While Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have built-in capabilities that allow them to stream to various services such as Twitch, at the moment only the PlayStation 4 can stream to YouTube and YouTube gaming. Yet, on the other hand, other devices like the Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360, don’t have this ability, so recording or streaming using a capture device is needed. And while the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One can stream on their own, their abilities are limited. But not to worry as this is where a capture device or capture card comes into play.

popular-streaming-services

Keep in mind that while there is a handful of Capture Cards on the market right now, the times are changing a bit. previously the majority of capture cards have used the standard USB 2.0. However, there are several newer models on the market that now use USB 3.0 that are not backward compatible. In order to use those, you must either have a USB 3.0 connection on your PC or Laptop already or install a USB 3.0 card.

Now you may be asking yourself what are the advantages of using a USB 3.0 capture device over a USB 2.0 device. The answer to that is simple. With USB 2.0, you were presented with 2-3 seconds of delay while the signal is being sent from your console you were either recording or streaming from  to your PC / Laptop. This meant that you would have to record via the PC / Laptop, but you would need to the TV / monitor that your console was hooked up to and then pause, stop, record on the PC or Laptop. With the newer USB 3.0 capture cards, the lag is much shorter and not as noticeable, which many companies are advertising as zero lag or lag-free pass-through. This allows you to look directly at the TV / monitor that is recording the stream, which you may also be using to chat with viewers in your stream.

This guide only focuses on the capture cards that have been released in the past two years and only the ones that we feel are worth your earned cash. The price point for these cards are $200 and below. Sure there are more expensive capture devices out there but we’re focusing on the average consumer or gamer who doesn’t have $500 and up dollars to pick one up. Those devices are also typically catered for more than just gaming.

In the terms of connectivity, there’s USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and PCIe cards on this list. Each has their pros and cons. For example, a PCIe card trumps USB in the terms of throughput, yet it isn’t portable. USB is portable, yet provides less throughput and has been known to drop signal under heavy stress. Finally, most USB capture devices don’t include onboard hardware encoding. We’ve tried to come up with a list that includes all the pros and cons, hopefully, which will allow you to ultimately decide on which device you end up choosing.

Every capture device or card on this list must include the following features;

  1. 1080p@60 FPS recording & streaming output
  2. USB 2.0 + / PCIe
  3. Compatible with either OBS and / or Xsplit
  4. H.264 Hardware Encoding is optional but desired

In addition, every device listed will either include their own software for streaming or will be compatible with both OBS or Xsplit, which are two of most widely used streaming software suites out there. And finally, we all know that as technology changes and more companies get onboard with releases new capture cards, if there are any new devices released within 2016 that meet our criteria in this guide,we’ll add them.

Alright, on to the capture devices!

1. Elgato HD60

elgato-hd-60-image-01

This capture device is considered by many to be the golden standard for capturing and recording game footage. Powered by USB 2.0, the Elgato HD60 captures up to 1080p@60 FPS and was one of the only capture devices to do this for some time. While the HD60 is now being outclassed by it’s younger siblings, it still shines the brightest as it is USB 2.0 capable. This is immensely important as the USB 3.0 is slowing becoming the standard yet isn’t backward compatible. On a personal note, I currently own the HD60. That said I am currently looking at either the HD60 S or the HD60 Pro. No disrespect for this capture device, because it’s still one of the best. 

The Elgato HD60 works with the PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii U and PC if you wanted to use it on the PC.It is also possible to use it on the PlayStation 3 but it isn’t officially supported as the PlayStation 3 output is protected by HDCP. However since this device does not include an onboard h.264 hardware encoder, this means that your computer will handle the encoding tasks. This will require that your computer has at least an Intel Core i5 with 2Ghz or higher.

Like most Elgato gaming capture devices, the HD60 also includes Elgato’s Game Capture software, which as of now only supports 64-bit OS’s such as Windows 7/8/8.1/10 and OS X 10.9 and above.

elgato-game-capture-hd-interface-01

Specs:

Interface: USB 2.0
Maximum Bitrate: 40 Mbps
H.264 Hardware Encoding Built-in: No
Input: PlayStation 4, Xbox One & Xbox 360, Wii U (unencrypted HDMI)
Output: HDMI (pass-through)
Supported resolutions: 1080p60, 1080p30,720p60, 720p30,576p60, 480p60
Comes with: Elgato Game Capture HD60, USB cable, HDMI cable

Price:

$179.99, though at the time of this article it can be found for under $150. If you’re looking for a cheap one, there are dozens of new and used being sold on YouTube.

 

2. Elgato HD60 S

elgato-hd-60s-image-01

While the Elgato HD60 has been perhaps one of the most widely used devices for streaming, Elgato has recently refreshed everything that made it so good and added to it. With the HD60 S, gone is the USB 2 interface and instead has been replaced with the USB 3 interface. The advantages to this are now gamers are able to stream and record directly from their PC or Laptop, without ever looking at the TV or Monitor that their game console is connected to. Elgato has promised that the HD60 S has lag-free gaming, which is possible thanks to the upgraded USB 3 interface and from what I’ve seen from the device, their claims are spot on. I’ve watched footage that was recorded on a PC while being played on another monitor and there was literally no difference on what was seen on either screen. 

And just like the HD60, the HD60 S also records and streams at 1080p@60 FPS.

However since this device does not include an onboard h.264 hardware encoder, this means that your computer will handle the encoding tasks. This will require that your computer has at least an Intel Core i5 with 2Ghz or higher.

Like most Elgato gaming capture devices, the HD60 also includes Elgato’s Game Capture software, which as of now only supports 64-bit OS’s such as Windows 7/8/8.1/10 and OS X 10.9 and above.

Specs:

Interface: USB 3.0
Maximum Bitrate: 40 Mbps
H.264 Hardware Encoding Built-in: No
Input: PlayStation 4, Xbox One & Xbox 360, Wii U (unencrypted HDMI)
Output: HDMI (pass-through)
Supported resolutions: 1080p60, 1080p30,720p60, 720p30,576p60, 480p60
Comes with: Elgato Game Capture HD60 S, USB cable, HDMI cable

Price:

What makes this interesting is that the Elgato HD60 S is the same price as the Elgato HD60, which is $179.99, at the time of this article. The only deciding factor here is if you have access to USB 3.0. If you do, then you’ll want to get the Elgato HD60 S, otherwise, the Elgato HD60 will be the better choice. 

 

3. Elgato HD60 Pro

elgato-hd-60-pro-image-02

This one is in an odd position and I wasn’t sure if it should be added to the list. However as more and more gamers are turning to PCIe installed cards in addition to external capture devices, so it was a no-brainer that it made the cut. This the first PCIe card from Elgato and was created in response to gamers asking for a zero-lag solution from the company. However unlike the newer Elgato HD60 S, the HD60 Pro took advantage of an existing slot that most recent computers (5-10 years) already have access to. This is pretty much similar to the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD, however unlike that card, the Elgato HD60 Pro does provide a 1080p@60FPS recorded footage.

However since this is a PCIe card, there is a downside. Unless you like removing and reinstalling your card everytime you want to stream or record in different locations, this means the card stays in one place. Unlike the other cards on this list which are external solutions, meaning they are also portable, you lose that advantage. That said you gain a maximum of 60 Mbps bitrate for recording, 20 Mbps more than any external solution. Is that enough to decide on this, however, is up to you and the configuration of your gaming room / office or wherever you record or stream?

Like most Elgato gaming capture devices, the HD60 also includes Elgato’s Game Capture software, which as of now only supports 64-bit OS’s such as Windows 7/8/8.1/10 and OS X 10.9 and above.

Specs:

Interface: PCIe
Maximum Bitrate: 60 Mbps
H.264 Hardware Encoding Built-in: Yes
Input: PlayStation 4, Xbox One & Xbox 360, Wii U (unencrypted HDMI)
Output: HDMI (pass-through)
Supported resolutions: 1080p60, 1080p30,720p60, 720p30,576p60, 480p60
Comes with: Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro, HDMI cable

Price:

Currently, the Elgato HD60 Pro can be purchased for $199.99. I’ve yet to see any discounted sales on this since its release, however even at the current price I feel it’s a warranted to buy.

 

4.  Avermedia Live Gamer Extreme

Avermedia_Live_Gamer_Extreme_image-01

The AVermdia Live Gamer Extreme is the companies second foray into the 1080p@60 FPS territory, with the AVerMedia ExtremeCap U3 being the first. As such we didn’t place the AVerMedia ExtremeCap U3 onto this list as there’s no reason for it with the AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme outclassing it in every way.  Yet another USB 3.0 powered capture device, you can also expect to have a zero-lag experience with this device. What’s also nice is that it includes two 3.5mm audio inputs on the front, which is useful to mix voice inputs or sounds from a soundboard into the recorded audio. This is also pretty handy if you wanted to have to people adding game commentary at the same time and didn’t want to share a microphone. Another interesting feature is that the AVermdia Live Gamer Extreme also lets you customize the top of the unit. 

There’s a clear window that sits on the top, which by default has the AVerMedia LGX design, however, thanks to the included cover creator program, you can make your own label. Anything goes here folks, so let your artistic beast and customize it any way you feel fit.

Also included is AVerMEDIA’s RECentral 2 software, which allows you to either stream or record. Here you’re able to change multiple options such as video source, video format, resolution, video and audio bitrate and several other options. It’s pretty robust and has several features that put it on par with Elgato’s Game Capture software and in some instances it one-ups it. It also lets you stream to multiple services such as Twitch, Youtube, Ustream, as well as any other RMTP services.

However since this device does not include an onboard h.264 hardware encoder, this means that your computer will handle the encoding tasks. This will require that your computer has at least an Intel Core i5 with 2Ghz or higher.

Specs:

Interface: USB 3.0
Maximum Bitrate: 40 Mbps
H.264 Hardware Encoding Built-in: No
Input: PlayStation 4, Xbox One & Xbox 360, Wii U (unencrypted HDMI)
Output: HDMI (pass-through)
Supported resolutions: 1080p60, 1080p30,720p60, 720p30,576p60, 480p60
Comes with: AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme, HDMI cable

Price: 

At the time of this article, the AVermdia Live Gamer Extreme can be found at Amazon.com for $158.99. Normally it retails for $179.99.

 

5.  Razer RipsawRazer Ripsaw - main

We reviewed this device here and scored it a 4.5/5!

The first gaming capture device from Razer, though it isn’t the first time we’ve seen this device. As it would seem, the Razer Ripsaw is packing the very same internals as the AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme which is #4 on our list. This was mentioned by several various people on Reddit as well as a popular gaming forum, however, this is the first time images were taken to show this off.

razer-ripsaw-vs-avermedia-lgx-03

Woah, dejavu!

Thanks to the efforts of Reddit user “imawesome_yournot“, we can see the internals of the Razer Ripsaw match up with the AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme, as seen here. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t pick up the Razer Ripsaw, especially since this is basically the same thing as the AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme. It works well per our resident Aussie Gamer, Karl Smart, who is currently putting the Razer Ripsaw through the paces. Expect a review on this soon.

The only downside is that it will not work with AVerMedia’s recording software, so you’ll have to stick to either OBS or Xsplit for recording duties.That said, if you’re ever in a position to decide between this and the AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme, get the one that’s cheaper at the moment. Unless you really want to make and sport your own custom covers, as this is the only difference between the two devices. Other than that, 1080p@60 FPS recording and streaming for this device.

However since this device does not include an onboard h.264 hardware encoder, this means that your computer will handle the encoding tasks. This will require that your computer has at least an Intel Core i5 with 2Ghz or higher. Be sure to check out our review of the Ripsaw Razer here.

Specs:

Interface: USB 3.0
Maximum Bitrate: 40 Mbps
H.264 Hardware Encoding Built-in: No
Input: PlayStation 4, Xbox One & Xbox 360, Wii U (unencrypted HDMI)
Output: HDMI (pass-through)
Supported resolutions: 1080p60, 1080p30,720p60, 720p30,576p60, 480p60
Comes with: Razer Ripsaw, HDMI cable

Honorable Mention

6. AVerMedia Live Gamer HD

AVerMedia-live-gamer-hd-01

Ah, the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD, a beast for its time and even now for that matter. This card would easily be something that we could recommend if it only was able to output at 1080p@60 FPS. In fact, that’s the one issue with this card and if you can look past that and 30 FPS is more than enough for you. It supports onboard H.264 hardware encoding and 60 Mbps maximum output at 720p and my favorite feature, one button recording. Yes, despite this being a PCIe card, the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD features a dedicated record button that plugs into the card and lights up when pressed, which lets you know when you’re actively recording or streaming.

If only for that lack of 1080@60 FPS output, this would be my number one PCIe card pick. While still a good card, though for $40 more you can get better. That said, if recording at 1080@60 FPS isn’t that important to you, definitely see if you can still pick up this card, you won’t be disappointed.

Specs:

Interface: PCIe
Maximum Bitrate: 60 Mbps
H.264 Hardware Encoding Built-in: Yes
Input: PlayStation 4, Xbox One & Xbox 360, Wii U (unencrypted HDMI)
Output: HDMI (pass-through)
Supported resolutions: 1080p30,720p60, 720p30,576p@60, 480p@60
Comes with: Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro, HDMI cable

Price:

Currently, the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD can be purchased for $159.99. 

Avoid at all costs, no seriously!

7. Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4K

Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4K

The Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4K has been out for quite some time and is the only PCIe card on the market that does not only 1080p @ 60FPS but also Ultra HD (4K) at 30FPS. However, there’s a reason why we don’t recommend this PCIe card, which you’ll find out below.

The Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4K has had a problematic release and despite the company stating that those issues have been resolved, there are tons of reports stating otherwise. As of now we can not recommend this card unless you must have some sort of 4K recording option. This card is not for gaming-related activities at all and is instead aimed at amateur video enthusiasts or entry-level semi-professionals. If you want a gaming related PCIe card, this is not the one for you.

Specs:

Interface: PCIe
Maximum Bitrate: 60 Mbps
H.264 Hardware Encoding Built-in: No
Input: PlayStation 4, Xbox One & Xbox 360, Wii U (unencrypted HDMI)
Output: HDMI (pass-through)
Supported resolutions: 720p50, 720p59.94, 720p60, 1080i50, 1080i59.94, 1080i60, 1080p23.98, 1080p24, 1080p25, 1080p29.97, 1080p30, 1080p50, 1080p59.94, 1080p60,2160p30
Comes with: Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4K, Analog Breakout Cable

Price:

The Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4K currently is priced at $199.99, which is the same price as the Elgato HD60 Pro. The only reason I would choose this over that is if I needed to record 4K footage. Other than that I would not reocmmend this card, buyer beware.

That’s it, folks

So that’s our list for what’s currently available and able to produce a 1080p@60FPS capture or stream for anyone looking to push videos to Youtube, Twitch or whatever service you use. And as always, we’re open to suggestions and comments, especially if you have experience with any of the devices we recommended above, so feel free to leave some in the comments below.

About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. Fan of all video games and technology. Loves long walks in with very long swords in hand.