Elgato’s 4K capture solution is finally here
** Originally posted November 2017 **
While this review was posted back during November 2017, I wanted to provide an update of sorts. First being that my original card had to be replaced twice. The first was covered by the store I purchased the card from (Amazon). The second, I had to RMA it with Elgato. Thankfully I wasn’t down for very long and they took care of the issues – after a very lengthy back and forth with their customer support. Secondly, they added HDR passthrough. This was done via a software update and the original 4K 60 Pro cards didn’t support this, so if you were an early adopter you need to send in your card to get it swapped out. More on that here.
Everything else in this review still stands, and outside of hardware issues (which happen) the original score still stands.
Original review below
Prior to the release of the 4K60 Pro, I was stuck using a software solution to record my 4K content. And while Nvidia’s Shadowplay was doing a decent job, there were two issues with it. The first is that it is a software solution, so it needed to run on the same machine as the one I was gaming on. The second was that there was no way to capture footage from any game consoles. Sure, I had access to the Elgato HD60 S and HD60 Pro devices. But they were stuck at encoding at 1080p. Not to mention that if you fed either one with a 4K signal, they did not work at all. While there are other 4K capture cards out there, they’re pricey and that put them out of my range. This is where the Elgato 4K60 Pro comes into play.
Name: 4K60 Pro
Release Date: November 21, 2017
Available At: Amazon
Similar to the HD60 Pro, the 4K60 Pro needs to be installed inside of your PC and then connected to your consoles/PC. Then the magic occurs, assuming you have the correct setup. You’ll be able to record and stream content up to 4K. That said, unlike the HD60 Pro, the requirements for the 4K60 Pro are quite higher. In fact, many looking forward to picking up this card may need to upgrade their PCs prior to acquiring this card.
• Windows 10 (64-bit)
• 6th generation Intel Core i7 CPU (i7-6xxx) / AMD Ryzen 7 (or better)
• NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10xx / AMD Radeon RX Vega (or better)
• PCIe x4/x8/x16 slot
As you can see, this needs not only a robust processor but also a fairly recent video card as well. Currently, recording 4K content has a high hardware tax, as you can see. And I don’t recommend anyone trying to use the card with anything lower. The reason for this is that there is no onboard encoder. Meaning that the encoding will happen on either your processor or your video card. You must have a PC that has ample power to run this card, there’s no getting around this. If you aren’t ready to upgrade or put down some money to upgrade, then you may want to stick to 1080p capture devices for now.
The card is about twice the size of the HD60, yet it retains quite similar, visually. While the HD60 Pro also included a half-size card bracket for smaller cases, the same doesn’t hold true for the 4K60 Pro. The PCIe connectors are bigger, which also requires a PCIe 4x/8x/16x slot. Lastly, there’s a latch at the end of the card which can be used to lock the card in place. You normally don’t see this outside of video cards and specialty PCI cards.
Includes in the box is the 4K60 Pro PCIe card, HDMI 2.0 cable, and an Elgato badge. There is no software included and it must be downloaded. If you already have an Elgato product, then you’re already using the Game Capture software. However, in order to use the 4K60 Pro, you’ll need to download their 4K Capture Utility. It is not compatible with the previous capture software. The application is also only available for Windows. Sadly, macOS users are left out, at least for now.
Make no mistake, this card is a fantastic piece of gaming technology. However, all that power and convenience comes with a hefty price tag – $399.99. Costing as much as a PlayStation 4 Pro, the price tag may put the device way out of the hands of many gamers/content creators. This twice the price of the current HD60 Pro which costs anywhere between $169 – $199. At the same time, this is a 4K card and while many companies are making the big 4K push. It’s still a feature that not many gamers or content creators are interested in – at least not yet. But for those that are ready, they’re going to be quite happy with the 4K60 Pro.
Those wonderful video encodes
Let’s talk about what the 4K60 Pro provides and why you’ll want to pick one up. While this is marketed as a 4K capture card, it doesn’t mean that’s all it does. You’ll also be able to also record 1440p and 1080p content.
- 4K encoding up to 60fps and 140Mbps
- 1440P (2K) encoding up to 144fps and 140Mbps
- 1080p encoding up to 240fps and 140Mbps
Connecting my Xbox One X, PlayStation 4 or my streaming PC to the 4K60 Pro is fairly simple. You just connect the console/PC to the “in” connection, while connecting the output to your TV or monitor into the “out” port. And that’s it. But what if you have a more complex setup? Not to worry, as I’ve done some testing of my own as my setup is anything but ordinary.
In my office, I have my consoles and my streaming PC, connected to a 4K A/V receiver. From there it’s all connected to a 4K splitter that branches off to my PC with the 4K60 Pro and my TV. The reason for this is that the 4K60 and the HD60 Pro both provide a passthrough. While is fine, as long as your PC is powered on. Once the PC is powered off, you have to then either power it back on or rewire your setup. So introducing a splitter to the solution does wonders, as you can work around the passthrough. After several days of testing this setup, I can confirm that it works beautifully. The only issue I noticed is that at the times the streaming PC will stop responding to the 4K60 Pro. However, I believe this is either a video card or driver issue, as the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro worth without a hitch.
Let’s talk about those sexy video encodes. As I mentioned previously, the 4K60 Pro can output footage with a maximum of 140Mbps. This is far and beyond what’s available in this price range. This means that your encodes will be fairly big, so you’ll need to plan accordingly. For example, a 3-minute recording at 140Mbps resulted in a file that was almost 4GB. While a 40-minute recording at the same setting produced a file that was 24GB large. Needless to say, that if you plan on recording in this setting, you’ll need to have enough space to accommodate. Now, you’re probably wondering if you’ll need either an SSD or a conventional hard drive to save your videos. Not to worry, I covered that for you as well.
Speaking of hard drive space, you’ll need to be careful. While an external drive is usually an easier solution, I noticed an issue with this. Most external drives are rated at 5400 RPM, which is on the low side. Meaning that you’ll have to drop your encode setting so that your videos don’t end up in a stuttering showcase. In order for me to get an acceptable recording on a 5400RPM external drive, I had to drop it down to 35Mbps. The hard truth is 5400RPM drives simply aren’t able to keep up with the higher bitrate videos being written to the disk. However, 7200RPM hard drives and SSDs will be more than enough. I’ve tested using both flavors of those drives, from 35Mbps, all the way up to 140Mbps and encountered zero issues with the latter.
The encodes are pretty dang exceptional. As you can see in the videos in this article, they are quite nice to view. All of these were recorded with the maximum encode setting. Sure, that meant it took YouTube forever to process, but the resulting video was worth it. The streams are no slouch either. It was actually really nice being able to stream directly to YouTube in both 1440p and 4K, without any degradation in performance. Sadly, neither
Twitch or Mixer allow for 4K streaming (outside of partners), so I wasn’t able to test it on either service.
Update 1: I’m not sure when Twitch enabled 4K streaming, but I did test it today and it looked decent from what I was able to stream. Since I’m capped at 6000kbps, I wasn’t going to get the same 4K quality but it’s nice to see that the possibility is there.
The 4K60 Pro also does not support HDR. I would have liked to see this, especially since the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X both support the technology. It’s not a deal breaker, but it would have been nice to have HDR included. It does now support HDR passthrough, so you can still connect an HDR signal to the card and not worry about the green-ish/yellow-ish tint that I experienced before.
Houston, we have a problem
During the course of playing around with the 4K60 Pro, I did experience some issues. Issues that took a bit of time to understand what was happening and correcting them. It’s worth pointing out that a day or two after I managed to fix my problems, a guide was written that addressed my problems. That said, when you attempt to use either OBS or XSplit Broadcaster, the 4K60 works a bit different from the previous HD60 PCIe card. When you fire up either of those applications, I noticed that there wasn’t any sound being produced, despite my Xbox One X or PS4 Pro definitely giving off sound from my setup. For the next 40 minutes, I installed and reinstalled various applications, thinking it was an issue on my end.
After all this, I decided to try one more option – enabling the “use custom audio device” and selecting the 4K60 Pro card. Once I did this, I was finally able to receive audio. I was definitely a bit frustrated over this, as there was no instruction or directions on having to do this. So if you pick up the card, make sure you don’t miss this step. That said, it’s worth mentioning that the new Elgato 4K capture application doesn’t need or utilize this workaround.
Another issue was that very same 4K capture application. While I was able to use it just fine for my HD60 Pro, that wasn’t the same for the 4K60 Pro. While it works perfectly and allows for recording up to 140Mbps, the application wasn’t stable. I was only able to launch it once. Closing it out meant that to use it again, I had to reboot my PC. As you can imagine it was frustrating to having to do that. This is why I resorted to using either OBS or XSplit for my 4K recording duties.
Update 2: As I was working on this review, Elgato pushed out an update for their 4K capture application. So far it seems to have corrected the issues I had with the program. So if you do get this card or already have it, make sure you update the application
Elgato, if you’re reading this,
please update the application with shortcut keys. I’d love to be able to just push a button and start my recording. And while you’re at it, being able to stream from it would also be nice.
Update 3: Apparently there is an undocumented shortcut for the 4K Capture Utility. Pressing Ctrl+Shift+R will also start the recording process. While pressing the keys again will stop it. I still want to be able to rebind the keys, but that’s nothing that a macro won’t fix. Thanks to reader, Friedhelm Birth, for providing this info.
Update 4: After contacting Elgato, I was able to get them to confirm that if you already have the HD Capture software, you’ll need to remove it. It only does 1080p captures (as stated before) and is unneeded. So get that uninstalled.
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Elgato 4K60 Pro is a fantastic entry into 4K recording
So far, I’m fairly impressed with the 4K60 Pro. It produces amazing visuals, it’s fast and I’ve encountered no real issues. Well, outside of the software problems. The main concern that I have is the price. Now, while I’m not complaining, especially since most 4K capture devices are more expensive. It does pose a problem for potential content creators. If you can overcome that then you’ll be extremely happy with your purchase.
For me, this is easily one of the best purchases I’ve made this year.
- Able to encode videos up to 140Mbps
- The 4K capture application is simple and straightforward.
- No HDR Support.
- A bit pricey compared to their competition
- My original card was replaced twice due to hardware issues