The best capture cards for PC gaming offer true recording freedom. A good capture device will lessen the load on your main gaming PC to allow for high-quality streaming, and can expand your gaming repertoire beyond PC platforms and into console exclusive territory. If you’re a budding Twitch or YouTube streamer, a capture card makes your dual-PC broadcast that little bit better and that little bit easier—so make sure you pick the right one for the job.
The best capture card for you will depend on what kind of content you plan to make. Are you recording footage to edit later or focusing on streaming? Some cards are better for one or the other. Video resolution, particularly for streaming, varies from card-to-card, too.
We recommend most focus on a 1080p target resolution with any potential capture card purchase. There are good 4K capture cards out there, but they’re expensive, and most aren’t capturing a ton of 4K video—the storage needs can be harsh and you need serious upload bandwidth too. Most capture cards also come with some kind of software: While most streamers use some form of OBS or XSplit, video work is nothing if not unpredictable, so it doesn’t hurt to have good software as a backup.
In general, our selections cover a few scenarios, but we’ve leaned good towards all-around solutions. You never know what kind of content you’re going to want to make in the future, so these cards will hopefully prepare you for anything. If you’re picking up a capture card as part of a bigger build for a streaming setup, take a look at our picks for the best webcams and the best microphones for streaming.
1. Elgato Game Capture HD60 S
The best capture card for streaming and recording
Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 60fps | Interface: USB 3.0
Excellent capture quality
This is the perfect card for anyone wanting to get their gameplay online with as little hassle as possible. Elgato are experts in their field, and the HD60 S proves it; reasonably priced and simple to use, it’s probably the best place to start if you’re new to streaming, and your gaming PC can’t manage it solo. Crisp 1080p recordings at 60fps are a feather in its cap, while USB 3.0 connectivity is a happy bonus. Built-in software to get you up and running seal the deal. The only downside would be the card’s somewhat limited editing suite—it’s not much good for anything beyond trimming video. However, it does have ‘Flashback Recording’ to help you retroactively capture even if you forgot to hit ‘record.’
2. AverMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus
A brilliant, user friendly pick
Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 60fps | Interface: USB 3.0
Play in 4K while you record
The Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus packs smooth 60fps and 1080p recording, 4K pass-through so you can still play in ultra HD (even if it’s not captured in 4K), USB 3.0, Mac compatibility, and dirty great flashing lights to tell you if you’re capturing or have left HDCP on. Besides an attractive form-factor, it packs intuitive software for live editing and the ability to record straight onto a Micro SD card if you’d prefer to keep your HDD clear of space-absorbing video. This capture card is flexible, mainly if you record on the go. It works straight out of the box too—always a plus.
3. Elgato Game Capture 4K60 S+
Best Capture Card for recording in 4K60 and HDR
Resolution: 4K, HDR10 | Frame rate: 60fps | Interface: USB 3.0, SD Card
4K60 HDR10 Capture
Onboard HEVC encoding
Standalone SD Card Recording
If you’re looking to capture the best footage without compromising any of the graphical quality, the Elgato Game Capture 4K60 S+ does just that. Thanks to onboard HEVC encoding, it lightens the CPU load and keeps video files at manageable sizes, which you’ll need when recording 4K 60fps footage with HDR. More importantly, the 4K60 S+ automatically adjusts recording resolution, bit rate, and file format on whatever device is plugged in, which means you won’t have to spend too much time tweaking settings.
The most significant and requested update to Elgato’s capture cards is the ability to capture straight to an SD card (not included). You can capture footage without needing to plug it into another PC—just plug in the console or PC and hit record. Everything records onto the SD card for later editing.
The Elgato Game Capture 4K60 S+ is an excellent tool for content creators who travel to trade shows or off-site game demos and need an easy way to record gameplay even if the $400 price tag might be a little tough to swallow. If you’re just looking to stream at 1080p and don’t care about 4K footage, you’ve got way cheaper options that work only as well on this list.
4. Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro
A great card for pros, although it won’t do 4K
Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 60fps | Interface: PCIe x1, HDMI
Bitrate of 60mbps
If you want to take your recordings to the next level, Elgato’s internal HD60 Pro card is a good shout. Indeed, their website claims that this card features “an advanced, onboard H.264 encoder that enables you to record unlimited footage in superb 1080p [60fps] quality, at a bitrate up to 60Mbps.” Not too shabby. It can also stream at 1080p when using Game Capture HD, OBS Studio, and Xsplit. Petite, classy form-factor are in the HD60 Pro’s favor as well.
5. Razer Ripsaw HD
The illustrious 1080p-4K middleground option
Resolution: 1080p capture; 4K passthrough | Frame rate: 60fps | Interface: USB 3.0
4K 60fps passthrough
Built-in audio mixing
The main downside of the Razer Ripsaw HD is that it doesn’t have proprietary software, so you’re forced to use OBS or subscribe to XSplit. This isn’t too much of a problem, as many people use those applications anyway. And because it doesn’t have its software, the Ripsaw HD also supports built-in, easy to use audio mixing with the help of its hardwired, “hassle-free” mic and headphone jacks. For the price, it also has the best picture quality.
Although it’s still limited to 1080p streaming and capture, the Ripsaw HD lets you experience your favorite games first-hand—while streaming or capturing—at 4K 60fps. Appealing to PC gamers who want to share their gameplay online, but don’t want to miss out on the top-notch visual fidelity ushered in by their expensive and powerful graphics cards.
6. Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro
The best 4K capture card for serious aficionados
Resolution: 4K | Frame rate: 60fps | Interface: PCIe x4
4K capture with 60fps
1080p @240hz / 1440p @144hz passthrough
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 set 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. 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.