What is a Capture Card and How Does it Work?

Playing online games can be so engaging that one loses track of time due to the immersive thrills, superb graphics, and wild adventures.

Whether you’re on a multiplayer online strategy game like Counter Strike Global Offensive and PUBG, or on a single-player game like The Witcher 3 and god of war, the experience is quite similar. 

But what if you want to take the fun a notch higher by steaming your online gameplay activities live to a global audience? That’s where a Capture Card comes in.

Capture Card
Elgato HD60 S+, External Capture Card, Ultra-Low Latency 1080p60 HDR10

What is a Capture Card?

A capture card (sometimes called a Video Capture Device or Video Capture Card) is a live streaming device that enables gamers to stream their live games to an online community such as Twitch.

Streaming your gameplay activities live using a video Capture Card has become a thing among online gaming communities such as Twitch, Terraria, Tower Unite, and Rim world.

Gamers worldwide often rely on the experience of pro-gamers and top-rated players to navigate certain difficulty levels of their favorite games.

The outcome of this is a growing community of online gamers who watch the Livestream playback of other gamers to learn how to advance themselves in their gaming ranks. 

What does a Capture Card do?

A Video Capture Card saves your gaming activities on a PC or Game console in a PC readable format and makes it available for future playback or a Livestream to an online community.

How does a Capture Card work?

A Video Capture Card works similarly to your regular screen recording apps, only better. 

What it does is simple: it captures your online gaming screen data and transforms it into a format that your standard Laptop/PC can recognize and display. 

While using a video Capture Card, you either save your gaming activities in a video format supported by all multimedia player devices, or you broadcast the gameplay in a live stream (that means broadcasting as you play).

Types of Video Capture Cards

 Video Capture Cards are generally grouped in 2 ways.

  • Based on input type
  • Based on interface or output type

1. Types of Video Capture Cards based on Input type

  • HDMI Video Capture Cards
  • Component AV Cable Capture Cards

HDMI Video Capture Cards

HDMI inputs are obtainable in almost every Video Capture Card available in the market today.

HDMI Video Capture Cards are easy to set up; locate the HDMI port on your game console and plug in the cable. 

You’ll need to connect the other end of the HDMI cable to the Video Capture Card’s HDMI port. 

Component AV Video Capture Cards

Although less popular, they’re an excellent option for older video game consoles without an HDMI port (Nintendo 64, Playstation classic, Sega Mega Drive, etc.)

For those in doubt, the component AV port is usually the red, white, and yellow colored cable ports at the back of electronic gadgets.

2. Types of Capture Cards based on Output Interface

  • PCI express Capture Cards
  • USB Capture Cards

PCI Express Capture Cards

They are the best in video streaming, rendering quality, and general output factor.

Video uploaders widely use PCIe Capture Cards on YouTube, Twitch, Smash cast, and Facebook gaming.

They’re most preferred compared to other Capture Cards because of their ability to lower CPU usage and reduce the power consumed during a Livestream. 

USB Capture Cards

They’re the easiest capture cards to set up, not requiring much technical know-how.

You plug in a USB Video Capture Card into your output PC’s USB port, and you’re all set. 

What are the Benefits of using a Video Capture Card?

1 Reduces strain on PC/Laptop resources

One can use the video output across multiple platforms, including mobile devices, digital Multimedia players, and projectors.

2. Playback support

You can always watch your screen capture at any time.

3. Instant Livestreaming

You can stream your gaming activities to a live audience during gameplay.

4. High-Quality Graphics Display

Stream your live game in 4K HDR. This is a particular advantage if your game console has a lower picture quality. You can stream your gameplay at a higher picture quality even when playing at a lower quality.

5. Flexible Graphics Processing options

You can also choose your preferred frame rate (frames per second) without putting much work on the CPU.

Best Video Capture Cards [By Popular Opinion]

1. Elgato HD60 S Game Capture

best Capture Card

Used by most YouTube vloggers and video streamers, it has a 60Hz fps frame rate with 1080p HD picture quality.

It’s one of the best USB Capture Cards.

2. Elgato HD 60 Pro Game Capture

It is ranked among the best PCIe Capture Cards. It packs a 2.0 HDMI port and supports a 60Hz fps frame rate.

3. Avermedia Live Gamer Portable 2+

Avermedia Capture cards are highly rated for multimedia support. This model has a memory card slot for expanded external memory.

4. Razer Ripsaw HD

Razer Ripsaw HD

It is rated among the best capture cards for 4K HDR Streaming. It also packs 60Hz fps and a 1080p screen resolution.

5. Avermedia Live Gamer duo

If you’re looking for a capture card with dual input support, here it is. This Capture Card supports HDMI and PCIe inputs, with a 60Hz fps and 1080p display.