The best capture cards for 2021

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A capture card allows you to stream and capture gameplay on PC and console without interrupting your gameplay experience. Capture cards act as a middleman, stealing a feed of your gameplay when you play it on your computer to record it or stream it on a platform like Twitch. However, these devices are not created equal, so you’ll need one of the best capture cards to record or stream the highest quality gameplay.

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We’ve rounded up seven capture cards that are great for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, PC, and Nintendo Switch. All of the cards below will work as long as your console has an HDMI port, but we’ve rounded up our selections to offer the highest quality possible for their respective platforms.

If you’re interested in PC capture cards, be sure to read our guide on how to build a PC. Some cards only work inside the computer, so you’ll need to learn how to slot in a PCIe card (it’s very easy).

Best Capture Cards at a Glance

Elgato Game Capture HD60 S+

Capture an Elgao game SD 60S+ capture card.

Pros: Instant Streaming, Flashback Recording, Console, PC and Mac Support

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Shortcoming: Lacks H.264 encoder, limited editing software capabilities

The Elgato HD60 is crashing into the next generation with the Elgato HD60 S+. Stylistically and mechanically, it’s nearly identical to the HD60 S—our previous recommendation for this slot—though it comes with a unique advantage: 4K60 passthrough with HDR.

Although the HD60 S+ is still limited to 1080p HDR capture at 60 frames per second (fps), you can still monitor your feed with the full graphical fidelity of your new console. The HD60 S+ can also capture 4K, though it’s limited to 30 fps.

Elgato apparently targeted the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 with the HD60 S+, but it also works on PS4 and Xbox One. No matter which console you’re using, it’s easy to set up. After connecting the HDMI cable to both ends and running the included USB cable to your computer, streaming software like OBS Studio and XSplit will automatically detect your console as the input source.

For system requirements, HD60 S+ Requires a little more than the S variant, but not more. You’ll need a 6th-gen Intel i5 or 4GB of RAM on Windows and a better pair with an Nvidia GTX 10-series GPU. On a Mac, you’ll still need 4GB of RAM, but you can get by with a 4th-gen i5 or better and either an AMD or Nvidia GPU.

Asus Tough Gaming CU4K30

Asus Tuf CU4K30 Capture Card.

Pros: Aluminum body, 4K60 passthrough, RGB lighting

Shortcoming: No 4K60 Capture

If you are looking for a capture card for your next-gen console, the Asus Tuf Gaming CU4K30 is a great option. As the name implies, you can record or stream the gameplay at up to 4K resolution at 30 fps. The card also supports 60 fps capture at 2K as well as 120 fps capture at 1080p.

Passthrough lets you enjoy your gameplay at full resolution and frame rate too. You can passthrough up to a 4K signal at 60 fps, or up to 240 fps in 1080p mode. Asus also supports HDR via passthrough.

To keep all your cables tidy, the card includes a headphone and controller port on the front, so you can easily plug everything in to your console or PC without cords. The capture card also connects to your streaming computer with a USB-C cable, which works out of the box. You do not need to download drivers to start using the card.

Although the look of the capture card usually doesn’t matter, CU4K30 I’m liking it. It’s a small, aluminum capture card with the Asus Tough logo on it. It also has some RGB underglow, which conveniently lets you know about various card conditions, like whether the HDMI signal has been interrupted or a firmware update is taking place.

avermedia live gamer portable 2 plus

Avermedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus Capture Card.

Pros: Small and portable, 4K passthrough, software is versatile and easy to use, records footage to microSD, console and PC support

Shortcoming: Mac users need third-party software

The portability of the Nintendo Switch makes it a great option for traveling gamers, and with the right carrying case, you can take the system’s dock with you, too. If you want to record gameplay on the go but don’t want to bring a PC, the Evermedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus is the best capture card for the Nintendo Switch. Although it’s a great capture card for Nintendo’s hybrid console, it also works with the PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, and Xbox One.

With the Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus, you can record gameplay without tethering to a PC using its built-in H.264 encoder. It captures in 1080p at 60 fps, which is a ceiling for the Nintendo Switch’s limited capabilities. It saves your videos to a microSD card, which you can access via the device’s micro USB connection to a PC (storage mode) or by transferring the microSD card to a PC.

If you want to livestream the gameplay, you’ll need to connect the capture card to your PC and use Evermedia’s software (RECentral). It is easy to use and comes with more features than OBS and XSplit. Live editing allows you to cut the recording before saving it as a file.

In addition to microSD and microUSB ports, the unit offers two HDMI ports on the back, one of which serves as a 4K passthrough (no HDR). Separate microphone and headphone jacks are on the front, along with volume control and mode (PC, PC-free, storage) buttons. system requirements A little weird. With desktops, you need a Core i5-3330 or better and a GTX 650, while on laptops you need a Core i7-4810MQ and a GTX 870M or better.

a major downside of avermedia live gamer portable 2 plus is that its proprietary software only works with Windows. The company offers an “Express” version in beta for Macs, but you’ll need third-party software like OBS and XSplit.

avermedia live gamer mini

Avermedia capture card showing an HDMI port and a USB port.

Pros: Built-in Hardware H.264 Encoder, Live Passthrough, 1080p Streaming 60 FPS

Shortcoming: Mac software constraints

The AverMedia Live Gamer Mini is all you need for streaming, and at $100, it’s cheap, too. It supports 1080p recording and streaming at 60 fps, and the card comes with zero-lag passthrough, so you can monitor your gameplay in real-time. In some ways, the Live Gamer even beats the Mini Capture Card for twice its price.

This is mainly thanks to its H.264 hardware encoder. Like the increasingly rare Elgato HD60, the Live Gamer Mini removes the encoding workload from your CPU when streaming or recording. Because the card handles the encoding, you can also capture a backup recording of your stream with StreamEngine. StreamEngine is a lightweight application included with the Live Gamer Mini, so you can capture your gameplay before moving on to your broadcast software of choice.

Like the Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus above, this capture card comes with Evermedia’s ReCentral software. With scene transitions, chroma key support, and an audio mixer, ReCentral has everything you need to stream on YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, and more. If you prefer a different broadcast software, Live Gamer Mini also supports XSplit, OBS and OBS Studio.

Outside of software, the Live Gamer Mini is straightforward. The card is very small, less than an inch thick, and comes with only three ports: HDMI input, HDMI output, and USB 2.0 output. As for system requirements, you’ll need an Intel i5-3330 and GTX 650 or better on desktops, and an i7-4810MQ and GTX 870M or better on laptops. The card requires 4GB of RAM on laptops and desktops, though Evermedia recommends 8GB.

As was the case above, however, Mac users only have access to the Express edition of RECentral. NS avermedia live gamer mini Still comes with chroma key support and audio mixer, though it lacks the live editing and performance optimizations featured in the full Windows version.

Elgato 4K60 Pro

Elgato 4K60 Pro Capture Card.

Pros: HDR support, 4K recording at 60 fps, multi-app support

Shortcoming: Expensive, PCIe only, High system requirements

The Elgato 4K60 Pro is the one capture card to end all capture cards, and it comes with a price tag to match. As the only internal card on our list, the 4K60 Pro benefits from huge bandwidth thanks to its PCIe x4 interface, outperforming USB 3.0 in every circumstance and making USB 2.0 a relic.

Of course, the standout feature for the 4K60 Pro is that it can record at 2160p at 60 fps. It supports 1080p60, as well as HDR10.

However, it is a PC gamer’s capture card. Although slotting a PCIe card into your computer isn’t a daunting task, simply opening the side panel can be too much. If you fit into that camp but still want the best in quality, then our next pick is perfect for you.

The 4K60 Pro is a PC gamer’s capture card not only because it’s internal, but also because it demands some pretty hefty system requirements. You’ll need at least an Nvidia 10-series GPU, as well as a 6th Gen Core i7 or Ryzen 7. It also supports Windows only.

Thank you, Elgato Elgato 4K60 Pro Worth the trouble. It includes the same excellent features seen on the HD60S, including flashback recording, as well as passthrough at up to 1080p240 or 1440p144.

Elgato Game Capture 4K60 S+

Capture Elgato Game 4K60 S+ Capture Card.

Pros: Hardware H.264/H.265 encoding, Built-in SD card reader, HDR support, 4K recording at 60 fps

Shortcoming: Too expensive, no high-resolution passthrough

The Elgato Game Capture 4K60 S+ is basically a 4K60 Pro in a box. The 4K60 S+ costs $400, almost twice the price of the PCIe variant. However, it has some perks based on the 4K60 Pro.

That is, the S+ comes with an H.264/H.265 hardware encoder. You don’t need a supercomputer to use it, as all the processing happens on the card itself, but you’ll still need a decent rig like the 4K60 Pro, with 8GB of RAM and a 10-series or better Nvidia GPU for Windows 10. machine will be required. CPU requirements are less strict, requiring Ryzen either…

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