The best capture cards allow you to record and stream gameplay from your console to your platform of choice as effortlessly and stress-free as possible, even if you're entirely new to game capture hardware. There's more options than ever in 2023, from affordable releases to high-end products to suit all budgets and preferences.
We appreciate that you can directly stream and capture gameplay from the PS5, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch, but these features can be a bit limited. That’s where the best capture cards offer a step up, as you can output in at least 1080p60 and even 4K with the models in our roundup without compromise. We haven’t limited our selection to cards that require a PC, either; standalone and small form factor alternatives are present, too.
A good capture card is only one part of a streaming setup. For the full experience, check out some of the best webcams and the best USB microphones. Getting started doesn’t have to be costly either, as we’re also bringing you our picks for the best free streaming software.
Best capture cards in 2023
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The Elgato HD60 X takes the top spot as the best capture card in 2023. Its native Xbox Series X and PS5 support, excellent Full HD picture quality and compact size can’t be beaten. Priced at $199.99 / £189 / AU$315, it’s not the cheapest option available, but it excels in all the right places given its asking price.
Thanks to the 4K passthrough, you can enjoy the full visual capabilities of your current-gen console without any obvious degradation in picture quality. We greatly appreciate that all the essential ports (HDMI in, HDMI out, and USB-C for connecting to a PC or laptop) are housed in the rear of the unit.
There’s support for 1080p60 with full HDR10 and variable refresh rate, meaning the footage captures as smoothly as possible. In our experience, this was the sweet spot for getting consistent results on PC. Mac users may need to look elsewhere for their capture card fix, as we had a few issues connecting with a MacBook. All told, if you have a Windows machine and want the best results with minimal messing around, then the Elgato HD60 X is the capture card to beat.
- Read more: Elgato HD60 X review
There’s no reason why a quality capture card should cost the earth. The EVGA XR1 Lite is an affordable solution that doesn’t sacrifice recording or build quality. At $99.99 / £105 / AU$176, this capture card is for the money-conscious streamer. Despite the humble price, you’re still getting the full functionality you would hope for from a capture card in 2023.
This includes the ability to record in 1080p60 while maintaining 4K60 passthrough, so you won’t notice any slowdown or visual impacts to the overall picture quality on either Xbox Series X or PS5. There’s also a dual focus of the EVGA XR1 Lite. As well as recording your console gaming footage, you can also use it as a passthrough box for DLSR cameras and professional-grade video cameras for a higher-end picture than what a typical webcam can deliver.
In terms of raw features and resolution support, the Elgato 4K60 S+ can certainly be considered the best capture card for 4K. However, its biggest selling point is that you can record entirely without a computer, as it can record footage to an SD card.
These innovations don’t come cheap, though; ultimately, that’s what stops the Elgato 4K60 S+ from taking the top spot. With its asking price of $399.99 / £389.99 / AU $628, this isn’t going to be the capture card that you start with. We can only recommend this to seasoned streamers looking for an upgrade or those with serious cash to burn.
What’s particularly impressive about the 4K60 S+ is the HEVC chip which allows for lossless encoding for reliable picture quality with little to no artifacts over the native picture. Should you want to plug into a PC, the capture card features USB 3.0 connectivity and full support for the likes of OBS Studio and direct access to Twitch and YouTube. While an investment, there’s no denying the quality and versatility here.
Have you ever wanted a pocket-sized capture card? If so, you can search no longer. The Genki ShadowCast is a full-featured screen capture and mirroring device that’s the size of a typical USB thumb drive. It plugs into any compatible games console, such as the PS5, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, or Steam Deck via HDMI input and then outputs via USB-C to USB-A in 1080p60 to devices such as a gaming TV or gaming monitor.
You can mirror the gameplay from a smaller screen to a larger one, and record through the Genki Arcade program on your computer. For the relatively low asking price of $49.99 / £54.44 / AU$89.99, that’s some serious bang for your buck all wrapped up in a form factor that no other capture card can quite compare to right now. Now, we should stress that you won’t get the same level of consistent quality as you would from a larger box with better encoding. Still, for the price tag, it’s hard to argue against if you’re after something multi-purpose for console streaming.
Despite being nearly five years old, the AverMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus continues to thrive as one of the best capture cards in terms of its price to performance. You can expect to pay around $159.99 / £141.99 / $AU221.45, though you can frequently find it cheaper than this as discounts are common.
The AverMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus excels above some of its competition in the mid-range market because of its versatility. You can record in 1080p60 with lagless 4K passthrough both when connected to a PC and Mac, or you can go entirely computer-free and record footage to an SD card. This capture card can also act as a storage box, which means you can use the whole device as a card reader via USB, so you won’t have to worry about corrupting any files or losing previous gameplay clips.
Best capture cards - Frequently asked questions
Do I need a capture card for streaming?
If you're on PC, software like OBS can bypass the need for a capture card by capturing your gameplay directly. If you're playing on console, though, you may want to look at investing in a capture card so you're able to stream gameplay live to your PC at a higher quality than what's available as standard on your console of choice.
Which capture cards do most streamers use?
The majority of high-profile streamers use Elgato capture cards due to the ecosystem associated with the brand, including the likes of the Elgato StreamDeck and Elgato Facecam. From our experience with some of them, we can see why they’ve earned that demand.
Are 4K capture cards worth it?
It really depends on your available bandwidth. 4K capture cards, owing to the higher resolution they capture, are much more expensive in terms of both money and bandwidth. If you're streaming live, you may instead want to invest in a 1080p60 card to free up bandwidth make the process as seamless as possible.