Update, 1/31/22: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and have updated the budget capture card recommendation with the Elgato HD60 S+.What to Look for in a Capture Card in 2022
A capture card has two jobs it must accomplish to be effective.Essentially, it has to capture an incoming audio-visual signal and then either store it or send it along to somewhere else.In some situations, you’ll want the capture card to both record footage and send the signal to an application or AV output at the same time.
When using a capture card, the source of the audio-visual signal is going to be a game console.While consoles starting with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have built-in broadcasting and gameplay recording features, they’re often limited and sometimes even block gameplay from viewers.
A capture card not only bypasses the console limitations but also allows you to customize your stream using your PC and broadcasting software (such as OBS or SLOBS).RELATED What Is a Capture Card, and Do You Need One?
If you are recording or capturing footage exclusively from a PC, a capture card may not be the best solution.That’s because modern PCs can capture or stream game footage without special hardware .
A capture card doesn’t reduce any workload from the PC itself, so it’s only really useful if you want to stream games from gaming consoles.
One important aspect when purchasing a capture card is making sure your chosen console or device can be used with the capture card.Almost all capture cards require HDMI inputs, so if you’re using a retro console, you’ll need an adapter .
Finally, make sure to select a card that supports at least the resolution and refresh rate you want to stream at.
Going for higher resolutions and refresh rates is a fine choice, but the hardware you’ll need is generally more expensive.However, if you go for the bare minimum hardware you need to stream, you may need to upgrade sooner.It’s up to you to balance your current needs with future-proofing.
With that out of the way, let’s look at our top recommendations.Best Overall Capture Card: AVerMedia Live Gamer 4K AVerMedia ✓ Flexible card for any type of streaming or capture ✓ Offers capture of 5.1 and 7.1 surround ✓ Supports ultrawide aspect ratios ✓ Cheaper than external cards with similar specifications
Cons ✗ You need a desktop computer with a free slot
Choosing a capture card that’s “best overall” usually means that the product needs to work adequately (or better) in most scenarios.That is exactly what the Live Gamer 4K from AVerMedia brings to the table.It’s not the best at any one thing, but we can’t imagine anyone being let down by it, regardless of what they need.
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As an internal PCIe card, the Live Gamer 4K has more than enough technical power to handle most standard streaming and capturing settings.At 4K, the card can handle 60 frames per second ( FPS ) and HDR video.Using the included RECentral software, the card can capture 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound .
PC gamers and console gamers willing to sacrifice 4K resolution can also record at up to 144 or 240 frames per second for 1440p and 1080p resolutions, respectively.On top of all this, the Live Gamer 4K supports ultrawide aspect ratios, which is not very common.
Even the price of the card is very reasonable, given how much you get for it.
The Live Gamer 4K seems to have everything anyone could want, but no product is perfect.
This is an internal capture card, so those that own laptops or can’t install the Live Gamer 4K are out of luck.If you need an external capture card specifically, don’t worry, we have an external card recommendation for you.Best Capture Card Overall.