Question / Help ONCE AND FOR ALL: Does a Capture Card help?

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PC Spec:
Windows 7 64 Bit
EVGA SuperClocked GeForce GTX 570
i7-2600K 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost)
Mushkin Enhanced Redline 8GB DDR3
Internet: 24down, 3up.

Currently quality:

OBS Settings:
Quality - 8
Bit rate - 2800
Res - 720p 30fps

I am hearing so many mixed messages about this its driving me insane. I got $200 to spend, I want to stream professionally, should I bother with a capture card?

I am streaming from my main pc only right now, I DO however have a second pc close by, but its kinda old, with a pentium d inside it. So, just tell me guys, whats the best streaming set up for me?


Town drunk
It varies depending on system. Your system will likely see no benefit, at best, slightly poorer performance, at worst.

Capture cards in single PC setups are pretty much completely useless unless you intend to do the encoding with the hardware encoder on the card, but the quality on anything under 200 bucks is going to be completely horrible. OBS can't use most of the hardware encoders anyway (not that you want to...) so all encoding is still going to be done by your CPU. The built in capture methods in OBS are already absolutely as efficient as possible, so the only way to lower streaming impact without losing quality is to build a second, dedicated streaming PC and use the capture card to grab the image from your gaming rig.

I would not use your Pentium D PC for streaming, it will not be powerful enough.

You would get more performance out of overclocking your very capable/easily overclocked 2600k, and save up for a stronger GPU for higher game performance.

The only other reason to have a capture card is, obviously, capturing consoles. (or what dodgepong said, if you want to listen to that crazy guy.... >_>)(PS: you should listen to him too)


Forum Admin
Here are the only circumstances where using a capture card with OBS and playing a game on the same computer will help you:

  • You want to capture a fullscreen game that game capture wont pick up (due to being DX8 or older, or due to hack shields)
  • You want a way to capture everything that's on your monitor, no matter what (including desktop, browser windows, and fullscreen games) without using Monitor capture (which can't capture fullscreen games and performs poorly on Win7)
That is it. You will NOT get better performance out of a capture card at all on a single-PC setup. Game capture performs better than capture cards, and so does Window capture with Aero enabled, so if you can't capture what you want with one of those methods, then maybe get a capture card, but otherwise, for a single-PC setup, they are a waste of money.

There are two parts of streaming that can take a lot of system resources: capturing and encoding. Encoding is by far the most impactful part of the process. For god's sake, you're live-encoding video...doing that while playing a game was unthinkable a few short years ago. Video encoding is extraordinarily CPU-intensive, and that's what causes the biggest impact on your system while streaming. Capturing can also have an impact, but it's relatively small to the video encoding process. Game capture pulls video frames straight from the GPU's VRAM, while a capture card has to go through the CPU for the DirectShow source, so Game capture is a faster capture method than a capture card. So as long as you are playing a game and streaming on the same computer, a capture card will not improve your performance.

Capture cards are supposed to be used in a second PC that is dedicated to streaming. The normal setup is to have a second PC that captures what is happening on the first PC, so that the gaming PC is not affected by the heavy CPU-intense video encoding tasks of streaming.

There are some capture cards that have encoders built in, but OBS can't utilize them. If you use RECentral to streaming with a Live Gamer HD, then it can use the encoder, but you're not using OBS at that point, and the buit-in AVerMedia encoder is not that great compared to x264.


Forum Admin
If you're capturing a console game, then a capture card is definitely required. I recommend getting a PCIe capture card, if you can (desktop computer only). They are the most reliable and best at capturing. External capture cards, especially USB 2.0 capture cards (such as Elgato, HD PVR, Roxio, Live Gamer Portable) have several problems associated with them, such as a niticable processing delay, and the fact that they encode video on the device itself, making it hard to bring into OBS (you can't even bring HD PVR or Roxio video into OBS directly yet because they encode video sent over the wire).

If you do want to get an external device, get the X-CAPTURE 1, which is a USB 3.0 device. You have to have an Intel or Renesas USB 3.0 controller for USB 3.0 video devices to work (check your device manager or mobo manual) but this device is the only external capture card I can recommend.

For PCIe capture cards, I wrote a decent writeup here on my personal recommendations: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=7980&p=44948#p44948


You should sticky this, the wealth of information here clears up a lot of headaches toward the use of capture cards, thank you very much =)


One last question

AVerMedia Live Gamer HD - Thats the one I want, as long as I don't use the encoder option of this card, it will work with OBS right?


New Member
Kinda like his question, I have a alienware 14 laptop what capture card would be best for said laptop?


New Member
Is it wise to use the " Live Gamer HD " for encoding on the PC that your playing the game on with 64 Bit OBS ?


Forum Admin
OBS does not support the encoding feature on Avermedia cards. The quality is generally not suitable for live streaming anyway.

EDIT: OBS Studio now does support the AVerMedia Encoder, but again, it is only recommended for local recording using a high bit rate.
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