The best capture cards for recording and streaming games

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So you’ve decided to stream your favourite game; whether if it’s LOST: The Game or Unreal Tournament.

But sometimes it’s not as simple as setting up OBS, designing a ‘scene’ for people to watch you, and then fire up Black Mesa.

It can be a massive strain on the PC or laptop you’ve got, but with capture cards, the stress of creating and storing the content can be offset by these.

With that, here are three capture cards that should give you a leg-up in being able to not only capture content, but relieve the work of your PC slightly.

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Elgato HD60 S+

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This is one of two devices from Elgato. They’re known as the go-to for capturing content, and the most popular one is the HD60 S+.

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This device will be ideal for those who own a laptop. By just installing the software and turning this device on, it will be able to capture consoles such as PS4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, without much more setup from you. 

4KCU is the software that can give you helpful information in how much space there’s left on your hard drive, alongside the resolution of the video.

It’s very easy to set up for beginners, and if you’re more of a console gamer, then this will be ideal, especially if you have a laptop.

It doesn’t capture in 4K, but it does have HDR10 capture quality, so those bright and colourful images will reflect in the video recorded.

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Pros: Fast to record; mobile enough to take anywhere.

Cons: Doesn’t record 4K; low bitrate of 40Mbps can be a hindrance now with better and lower-priced hardware now available.

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Elgato 4K60 Pro

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A slightly different product from Elgato, with the 4K60 Pro being able to record full 4K video, while also being able to output the captured recording into another app.

Instead of it being plugged in by USB 3.0, this will be by PCI, which means you will need a desktop PC for this.

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But because of this method, it means that the bitrate sky-rockets, going up to as much as 140Mbps!

The clue is in the name, but it does indeed record full 4K video, alongside HDR10, with passthrough video of up to 1440p, so it’s a very powerful card that will be able to capture a lot of games.

PCI capture cards can also be best for capturing in VR. The amount of power that’s required for an Oculus headset and a VR game, the PC needs all the spare memory and CPU power it can get, and with a PCI capture card, recording and storing all of this to a hard drive will not be an issue, so you can stream levels in Beat Saber or the soon-to-be-released Half Life Alyx and not have to worry about how the ‘Pro’ is doing.

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Pros: Records in full 4K; massive bandwidth jump thanks to it being PCI; gives the PC a dedicated way of capturing content through the unencrypted HDMI port.

Cons: Expensive; fast transfer speeds of hard drives such as M.2 may make a PCI card just to capture, very irrelevant; slot could be used for better WiFi or sound if your motherboard is low on PCI slots.

Roxio Capture HD Pro

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This is a fantastic product to start out in the streaming/capture world, and its low price is a great part of that.

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It’s another device where you plug through HDMI and USB, so if you have a laptop that can play games from a few years ago, you’re halfway there.

It can record in all the HD formats at 60 frames a second, while being able to stream to Justin TV, Twitch and YouTube.

It also has a great feature where you can set it to auto-capture the last hour. So if you’re in a few matches in Fortnite or even Unreal Tournament when you’re not ‘on air’, you can look at the footage and see if it's worth posting to your YouTube channel.

It’s compatible with PS3 and Xbox 360, so if you're wanting to stream certain games that aren't available on newer platforms, such as Metal Gear Solid 4 or Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, it can be possible!

Especially if you’re launching a campaign to get these two re-released.

The software is basic, but it will get the job done in capturing the video you need at the right format and resolution. Also, if you aren’t au-fair with Adobe or another video-editing app, this will get the job done, so you can publish to your channel, moments after your stream ends.

Click here to buy it

Pros: Perfect for beginners; plug and play device; works with PS3 and Xbox 360.

Cons: Clunky, basic editing software; Compatibility with Windows 10 is unpredictable.