Which Capture Card should I get for streaming or recording? And do I need one?

All Versions Which Capture Card should I get for streaming or recording? And do I need one?

Jack0r

The Helping Squad
Forum Moderator
#1
Jack0r submitted a new resource:

Which Capture Card should I get for streaming or recording? And do I need one? - I take a look at the different options Capture Cards give you, and their pros and cons.

I want to start today's Guide with a few questions:
Why do you want to get a Capture Card? Do you want to capture a console? Skip the next questions and read the next paragraph, else read on. If you answered the last question with no, do you plan on using the Capture Card in a two-PC setup? If you answered this question with yes, skip to the next paragraph. If you answered the question with no:
  • a Capture Card gives no significant performance boost anymore, compared to traditional...
Read more about this resource...
 
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#2
Re: Which Capture Card should I get for streaming or recordi

the new avermedia extremecap u3 can capture 1080p 60fps and the lgp avermedia do great cc cards
 

Jack0r

The Helping Squad
Forum Moderator
#3
Re: Which Capture Card should I get for streaming or recordi

Yea I have to add them to the comparison. I was quite busy the last weeks/months :/
 

Boildown

Active Member
#4
Re: Which Capture Card should I get for streaming or recordi

A good guide for sure!

One thing you're missing is any discussion about the Micomsoft products, like the Micomsoft SC-512N1-L PCIe x4 capture card and the Micomsoft XCAPTURE-1 USB3 external capture device. Both seem to be highly regarded on these forums. For anyone wondering, a forum search for "Micomsoft" finds a lot of details.

I think you should emphasize that capture cards aren't really any good for 1-computer setups, where you game and encode on the same computer, certainly not with OBS (though the Avermedia LGHD is ok for local recording with its own software). Capture cards are for recording/streaming a second device, like another computer or console.

Perhaps also put a link to this alternative to using a capture card in a two-computer setup: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=6757
And to have people check that their prospective capture device doesn't have known issues: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2517
And a link on how to make high quality local recordings: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=2972
And Datapath capture cards have their own discussion thread: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1180

Finally I'm excited that someone has finally made a legit DisplayPort capture card: http://www.unigraf.fi/products/video-ca ... -streaming
Though its only DisplayPort 1.1 which is no better than HDMI/DVI, and looks uber-expensive. At least its a start! And maybe in not-too-long they'll come out with a DisplayPort 1.2 capture device. :)
 

Jack0r

The Helping Squad
Forum Moderator
#5
Re: Which Capture Card should I get for streaming or recordi

First of all, thanks for your suggestions. I will try to explain why I dont see a perfect fit for some of those ideas:

Boildown said:
One thing you're missing is any discussion about the Micomsoft products, like the Micomsoft SC-512N1-L PCIe x4 capture card and the Micomsoft XCAPTURE-1 USB3 external capture device. Both seem to be highly regarded on these forums. For anyone wondering, a forum search for "Micomsoft" finds a lot of details.
As mentioned in the post above I didnt have time to add them to the comparison list yet and I cant talk too much about those devices as I dont have one and the info pages are kinda giving not much info to add them to my comparison either. I dont even know if they were available at the time of writing this article and for me they "belong" to the category of more expensive devices like Datapath/Kona etc.

Boildown said:
I think you should emphasize that capture cards aren't really any good for 1-computer setups, where you game and encode on the same computer, certainly not with OBS (though the Avermedia LGHD is ok for local recording with its own software). Capture cards are for recording/streaming a second device, like another computer or console.
This is a side note which is to an extent true, but as many people still use them in single setups even for streaming PC footage I thought it would not fit the scope of this article. While there is in many cases no real performance gain you can still use a CaptureCard in a Single PC setup to capture games that normally give you problems or for other various reasons and I thought most of the people that would read this article would have already decided to get a capture card.

Boildown said:
Perhaps also put a link to this alternative to using a capture card in a two-computer setup: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=6757
And to have people check that their prospective capture device doesn't have known issues: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2517
And a link on how to make high quality local recordings: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=2972
And Datapath capture cards have their own discussion thread: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1180
The two-computer article didnt exist at the time of writing my article, also the whole last paragraph tells people to check if their device has problems with the Program they want to use:
Jack0r said:
Again, check reviews of the device, talk to someone that uses it, check the forums of the streaming/recording tool you want to use with it for known problems, make sure you can return it if its not what you wanted and ask someone with knowledge before changing hardware if you have never done this before.
High Quality Local Recordings are a whole different topic and not exclusive to capture cards, so I am not sure if this fits the scope of this article either. Last but not least I have a Datapath and Kona card in my comparison list and I also mention their devices:
Jack0r said:
For the Hardcore User, Kona/Datapath/BlackMagic all offer more powerful capture cards which can Input up to 2K/4K resolutions. The prices vary between 800-2000$.
They at least offer good informations about their devices and capabilities, which the Micomsoft and similar devices are pretty much lacking.

Another big reason why I didnt link any of the forum threads you mention is that the article was written for my Blog and "copied" to this forum so people can easily find it on here, but not exclusive to people that use OBS :D

So thanks again for your suggestions, I will think about it again and see if I can include them to an extent.
 
#6
i was wondering to get one Capture Card, for stream with the same PC, but i doesnt get preformance if it doesnt other PC for streaming it, right ? i was wanting to stream Battlefield 4, but its really high CPU intensive, ive got an

FX-8350 at stock speeds
AMD 7950 With Boost
G.Skill 16GB DDR3 1866Mhz

and im still thinking to make cross with 2 7950 or buyn' a capture card wich one will be give me better preformance ?
thank you!

(sorry for my bad english)
 

Jack0r

The Helping Squad
Forum Moderator
#7
Hmm, I am not sure a second graphics card will give you the wanted boost. It is probably your CPU being the bottleneck. One tip for battlefield though, limit it to 100fps or even less, to save cpu power.

I am currently using an i7-4770 with a 7850 and could stream 720p 30/60fps on the very fast preset without loosing too many frames in BF4. Although I personally still prefer to either use quicksync or my second PC to do the recording/streaming and keep the fps on a totally steady 100 in every situation.
 

Jack0r

The Helping Squad
Forum Moderator
#8
I updated the Capture Card list a bit, as far as I could get information of the newest devices u3/rocket.
Also R1CH gave an awesome explanation why a Capture Card is not good in a single PC setup (unless you record your console):
There's no point using a capture card on a single PC. The only possible use is to capture the entire screen when circumstances don't allow otherwise (eg capturing a game which is highly incompatible with hooks)

Single PC with game capture:
GPU Output -> GPU -> GPU Render -> System Memory -> Encode -> Stream

Single PC with capture card:
GPU Output -> Capture Card -> PCI Bus -> System Memory -> GPU -> GPU Render -> System Memory -> Encode -> Stream

Dual PC with capture card:
PC1 (Gaming): GPU Output -> Capture Card
PC2 (Encoding): PCI Bus -> System Memory -> GPU -> GPU Render -> System Memory -> Encode -> Stream

As you can see, with the dual PC setup, you offload a lot of the work onto the 2nd PC, so it provides a large CPU reduction on the PC you're gaming on. This is the only situation in which a capture card makes sense for PC games.
 
#9
So what would be the best solution for 1080p 60/30fps?

I am looking at the Blackmagic Intensity Pro as it does that and also has no delay because it's put into the pci slot. I'm also thinking about getting the Avermedia Live Gamer HD. Elegato also just came out with their Game Capture HD60 which outputs and records in 1080p 60fps but since it uses USB 2.0 I'm not really interested as their would be a delay from the card to the pc output.
 

Jack0r

The Helping Squad
Forum Moderator
#10
The Blackmagic device is limited to 1080p30 as far as I know, which means if you input 1080p60 footage it will probably be interlaced to 1080i60 or 1080i30 which I really cannot recommend. Also Blackmagic devices in general are very finnicky when it comes to the setup process, they might just show black if you input 1080p60.
The Live Gamer HD is pretty solid as far as I know and allows you to input 1080p60 and record it at 30fps or at 720p60fps. Alternatively you could get the Game Broadcaster HD, which is kind of a Live Gamer without pass through and the encoding chip, so 720p60 is only possible if you input 720p60fps.

As you mentioned, USB2 devices are not really the best choice, you will probably have sync problems. If you need to capture at 1080p 60fps you will have to go for a more expensive device, for example the SC-512NL, or a Datapath/Kona card from ebay.
 
#11
The Blackmagic device is limited to 1080p30 as far as I know, which means if you input 1080p60 footage it will probably be interlaced to 1080i60 or 1080i30 which I really cannot recommend. Also Blackmagic devices in general are very finnicky when it comes to the setup process, they might just show black if you input 1080p60.
The Live Gamer HD is pretty solid as far as I know and allows you to input 1080p60 and record it at 30fps or at 720p60fps. Alternatively you could get the Game Broadcaster HD, which is kind of a Live Gamer without pass through and the encoding chip, so 720p60 is only possible if you input 720p60fps.

As you mentioned, USB2 devices are not really the best choice, you will probably have sync problems. If you need to capture at 1080p 60fps you will have to go for a more expensive device, for example the SC-512NL, or a Datapath/Kona card from ebay.
Thanks for the help!

I'll probably be going with the Live Gamer HD, seems solid and is recommended by a lot of people I've spoken with.
 
#12
I own the following capture cards and would be happy to answer any questions or give my opinion on any of them.
  • Black Magic Intensity Pro
  • Datapath VisionRGB E2
  • Avermedia ExtremeCap U3
  • Hauppauge HD PVR (Original)
 
#13
I own the following capture cards and would be happy to answer any questions or give my opinion on any of them.
  • Black Magic Intensity Pro
  • Datapath VisionRGB E2
  • Avermedia ExtremeCap U3
  • Hauppauge HD PVR (Original)
Hello

which of the cards you have does the best job simply passing through the video in 1080p/60fps format i mean no compression and no down-scaling at all to the point where u cant tell a difference from original footage?

to simplify: Which card has no video quality loss on pass through?
 
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#14
I must say that reading this article has helped me a bit. Let me explain my setup / what I'm trying to do and hopefully someone can help.

I record (want to stream but haven't been able to get due to equipment) gaming content for YouTube. I JUST built a beast of a PC rig because I am coming from a Mac setup and... let's just not go there. So my PC has enabled me WAY more power and also the ease of use when it comes to gaming.

Quality is everything to me. My goal is to record / stream PC and to ALSO record / stream console. I have an Xbox One and I do want to get a PS4 but that will be down the road...

Also, since quality is so important to me. For local recorded files (files that will be uploaded to YouTube) 1080p 60fps is a MUST for me for both PC and console recordings. Streaming would be preferred at 720p 60fps due to the majority of what most viewers Internet can handle.

Now, another goal I have is it would be great to use OBS for everything. I personally love OBS and it's so easy to use. That way, no matter if I'm recording PC or console, I can just edit the files easily writhing Adobe Premiere CS 6 and be done with it.

Currently, my Xbox One is connected through the Elgato HD60 which gives me great quality files. However, using the Elgato HD60 with OBS would make any person want to jump off a bridge. EVEN WHEN you get the audio synch "correct," it will still get out of synch in just a matter of time. I've tried everything... The delay is just no good.

I want something that will record / stream both my PC and Console in 1080p 60fps (using 720p 60fps to stream).

My next look was the AverMedia Live Gamer HD PCI slot capture card. Then I found out it only STREAMS in 60fps. Like I said, quality is everything to me and I don't mind paying for it, so that's a no go.

Now, I have a 3 monitor setup for my PC. The middle monitor is a widescreen monitor. The resolution is 2560 x 1080p and it is hooked up to the PC via DVI connection. I also have my Console hooked up to this widescreen monitor also. The widescreen monitor is my gaming monitor. My other two monitors on the left and right are hooked through HDMI. My console is HDMI as well.

I didn't think cards like the Kona/Blackmagic/Datapath existed until I read this. It seems like that is something I would need to achieve all of this? Question is, which one? I looked at a ton of different cards and I don't know exactly what I'm looking for.

Also, it is important to note that I DO in fact have an HDMI switcher.

I'm assuming I could run everything through that via HDMI and then to the PCI card? Then just switching on the HDMI switcher from PC to Console?

I'm just tired of trying to figure out a simple solution that works. I feel like there are so many "workaround" ways to do it, but a simple PCI card from one of these more expensive companies I'm hoping would do the trick for me.

Someone please help! And let me know what card is right for my situation. I was looking at the Blackmagic Decklink 4k?

Any suggestions would be amazing. Thanks everyone!
 

Boildown

Active Member
#15
You don't need a capture card for stuff you do on your PC, you can use OBS directly.

For recording your consoles, you probably want to look at the Micomsoft SC-512N1-L/DVI. Here's a nice review of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmeXpo2kFUI

If your only consoles are the XBone and PS4, then Datapath cards that can record DVI at 1080p60 should be fine (with an HDMI>DVI converter), but you'll have to find a way to string the audio separately, as Datapath cards are video-only. Datapath cards can do 4:4:4 recording (however I should note that OBS cannot do 4:4:4, you'll have to find something else, for which I have no suggestion). I use a Datapath card personally but I found mine cheap on Ebay. If you can't find one for under $300 or so, you're better off with the Micomsoft SC-512N1-L/DVI. Finally Datapath cards need a functional PCIe 4x slot, not just a 1x slot.

I would avoid Blackmagic, they've had all kinds of reported problems on these forums. And Kona is too bleeding edge, no one has posted anything about them that I have seen, you'd be on your own.
 

Jack0r

The Helping Squad
Forum Moderator
#16
Yep, to capture your PC its best to just use OBS (unless you have a second PC to stream from). Removing the capture card will free resources and you do not have problems with your high widescreen resolution. You also dont need any mixer/cables or a complicated audio setup.

So in general I would get the capture card for the consoles you are going to stream. As Boildown mentioned the SC-512N1-l/DVI is currently probably one of the best cards, especially for its price. The datapath cards are way more expensive unless you can find one on EBay (definitely search there if you want datapath).
There is also the x-capture 1 if you need a USB3 device, but you might get sync problems again, internal devices have less problems with that.
Funny sidenote, there are still not that many games that run at real 1080p with 60fps on consoles, at least to my knowledge.

In the future you might also want to test the HD60 with OBS-MP as the rewrite might improve support for it. Currently, I think, it does not have options to sync everything yet, but the rewrite is making good progress so more features will be added over time.
 
#17
my son has asked for capture card for christmas but i have no idea what card to buy, tried researching but the more i read the more confused i got. he wants something he can use to live stream using xbox, xbox one, ps3 and ps4, he also wants to be able to edit on pc. his pc has 1tb hard drive with i5 processors, 8,gb ram 64 bit windows 10, graphics gard is geforce gtx750. doesnt have to be the best but something good for reasonable price. any advice welcome. thanks
 
#19
thank you for your reply. although, from what i have read and your suggestion internal cards are they best but i need one that is external (really dont want to open computer to fit it).
 

Boildown

Active Member
#20
Internal cards are vastly superior, and opening the case is something a PC owner should be able to do. I don't have any external recommendations for you other than it must be USB 3.0 (both the computer and the capture device).
 
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