Looking to pick up a game capture card to start recording video game footage? Or perhaps you want to give your streams a more professional look? Well, not to worry as we’ve picked several game cards and devices that we feel are the best game capture cards of 2018. Below you’ll find several cards that we’ve had actual hands-on experience with, both in 1080p and 4K. Lastly, this list is always changing. Older cards will be removed as newer ones are added to the market. We do the work so you don’t have to.

** Previous posted on April 1st, 2018 **

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 form over to your 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 used 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. As newer devices are released and older devices are retired or outlived their usage, we’ve updated our list for 2018.

We’ve also added a new section for 4K capture devices as they are becoming more commonplace.

 

1080p Capture Devices

Elgato HD60 S (replaces the HD60)

elgato-hd-60s-image-01

While the Elgato HD60 has been perhaps one of the most widely used devices for streaming, Elgato has 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.

This device does not include an onboard h.264 hardware encoder, this means that your computer will handle the encoding tasks. This will need 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 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. 

 

Elgato HD60 Pro

elgato-hd-60-pro-image-02

This one is in an odd place 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. 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 offer 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. 

Like most Elgato gaming capture devices, the HD60 also includes Elgato’s Game Capture software, which 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.

 

Avermedia Live Gamer Extreme

Avermedia_Live_Gamer_Extreme_image-01

The AVerMedia 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 on 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 need 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.

 

AverMedia Live Gamer Portable 2

Avermedia Live Gamer Portable 2

The updated Live Gamer Portable one-ups the original in so many ways. Not only does it still keep the ability to record footage without needing a PC or Laptop. It also supports both H.264 and MJEPG, which in some ways is superior to H.264. It also supports usage with Avermedia’s updated RECentral 3 recording and streaming suite of software. Sadly, this is still a USB 2.0 device, so it doesn’t feature any ultra-low latency abilities. Still, this device is still recommended as you can take this on the go and record video while at events, thanks to the “Hot Button” and pass-through ports.

This is my goto device when I’m out on the road and covering events. Having the ability to record direct footage and off-load it later is a godsend.

Specs:

Interface: USB 2.0
Maximum Bitrate: 40 Mbps
H.264 Hardware Encoding Built-in: Yes
MJPEG Support: Yes
Input: PlayStation 4, Xbox One & Xbox 360, Wii U (unencrypted HDMI)
Output: HDMI (pass-through)
Supported resolutions: 1080p60, 1080p30,720p60, 720p30,576p60, 480p60

Price: 

At the time of this article, the AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme can be found at Amazon for $146.63 Normally it retails for $200 and up

 

Razer Ripsaw

Razer 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.

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 place 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 need 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

 

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 can 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. 

 

4K Capture Devices

 

Elgato 4K60 Pro

Elgato 4KPRO 60Check out our review of the Elgato 4K60 Pro here. We rated it 4.5/. Highly recommended!

With 4K quickly becoming commonplace when it comes to recording video game footage, Elgato released their first 4K recording device. The 4K60 Pro is not only the first 4K capture device for gamers but also one of the cheaper ones. Sure, while the $399 price tag may be daunting, keep in mind that this is also the cheapest device on the market that does what it does. Able to record at a brisk 60fps at 4K, 1440p, 1080p and 720p, the 4K60 Pro can do it all. I’ve used one ever since they first released and the experience keeps getting better and better. Elgato also released an application, the 4K Capture Utility, that provides multiple recording options, direct MP4 encoding and better way to organize your videos. The downside is that doesn’t support flashback recording, nor can you stream with it. You’ll still be able to use OBS, XSPlit and even Elgato’s game capture software for those options. 

The 4K60 Pro also requires some hefty PC requirements, so keep that in mind. This is due to the number of pixels it has to capture, as 2160p is 4x as much as 1080p. The device also does not include any onboard h.264 encoding, that job is handled by either your CPU or GPU. Elgato recommends an Intel i7, AMD Ryzen 7 or higher. Though I’ve seen reports of people using the device with lower hardware specs. 

I’ve replaced my HD60 Pro with the 4K60 Pro and couldn’t be happier. With it, I’m able to record 4K content from not only the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, but also my 4K enabled PC. 

Specs:

Interface: PCIe x4
Input: Unencrypted HDMI
Output: HDMI with lag-free pass through (HDMI 2.0 cable included)
Supported resolutions: Up to 2160p (4K) at 60 FPS and 140Mbps bitrate

Price:

Currently, the Elgato 4K60 Pro can be purchased for $399.99. 

 

That’s it, folks

So that’s our list of what’s now 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!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grid. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. You can find him on Twitter as @Shadowhaxor or you can email her at keith.mitchell@theouterhaven.net.