Whether you’re streaming games for an audience or you want to record some casual gameplay footage from your PC, PS5, Xbox Series X, or Nintendo Switch, you might need a capture card. It’s an essential accessory that can process your console’s uncompressed video signal, either sending it to a PC for livestreaming or converting it into a file that you can edit later to share online.
There are several models out there, and you might get lucky finding the right one without putting in the research. Then again, you may not get so lucky. Our guide includes reliable, feature-packed capture cards, covering a range of pricey and inexpensive options. To complete the streaming setup, we’ve also included some recommendations for camera capture cards, in case you want to turn your DSLR into a webcam. We’ll keep this post updated as more models become available.
Best capture card
What to know before you buy
There are a few specs to pay attention to when shopping for a capture card. The term “passthrough” represents the resolution and refresh rate at which your console’s video feed can be piped through the card. A card’s capture resolution is usually different (read: worse) from passthrough, and is the maximum resolution and refresh rate it’s capable of recording. The higher resolution, the higher the cost.
Most capture cards connect via USB. PCIe cards, however, are capable of capturing 4K footage at up to 60 frames per second, but on top of being pricier, they require a free PCIe slot. Lastly, there are stand-alone capture devices that simply plug into your source of choice and can capture video onto an SD card — no computer required.
The best capture card for most people is the $177.89 Elgato HD60 X. When we polled the Polygon video team for their input, the HD60 X was the unanimous winner. It was chosen because they think it offers the best performance and features compared to other capture cards in its price range.
The HD60 X connects to PCs via USB (it includes a USB-C to USB-A cable), and it has a maximum capture resolution of 4K at 30 frames per second. It can handle 4K passthrough at up to 60 fps. These specs are more than sufficient for capturing footage from any current-gen console. If you’re recording in 1440p or 1080p resolutions, it can capture at a faster 120 fps.
Adding to its impressive list of specs, the HD60 X grants buyers access to Elgato’s 4K Capture Utility software. This application isn’t totally necessary, but it’s easier to learn for streaming newcomers than OBS Studio. The 4K Capture Utility also allows you to record commentary over your video clip, if you’d like, and take high quality screenshots from the captured video.
Outside of a sale, the HD60 X is typically priced at $199.99, but it often sells for less. As an alternative that’s significantly less expensive, the $64.99 UCEC GAM Live capture card supports the same passthrough/capture resolutions and frame rates as the HD60 X, but it may not be as reliable as the HD60 X.
Elgato HD60 X
- 11% off
Prices taken at time of publishing.