Best Gaming Video Capture Devices – We’ve taken a look at several of the most popular video capture devices gamers can use to create YouTube videos, but which one stands on top as the one we’d recommend? We rank six devices below.
This list only covers video game capture cards. If you’re looking for advice on microphones, see our reviews of the Blue Snowball and Blue Yeti.
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Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket
- Best value for your money.
- Easy to use.
- Can record without a PC.
- Locked at 30 FPS.
- Plastic shell is easily scratched.
Of all the devices on this list, the HD PVR Rocket has the best combination of features for the price. With a PC-free mode that lets you record to USB storage and the ability to record HDMI, component, and composite sources, it’s incredibly fully-featured at just $130.
It’s also very easy to use and has great software. It’s not the most powerful device available, so if you’re looking for sheer bitrates or 60 FPS at 1080p it might not be for you. But, for just about everyone else, I highly recommend the HD PVR Rocket.
AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable
- Great recording software.
- Can record 60 FPS at 1080p.
- Offers a PC-free mode.
- Can’t record composite sources.
- More expensive than the HD PVR Rocket.
- Hard to find.
The Live Gamer Portable from AVerMedia is a close runner-up to the Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket. It also offers a PC-free mode—this time with an SD Card slot instead of USB storage—and it can record HDMI and component sources.
It supports considerably higher bitrates than the Rocket, along with up to 1080p/60 FPS capture. So, it’s a good, full-featured choice if you’re looking for high bitrates (and the huge files that come with it). The RECentral software that comes bundled with it is also my favorite recording software of any of the devices I tested, which is another plus.
It does have some downsides, though. The Live Gamer Portable costs a little more, at $160, and it can’t record composite sources. It’s also a lot harder to find, since AVerMedia has come out with a new version, the Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus.
Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition
- Can record HDMI, component, and composite sources.
- Easy to use.
- Lag free pass through to an HD TV set or monitor.
- Can’t record 60 FPS.
- Needs an A/C adapter.
- No PC-free mode.
It’s one of the older models on this list, sure, but I’ve been using the HD PVR 2 GE for a couple of years now and love it. It also competes very well with the newer devices as far as features and performance go, so it’s totally worth a look despite not being the new hotness. It can record HDMI, component, and composite sources.
Like the Rocket, it doesn’t have crazy high bitrates or 1080p/60 FPS, but the videos it produces still look fantastic and it’s incredibly easy to use. It does have a couple of negatives, however.
First, it requires an A/C adapter plugged into the wall, which none of these other devices do. Second, there is no PC-free mode, so you have to be connected to a computer to record.
Third, it costs around $150, which is okay when you compare it to the other devices at that price, but somewhat laughable compared to the $130 for the more fully-featured Rocket.
Elgato Game Capture HD60 S
- Captures video at ridiculously high bitrates.
- Captures in full 1080p/60 FPS.
- Can record retroactively.
- Needs a beefy PC.
- Slow and clunky software.
- There are better options for the price.
- Only records HDMI.
The HD60, along with its predecessor the Game Capture HD, is one of the most popular capture devices used by YouTubers. If you’re looking for pure horsepower, and you only want to record HDMI, the HD60 offers full 1080p / 60 FPS capture at ridiculously high bitrates. Unfortunately, it also comes with the highest recommended specs for your capture PC of any device tested.
The software (while fully featured) is pretty slow and clunky. It also produced the only glitched/failed recording of any of the devices.
The biggest knock against the HD60, however, is the price. For $160, you aren’t getting nearly the amount of features you get from other devices for the same price or less.
Roxio Game Capture HD Pro
- Captures video at 1080 30p/60i.
- Auto capture up to one hour of gameplay.
- Lowest max bitrate of the devices listed here.
- Feels cheap.
- Less than stellar software.
If you’re a beginner just getting started on YouTube and you don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro is an okay choice. It’ll cost you around $100, but for that cheaper price tag comes a drop in quality.
While it does capture HDMI and component sources (and at up to 1080 30p/60i. if you want), it has the lowest max bitrate of any of the devices listed here. More troublesome, however, is the cheaper feeling construction of the unit itself, which puts the long term durability of the unit into question.
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It also has less than stellar software compared to other devices. It was the most temperamental of the devices I tested, and getting it to work sometimes required a lot of plugging and unplugging and restarting. Once it got going, though, it worked great. It’s the cheapest 1080p/60 FPS HDMI device available, though, so that may make it worth a look.