Are you looking for an easy and effective way to capture game footage from your PC, PS4, Xbox One, or other gaming consoles?
While there are many options, the best way is to use a game capture card. Capture cards work by converting your gameplay into video formation and automatically saving it. You can then transfer the video to your computer or other storage devices.
Elgato capture cards are perhaps the best in the market, but they can be costly. This article explores some of the best alternatives to Elgato capture cards.
Why Use Game Capture Card?
You are able to stream without a game capture card, however, The primary purpose of capture cards is to record or stream what is running on your computer screen. It sounds cheaper to use an application like XSplit Broadcaster to do the same than investing in a third-party device. However, you should realize that the application utilizes your PC’s hardware resources.
As such, it takes up a lot of processing power of your CPU and a massive amount of memory from your RAM to work efficiently. If your PC lacks sufficient hardware resources to run the game and the streaming application, you’ll end up with a poor-quality stream.
It’s best to invest in dedicated hardware for capturing gameplay footage to ensure you have excellent quality streaming or footage regardless of your PC’s hardware specifications. That’s where game capture cards come in.
However, you’ll find a wide selection of capture cards on the market, so it can be challenging to choose the best one for your needs. Here are some of the factors to consider when looking for the best game capture card:
- Image quality: Before you pick a capture card, look for the image resolutions it supports and the number of frames per second (fps) it can record. A good game capture card should record in at least 1080p or Full HD. If you want extremely high-quality footages, a capture card that records in 4K or Ultra HD is ideal.
- Input types: Before choosing a capture card, make sure it has the right input for the device you want to use for record. While most modern gaming consoles use HDMI, some older devices use component cables. If you want to capture gameplay from old consoles like the Nintendo 64, invest in a capture card with a component video input.
- Interface: A capture card’s interface is the way it connects to your recording computer. USB is the most popular interface, thanks to its ease of use. PCIe is another excellent interface, but it isn’t easy to set up. Other cards use the Thunderbolt interface.
Now that you understand the significance of game capture cards and how to choose the best one for your needs, let’s explore some of the best options to consider.
- Unencrypted HDMI input
- Zero lag passthrough HDMI output
- HDR 10-bit recording
- In-built HEVC encoder
- HEVC/H.265 HDR and AVC/H.264 encoding
- Supports 480p 60FPS, 576p 50FPS, 720p 30/60FPS, 1080p 30/60FPS, and 2160p 30/60FPS resolutions
- Dimensions: 32mm x 111mm x 142mm / 1.25in x 4.37in x 5.59in
- Weight: 345g / 12.16oz
Elgato has become a household name in everything related to general game streaming and game capture cards. The company’s 4K60 S+ is one of the best high-end external game capture cards you can buy in 2020.
Elgato Game Capture 4K60 S+ is ideal for content creators and livestreamers. If you’re looking to capture premium footage without compromising graphic quality, this capture card won’t disappoint. It can record and pass-through Ultra HD footage at 60FPS.
You won’t even require a computer to record. The capture card comes with a built-in, dedicated HEVC encoder, which allows you to record to an SD card. However, you’ll have to buy the SD card separately.
The onboard HEVC eases the burden on your computer’s CPU and keeps video files at manageable sizes, which is necessary for recording 4K 60FPS with HDR.
Another remarkable attribute of this Elgato capture card is that it can automatically adjust recording resolution, file format, and bit rate on any device it’s plugged into. That means you won’t spend a lot of time fine-tuning your settings.
Elgato Game Capture 4K60 S+ is an excellent device for content creators who are always on the go and looking for a convenient way to record gameplay. So, if you usually travel while streaming and making content, this game capture card would serve you well.
One of the downsides of this capture card is that there’s 250ms latency during livestreaming. You’ll also need a high-spec computer for editing edit HEVC, MKV 4K60 HDR videos. Nonetheless, if you need an impressive game recording experience, the 4K60 S+ will deliver, thanks to its game-changing capabilities that you might not find in other capture cards in its class.
- HDR10 pass-through and recording
- Ability to record 4K 60FPS HDR10 directly to a memory card
- Support for MKV recording
- No PC needed for recording
- Onboard HEVC chip for capturing small-sized footage
- Support for line-in recording
- Excellent build quality and aesthetics
- High portability
- 250ms latency in livestreams
- High-end PC required for editing HEVC & MKV files
- No support for 1440p in pass-through
- Very expensive
- Uncompressed 1080p 60FPS
- 4K 60FPS pass-through
- HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0 connectivity
- 3.5mm audio cable
- Full audio mixing capabilities
- Supports 480p, 720p, 1440p, 1080p, and 2160p resolutions
- Compatible with PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One
- Dimensions: 130mm x 86mm x 17mm / 5.12in x 3.39in x 0.67in
- Weight: 183g / 6.4oz
Are you looking for the best capture card for Xbox One? Maybe you’re fed up with lag and compromising your system’s performance while streaming? Then you might want to look at Razer Ripsaw HD.
This capture card is one of the best and cheapest alternatives for Elgato Game Capture 4K60 S+. The Razer Ripsaw HD records your gameplay as uncompressed raw data and streams with virtually zero latency. The capture card also has a 4K pass-through, allowing you to play on your usual PC at high resolution without sacrificing your stream or gaming experience.
Many streaming devices use dedicated hardware to handle their audio, but this capture card can also handle basic audio mixing. It comes with a 3.5mm input and output, allowing you to easily plug in an aux-in music source or a mic-in enabled microphone to layer your stream with commentary.
While most game capture cards come with their software, the Razer Ripsaw HD works with some industry-leading broadcasting apps like XSplit and Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). With this capability, you can use a wide selection of powerful tools to create high-quality content.
It’s worth noting that connecting the capture card to any broadcasting apps is a two-step process because the process splits video and audio into two separate channels. You have to add both audio capture and video capture to set up the Razer Ripsaw HD properly.
This game capture card comes with a USB 3.0 interface, allowing you to record game footage from your computer and consoles up to 1080p at 60FPS. Quality is impressive, capturing uncompressed 1080p video.
Overall, Razer Ripsaw HD is an excellent capture card for any streamer looking to get started with content creation. It’s simple and user-friendly, and it does everything the manufacturer says it can do.
- 1080p 60FPS video capture
- HDMI 2.0 for 4K 60FPS pass-through
- USB-C 3.0 interface
- Ease of use
- Compact design
- Competitive price
- No high-frame-rate capture for PC
- Capture software not included
- No component input
- HDMI 2.0 input
- HDMI 2.0 output with lag-free pass-through
- Thunderbolt 3 interface
- Format: H.264 and H.265
- Supported resolutions: Up to 2160p at 60 FPS, 1440p144 or 1080p240 and 140Mbps bitrate
- Dimensions: 120mm x 120mm x 29.3mm / 4.72in x 4.72in x 1.15in
- Weight: 348g / 12.27oz
AVerMedia Live Gamer Bolt is another excellent Elgato capture card alternative. For many years, AVerMedia has consistently produced fascinating game capture cards, from simple configurations to more sophisticated 4K pass-through cards. The company’s Live Gamer Bolt is ideal for users looking to future-proof their gaming devices for 4K content frame capture.
This capture card is one of the best for streaming. If you want 4K 60FPS gameplay capture and your PC can handle it, you can’t go wrong with AVerMedia Live Gamer Bolt. It is one of the external capture cards that can record 4K HDR at 60FPS, thanks to its Thunderbolt 3 interface.
Thunderbolt 3 can handle up to 40GB/s transfer speed. GPUs also use this port to connect to laptops. With this bandwidth, this capture card can push through the required video data to record a full 4K frame 60 times each second at bitrates of up to 240Mbps.
It delivers an exceptionally low latency level, at only a few milliseconds, making it ideal for games that require swift reflexes. It captures high-quality footage at either 1080p24 or 4Kp60 HDR.
Another remarkable attribute of Live Gamer Bolt is that it’s easy to set up. All you need to do is plug in your gaming device or HDMI switch box into the video-in, run a cable from the video-out to your monitor or TV, and the Thunderbolt 3 cable connects to your PC’s Thunderbolt 3 port.
The notable drawback of this capture card for streaming is that you need a Thunderbolt 3 interface. That means you can use it with only a few compatible gaming consoles and laptops. Be sure to check your system’s ports before you purchase the AVerMedia Live Gamer Bolt.
- 4K60 HDR capture capability
- 1080p recording at up to 240FPS
- Excellent quality footage
- Hyper-low latency input
- Almost zero impact on your system’s resources
- Innovative design
- Highly portable
- Requires a Thunderbolt 3 interface
- Requires a high-spec PC for 4K60 HDR
- Quite expensive
- HDMI 2.0 input
- PCIe x4 Gen 2 interface
- HDMI 2.0 output with lag-free pass-through
- Format: H.264 and H.265
- Supported resolutions: Up to 2160p at 60 FPS, 1440p120 or 1080p240, and 140Mbps bitrate
- Dimensions: 125mm x 151mm x 21.5mm / 4.92in x 5.94in x 0.84in
- Weight: 208g / 7.33oz
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly capture card that allows you to capture 4K60 footage in HDR, you might want to consider the AVerMedia Live Gamer 4K. This card offers support for 240FPS video capture and 1080p, making it ideal for PC gamers playing e-sports titles such as League of Legends.
Besides pass-through, it can also capture HDR. The Live Gamer 4K also comes with RBG lighting for visual customization. This feature comes in handy when your PC case needs a couple more lights. When it comes to build and design, this card is so compact that you can easily slide it into smaller and packed cases.
While the manufacturer mainly targets video game streamers with this card, you don’t need to be a gamer to benefit from it. The Live Gamer 4K is a powerful tool for anyone involved in computationally intensive recording and streaming.
The capture card saves files in MPEG4 format, which is compatible with most devices. The notable setback is that you can’t switch to alternative formats such as AVI, but that’s not a deal-breaker.
This capture also comes with CyberLink PowerDirector 15 and RECentral software. CyberLink helps you edit 4K video content. RECentral is AVerMedia’s streaming app that allows you to stream, configure, and record your content. This software offers the same level of customizability that you’ll find in major streaming apps. It allows you to set up your webcam, microphone, digital overlays, and other tools.
- Impressive HDR compatibility
- 4K 60FPS support
- Full HD, high-frame capture up to 240FPS
- RECentral for streaming
- Lighting customization
- Easy setup
- Tendency to be slow when you’re changing settings
- Quite expensive
A wide selection of game capture cards is available on the market, but the cards listed in this post are some of the best to buy in 2020. While Elgato capture cards tend to deliver the best gameplay capture experience, they’re often expensive and require high-end computers to work properly. So you can consider cheaper alternatives like Razer Ripsaw HD and AVerMedia’s Live Gamer Bolt and Live Gamer 4K. We, however, recommend the Razer Ripsaw HD as the best Elgato game capture card alternative because it offers almost all functions you would need in an Elgato card at a much lower price.