Capture cards are really simple devices. These nifty boxes connect your console to your PC while simultaneously passing a feed to a TV or monitor, allowing you to stream or capture gameplay footage at high resolutions and frame rates while enjoying your game. With the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X pushing resolutions and frame rates higher than ever (not to mention features like HDR), only the best capture cards do the trick.
Gaming enthusiasts that wish to enhance their gaming experience will often search on the internet for the best options in a capture card. And even though there are lots of capture cards with a plethora of impressive features to help improve the quality in streaming games and recording, it’s not always an easy job knowing which brand to choose.
Below you’ll find the best capture cards on the market at the moment. We’ve included models that work great with every current console as well as PC. Finally, if you need a capture card for the upcoming PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X, we have a couple of models that should work fine with both next-gen consoles.
5 Best Capture Cards of 2021:
Elgato’s HD60 is crashing into next-gen with the Elgato HD60 S+. Stylistically and mechanically, it’s almost identical to the HD60 S — our previous recommendation for this slot — though it comes with one unique advantage: 4K60 passthrough with HDR.
Although the HD60 S+ is still limited to 1080p HDR capture at 60 frames per second, you can still monitor your feed with the full graphical fidelity of your new console. The HD60 S+ can capture 4K, too, though it’s limited to 30 fps.
Elgato clearly targeted the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 with the HD60 S+, but it works on the PS4 and Xbox One, too. No matter what console you’re using, getting set up is simple. After hooking up an HDMI cable to both ends and running the included USB cable to your computer, streaming software like OBS Studio and XSplit will automatically detect your console as an input source.
For system requirements, the HD60 S+ requires a little more than the S variant, but not much. You’ll need a 6th-gen Intel i5 or better paired with 4GB of RAM and an Nvidia GTX 10-series GPU on Windows. On Mac, you’ll still need 4GB of RAM, but you can get by with a 4th-gen i5 or better and either an AMD or Nvidia GPU.
- iMac can be used as a monitor for PS4
- This model includes a USB C type to USB cable
- Very easy to set up the system
- No HDR support on this card
The Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus from AverMedia is a perfect little gadget to carry around capable of recording up to [email protected] without the need of a PC. This makes this card the best choice for Switch owners due to the portable nature of the system. Just don’t forget to carry the dock with you since it’s needed for connecting the card.
If you carry a laptop with your Switch, you can also use the card for live streaming. The card supports other consoles and while it cannot record in 4K resolution, it does come with a 4K pass-through which can be great for high-end PC owners as well as streamers who own a PS4 Pro or the Xbox One X. Do note that the card offers only two pass-through resolutions – 1080p and 2160p.
This card will also be a pretty solid choice for next-gen consoles since it offers [email protected] pass-through for those who are fine with [email protected] recording quality. On the flip side, the card has high capture latency so you can’t use it to play games via capture software in case you have just one monitor. Also, if you like HDR in your console games forget about this card since its pass-through feature isn’t compatible with HDR content.
Overall, the Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus is an excellent capture card for those who need high portability and standalone capture function.
- Can Record Gameplay Directly On An SD Card
- [email protected] HDMI Pass-Through
- Excellent Portability
- Easy To Use
- Works On Windows 10, 8, 7, and Max OS X
- HDMI Pass-Through Doesn’t Support HDR
- Comes With Micro-USB Instead Of USB-C
- High Capture Latency
AVerMedia might not be a household name yet when it comes to capture cards and streaming devices, but that doesn’t mean the company isn’t turning heads. Its capture cards in particular always seem to come with an interesting innovation—and the AVerMedia Live Gamer Duo doesn’t buck the trend.
Previously we’ve seen the Thunderbolt-only Live Gamer Bolt, and the 4K HDR streaming lineup, in the Live Gamer Ultra and Live Gamer 4K. However, one of the newer entries to the market is the Live Gamer Duo, an internal card that fits into a PCIe slot on your motherboard and can handle two HDMI inputs at once—a very useful tool for streamers and content creators.
The Live Gamer Duo retails for $250 USD but it’s important to remember that it’s more akin to buying two capture cards than one. AVerMedia sent us one to review, and while it doesn’t do 4K HDR streaming like some of its bigger brothers, it does everything advertised—and more importantly it does it well.
This $250 Live Game Duo is giving you two capture cards for the price of one. A great set up for streaming with multiple HDMI inputs like a gaming console, a fancy DSLR camera, or a second PC. The only real downside is if you have plans aspirations for 4K recording or streaming, you’ll have to look lower on the list. If you’re looking to stream out at 1080p/60fps mostly hassle-free, though, you won’t go wrong with the Live Game Duo.
- Can stream 2 HMDI sources at once
- Easy set up and use
- HD only
- Only does passthrough on 1 HDMI source
The Y&H HDMI Game Capture Card inherits the characteristics of being a great capture card for streaming purposes. This capture card is among the lowest priced options on the market.
Even with this affordable price range, there are still dozens of nice features like screen sharing, live streaming, and 1080p video recording. You don’t need to install or update drivers with this capture card, and it is designed to work with USB 3.0 technology for faster transfer speeds.
There are many popular streaming programs that are compatible with this capture card including OBS studio and VLC Media Player.
- Possible to use with Universal Windows Platform
- Very little or potentially no latency on this card
- Flawless gameplay and video audio recordings
- Can’t use with interlaced 1080i output
Pro-users, who want nothing but the best, need look no further than Elgato’s 4K60 Pro. It may need a high-end PC to get off the ground, but this is an excellent piece of kit for those who are intent on capturing gameplay at the highest resolution and frame rate possible.
It’s worth making sure you’ve got enough storage space for all those videos, too, because they can get huge very quickly. And if you want to go big, Sabrent’s 4TB RocketQ or even the ultra-expensive Sabrent 8TB SSD will be your dream tickets to storage nirvana. The 4K60 Pro’s encoder can reduce file size and save you much-needed memory real-estate, but they can still be chunky in real terms.
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.
- 4K capture with 60fps
- Video encoding
- 1080p @240hz / 1440p @144hz passthrough
The Right Card for Any Occasion
These are just some of our favorite capture cards for the Nintendo Switch. While on the expensive side, the best overall card in our opinion is the Elgato HD60 S Capture Card. It’s simple to use and is perfect for the Nintendo Switch. If the price isn’t your cup of tea, the AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus is also a very good option. The PC-free mode is great for capturing Switch gameplay when you’re away from your computer. You can also use these streaming cards for other devices, to be sure to take that and other Nintendo Switch accessories into consideration before your purchase.
What to Look for in Capture Cards
The first thing you should consider when picking out a capture card is how you’re going to use it. If you plan on doing a lot of streaming at home and want to keep things relatively clutter-free, then an internal capture card that you insert into your PC’s motherboard, such as the Elgato 4K60 Pro, is a great choice that offers excellent quality as well. Portable capture cards, like the Elgato HD60 S+, are great for those who want the flexibility of being able to take it wherever they need to go–though in most cases, you will need a laptop nearby if you plan on travelling away from home and using your capture card. Once you’ve figured out what suits your needs best, choosing the right capture card is much easier.
From this point, you need to consider the platforms you’re going to be recording. Capture cards have a variety of features that can either take advantage of your platforms’ features or restrict them entirely if you don’t buy the right device for your setup.