The 10 Best Capture Cards in 2021 Reviewed
To keep DiamondLobby free to read, this post may contain affiliate links. Learn more
Whether you want to start streaming to an audience or record your gameplays in high-resolution, you will need to make use of a good capture card that is compatible with your system and your needs.
To help you find the perfect capture card for your budget and needs, the DiamondLobby team and I have set ourselves the challenge to conduct all of the research for you and provide you with a comprehensive list of the best capture cards on the market.
To do that, we first initiated a research process, which involved the identification of all the needs and pain points of gamers and streamers who are curently using a capture card.
Using our findings, we then created 4 point criteria, which helped us find the best 8 capture cards that you will see today.
We found that the average capture card could record and broadcast content in at least 60 FPS at 1080p and was super flexible in terms of compatibility with different systems, devices, and platforms.
With all that in mind, let’s take a deeper look at our findings and hopefully, by the end of this guide and review, you will have found the perfect capture card that matches your needs and budget.
Before we could present you with our full list of the best capture cards on the market today, the DiamondLobby team and I conducted extensive research within the gaming community to identify the needs and pain points of streamers, YouTubers, and average gamers that are currently making use of capture cards.
Using our findings, we created strict criteria. This helped us with spotting the best capture cards on the market, which we will review and compare in today’s guide and review.
Our goal with writing this guide is to provide our readers with the most transparent and honest recommendations so that you can shop with utmost confidence.
In order to pick the best 8 gaming capture cards that you will see today, the DiamondLobby team and I conducted a 2-stage research process, which helped us idenitfy the needs and pain points of gamers and streamers who are currently making use of such devices.
Then, using our findings, we created 4-point criteria, which we used to filter through dozens of capture cards to form a comprehensive list of the best qualifying capturing devices on the market today.
You can read more about each individual point from our criteria in more depth below.
When it comes to purchasing a particular product or service, the price of it is usually the biggest factor that determines whether or not we end up buying or skipping on an item.
Thus, while we didn’t stick to a particular price bracket when picking the best capture cards that you will see today, there was one thing that we made sure of – that every product offered as much value for money as possible.
How expensive a capture card is is fairly proportional to how it can perform. Our research showed that while there were people who made use of the best capture cards on the market and wouldn’t compromise for anything less, there are just as many people that want to keep their setup on a budget.
Thus, we have ensured to provide you with a vast range of capture cards that were within a range of different price points and ranged in performance.
Internal vs External
When it comes to capturing devices, there are two different types; internal and external capture cards. Internal capture cards must be fitted inside your PC (most often attached to a slot on your motherboard), while external capture devices can sit outside of your PC case and operate via a USB connection.
As both variants were quite a popular choice in the gaming and streaming community, we have ensured to add a variety of both so that there is something for everyone’s needs and budget.
Streamers and gamers play video games on a vast range of systems and platforms ranging from Windows and MAC on PC to PS4, PS5, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and more.
In order to try and maximize the flexibility of usability when it comes to capturing cards, we ensured to include a range of PlayStation and Xbox capture cards that were also flexible with other platforms like PC.
This way, regardless of which capture card you decide to go for, you will know that it most likely is capable of operating with a number of mainstream systems. Of course, as we would always recommend, make sure to double check whether the capture card that you have in mind is suitable for your needs.
If you are looking for the most value-for-money when it comes to capture cards, you quite simply can’t go wrong with the Elgato HD60 S Capture Card.
The best price at the time of writing was $192.95.
There is no brand on the market that is more trusted than Elgato. Among their wide offering of capture cards comes the Elgato Game Capture Card HD60 S, which in our opinion is the best overall recording device when it comes to getting the most value for your money. This external gameplay capture solution prides itself due to its plug-and-play functionality, on top of being one of the most affordable and reliable screen recording systems around.
No larger than a wallet, the Elgato Game Capture Card HD60 S is a space-saving streaming capture card that can accommodate both gaming PC and console applications with ease. It has a simple HDMI input/output configuration that can support a resolution of up to 1080p at 60 FPS while remaining completely lag-free.
For the transmission of data, it uses a USB 3.0 Type-C connection for ultra-fast recording and streaming performance. You even get native software support where you can set up your overlay, webcam, screen layouts, and more.
The Elgato Game Capture Card HD60 S also works intuitively, searching from multiple resolution options until it finds a signal, although you can do this manually as well. If you forgot to hit record, the Flashback Recording functionality allows you to backtrack streamed footage and capture gameplay retroactively, while the Live Commentary feature allows you to add your voice into the stream seamlessly.
As far as video editing is concerned, the Elgato Game Capture Card HD60 S doesn’t provide comprehensive software for high-quality editing. Thus, it would be best if you use this capture card solely for capturing footage and utilizing external editing software in the likes of Premiere Pro or Sony Vegas for editing your content.
On the lookout for the most comprehensive capture card on the market today? After concluding our research, we can confidently give this position to the Elgato 4K60 S+ Capture.
The best price at the time of writing was $388.21.
Generally speaking, you can never go wrong with any of Elgato’s offerings, but if you need a convenient capture card for PS4 or Xbox, the Elgato Game Capture 4K60 S+ is hard to resist. Providing high-resolution recording and streaming, this external capture card doesn’t even need a dedicated PC for it to function properly. It features a standalone design that is geared for streaming professionals who constantly tour and need a handy solution to record their LAN event gameplay.
While it doesn’t offer high-framerate functions (being capped at 60 FPS), the Elgato Game Capture 4K60 S+ allows a passthrough for 1080p, 1440p, and 2160p signals with an ultra-low latency performance, which helps towards achieving a broadcast without any hiccups at all.
It also supports HDR10 capture, in case your games benefit from such features. Apart from that, you also get HEVC hardware encoding should you want to compress footage to save on storage space.
What makes this 4K 60 FPS capture card so appealing to console gamers is it doesn’t need any PC connection, as you can directly record on an SD Card while powering it from a USB adapter or power bank.
If you are on the lookout for an external capture card that can record your gameplay in 4K resolution, then we’d confidently like to recommend you the AVerMedia Live Gamer Bolt.
The best price at the time of writing was $299.99.
The AVerMedia Live Gamer Bolt offers amazing passthrough capabilities of resolutions up to 4K at 60 FPS on top of HDR, 1440p at 144 FPS, and 1080p at the whopping 240 FPS. This allows you to record and stream with your viewers enjoying the same crisp and smooth gaming experience as you.
It also boasts some of the lowest latency figures in the playing field, ensuring that your live, action-packed gameplay is recorded and streamed pretty close to real-time. It makes use of an HDMI in/out to facilitate a lag-free passthrough operation.
As for data transmission, the AVerMedia Live Gamer Bolt makes use of the ultra-fast Thunderbolt 3 medium, which might require you to double-check your streaming PC’s connectivity if it supports the standard.
The AVerMedia Live Gamer Bolt comes bundled with the proprietary RECentral software for your streaming essentials, while the CyberLink PowerDirector 15 program provides you with the necessary editing functionalities should you plan to upload your content on Youtube and Facebook.
With this capture card, you can even use your 4K 32-inch TV if you wish to game from it and stream/record content for your audience.
The Elgato HD60 Pro is another great internal capture card that is most suitable for beginners who are looking at purchasing a decent capture card without shelling out on a ton of money.
The best price at the time of writing was $179.99.
If you are satisfied with streaming in 1080p, the Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro is more than enough for your needs. This internal capture card is best suited for PC gamers as it will require a PCIe x1 slot to install, which you can integrate into your own build.
Moreover, this capture card accommodates up to 1080p 60 FPS signal passthrough via the lag-free HDMI in/out configuration to keep gameplay and recording quality consistent.
The HD60 Pro also works with a vast range of streaming software that allows you to use anything between OBS and XSplit without any hiccups. You also gain access to Master Copy, which allows you to stream online while recording everything at the maximum supported resolution while saving every element of the stream (overlays, webcams, etc.) as separate tracks to improve the post-process experience.
Besides that, the onboard H.264 encoder helps with offloading work from your CPU while saving you precious storage space at a 60 Mbps bitrate.
Other Great Capture Cards
Razer Ripsaw HD Game Capture
If you’re in the search for a more affordable capture card for your streaming needs, the Razer Ripsaw HD Game Capture is another great option.
The best price at the time of writing was $157.05.
This capture card by the renowned gaming accessory manufacturer Razer features an external design that can work well with various platforms, especially consoles like the PS4/PS5, Xbox One/Xbox Series X|S, and other handhelds like the Nintendo Switch. It comes in a sleek enclosure with all the basic features you need for streaming, including the needed audio and video outputs.
The Razer Ripsaw HD allows 4K video capture at 60 FPS to allow you to enjoy high-resolution gaming while providing your viewers with a high-resolution experience., Thanks to the HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0 connectivity, this capture card can facilitate for blazing-fast data transfer.
You won’t even have to worry about going through the hassle of manually mixing up in-game sounds and your own voice with digital audio mixing software as this capture card has a hardwired microphone and headphone jacks that allow your audio to work across two different PCs – all at zero latency and no delays.
With all that being said, the Razer Ripsaw HD doesn’t come with its own proprietary streaming software to allow you to stream at the advertised 1080p. You’ll either have to avail of a streaming package from XSplit or the free, open-source OBS. You also won’t have access to older consoles unless you get specific adapters as this capture card unit is intended for more modern setups.
The Razer Ripsaw HD also offers a simple streaming solution that you can set up in a matter of minutes, providing an incredible value-for-money product for those who need basic but vital streaming functionality.
AVerMedia Portable Capture Card
If you are looking for a portable capture card that doesn’t need to be connected to a PC to capture your gameplay, then you’d be pleased to hear more about the AVerMedia Portable Capture Card.
The best price at the time of writing was $119.99.
The AVerMedia Portable Capture Card is a handy capture card that doesn’t require a PC to be connected to when capturing in-game footage. It comes in a sleek and portable design, allowing you to carry it around with ease. It also offers easy switching between PC and micro SD card settings thanks to the extra-visible LED indicators.
Due to this capture card’s micro SD functionality, you won’t need to use a flash drive to save all of your captured footage – not to mention this needs your dedicated streaming PC to run if you purely need to record gameplay directly to your storage device for future use.
If you like playing in front of an audience, one of the best capture cards for live streaming is the AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus, which offers the RECentral program to provide you with overlaying functionalities to optimize your stream’s output.
RECentral also allows you to record in-game party voice logs for consoles without needing to plug in an extra cable for that seamless capture experience.
Besides that, the AVerMedia Portable Capture Card is compatible with streaming software like OBS, XSplit, and Streamlabs, providing a plug-and-play experience thanks to its driver-free implementation.
The device allows a passthrough of 4K at 60 FPS video from your gaming machine to your display device, while keeping the streaming resolution at a smooth and crisp 1080p 60 FPS Full HD.
AVerMedia Live Gamer 4K
If you are looking for a more affordable capture card that can record in 4K resolution, then the AVerMedia Live Gamer 4K is one of the most competitive options on the market today.
The best price at the time of writing was $185.53.
The AVerMedia Live Gamer is one of the best and most affordable capture cards on the market today. It offers 4K 60 FPS passthrough and recording thanks to the zero-lag HDMI 2.0 I/O (Input / Output) connectivity. Moreover, it supports high-framerate recording – up to 240 FPS when recording in 1080p and 144 FPS when recording in 1440p.
While you might think 4K is already a challenging resolution to capture your gameplay, this capture card extends its functionality to support the capture of ultrawide displays. The typical 4K ultrawide display features more pixels than a standard 4K screen, making it more challenging to record should you opt for a strict 4K capture card.
The AVerMedia Live Gamer 4K uses the RECentral software to take care of other streaming elements like overlays or audio recording while seamlessly integrating with other popular streaming software like XSplit, OBS, and Streamlabs.
You also get the option to record high-fidelity 5.1/7.1 surround sound, giving you access to high-quality audio when it’s time to edit your footage for YouTube or Facebook.
AVerMedia Live Gamer Mini
Looking for a decent and portable capture card? Then you’d be pleased to hear more about the AVerMedia Live Gamer Mini.
The best price at the time of writing was $66.99.
When portability becomes a necessity, external capture cards are often the go-to solution for streamers and content creators. The ultra-handy AVerMedia Live Gamer Mini is the brand’s answer to Elgato’s portable offerings.
It offers the standard 1080p 60 FPS passthrough, which is nothing to scoff at due to its lag-free data transmission thanks to the high-speed HDMI 2.0 in/out setup. To record gameplay footage, the card hosts a micro-USB connection that works together with the H.264 encoder to save on processing power and storage space.
You also get to access the RECentral software to facilitate your streaming needs, without getting in the way of 3rd-party streaming programs like OBS and Streamlabs. With the super-compact AVerMedia Live Gamer Mini, you just pop it in your pocket and you’re good to go, whenever, wherever.
Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4K
Want to stream 4K graphics to your audience on a budget? Check out the Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4K.
The best price at the time of writing was $199.00.
The Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4K provides an affordable solution for those who need high-resolution streaming and recording functionality for minimal performance tradeoffs.
For starters, it supports 4K passthrough at only 30 FPS, which may affect the smoothness of your gameplay footage, although if you downscale to 1080p, you still get a buttery-smooth 60 FPS support.
Since it is an internal capture card, you will need a dedicated PC to hook it up to. The Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4K isn’t exclusively geared for gaming as well, sporting compatibility with analog signals and NTSC/PAL connections, making it a versatile capture card if you do more than just gaming.
You also get the DaVinci Resolve software bundled with the card to edit your recorded footage via its wide range of features that are on par with the likes of Sony Vegas and Premiere Pro.
Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2
If you are on the lookout for an internal capture card that can record content in 4K resolution, then the Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2 is one of the best contenders for the job.
The best price at the time of writing was $227.99.
First and foremost, since the Elgato 4K60 Pro is an internal capture card, you will need to have a dedicated PC that you can install it into. One of the most notable features of this capture card is its ability to capture 4K gameplay footage at a buttery smooth 60 FPS. Furthermore, should you wish to capture at a higher frame rate, you can also record in up to 240 Hz at a maximum resolution of 1080p.
You also get HDR10 support to maximize the level of in-game detail on the stream. Of course, this means that you’ll be needing an equally capable gaming machine to fully take advantage of it.
With that aside, the Elgato 4K60 Pro Mk.2 capture card allows you to stream at the aforementioned resolution with absolutely no hiccups thanks to the ultra-low latency HDMI passthrough that you can hook onto a 4K TV or your gaming monitor to allow you and your viewers to enjoy the same ultra-rich detail and buttery smoothness simultaneously with a bitrate of over 140 Mbps.
Recording gameplay footage at this quality will allow you to have lots of hard drive space for continuous saves. You also don’t need to cash in on a ton of storage space as the included software automatically encodes the footage to save on space.
Speaking of software, the Instant Gameview program allows you to take control of your streaming settings and real-time monitoring without any performance hitches in-game or the actual stream broadcast at all.
The Elgato 4K60 Pro Mk.2 boasts plug-and-play functionality and can install on any PC with a PCIe x4 slot available. At the same time, its compatibility with OBS, Streamlabs, and XSplit makes streaming seamless.
Who Needs a Capture Card?
If you want to stream on popular streaming websites in the likes of YouTube, Twitch, or Facebook, you will need a capable capture card that can broadcast your gameplay in real-time to your audience.
Besides that, if you are an average gamer who wants to make YouTube videos or simply wants to record funny gameplay moments, you will too need to make use of a capture card.
As a general rule of thumb, if it comes down to recording your screen while gaming, whatever the purpose, you will most likely need to make use of a capture card.
What to Look For
When shopping for your next capture card, there really are three things that you need to consider, which all happen to be wrapped around your needs when it comes to a capture card. They include the capture quality, capture frame-rate, and the type of capture card that you are looking to buy. Below, we will break down each of these aspects individually.
Ideally, you shouldn’t go for capture cards that cannot broadcast your gameplay in anything less than 1080p. Thus, in our selection, we haven’t included any 720p capture cards.
You should know that 1080p is the standard resolution, and many of your viewers will be more than satisfied with this quality of content.
However, should you want to go a few steps further, you can take advantage of a 4K capture card that can broadcast your content in 4K resolution. Keep in mind that you will need a relatively powerful system to provide a flawless 4K experience to your audience.
What frame rate do you want your viewers to preview your content at? If it’s 60 FPS, then you can opt in for just about any of our capture cards. If you want to broadcast gameplay in 240 FPS, you need to pick one of our top picks.
If you aren’t so sure, getting started with 60 FPS is perfectly normal. If your PC can’t run 100+ FPS on any game, there is hardly any point in shopping for a high-end capture card since your PC will be bottle-necking the capture cards’ abilities.
Capture Card Type
There are two types of capture cards, internal and external. While the former goes inside your PC, the latter is connected via USB and can operate outside of your computer.
Which one you choose is entirely up to you and your needs. There aren’t any marginal benefits to pick one over the other.
Before you decide on a particular capture card, you must first ensure that it is fully compatible with your system and the device that you will use to capture footage from.
As an example, if you are playing on a Nintendo Switch, you should make sure that you purchase a capture card for Nintendo Switch.
Most of the capture cards that we have selected for this guide and review are super flexible in terms of compatibility, but we would always recommend you to do your own research as well.
Picking the Right Capture Card for Your Needs
If you have come this far in this guide and review, then there is a pretty strong chance that you still haven’t quite made up your mind about which capture card you are going to go for.
Scenario 1: Let’s say that you are a beginner and don’t want to shell out on a lot of money but still want to get your hands on a performing and reliable capture card that can broadcast footage at 60 FPS in 1080p.
For this scenario, we’d recommend you our best value for money pick, the Elgato HD60 S Capture Card.
Scenario 2: You already have a fairly powerful build that can successfully run games in 4K graphics on more than 60 FPS. Because of this, you’d like your audience too to be able to enjoy your high-quality gameplay with you.
For this scenario, we’d recommend you our best overall pick, the Elgato 4K60 S+ Capture.
Scenario 3: You want to be able to stream and record your gameplay directly through your PC without having a capture card and a bunch of cables all over your desk.
In this case, we’d suggest you get one of our internal capture card recommendations. We have two. You can either pick the better performing Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2 or the more affordable downgrade, the Elgato HD60 Pro.
Both internal and external capture cards are a great choice. Which one you decide to go for is completely up to your needs and budget.
Generally speaking, the more expensive a capture card is, the better quality content it can record or stream to your audience.
You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars getting a 4K capture card if you are just starting out because your audience will be perfectly appreciative of 1080p streams.