We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Best capture cards in 2024

The best capture cards let you record and share gameplay from your PC or console. We've tried and tested the top options.

Four of the best capture cards on a blue gradient background

Which is the best capture card for PC gamers? Grabbing the right capture card is the best way to ensure a quality live stream, as it translates gameplay into a language better suited for Twitch and YouTube.

While the best graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD can record your PC’s gameplay directly, these methods sometimes come with a performance tax that lowers your game’s frame rate and makes your stream stutter. Using one of the best capture cards lowers the overhead on your hardware and helps you boost fps. It’s also the only way you’ll get all the benefits of the best gaming PC when live-streaming from consoles – but choosing the right one can be difficult, and that’s why we have these recommendations for you.

Why you can trust our advice ✔ At PCGamesN, our experts spend hours testing hardware and reviewing games and VPNs. We share honest, unbiased opinions to help you buy the best. Find out how we test.

Elgato HD60 S+

Best capture card overall

Today’s best deals
Elgato HD60 S+ specifications:
Capture quality 1080p at 60Hz
Passthrough quality 4K at 60Hz
Connections HDMI In + Out + USB
Reasons to buy
  • Amazing 4K HDR playthrough
  • Easy-to-use software
Reasons to avoid
  • 4K Capture software offers no HDR preview or playback
  • Struggles with higher framerates

Elgato’s HD60 S+ is the best capture card for 1080p streaming at 60fps. While it records gameplay in HD, it still allows you to see the image at a higher resolution thanks to its passthrough supporting 4K, 60fps, HDR10, and zero latency – which is ideal if you’re using it with the best gaming monitor.

Though it does struggle a little bit when it comes to capturing higher framerates, it offers absolutely fantastic 4K HDR playthrough. Meanwhile, its native software is super easy to use and ideal for anyone just getting into capturing their gameplay.

It’s an external model that connects to your recording device via USB, supported by an app that makes it super easy to set up with your favorite streaming software, such as OBS or XSplit. It’s a fantastic all-rounder and that’s why it gets our top recommendation.

AVerMedia Live Gamer 4K

The best 144Hz capture card.

Today’s best deals
AVerMedia Live Gamer 4K specifications:
Capture quality 1080p at 240Hz | 1440p at 144Hz | 4K at 60Hz
Passthrough quality 1080p at 240Hz | 1440p at 144Hz | 4K at 60Hz
Connections HDMI In + Out + PCle x 4
Reasons to buy
  • Can reach up to 240fps
  • Three RGB configurations
Reasons to avoid
  • Need a powerful PC to take advantage of it
  • Native software not ideal

Streaming a competitive game such as CS:GO or Dota 2? You’ll want the capability of a high refresh rate passthrough. This model can handle passthrough and recording of 4K resolution at 60Hz, 1440p at up to 144Hz, or 1080p at 240Hz, keeping gameplay as smooth as butter for you and your viewers.

It’s an internal capture card that slots into a PCIe x4 slot, so make sure you’ve got one spare on the best gaming motherboard. Oh, and there’s RGB lighting, which won’t improve streaming quality, but it’ll look damn good as it works its magic.

Worth keeping in mind that you’ll need a fairly powerful setup in order to use this without any issues. If you’re using an older PC, or a budget option, then you might want to think about upgrading if you’re set on using the AverMedia Live Gamer 4K- though if you’re already playing 4K games on your PC, it’ll probably be fine.

AVerMedia Live Gamer Ultra 2.1

Best plug-and-play capture card

Today’s best deals
AVerMedia Live Gamer Ultra 2.1 specifications:
Capture quality 2160p, 1440p, 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 576p, 576i, 480p, 480i
Passthrough quality 2160p144 HDR/VRR, 1440p144 HDR/VRR, 1080p240 HDR/VRR
Connections HDMI 2.1, USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C
Reasons to buy
  • Simple plug-and-play format
  • Phenomenal performance and flexibility
  • Small form with RGB
Reasons to avoid
  • Designed for PS5 and Xbox consoles
  • Expensive
  • Port position could be better

AVerMedia’s Live Gamer Ultra 2.1 capture card makes use of an HDMI 2.1 connection – which means it can support higher resolutions. With a max 4K144 pass-through, it captures smooth, lifelike gameplay and makes your streaming ultra high-end. But this comes at a high price. It’s also designed specifically for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it on a PC or macOS.

Our expert reviewer found the capture card easy to use, and the output was superb, with zero glitching or tearing. While footage from the Ultra 2.1 is stunning, be wary of file size. You’ll likely need an external SSD for gaming to store 4K capture files.

The Ultra 2.1’s design is pleasing, with RGB lighting that you can customize. It’s compact too, so sits unobtrusively on a gaming desk or media unit. We’d like to see a USB-C input to add an external streaming microphone in addition to the 3.5mm headset option. For live streaming, it’d keep all the audio inputs going through one device.

The AVerMedia Live Gamer Ultra 2.1 is a premium capture card for PC (and next-gen consoles). I recommend it if you need the best footage money can buy.

Read our AVerMedia Live Gamer Ultra 2.1 review

Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro MK.2

The best capture card for streaming.

Today’s best deals
Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro MK.2 specifications:
Capture quality 1080p at 120 Hz | 1440p at 144 Hz | 1080p at 240 Hz
Passthrough quality 1080p at 120 Hz | 1440p at 144 Hz | 1080p at 240 Hz
Connections HDMI In + Out +PCIe x 4
Reasons to buy
  • Can push video output to two sources
  • Easy to use
  • Captures 4k gameplay at 60fps
Reasons to avoid
  • It’s an expensive capture card
  • Better with dual PC setup

The second appearance of Elgato on this list. While the Elgato HD60 S+ is a fantastic all-rounder sort of capture card, the 4K60 Pro MK.2 has been made specifically to appeal to streamers. The ability to capture 4k footage at 60fps is no doubt going to be tantalizing for anybody who likes to showcase impressive next-gen titles.

Beyond the quality, this capture card also boasts the ability to push two video output sources at once. Unfortunately, when used to its full capacity, it can be quite taxing on your PC, so unless you have the best gaming PC, or a dual PC setup, things might run a little slowly.

Still, if you’ve got the cash to spare and a powerful enough rig, then this is going to be a fantastic choice of capture card. You’ll struggle to find anything that can capture game footage with this level of detail, and with out-of-the-box compatibility with most streaming and editing platforms, it’s wonderfully simple to use too,

NZXT Signal HD60

The best budget capture card.

Today’s best deals
NZXT Signal HD60 specifications:
Capture quality 4K at 60Hz
Passthrough quality 4K at 60Hz
Connections USB-C to USB-A
Reasons to buy
  • Beautifully low price
  • Easy to use
  • Decent capture quality
Reasons to avoid
  • Captures lower fps than others
  • Footage lacks the detail of others

This is probably the cheapest capture card you can get that’s actually good. Go any cheaper and you risk using unreliable products from dodgy, unknown brands. NZXT, of course, is well known for creating fantastic components for gaming PCs and this capture card is not below the standard you’d expect from them.

Admittedly, you’ll get a lower fps rate and the picture quality won’t be quite as impressive as the more premium options on the list. Nonetheless, it still boasts zero-lag passthrough support for 4K at 60Hz in addition to HDR and 1080p at 240Hz. It’s not like you’ll get potato-quality footage.

Meanwhile, this is also a good choice for anybody purchasing their first capture card. It’s easy to use and install and doesn’t require that you download any further pieces of software to stream or record your gameplay. Considering all of that and its low price, it’s hard to criticize the NZXT Signal HD60.

Genki Shadowcast

The best small form factor capture card.

Today’s best deals
Genki Shadowcast specifications:
Capture quality varies widely based on device
Compatible with PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and more
Connection HDMI in, USB-C
Reasons to buy
  • Compact and portable
  • Plug-and-play on all devices with a HDMI
Reasons to avoid
  • Capture quality varies by device

Need a tiny capture card that you can easily transport and swap between devices? You’ll struggle to find something as nifty and convenient as the Genki Shadowcast. You just plug it into the device you want to capture footage from via an HDMI out port, then stick a USB into the other end to connect it to the device you want to stream through.

Once that’s all set up, you use the Genki Arcade app on your PC or laptop and you can then do whatever you want with the footage you’re capturing.  This will be particularly appealing to anyone who wants, not only to stream PC games, but also PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch content.

This a very cheap capture card, and as a result, the capture quality won’t be quite as good as you’ll see with other devices. On top of that, the quality will vary from device to device, but because of its size and convenience, we remain very impressed with it.

What is a capture card?

Capture cards are devices that help you record gameplay and stream on Twitch, YouTube, or any other platform. They’re not quite plug-and-play, given that there’s software to set up and tinker with, but they streamline the process and make encoding easier so there’s less of a performance hit on your system.

Which capture card should you choose?

The best capture cards come from established brands in the space like Elgato and Avermedia, but that doesn’t mean you need to pay a premium price. The little guys can often surprise you when it comes to gaming hardware, but there’s a reason Elgato and Avermedia appear prominently on our list, and that’s because they’re tried-and-tested devices, backed by feature-packed software that’s well-supported and frequently updated.

The capture card you choose needs to work with your overall setup. Check the specs to ensure it’s compatible with your computer’s operating system and fave streaming platform, as well as any video editing software. Capture cards typically have input ports to connect different video sources, and these include DisplayPort, HDMI DVI, or VGA. If you want to capture gameplay from a console, you’ll need a card with HDMI or component video inputs. Check that the output will connect to your computer, usually via Thunderbolt on a Mac machine or USB.

To keep your streams looking and feel smooth (without delay or lag) you’ll want a capture card with specs such as low latency and high frame rate support.

Do you need a capture card to stream?

The short answer is no, but capture cards are a tremendous help. Nvidia Shadowplay and AMD’s Radeon ReLive software are both good at capturing shorter snippets of your gameplay, and you can stream directly through OBS or Xsplit, but a capture card often provides a cleaner image and smoother gameplay no matter what device you’re rocking. They’re especially helpful devices when trying to stream from multiple PC setups and consoles, too.

What brands make capture cards?

There are many brands out there making quality capture cards – some of them specific to gaming and others designed for general video production. Here are some of the most popular brands:
  • Elgato: An offshoot of popular gaming gear brand Corsair, Elgato is known for its high-quality streaming products, which include capture cards. It offers cards for a range of budgets, including the Elgato HD60 X with native Xbox and PS5 support, and the Elgato 4K60 S+ with full 4K support.
  • Razer: Another well-loved gaming hardware manufacturer, Razer has capture cards optimized for game streaming, such as the Razer Ripsaw HD which offers brilliant ease of use.
  • Hauppauge: Hauppauge manufacturers capture cards for gamers, streamers, and content creators. We’d recommend specific gaming editions like the HD PVR2 Gaming Edition, which comes with cables for Xbox and PlayStation consoles, and lets you share your clips on YouTube in just a few clicks.

For more streaming gear to complete your setup, check out our guide to the best gaming microphone and the best webcams.