Capture cards can be used for both recording and streaming. To do the latter usually requires a bit more sophisticated of equipment. The best capture cards for streaming let you upload directly directly to popular services like Twitch seamlessly with little latency. Some card will also come with great software that allows you to create a custom in-game overlay. To help you decide which streaming device is right for you, we breakdown several of the best capture cards currently on the market.
Best External Capture Cards for Streaming
If you do not have a desktop computer, you are going to need an external capture card to stream your gaming. While externals can be just as high quality as internals, by virtue of not plugging in directly to the computer (like an internal) there may be some latency between your gaming system and what gets captured on your computer. That is why we start off by recommending external capture cards that have USB 3.0 technology (among other things)
1) Elgato Game Capture HD60S
Buy it if: Want portable device, do not need 4k streaming
The Elgato we find to be the best external capture card for streaming. With a price between $150 and $200,we consider this device to be a value buy because of its 60 frames per second and 1080p streaming capabilities. And yes, as we mention above, this capture card comes with USB 3.0 technology. USB 3.0 connection between your PC and the device means there is minimal latency when recording. The Elgato should deliver such low latency that you should be able to game while looking through the monitor that is capturing the footage. This wallet size device is also perfect if you need to make your streaming station mobile.
2) AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme
When to Buy It: If it’s cheaper than the Elgato HD 60s, don’t need 4k streaming
Elgato’s main competitor, AVerMedia, also has a strong entry for external streaming devices in the Live Gamer Extreme. Like the HD60 S, this device also comes with 60 FPS, 1080 and a USB 3.0 port for minimum latency. Is it better than the HD 60? Some would say yes and some others would say no. We call it a toss-up. Both capture cards are solid products. We say go with the Elgato if its cheaper, but if the AVerMedia ends up being the better buy – go with that one.
3) AGPtEK HDMI Game Capture Card
Buy it if: You’re on a budget
The AGPtEK card is significantly cheaper than the two cards we list above, but still comes with USB 3.0, 1080p and 60 FPS streaming. The reason we put it belwo the top two however is because of some lingering issues with the actual streaming. Some users report issues with the streaming much more often than they do with the recording function of the device. For that reason we would recommend going with the AVerMedia or the Elgato if you can afford those.
4) AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable
Buy it if: Need a portable device, ok with a little lag
A standalone capture card, AVerMedia’s portable device is another quality option streaming. Unike the cards we talk about above ,this AVerMedia only has a USB 2.0 connection, which can lead to some lag issues. It is a standalone system so you can choose to record directly to a micro SD card (which you would need to buy).
We would recommend this card in situations where latency is less important to you and you want versatility. This card comes works with a stronger and newer software than the Live Gamer (ReCentral 4 vs ReCentral 3). It’s also a bit cheaper than Extreme (though not as cheap as the AGPtEK.
Best Internal Capture Cards for Streaming
If you do have a desktop computer, you can hook up an internal capture card directly to the motherboard to bring latency down to zero. Internal cards are around the same price as their external counterparts and are made by the same brand names.
1) Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro
When to Buy it: Serious about game streaming, can afford it
Elgato capture card steps up its game when it comes to minimizing lag and increasing quality. One great feature we like is that the device has an HDMI In and Out, so you technically do not even need a TV to play because of the zero latency. This version of the Elgato is a bit more expensive than its external counterpart. If the zero latency is important to you though, the HD60 Pro is worth the price.
2) AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2
When to Buy it: You have a desktop, need analog audio input, want super high quality streaming at 60 fps
There is not a whole lot to distinguish between the AverMedia Gamer 2 and the Elgato Pro. Like the Elgato, you get 60 FPS streaming and recording with very little, if any, latency. On OBS studio, both cards Depending on the day, both internal capture cards are essentially the same price as well. How to choose?
There are just a few small features to keep in mind. The AVerMedia has an analog audio input on the capture card which is not available on the Elgato is the slightest bit sharper in terms of image quality, but it’s nothing you could notice on anything less than a 4K monitor and zoomed in a bit. One possibly key feature that the AVerMedia doesnt – but the Elgato does have – is the Elgato is a game “flashback” feature which keeps a running buffer of your captured video – allowing you to go back and record footage you may have forgotten to record. Clearly the differences aren’t too tremendous and you would be making a good choice with either capture cards.