’re using a PS4 to game on, you would connect the PS4, HDMI, and the capture card to your PC. When you turn on your PS4 you will see the Playstation screen projected onto your monitor. You can then start screen recording and streaming directly from your PC while gaming on your PS4.

Choosing the best capture card for streaming will ensure that you have minimal lag and a quality stream. There are plenty of options when it comes to capture cards, but overall craftsmanship can be iffy. Price and quality vary with each brand and you definitely want to get the most of your money with the top capture cards available.

Internal capture cards tend to be the better choice as far as latency and encoding. They typically keep audio and video synced better. External cards use less CPU and RAM and have slightly more lag than internal- but nothing incredibly drastic, especially if you’re purchasing a high-quality external card. Researching what will work best for your streams and playing with the settings will make sure that these capture cards run flawlessly for a perfect video recording.

Best Capture Cards for Streaming

If you decide you’re in the market for a capture card for your stream, here are our top 5 most recommended options.

1. Elgato HD60 S

  • Compatible with PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and WiiU
  • 1080p at 60 fps Capture
  • External Installation

The Elgato HD60 S has a high bitrate quality (40mbps) and an instant game view feature that will keep game play recording perfectly synced with audio and real-time. If you’re doing any commentary in your stream while playing this is extremely beneficial. With the HD60S you won’t have a 2-3 second delay in your recordings.

The HD60 S capture card passes signals directly to PC instead of encoding the video like many other capture cards on the market. It’s ideal when using XSplit and is suited for streaming instead of just recording. Your stream can be customized with your webcam feed and other overlays so you can really stand out.

The HD60 S can be used to record your PS4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch/ WiiU (with unencrypted HDMI) game play. This capture card will only work with Windows 10 (64-bit), 4th generation quad‑core Intel Core i5 CPU (i5-4xxx or comparable), Intel HD or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 600 series graphics (or better). The installation is simple – just plug in the HDMI cords and install the necessary software. Anyone can easily set up and use this capture card without any headache.

2. MyPin 1080P Capture Card

  • Compatible with PC, Xbox One, PS4, Wii, Nintendo Switch, and digital cameras
  • 1080p at 60 fps Capture
  • External Installation

The MyPin 1080P Game Capture Card works with Xbox One, PS4, Wii, and Nintendo Switch as well as digital cameras. This capture card works well with any 3rd party software, like OBS, so you don’t need to install anything new on your PC.

The audio sounds great, not overly compressed through HDMI. It’s an affordable option with low latency and delay. It can be used for an extended period of time without any overheating- perfect for streaming gameplay. It’s very easy to use. It works straight out of the box with any video capturing software, can auto-detect signal format, and can work with classic game consoles (you’ll have to purchase an OSSC).

If you’re wanting a 4K capture card, well MyPin is offering that now, too. They recently released a 1080p at 60 fps capture card that records in vibrant 4K HDR for vivid colors and better picture quality.

3. AVerMedia GL310 AVerCapture HD

  • Compatible with PC, Xbox360/One, PlayStation 3 and 4, WiiU, Nintendo Switch, and Digital Cameras
  • 1080p, 60 fps Capture
  • External Installation

With the AverMedia capture card you can stream from your Xbox360/One, PlayStation 3 and 4, WiiU, Nintendo Switch, and digital cameras. You can instantly share your stream to Twitch or YouTube. An average of 300 millisecond low encoding latency- no drastic delay for flawless recording.

It works well with older PCs that don’t have all the latest technology, so if you’re a beginner- the AverMedia might be a good choice for you. It’s affordable compared to other capture cards which is of course, a plus. It still produces high quality streams, even at 30 fps. It’s easy to install the software- all very straightforward. It’s incredibly lightweight if you’re planning on streaming with a digital camera and want more of a “mobile” capture card.

4. Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro

  • Compatible with PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch
  • 1080p, 60 fps Capture
  • Internal Installation Windows 10

The Elgato HD60 Pro capture card works with all three game systems and has a built-in live stream feature to YouTube and Twitch. The latency is extremely low and the encoding is flawless. The HD60 Pro has a higher price tag than the others- but it’s totally worth it. This capture card features a H.264 encoder that allows you to record unlimited footage and at a bitrate of up to 60Mbps while keeping your project files small.

The setup is self-explanatory and extremely easy.  It will be a little different than any of the external capture cards, but not overly complex. With the HD60 Pro you have the option to upgrade it to 4K 60fps recording. It’s affordable compared to other 4K capture cards on the market and is just about the same quality.

5. AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2

  • Compatible with PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and WiiU
  • 1080p, 60 fps Capture
  • Internal Installation

The AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2 is great for real-time gameplay streaming- it features low latency HDMI pass-through. It supports uncompressed video output to give you the highest quality picture. You can even use up to 4 AVerMedia capture cards on your PC. It supports content overlay, live editing, and custom quality settings.
LGHD2 uncompressed video output will give your videos a sharper and more vibrant color quality. However, depending on your personal preference, you can capture video recordings either compressed or uncompressed. AVerMedia capture card offers a flexible audio connection – you can either input with HDMI or 3.5 mm ports. You can record audio from your PC, consoles, or output mixers. It’s designed to work with Xsplit and OBS- perfect for streaming. With so many awesome features available this card is well worth the higher price tag.

Capture cards are an amazing asset to anyone in the streaming or video recording world. They make things a lot easier and help broadcasting run smoother overall. If you’re buying your first capture card- it’s smart to see the purchase as an investment. Buying the best will ensure that it not only works for everything you need- but functions for as long as you need.