What Is A Capture Card? The Ultimate Guide

What Is A Capture Card

As we know that the internet and classic video games dominate this era, we could not resist watching gamers’ amazing gaming streaming videos. 

Do you know that they use capture cards for video game streaming? But what is a capture card? They are the devices used to record gameplay. Want to know more about them?

So without further ado, let’s dive deep into the world of capture cards, their use, benefits, and most of all, the streaming features they provide.

What is a Capture Card?

A capture card is a video capturing device used in a hardware setup and software support to record on-screen gaming. In simple words, they are video game recorders that code the game from one console and display it on the PC screen through ports.

The primary connection, along with the capture card, is the HDMI cable. It records and converts video from one gaming device and encodes and translates it on the computer’s screen connected to it through the cable.

Purpose of using capture cards

Even though many computers have on-screen recording features, many consoles like PS4 or Nintendo Switch may require a separate device to record the game. That’s where a capture card comes in handy.

It records your gameplay footage with the same quality without overloading your computer. Secondly, after recording the footage, you can edit them to add layers to put them in the race of quality content.

In other words, you can enjoy fast and high-quality gaming while recording at good frame rates with a lag-free passthrough. Moreover, it keeps the number of things running on your gaming console and computer low and so it can perform at an optimal performance.

How Does a Video Capture Card Work?

What Is A Capture Card

The working of the gaming capture card is simple and has five steps in the capturing process.

  • Connection: connects the gaming console with the computer
  • Recording: records audiovisual screenplay from the console
  • Translating: converts video and audio into encoded signals.
  • Transferring: passes the signals through the game, the HDMI input to the output, and finally to the PC.
  • Final view: the signals are reconverted into audiovisual signals on the PC, making screen content quality the same as in the game.

Therefore, the main component of the capture card is the HDMI input, which plays the leading role in transferring and converting the signals from one device to another.

Types of Capture Cards

Even if you started to classify the capture cards, this article wouldn’t be enough. Even we would get confused, and even we would lose our minds. So for your ease, let’s talk about some different types of capture cards

External and Internal Capture Cards

As the name explains, an external capture card is placed outside the computer. One has to connect the gaming station to the computer with the USB cable. This video capture card is portable and is helpful if you switch your PC and laptop connection frequently with the game.

Internal capture cards are installed inside the computer’s motherboard. That’s why it’s important to make sure it’s compatible with your computer before you buy one. 

USB and PCIe Ports

There are two types of ports available in the capture card. One is a USB cable in which you plug the gaming PC with the cards through a USB port. A USB port is adaptable and easy to connect even with a laptop or PC, so if you are looking for a portable option, a USB port is a great choice.

The second one is a more permanent connection called a PCIe cable. It requires a particular PCIe slot and is attached to its motherboard. Even though they are more versatile, they provide zero bandwidth limitations compared to USB ones.

In short, a permanent connection option would be a PCIe cable, and a more convenient but with restricted bandwidth requirements would be the USB port. Now it depends on your convenience which one you want to choose.

Streaming quality

Most of the HD content requires HD recording as most of the games are recorded at 1080 pixels or a 720p resolution. Many high-quality capture cards offer streaming at these resolutions and provide a 4k recording.

Some Known Brands of Capture Cards

There is a range of capture cards available in the market some of these popular capture card manufacturers include:

  1. Elgato-Game Capture offers some of its best performing pieces, including: HD60, HD60s, and an internal card HD60pro. Elgato-stream deck is used widely among Twitch streamers.
  2. Avermedia-live Gamer has many extensions that record 4k screenplays without lags. The Avermedia- live gamer portable and portable 2 are convenient, handy and compact capture cards.
  3. Razer Ripsaw is an ultra 4k video capture card having an internal installation. This 60 fps frame rate gives a high definition, lag-free recording experience.

And there are many more from other brands that perform well. Explore the best capture cards for Nintendo Switch right here!

Do You Need a Capture Card?

After all of this insightful information, a good question to ask yourself is whether you need a capture card or not. Well, the answer to this question is based on your situation.

If you prefer to stream through Youtube or Twitch from a gaming device, we would recommend you get this gaming capture card.

If you prefer streaming from your PC, you can screen record, but the quality of the stream or the video file may suffer. A capture card is an excellent choice if you want a recording that has less lag and a higher frame rate.

Many professional streamers also use two displays in which one plays the game and the other streams it with the help of a capture card. So, if you are thinking about becoming a professional streamer, then getting an excellent quality capture card is something you should definitely consider.

Final Words

We hope that this article has been helpful in giving you more information about capture cards and what they’re used for. 

If you are in the market for a capture card, please look back at the list included for some reliable brands for you to try!

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