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The 5 Best Capture Cards for PC in 2024 (and How to Use Them)

Capture cards are powerful tools for gamers, content creators, and streamers who want to record or broadcast high-quality gameplay footage. While many capture cards are designed to work in tandem with a PC, there are also standalone capture cards available that can record gameplay without the need for a computer.

In this article, we‘ll be taking an in-depth look at some of the best capture cards for gaming in 2023, with a special focus on those that don‘t require a PC to function. Whether you‘re just starting out or you‘re a seasoned pro looking to upgrade your setup, we‘ve got you covered with capture cards for every budget and need.

First, let‘s start with a quick primer on what exactly capture cards are and how they work. Capture cards are devices that allow you to record or stream video footage from a gaming console, camera, or another video source. They work by taking the video signal from your source device, encoding it, and sending it to a PC or storage device for recording or streaming online.

One of the biggest benefits of using a capture card is that it takes the load of encoding video off of your gaming PC or console. This is important because encoding high-resolution video in real-time is a very resource-intensive task that can put a lot of strain on your CPU and GPU, potentially impacting gaming performance. By offloading that task to a dedicated capture card, you can ensure smooth gameplay while still recording or streaming at high bitrates and resolutions.

Capture cards also give you a lot more flexibility in your recording setup. With a capture card, you can record gameplay from consoles like the PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo Switch that don‘t natively support recording. You can also use high-quality cameras or other video sources to enhance your streams with multiple camera angles, overlays, and more.

Now that we‘ve covered the basics, let‘s dive into our recommendations, starting with standalone capture cards that don‘t require a PC to function.

Best Entry-Level Standalone Capture Card: AVerMedia Live Gamer MINI

If you‘re just getting started with game capture and you‘re looking for an affordable, easy-to-use solution, the AVerMedia Live Gamer MINI is an excellent choice. This compact capture card is barely larger than a USB flash drive, but it packs in support for 1080p60 recording without the need for a PC.

The Live Gamer MINI has a simple one-click recording feature – just press the button on the device to start and stop recording. It saves your recordings as MP4 files on a microSD card (up to 256GB supported). There‘s also a 3.5mm mic input so you can record your own commentary along with the gameplay audio.

While the Live Gamer MINI tops out at 1080p and lacks some advanced features, its ease of use and $99 price point makes it a very appealing option for beginners or casual users. The small size also makes it incredibly portable for recording on the go.

Best Mid-Range Standalone Capture Card: Elgato HD60 S+

Moving up to the mid-range, the Elgato HD60 S+ is a feature-packed capture card that still maintains the convenience of standalone operation. It can record 1080p60 HDR10 gameplay and has 4K60 HDR10 passthrough so you can game at 4K on your TV while still recording at 1080p.

One of the standout features of the HD60 S+ is its built-in Live Streaming feature. With the press of a button, you can start streaming your gameplay directly to YouTube, Twitch, or other platforms without the need for a PC. The device encodes the video using the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) codec for efficient compression.

The HD60 S+ has a built-in 3.5mm audio input that allows you to record your mic commentary or stream party chat along with the game audio. It records to an SD card like the Live Gamer MINI, but also has a USB interface for using it with a PC.

At around $200, the HD60 S+ is a sizeable jump up in price from the Live Gamer MINI. But its 4K passthrough, built-in live streaming, and PC compatibility make it a very versatile capture card that will appeal to a lot of content creators.

Best Premium Standalone 4K Capture Card: Atomos Ninja V

For professional-grade recording quality, the Atomos Ninja V is in a league of its own. This premium HDMI recorder can capture gameplay at up to 4K60 HDR, matching the output of high-end gaming PCs and consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X.

The Ninja V really stands out with its gorgeous 5-inch 1000nit HDR display. You can monitor your gameplay with the full HDR color range, making it easier to adjust your gameplay settings for the best looking recordings. The screen also serves as a touchscreen interface for controlling all of the device‘s settings and features.

In addition to HDMI input, the Ninja V can also record from cameras and other devices using SDI input. It writes video to SSDs using the ProRes or DNxHR codecs for the highest possible quality. Multiple SSD caddies are included so you can easily swap recording media without interrupting your capture.

Of course, all this power and flexibility comes at a high price – the Ninja V costs $695. But for gamers and creators who demand the best possible quality and are already invested in a 4K HDR setup, the Ninja V is the gold standard for standalone 4K capture.

Bonus: Best Capture Cards for PC

While this article is focused mainly on standalone capture cards, we‘d be remiss if we didn‘t also mention some of the top choices for those who prefer to capture with a PC. Connecting your capture card to a PC gives you a lot more options for customizing your stream or recording with additional cameras, overlays, alerts, and more.

Our top pick for a PC capture card is the Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2. This internal PCIe capture card is capable of recording 4K60 HDR10 footage while streaming your gameplay out to a 4K monitor at up to 240Hz. It‘s pricey at around $250, but delivers absolutely uncompromising quality.

For those on a tighter budget, the Elgato HD60 X is a great mid-range option. This external capture card records 1080p60 HDR10 gameplay over USB 3.0 for easy connectivity. At $150, it delivers a lot of bang for your buck.

How to Choose the Right Capture Card

With so many excellent capture cards to choose from, you may be wondering how to narrow down the choices and pick the right one for your needs. Here are the key factors you should consider:

  • Recording resolution – If you want to record 4K gameplay, you‘ll need a capture card capable of 4K capture like the Atomos Ninja V. For most users, a 1080p60 capture card is plenty.

  • Standalone or PC-connected – Consider whether you want the flexibility and advanced features of a PC-connected setup, or the simplicity of standalone capture.

  • Passthrough resolution – To avoid downscaling your gameplay, look for a capture card that supports passthrough of your desired gaming resolution (1080p, 1440p, 4K, etc.)

  • Connectivity – Make sure the capture card you choose has the inputs you need for your gaming setup, whether that‘s HDMI, SDI, USB, etc.

  • Audio inputs – If you want to record your mic commentary, look for a capture card with a dedicated 3.5mm audio input.

  • Budget – Capture cards range in price from under $100 to nearly $1000. Stick to your budget, but try to invest in the best quality you can afford for your needs.

What to Know Before You Buy

Before you pull the trigger on a capture card, there are a few important things to be aware of. First, capture cards have certain hardware requirements – make sure your gaming console or PC meets the requirements for the card you‘ve chosen.

You should also be aware of what your capture card can and can‘t do. For example, most capture cards can‘t record HDR gameplay from the PlayStation 5 due to the console‘s copyright protection. The video signal gets downgraded to SDR when using a capture card.

Also consider where you‘ll be recording and how much portability you need. Standalone capture cards are great for recording on the go without lugging around a gaming PC. But you‘ll be limited on storage capacity. With a PC, you can easily record to large hard drives or SSDs.


A capture card is an essential tool for any gamer looking to record or stream high-quality gameplay. And with the latest standalone capture cards, you don‘t even need a PC to get great recordings.

To recap our top recommendations:

  • Best entry-level standalone capture card: AVerMedia Live Gamer MINI
  • Best mid-range standalone capture card: Elgato HD60 S+
  • Best premium 4K standalone capture card: Atomos Ninja V
  • Best overall capture card for PC: Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2

No matter which capture card you choose, you‘ll be able to record your gameplay at high quality to share with the world. So pick the one that best fits your needs and budget, and happy streaming!