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The 5 Best Capture Cards for PC in 2024 (and How to Use Them)

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The 5 Best Capture Cards for PC in 2024 (and How to Use Them)

Key Points

  • The best overall capture card for PC in 2024 is the Elgato HD60 X, which allows you to record in 1080p at 60fps or 4K at 30fps and is compatible with variable refresh rate monitors.
  • The EVGA XR1 Lite is a budget-friendly capture card that can record gameplay in 1080p at 60fps with 4K 60fps passthrough and can be used as a webcam interface.
  • The Elgato 4K60 S+ is a compact external capture card that can record in stunning 4K at 60fps and has an SD card slot for direct recording.
  • The Avermedia Live Gamer 4K is an internal capture card with RGB lighting modes and ultra-low latency, allowing for lag-free passthrough and recording in 4K at 60fps with HDR10 color.
  • The Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2 is a premium capture card with 240Hz passthrough and the ability to record or stream in 4K at 60fps with HDR10 color.

Capture cards are an excellent way to record your computer or console’s screen without putting additional processing strain on the native hardware. However, tons of capture cards are on the market, each with unique features. So, what is the best capture card for PC on the market now? Let’s examine what cards should be on your radar as we start the new year.

After reviewing the options, here are our top picks for the best capture cards for PC:

Best Overall Capture Card for PC: Elgato HD60 X

Best Overall
Elgato HD60 X
$148.99
  • Stream and record in 1080p60 HDR10
  • 4K60 HDR10, 1440p120, 1080p120, VRR passthrough
  • Plug and play for Windows and Mac
  • Use any app including OBS, Streamlabs, Vmix, and more
  • Stream to YouTube, Twitch, Facebook Gaming and others
  • Sub 100ms latency for seamless audio/video syncing.
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/02/2024 07:53 pm GMT

Our choice for the best overall capture card for PC in 2024 is the Elgato HD60 X. This medium-range capture card is perfect for gamers who want to get the most bang for their buck. This card allows you to record in two resolutions, 1080p at 60fps or 4K at 30fps. You can also use passthrough and get 4K at 60fps in HDR10, 1440p at 120fps, or 1080p at 120fps. It’s also compatible with variable refresh rate monitors, making it perfect for modern gaming setups.

This card also features a plug-and-play setup where the host PC doesn’t need to download additional drivers to run the card, making it easy to slot into any build. It’s also compatible with most screen recorder software, such as OBS, Streamlabs, and Vmix. You can even use it in calling applications like Zoom or Microsoft Teams to stream to friends and family rather than traditional streaming platforms like Twitch.

There are no time limits or subscriptions associated with this card. Once you buy it, you can record and stream as much as you want without limitations or watermarks being applied to your videos. Elgato doesn’t have any subscription services. So, you don’t have to worry about losing access to your capture card’s features or paying a continuous fee to use them. Check out the Elgato HD60 X on Amazon.

ProsCons
Stream or record in 1080p at 60fps or 4K at 30fps.4K recording and streaming only goes up to 30fps.
There are no subscriptions, limitations, or watermarks.
The USB 3.0 interface is easily accessible.

Best Budget Capture Card: EVGA XR1 Lite

Best Budget Capture Card
EVGA XR1 Lite Capture Card
$77.10
  • Certified for OBS
  • USB 3.0 Type-C
  • Record in1080P/60FPS while gaming in 4K/60FPS
  • Compatible with PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox One/Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch
  • Connect to a DSLR for webcam option
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/02/2024 07:54 pm GMT

If you need a capture card on a budget, check out the EVGA XR1 Lite. This card is certified for use with OBS and can record your gameplay in 1080p at 60fps with 4K 60fps passthrough. It can also be used as a webcam interface for people who want to use DSLR cameras as webcams. Using a DSLR camera as your webcam can seriously improve your video quality in calls. So, if you have one that you can use, it’s not a bad idea to hook it up to an interface. It can improve the professional quality of your video and make lectures and conference calls more accessible.

The EVGA XR1 Lite also features a small, compact design that can help you save valuable desk space, whether you have a big or small desk. However, this capture card only has one HDMI input and one output. So, if you have multiple devices you plan to use with it, you’ll need to have space and maintain good cable management to keep those cables handy for plugging and unplugging them.

The best part about the EVGA XR1 Lite is the competitive price point. At just under $100, this card offers competitive features at a low price, making it easily accessible for all customers. Check out the EVGA XR1 Lite Capture Card on Amazon.

ProsCons
This card is super affordable.If you need 4K recording, this card isn’t for you.
It has a 4K 60 fps passthrough.
You can use it with DSLR cameras.

Best 4K Capture Card: Elgato 4K60 S+

Best 4K Capture Card
Elgato 4K60 S+ External Capture Card
$319.95
  • 4K60 HDR10 capture and zero-lag passthrough
  • Record PS5/PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One X/S to PC or SD card
  • Compatible with OBS Studio, Streamlabs OBS, and other broadcasting software for Windows
  • USB 3.0 connectivity
  • Onboard HEVC encoding
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/02/2024 07:59 pm GMT

If you want to record your screen in stunning 4K at 60fps, look no further than the Elgato 4K60 S+. This external capture card is a compact option for 4K 60fps recording. It’s bigger than other Elgato S-series products but significantly smaller than many other 4K recording cards. Since it’s an external card, it doesn’t require users to open their computers to install it, giving it a much lower “cost of entry” regarding installation.

The 4K60 S+ is OBS-certified but works with most streaming software, including Streamlabs, Vmix, and calling applications like Microsoft Teams and Zoom. You can stream or record your gameplay easily using these tools, no matter your level of technical skill. If you don’t have a lot of space on your computer, the capture card also has an SD card slot, allowing you to record directly to the SD card and freeing up valuable computer-side storage.

One thing to keep in mind is that this capture card is only compatible with Windows PCs. macOS and Linux users cannot use this card. However, Elgato makes many products compatible with other operating systems. So, it’s not hard to find another compatible card. Many other brands also make macOS and Linux-compatible capture cards. Elgato isn’t your only choice. Check out the Elgato 4K60 S+ External Capture Card on Amazon.

ProsCons
The card is compact and saves desk space.There is no macOS or Linux integration for this card.
The external design is easily accessible even with low technical skills.
You can record to an SD card to save computer storage.

Best Capture Card with PCIe Interface: Avermedia Live Gamer 4K

Best Capture Card with PCIe Interface
AVerMedia GC573 Live Gamer 4K Internal Capture Card
$199.99
  • Stream and capture 4K60 HDR10 content
  • Interface PCIe x4
  • Low latency and zero-lag passthrough for game capture and live streaming
  • Three preset modes of RGB lighting
  • Great for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One X
  • Compatible with OBS, Streamlabs, XSplit, Twitch, and YouTube live streaming & broadcasting
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/02/2024 10:14 pm GMT

If you have the technical knowledge needed to install a PCIe card and the available slots in your computer, an internal capture card like the Avermedia Live Gamer 4K can offer unique benefits compared to an external one. This card lets you stream and record in 4K at 60fps with HDR10 color. It’s compatible with next-gen consoles, letting you play your console while sitting at your PC desk. That way, you can enjoy all the benefits of being near your PC and still play games on your console.

Additionally, the Avermedia Live Gamer 4K is a stylish choice with three RGB lighting modes to help you match your capture card with the lighting in your build. There are no other options on this list that have purely aesthetic additions. So, if you’re the type to like your technology to look as good as it works, this is the card for you.

The card also has ultra-low latency, promising a lag-free passthrough experience whether you’re gaming, recording, or both. It’s designed for many streaming programs, including OBS, Streamlabs, and XSplit. It also works with many streaming services, including Twitch and YouTube. No matter where you’re streaming, you can use this card to get you online. Check out the AVerMedia GC573 Live Gamer 4K Internal Capture Card on Amazon.

ProsCons
RGB lighting allows the card to fit in with LED computer aesthetics.It can’t record in 4K.
It can record in 1080p at 60fps while playing the game in 4K at 60fps with passthrough.
The internal setup provides near-zero latency.

Best Premium Capture Card: Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2

Best
Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2
$203.88
  • Capture 4K@60Hz
  • HDR10
  • Record footage directly to your hard drive
  • PCIE x 8, PCIE x 4, PCIE x 16 hardware interface
  • 240Hz Passthrough
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/02/2024 08:49 pm GMT

If you want the best premium option for capture cards, check out the Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2. This is an internal card. So, you’ll need to know how to install a PCIe card and have an available slot. However, you won’t get a better capture card than this if you’re willing to go the extra mile. Since the card is internal, it will provide near-zero latency; you won’t have to worry about lag between your game and your inputs. You can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re seeing things as fast as they happen.

This card has some premium features that you won’t see on less expensive cards, like 240Hz passthrough — allowing for up to 240 frames per second on the passthrough. Regarding recording, you can use this card to record 4K video with up to 60fps on the recording. You can also record in HDR10, giving your videos the most vibrant colors. You can also stream to multiple platforms using almost any program you desire. OBS, Streamlabs, and XSplit are all compatible with this card. You can also stream to video calls through services like Discord; you can share your gameplay with friends and family or the public. Check out the Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2 on Amazon.

ProsCons
You can record or stream in 4K at 60fps with HDR10 color.The card is relatively expensive.
The internal format provides near-zero latency.
The passthrough supports up to 240Hz gameplay.

How to Pick the Best Capture Card for PC: Step by Step

When choosing the best capture card for your needs, you must consider a few crucial details that will strongly impact your overall experience with your device. The following are the most important features influencing your experience:

  • Architecture
  • Streaming and recording resolutions
  • Passthrough resolutions

Let’s examine these factors in detail.

Architecture

One thing you’ll want to consider is the card’s architecture. Capture cards come in two form factors, internal and external, each with unique features. Internal cards plug directly into the motherboard via a PCIe slot. External cards connect through a USB port.

The primary draw of an internal capture card is that the card’s passthrough will be faster. Typically, when a capture card displays video game information through a passthrough, there is a delay between the video game’s real-time inputs and the display. Modern technology has drastically reduced the delay, and most capture cards won’t experience a noticeable delay. However, even a few hundred milliseconds can mean a lot for a player’s experience in some games.

External cards are easier to install since they plug into a USB port. They typically use drivers, though some cards are plug-and-play and don’t require additional drivers. Modern capture cards use USB 3.0, which has a data transfer rate that allows for close to seamless passthrough gameplay. However, you may still experience some passthrough lag, especially if your card is plugged into a previous-generation USB port.

Streaming/Recording Resolution

capture card for pc
Streaming or recording video in 4K is a resource-intensive task that not all capture cards are capable of.

The second most crucial factor is the card’s streaming and recording resolution options. Capture cards are for offloading the processing power of streaming and recording video from your CPU and GPU. So, you’ll want to consider your goal with streaming and recording video. If you wish to stream or record in 4K, you’ll need to get a card capable of handling that. 4K video is more difficult to process and requires more power. So, a standard capture card may not be up to the task.

Passthrough Resolutions

Capture cards use both a recording processor and a passthrough. The passthrough takes the game information and outputs it to your monitor. Without it, you can’t see what the capture card was recording. Passing video to a monitor doesn’t require the same amount of power as streaming or recording. So, typically, your capture card’s passthrough resolution will be higher than its streaming and recording one. 

You’ll want to check two things with passthrough resolutions. First is the maximum resolution and framerate the passthrough can handle. You’ll also want to check the concurrent passthrough, which is how high the resolution can go while the card is streaming or recording. If you like to play your games in 4K, you’ll need a card with a 4K passthrough while streaming or recording.

What to Know Before Buying a Capture Card for PC

Before buying a capture card for PC, you should ensure that you have the hardware to support the card correctly. While it can be tempting to upgrade an older PC by offloading some of the processing power onto the capture card, your computer may lack the necessary hardware to use the card.

Older PCs may have USB ports that throttle the card, lowering its functional capability. USB ports are backward compatible. So, you won’t get an error from using a USB 3.0 card in a 2.0 slot. However, your card won’t run as fast because the USB port doesn’t have the data transfer speeds needed to support the high processing power.

Using a USB 3.0 card in a 2.0 slot can result in a lag in the recording and the passthrough. If you play games that rely strongly on reaction times and twitch reflexes, you may be unable to react to the in-game stimulus, which could impact your gaming experience.

Internal cards also require available PCIe slots. If you have a pre-built computer, you may not have a PCIe slot available, especially if your computer is from a “non-gaming” company. Standard computer companies often build their computers’ motherboards to include the exact amount of slots necessary for all the pre-built functions and no more. Thus, a pre-built computer would lack the additional PCIe slot needed for the capture card.

You also must ensure your monitor can hook up to the capture card. HDMI ports and monitors are common. However, if you have a DisplayPort monitor, you need to ensure that your monitor can connect to the capture card.

Using a Capture Card for PC: What It’s Like

capture card for pc
A capture card will improve your PC’s overall resource use during streaming or recording sessions by offloading the task to the capture card.

Assuming your hardware can support the card you purchased correctly, you shouldn’t notice a significant difference in gaming when using your capture card. The real difference is running concurrent processes where your computer is streaming or recording while you play. You should see better overall processing, smoother gameplay, and less resource usage in this situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a capture card for PC?

A capture card is an additional device for a computer that takes on the task of recording or streaming video in place of the CPU and GPU.

Why should I get a capture card for PC?

Typically, people who want to stream or make gaming videos will buy capture cards because they want to reduce the CPU and GPU usage when streaming or recording by offloading that task to the capture card.

Will getting a capture card improve my gameplay?

If your hardware can support your capture card, you will see smoother gameplay while recording or streaming video since the CPU and GPU are no longer doing that task.

What is the difference between an internal and external capture card?

Internal capture cards plug into a PCIe slot on the motherboard, while external ones use a USB port. Typically, internal capture cards have lower latency, while external cards are more accessible and easier to install.

Can capture cards record 4K video?

Yes. Some capture cards can record and stream 4K video.

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