Purchasing equipment for streaming, primarily you think about noticeable tools: a powerful PC, an appropriate keyboard, microphone, router, etc. Probably it happens this way because the above-cited pieces of equipment give tangible comfort for you as a streamer. Such components as capture cards usually do not come first but they should be included in the list of important things for broadcasting. Why so? Using a video capture card, you will draw the attention of people and make them stay with you if offering them the broadcast at the highest resolution. A good video capture card will allow you to record and store content on external devices, as well as easily transfer it to your PC.
This blog post features capture cards of various brands but each of them is remarkable for obvious reasons which we are going to throw light on.
After solid research and testing, we have concluded that Magewell Pro Capture Dual HDMI Card, Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro and AVerMedia Live Gamer Ultra – 4Kp60 – 4Kp60 are three best capture cards for streaming on Twitch or other platforms.
There is a really large selection of devices on the market, as well as there are different users’ requirements. We have done our best to present the capture cards to suit various needs and purposes.
Magewell Pro Capture Dual HDMI Card
- HDMI x 2 + embedded audio x 2
- supports input resolution up to 2048×2160 pixels
- 10-bit video processing
- multiple capture streams
- low latency mode
- supported OS: Windows 7/8/8.1/10/2008/2008 R2/2012 (x86 & x64) Linux (based on V4L2, supports x86, x64 & arm architecture) Mac OS X
This streaming and gaming capture card is quite expensive but incredibly mighty. Magewell Pro Capture Card is more suitable for professional gamers and streamers. Beginners are likely not to use most of the features of the capture card therefore money will be wasted.
Magewell Pro is a true hub for multiple simultaneous streams. If you are interested in streaming from several sources at the same time, and periodically switching between them, for example during an esports match, this video card is the best bet.
Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro
- immaculate 4K resolution at 60 FPS
- supported resolution – up to 2160x60 pixels
- vibrant HDR 10 imaging
- video encoding
- compatible with OBS Studio, Streamlabs OBS, and XSplit
- superior low latency technology
Crystal clear 4K resolution at 60 fps, vibrant HDR 10 imaging, an opportunity to simultaneously capture your video in multiple apps, and swift setup make Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro a really indispensable thing for streaming and gaming. What is more, you can slot several 4K 60 Pro cards in one PC if needed. Elgato 4K60 Pro is also able to reduce files’ sizes, having an encoder.
Keep in mind: we recommend to have a high-quality and powerful PC to feel all the charm of this capture card to the fullest.
AVerMedia Live Gamer Ultra – 4Kp60
- 4Kp60 HDR pass-through
- ultra-low latency for broadcasting and recording PS4 Pro and Xbox One X
- 1080p HDR recording
- Cyber Link Power Director 15 included for 4K video editing
- ultrawide support
It is one of the best capture cards for streaming and gaming and at a reasonable price. We may call it a perfect 4K capture desktop solution with pass-through support for enjoying 4K HDR image. If you don’t need 4K HDR for some reason, this compact device can transmit Full HD high-frequency signal with updating to 240 Hz.
Also, featuring a high-speed frame capture rate of up to 120 frames per second Full HD signal, AVerMedia LGU has become the first external gaming capture device on the market to deliver super-smooth recordings for your archives.
Everything we recommend
Magewell Pro Capture Dual HDMI Card is an all-powerful capture card that will bring your streaming and gaming experience to a new level.
Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro is a perfect match of immaculate performance and impressive design.
AVerMedia Live Gamer Ultra – 4Kp60 is an outstanding capture card which is called in small circles a 4K monster.
Who should buy this
No matter whether you are a professional streamer or just do it for fun, it would not be out of place to purchase a good capture card. If you are interested in high-quality streaming and gaming on Twitch, providing your viewers with excellent image and low latency, you definitely need a capture card. Modern video cards enable streaming in 4K that is quite crucial and necessary nowadays. Your audience will be able to enjoy a detailed picture watching your stream on 4K TVs, for example. In addition, you will have complete control over the quality of your stream broadcasting it in 4K resolution.
As we have already mentioned, capture cards are extremely necessary for those who stream from several sources at the same time, and periodically switching between them.
Some of the video cards are accompanied by their own free editing software and an opportunity to convert videos.
By and large, an ability to record and keep your content on the other external device is a stroke of luck for anybody who is involved in the world of streaming and gaming.
In a word, the answer to the question “Who should buy a capture card for streaming?” is obvious: everyone who takes this activity seriously and is going to devote himself to it.
Best Capture Cards for Twitch
Elgato Game Capture Card HD60 S
- a compact but powerful capture card
- instant streaming and recording in 1080p60
- built-in live streaming to Twitch, YouTube & more and live commentary feature
- an ability to instantly customize your stream, adding alerts, overlays, and more
- state-of-the-art and fast USB 3.0 type connection
If we recommended Elgato 4K60 Pro for more experienced streamers, then Elgato HD60 S is the right choice for newcomers. Easy to set up, very functional, and, in a word, has almost everything to bring your gameplay to the viewer in a quality way. The HD60S fully automates the process with built-in streaming features on YouTube and Twitch. Moreover, the device can also capture your voice on the go, eliminating the need to add it manually. Just one downside: editing options are limited. You can’t go further than trimming videos with the software.
AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2
- ultra-low latency
- USB game capture
- an opportunity to record games with or without PC
- console party chat to her your teammates’ voices
- hot button to stream and capture directly to Twitch, YouTube, etc. with one click
- access and share files directly as this capture card can act as a card reader
They call AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 a marvel in the world of streaming and gaming. All its capabilities prove that it actually is. User-friendly, portable, bundled with RECentral 3 enhanced with multiple Pro features, live editing, the ability to record straight onto a Micro SD card, and lots more. Those who have a crush on design will love this video card as it has an attractive and stylish appearance: black casing, red trim, and neon-blue strip lighting.
The producers say that this capture card will let your stream shine with excellence and rise you to stardom. It’s worth checking out!
Keep in mind: Micro SD Class 10 card is required for PC-Free recording
Razer Ripsaw HD
- Full HD 1080P at 60 FPS
- 4K 60 fps pass-through
- built-in audio mixing for hassle-free audio management
- zero latency and maximum details
- various supported resolutions: 2160p, 1080p, 1440p30fps , 720p, 480p
This is a dedicated capture card for streaming and gaming that is likely to be the cheapest one on the market which enables 4K passthrough while streaming. One of its trumps is an opportunity to mix audio without any hassle using just the hardwired mic and headphone jacks. Razer Ripsaw HD does not have its own software. In this case, you’re advised to subscribe to XSplit or use OBS. Despite this small downside, Razer Ripsaw HD is a good capture card for streaming on Twitch. It will suit everyone who values high resolution and ease of use.
AV.io 4K – Grab and Go
- compact and portable
- UHD 4K at 30 fps and HD 1080p at 60fps (4K UHD or 4K DCI)
- USB 3.0 SuperSpeed
- ultra-low latency
- crystal clear audio
- supports aspect ratios for 4:3 TV, 16:9 Widescreen, 16:10 and 5:4 monitor
AV.io 4K is remarkable for its compact size, simplicity in use, and cool features that promise a flawless streaming experience. It is good for event capture, gaming as well as for on the go streaming. There is no special software to install. This is a plug and play capture card when you just need to connect the HDMI cable which is included from your video source to AV.io 4K and connect it to your computer via the provided USB 3.0 cable. Gladden your audience with 4K streaming using this capture card. You can choose to use your video at its original resolution or let AV.io scale it for you according to the requirements.
How we Picked and Tested
The market of capture cards for streaming on Twitch or other similar services has recently gone up because of the increasing demands. That’s a relief that streamers do this best to provide their audience with the superior video quality.
During our testing to select the best devices in the niche, we examined the capture cards of various brands, sizes, compared those which provide Full HD quality to 4K, etc. Based on the information we managed to get, we included the capture cards of different brands, price ranges, as well as taking into account the needs of professional streamers and amateurs.
We investigated lots of reviews, had the talks with streamers to comprehend the features that are the most necessary for high-quality broadcasting and those you do not need to overpay for.
While testing, we picked external and internal capture cards, checked their quality of recording and compatibility with PCs and new consoles such as PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X. In addition, we tested the capture cards that are accompanied with own free editing software.
We included the best capture cards for streaming on Twitch based not only on our preference but also on practical application, durability, state-of-the-art features, high-performance, and unprecedented video quality.
We also didn’t ignore the design of capture cards as this nuance sometimes makes sense. Therefore the devices included in this blog past are diverse in terms of their appearance.
What Does a Capture Card Do for Streaming
An opportunity to stream at high resolution is the first and foremost thing that a capture card does for streaming. As we have already mentioned, some of them can handle 4K resolution video that is amazing for streaming.
The main requirement of a gamer or streamer to a capture card is to record a screen in real time while saving it to a local medium and/or broadcasting it to the network. This is the basic task of a capture card in simple words.
Moreover, using a capture card you have much more control over the quality of your stream, as well as allow you to capture your voice on the go, track real-time comments, and/or add music to the created content, etc.
The software that sometimes comes with the device helps ease the use of streaming platforms such as Twitch, YouTube, or Ustream.
In addition to the basic functions, capture cards also offer many additional “buns” that make life appreciably easier for streamers.
Can You Stream Without Capture Card?
Despite our praises and odes towards capture cards, they are not the device of the first importance. Therefore, you can stream without a capture card.
Keep in mind that if you are a streamer who uses only one PC for this activity, a capture card might be not as necessary. However, this will inevitably lead to a reduction in performance.
Nevertheless, this component is essential for bringing your broadcast to a new, high-quality level, and share flawless streams with your audience. When it comes to the high resolution, you should take into account that a capture card gives you much more control over the quality of your stream.
Any gamer knows that consoles mainly use low bitrates for video transmission, which is not very convenient for top games. In addition, consoles adjust the bitrate during the drawdown of the Internet channel that affects the quality of the stream. Being not powerful enough to simultaneously process both the rendering of the game and video processing, a video capture card comes into effect and handles this part of the work.
To avoid a sad scenario, I mean when viewers leave your broadcast because of poor quality, we recommend using this important passthrough device between your game console or PC and your display.
How to Choose the Best Streaming Capture Card
To prevent you from a long swim in this endless ocean of capture cards, we have made our list with pieces of advice to take into account when choosing a capture card. Be savvy, and do not make hasty purchases.
- Determine your budget to avoid a waste of money. It is not the axiom that the most expensive device is definitely the best one. If you just an amateur of streaming and do not make big plans for this activity, take a capture card of the average price. In addition, define what features are the most important for your broadcast and which are not, to prevent yourself from draining the purse.
- Internal capture card versus External capture card. If all the devices which you are going to record and stream with can easily be connected to your computer, then an internal capture card would be the best choice. If this is not the case, then you will definitely need the portability of an external model. A little secret, the chances are that an external capture card will work slower than its opponent. However, this is you who decide.
- If you want to stream online with an external video capture card, always choose a device with a USB 3.0 connection! Just for you to know, USB 3.0 has higher maximum data transmission.
- Not all capture cards are able to record audio signals while processing video that has been captured.
- Low latency is one of the most necessary features that your capture card should obligatory have. It is a basic thing for any card but you’d better check it for a chosen model.
- A capture card which allow recording at 4K is what you need to strive for. However, keep in mind that they require a powerful PC configuration and a fast bandwidth to function at full capacity.
- Make sure that a card you are going to purchase is compatible with the operating system on which you’d like to use it.
- Some video cards go with the editing software. But it is a quite simple program with limited resources. You will need much more editing options than a standard software offers for more professional videos.
- Pay attention that a chosen card supports the operating systems you use for streaming or gaming. Some of the popular cards do not support Linux or macOS but just Windows or vice versa.
- It is very cool when a capture card includes a built-in H.264 encoder which allows the card to optimally compress recorded material with no visible loss in video quality.