Capture Cards & Capture Boxes Leaderboard 2020:
Capture Hardware in comparison
Regardless of whether you want to stream on a game console other than the latest generation (PS4 / Xbox One) or with a separate PC: In any case, you need a Capture Card or Capture Box. We have taken a look at the devices currently available on the market and would like to introduce them in this article.
What's a capture card / capture box? Definition
With a Capture Card or Capture Box, image and sound content can be transferred to the PC from another device, from where it can be further processed in a streaming software such as OBS. The external hardware (such as a game console or another PC) is connected to the capture hardware via HDMI or a component cable. Via a video output on (the so-called «pass through») the signal is then output again and can be transferred to a television, for example. The capture hardware records the signals and can be selected in the streaming software as a video and audio source similar to a webcam. The structure is shown in the following diagrams:
The Capture Card or Capture Box therefore always activates in the middle of the image and sound signal and transmits it to the PC. The difference between the card and the box becomes obvious: While the card is permanently installed in the PC (usually via the PCIe slot), the box can be plugged into a USB port. The advantage here is of course the lower installation effort, but even USB3.0 ports tend to have a slight latency in transmission. However, this can usually be ignored.
Leaderboard 2017 The best Capture cards & capture boxes in comparison
Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro
The Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro belongs to the top class of Capture Cards, but with a price starting at 180,00€ it is very expensive for beginners. However, the Elgato Game Capture HD60 has a lot to offer. With the Capture Card it is for example possible to stream on Twitch with any quality and simultaneously save a Full-HD recording with the Master Copy function, which can then be uploaded to Youtube. The no delay pass through ensures that the stream and the game remain absolutely simultaneous and a bit rate of up to 60Mbps allows perfect sound quality on recordings and in the stream.
When it comes to quality, it’s important to mention that the Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro allows you to record in 60fps. If you have missed the right moment to get started, the recording can easily be started later with flashback recording.
The Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro has an HDMI input and output. With the above-mentioned features, it varies widely from the competitor by AverMedia, but with a price of 180€ this is justified.
Avermedia Live Gamer HD
With a price of €153.57 (manufacturer price), the AverMedia Live Gamer HD still belongs to the mid-range price segment, but can easily compete with the Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro (see above). It enables you to record and stream in 1080p quality up to 30fps, which is a good performance. Unfortunately, the 60fps that are possible with pass through can’t be used for recording or streaming.
The AverMedia Live Gamer HD has an HDMI input, an HDMI output (for pass through) as well as an input and output for 3.5mm jack, which is intended for direct recording of audio commentaries. The card is connected via PCI Express, for which the computer must be opened and a corresponding slot must be available. If you have technical understanding, this can be done within 10 minutes.
Once installed and set up, the AverMedia Live Gamer HD makes life much easier for the CPU, as it does most of the work. Among other things the card has a H. 264 hardware encoder, which does the video compression.
If you haven’t been convinced yet, you might want to take a look at these accessories: In addition to various cables and adapters, there is also a USB button that is recognized by the included software and can be used to start recording. Therefore you don’t need to switch between game and software and cut out these video parts. Speaking of software: The enclosed software «RecCentral» is very easy to use and explains the user how to use the card’s connections for which purpose.
The Razer Ripsaw is easy to install. As an external capture box it provides good performance, little installation effort and belongs to the middle price segment with 179,99€.
The Razer Ripsaw has a second audio channel, which can be used to record comments or music. Streaming via the super fast USB3.0 interface works almost latency-free even in 1080p at 60fps. Thanks to the low weight of only 181g it is even suitable for mobile use (e. g. at trade fairs, LAN parties, etc.).
The Razer Ripsaw comes with additional component cables for Nintendo Switch, PC, Razer Forge TV, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 and Wii U, which makes the package even more attractive.
Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition HD-PVR
Like the Razer Ripsaw, the PVR 2 Gaming Edition by Haupauge is also an external capture box. It comes with the recording and streaming software «Haupauge Capture». Unfortunately, the USB2.0 interface increases the latency with high-resolution images, but the integrated H. 264 compression technology reduces it to a minimum.
All in all, the PVR 2 is a good and noteworthy product which especially stands out with its low price. This device is therefore optimal for the start as a streamer. Later it can be used as a second device simply for recording.