Game Capture Review
Why Video Game Capture?
Game capture devices allow you to capture gameplay footage and create movies to upload and share. They give you a simple way to capture your gaming experience without interfering with your actual play.
With HD game capture devices, you can start and stop recording easily, edit and convert the file as desired, and upload it to YouTube, Facebook or other social media outlets. Some devices even let you stream live. Game recording lets you create high-quality videos that you can use to inform, display your skill or simply entertain.
Have you ever wondered how to record Xbox 360 gameplay? The Xbox One and PS4 have built-in recording tools, but earlier generations of consoles aren't that advanced. Game capture hardware is the only way to reliably record high-quality video of gameplay on older video game consoles. You can also use game capture devices with PC gaming. The major advantage here is that the game capture hardware takes the burden of recording and processing video off of your CPU. This gives you better game performance while recording and, ultimately, better-quality recordings.
Roxio Game Capture, Elgato Game Capture and the Hauppauge PVR series are excellent tools and a good place to start looking. Each device has different strengths and weaknesses. You can also check out our articles on game capture devices to learn more.
Game Capture: What to Look For
There are key elements you can't go without in video game capture hardware. These include the ability to record audio and video footage of any game in real time. Many game capture choices also provide you with a variety of extras that give you the opportunity to be creative and personalize your creation with editing tools, like callouts.
It may seem obvious, but recording tools are what make capturing your video games possible. They include a capture device's recording abilities, such as real-time recording, game console compatibility, microphone recording and accommodating different file sizes. Recording tools also encompass hotkeys for game capture, the ability to save a frame as a photo file and direct uploading for sharing your videos.
Capture devices differ in the number of settings you have control over. With some, you get fine control over bit rate and determining file sizes. Others only give you passing control, focusing more on easy video capture. These settings are important. Frame rate, bitrate and file size can make a big difference in your recording experience. We cover that more in the Improving Your Recording's Quality section below.
Some game capture devices, like the Elgato Game Capture series, let you stream your games live while recording at the same time. This is a great way to share your love of games and build a strong community around your channel. Live streaming lets you interact more closely with your viewers. But you also get a recording for editing purposes, letting you engage a different audience on YouTube.
Editing tools should allow you to cut, splice and focus your viewers' attention on your gaming footage. Features like callouts, zooming, text titles, motion effects, voice-over commentary, and the ability to split or join audio and video files help you craft top-tier gameplay videos. Sometimes you don't even need a PC do to this.
It's important to know which consoles and other platforms your game capture device is compatible with. Need to capture Xbox 360 gameplay? Maybe something older that uses component cables? Make sure you pick up a capture device that supports component inputs. Manufacturers are usually very clear about what inputs the device can handle.
Help & Support
This section covers the support resources the manufacturer of each application offers. Manuals, tutorials, FAQs, customer service and technical support are all resources that can be helpful when you have difficulties with your game capture device.
Ease of Use
An important aspect of any game capture application is its ease of use. What good is a feature-rich application if you can't figure out how to use it? The design and organization of an application either empowers you or holds you back. Your device should have a clean design that provides the right tools and features and is easy to use and simple to understand. With the right device, you can capture gameplay footage from just about any gaming platform and easily turn it into HD videos.
Improving Your Recording's Quality
Whenever you stream or upload a recording, you want the highest quality possible. Unfortunately, that's not always going to happen. Recording gameplay is a balancing act. You need to find the right settings that give you high visual fidelity but don't result in absurdly large files or data-heavy streams.
File Size vs. Recording Quality
Keep in mind that video quality is directly tied to file size. If you want to capture the highest-quality gameplay, be prepared for massive files. We're talking many gigabytes of storage space. And remember, the larger your video file, the longer it will take to upload to YouTube or anywhere else.
Often, you'll want to strike a balance between quality and file size. This way, you save storage space and time, but retain enough fidelity to have good-looking gameplay videos.
In addition to resolution, frame rate has a major impact on both video quality and file size. While many people don't mind watching videos at 30 frames per second (fps), they prefer higher frame rates. The problem is that every frame your game capture device records needs storage space. Doubling the frame rate from 30 fps to 60 fps also doubles the video's file size.
Regardless of your exact settings, there's only so much data a game capture device can push through. This is the device's maximum bit rate, which determines just how much detail you can pack into your live streams and recordings. Resolution is only a measure of video, and it doesn't necessarily indicate quality. But higher bit rates usually mean higher-quality video.
You want the highest quality you can get before uploading or streaming anything. As soon as you start streaming or uploading something, your video is compressed, which invariably leads to degraded visual fidelity. The higher your original bit rate, the better the video will look after it's compressed and uploaded to the internet.
All About HDCP
HDCP stands for high-bandwidth digital content protection. Essentially, it protects things like movies, TV shows and video games from being recorded illegally. It's an integrated part of HDMI technology, so it can be hard to avoid. The problem is, HDCP can also be an obstacle to the legal recording and streaming of video games.
Newer consoles let you turn HDCP off to make recording and sharing easier. Older consoles are harder. The PS3 can be particularly difficult to record. You'll need to use component cables in order to capture content from a PS3. That means you need to pick a game capture device that works with component cables.
While we cover game capture devices in this article, there are other ways to record your gameplay. They all have pros and cons, so you need to figure out which is best for you.
Game Capture Cards
These are very similar to game capture devices, but they plug into the motherboard of a PC. They aren't stand-alone boxes. Often, game capture cards are more capable than their stand-alone cousins because they have access to the PC's better hardware. However, they aren't mobile – they're stuck inside your PC.
Video Game Recording Software
Game recording software is easier to use and cheaper than a game capture device. There are many different products out there, and most of them also include streaming capabilities. The newest consoles have built-in recording software, so this isn't just for PCs anymore.
Game recording software is usually highly customizable, giving you everything you need to create fantastic videos or live streams. However, recording gameplay requires heavy processing power, putting more demand on your gaming system. Game capture devices offload that recording work, making it easier for your system to run games.
HD game capture devices are an excellent way to record your finest video game moments. They make it easy to share your experiences with others through videos or live streams. The best part is that these devices are stand-alone units. You can use them with consoles or your PC. You can take them wherever you want. While some game capture devices are more capable than others, they all record gameplay at a respectable quality for sharing over the internet.