Best Capture Cards for Streaming — 2020 Buying Guide - Featured

If you have an interest in recording on-screen content, then you may be looking for a capture card. But what is a capture card? In simplest terms, a capture card is a device that’s used in conjunction with a computer to capture on-screen content and encode it for playback. Now, what is the best video capture card? We’re going to rank some of the best capture cards to buy in 2020. By the end, you’ll have a good idea of the best capture card for streaming and which make the most sense for your purchasing needs.

Capture Card Criteria

Which is the best capture card?

We'll be looking at the industry's best capture card for streaming from technical, performance, and price perspectives. If you're new to the game, you might want to review capture cards and how to use them before making a final purchase. That way you'll know exactly what you're getting into before pulling the trigger. Now, on to the list!

BEST CAPTURE CARD FOR STREAMING

7. Elgato CamLink 4K

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Camera Capture  •  CamLink 4K

TECH SPECS
  • Interface requirement: USB 3.x
  • Input: HDMI
  • Supported resolutions: 4K, 1080p, 720p, 480p
  • Camera support: check camera compatibility on Elgato

The Elgato 4K CamLink is a bit different from the other capture cards on this list because, as the name implies, it’s a camera link for streaming. With CamLink 4K or other similar capture cards, you’re able to turn a DSLR into a webcam for high-fidelity video capture. Before you buy a CamLink though, I suggest you watch this next video.

Best Budget Capture Card Explained

As “capture card extraordinaire” EposVox explains in the video, there are third-party alternatives to the CamLink, but they come conspicuously without branding. My recommendation is that if you want a “camera link capture card” from a legitimate retailer, go with the CamLink 4K. If you want to risk a cheap capture card version that may or may not work, then consider third-party options.

Best Capture Cards

Conclusion

Price: $129.99

If you’ve ever watched a livestream and seen a high-quality feed of the streamer in a little box in the corner, then they were probably using a CamLink.

Good Capture Cards

6. AverMedia Live Gamer BOLT

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Best Game Capture Card  •  AverMedia Live Gamer BOLT

TECH SPECS
  • Interface: Thunderbolt 3*
  • Input & Output (Pass-Through): HDMI 2.0
  • Max. Pass-Through Resolution: 2160p60 HDR / 1440p144 / 1080p240
  • Max. Recording Resolution: 2160p60 HDR* / 1440p144 / 1080p240
  • Supported Resolution: 2160p, 1440p, 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 576p, 480p
  • Record Format: MPEG 4**

*LGB does not support USB 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, 3.2. You need to connect it to a ThunderboltTM 3 port

**H.264 & H.265 encoder is provided by GPU; Audio codec is provided by OS

- LGB Supports 7.1/5.1 Ch. LPCM surround sound pass-through

- LGB does not support viewing/recording/streaming of HDCP protected signals

As far as tech specs are concerned, the AverMedia Live Gamer BOLT may be the best external capture card for streaming. The Live Gamer BOLT offers 4K passthrough and capture with some of the lowest latency of any video capture device on the market.

Best Capture Card for Streaming  •  AverMedia Live Gamer BOLT

If you think the Live Gamer BOLT sounds too good to be true, then you might be right. The Live Gamer BOLT requires Thunderbolt 3 – so if your system doesn’t use Thunderbolt 3, then the capture card won’t work.

Best Capture Cards

Conclusion

Price: $449.99

What are the best capture cards? This question depends on many factors but as more systems begin to use Thunderbolt 3, the Live Gamer BOLT may very well take the cake.

Best Capture Card for Streaming

5. Razer Ripsaw HD

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Good Video Capture Card  •  Razer Ripsaw HD

TECH SPECS
  • Max capture resolution: uncompressed 1080p 60FPS
  • Connection type: HDMI 2.0 & USB 3.0
  • Video input: digital HDMI 2.0
  • Audio input: digital HDMI
  • Audio mix-in input: 3.5 mm mic-in / 3.5 mm aux-in
  • Video output: HDMI 2.0
  • Max supported passthrough resolution: 2160 60FPS
  • Other supported resolutions: 2160p, 1080p, 1440p 30FPS, 720p, 480p

Razer has carved out a niche for itself in the gaming space by taking established products and putting their own spin on them. Razer’s most recent capture card, the Razer Ripsaw HD, is no exception.

Best Capture Card for Streaming  •  Razer Ripsaw HD

For some strange reason, the Razer Ripsaw HD doesn’t support HDR passthrough. That’s probably not a huge issue for most people, but I thought I should mention it. Also, be warned that Razer’s software on PC can be a nightmare to use, so consider connecting the Ripsaw HD through third-party software.

Best Capture Cards

Conclusion

Price: $159.99

If you’re looking to maintain a Razer aesthetic with your set-up, then the Ripsaw HD is a must-have.

Best Capture Cards

4. AverMedia Live Gamer MINI

Best-Capture-Cards-for-Streaming-AverMedia-Live-Gamer-MINI

Good Video Capture Card  •  Razer Ripsaw HD

TECH SPECS
  • Interface: USB 2.0 (USB Micro)
  • Video Input: HDMI
  • Video Output (Pass-Through): HDMI
  • Audio Input: HDMI
  • Audio Output (Pass-Through): HDMI
  • Max Pass-Through Resolution: 1080p60
  • Max Record Resolutions: 1080p60
  • Supported Resolutions (Video input): 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 576p, 480p, 480i
  • Record Format: MPEG 4 (H.264+AAC) / Supports hardware encoding
  • Dimension (W x D x H): 100 x 57 x 18.8 mm (3.93 x 2.24 x 0.74in)
  • Weight: 74.5 g (2.63oz)

Notes:

  1. LGM does not support viewing/recording/streaming of HDCP protected signals.
  2. LGM does not support 4K, HDR, wide angle resolutions or high refresh rates.

The AverMedia Live Gamer MINI is the best pure budget capture card on this list. The MINI supports 1080p resolution at 60FPS passthrough and capture. It’s nothing new or fancy, but it’ll do the trick for most people.

Best Capture Cards AverMedia Live Gamer MINI Guide

Capture cards have gotten ahead of themselves in 2020. Unless you’re a professional streamer, or really want to be, don’t worry about capturing in 4k or above 60FPS.

Best Capture Card for Streaming

Conclusion

Price: $129.99

The Live Gamer MINI is one of the best USB capture cards on the market.

Best Capture Cards

3. Elgato 4K60 PRO

Best-Capture-Cards-for-Streaming-Elgato-4K60-PRO.

Good Capture Cards  •  Elgato 4K60 PRO

TECH SPECS
  • Capture: 1080p, 4K
  • Passthrough: 4K at 60FPS & HDR10, 1080p at 244FPS, 1440p at 144FPS
  • Instant gameview compatible
  • Interface: PCIe x4
  • Max bitrate: 140 Mbps

If you’re willing to spend the money, the Elgato 4K60 PRO is a great option. The 4K60 Pro supports capture of 4K HDR video, 240HZ video at 1080p, and 144HZ video at 1440p. If you have a high-end gaming PC and want to stream or capture content at a high throughput level, then the Elgato 4K60 PRO may be the best capture card for you.

Best Capture Card for Streaming  •  Elgato 4K60 PRO

The Elgato 4K60 PRO uses a PCI interface, not USB — so chances are you’re not going to be able to connect the device to your laptop. Also, be mindful that although the 4K60 Pro supports up to 140Mbps bit-rate capture, it takes an enormous amount of disc-space.

So if you’re going to capture at the highest quality, you may also need to invest in a bigger storage options like a RAID storage unit.

Best Capture Card for Streaming

Conclusion

Price: $249.99

The Elgato 4K60 Pro lives up to its name as a professional-grade, excellent 4k capture card.

Best Capture Card for Streaming

2. AverMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 PLUS

Best-Capture-Cards-for-Streaming-AverMedia-Live-Gamer-Portable-2-PLUS

Best Game Capture Card  •  AverMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 PLUS

TECH SPECS
  • Interface: USB 2.0 (USB Micro)
  • Video Input: HDMI 2.0
  • Video Output (Pass-Through): HDMI 2.0
  • Audio Input: HDMI 2.0 / 4 Pole 3.5mm Jack ( Audio input from controller, Mic pass-through)*1
  • Audio Output (Pass-Through): HDMI 2.0 / 4 Pole 3.5mm Jack ( Audio pass-through from controller, Mic input)*1
  • Max Pass-Through Resolutions: 4Kp60 / 1080p60
  • Max Record Resolutions: 1080p60
  • Supported Resolutions (Video input): 2160p, 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 576p, 480p, 480i
  • Operation Modes: PC mode, PC-free mode, Card reader mode
  • Record Format: MPEG 4 (H.264+AAC) / MJPEG / Supports hardware encoding
  • Dimension (W x D x H): 147 x 57 x 47 mm (5.8 x 2.2 x 1.8in)
  • Weight: 185.5g (6.54 oz)

Notes:

  1. LGP2 PLUS does not support viewing/recording/streaming of HDCP protected signals
  2. Micro SD Class 10 card is required for PC-Free recording, Micro SD card is not included.
  3. Micro SD maximum capacity support: 128GB
  4. Micro SD Supported formats: FAT32 format / exFAT format
    - When using the "FAT32 format" microSD card, due to the specification of FAT32, movies are divided and saved every 4 GB (about 25 minutes)
    - Continuous recording is possible when using "exFAT format" microSD card

Avermedia ranks here with the most convoluted product name of all-time, the Live Gamer Portable 2 PLUS. Don’t be dissuaded by the name though, the 2 PLUS is a great capture card. Just be mindful that its interface is USB 2.0 — that may or may not be an issue depending on your system.

Best Capture Cards AverMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 PLUS

The Live Gamer Portable 2 PLUS is a little bit cheaper than its competitors in the 4k throughput/1080p capture space, thus making it an enticing option for streamers on a budget.

Good Capture Cards

Conclusion

Price: $209.99

Similar to the Razer Ripsaw HD, the Live Gamer Portable 2 PLUS doesn’t support HDR passthrough — but it’s still one of the best video capture cards for streaming.

Best Capture Card

1. Elgato HD60 S+

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Best Capture Card for Streaming  •  Elgato HD60 S+

TECH SPECS
  • Capture: 1080p 60FPS & HDR10
  • Passthrough: 4K at 60FPS & HDR10
  • Instant gameview compatible
  • Interface: USB 3.0
  • Max bitrate: 60 Mbps

Elgato is widely regarded as the most popular capture card brand for gamers — but is it the best capture card for streaming? Well, I’ll say this: there’s a reason why Elgato is so popular — their devices are known for ease of use, solid build quality, and somewhat fair price value.

There are two Elgato HD60 S models — the base-model Elgato HD60 S and the Elgato HD60 S+. Let’s check out a video that explains some of the key differences between them.

Best Capture Cards Elgato HD60 S vs. S+

Since both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are going to support 4k gameplay and HDR (High Dynamic Range), I think it’s fair to say that the Elgato HD60 S+ passthrough capability presents a better deal than the HD60 S. But if you’re not planning on capturing content on those game consoles or a high-end PC, then the base-model will work just fine.

Best Video Capture Device

Conclusion

Price: $199.99

What is the best capture card? Well, as far as best budget capture cards go, Elgato remains king.

UP NEXT

How to Use a Capture Card

It’s one thing to know what a capture card is, it’s another to know how to use it. Setting up a capture card can cause a major headache, but don’t worry, we’re going to show you how to ease the process. By the end, you’ll be ready to use a variety of different capture cards, with USB and PCI interfaces, like a pro.

Up Next: Capture Card Guide →
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