PROS / This software has a relatively light impact on in-game performance while recording.
CONS / You can't record any browser elements with this application.
VERDICT / PlayClaw is excellent video game recording software that combines good performance with a strong feature set.
PlayClaw is designed to work with multicore CPUs. The idea is that making full use of multiple cores will reduce the performance impact that game recording software has on gameplay. In our testing, we saw that it does indeed help maintain good in-game performance. PlayClaw impacted in-game performance less than most of the other video game capture applications we looked at. You don't want to lose control during gameplay just because you're recording a video, so a smaller footprint is better. PlayClaw should work with all games that use DirectX or OpenGL, and it is compatible with both PunkBuster and Valve Anti-Cheat. For its combination of strong features and good performance, PlayClaw earns our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award.
Overall, we were pleased with how little PlayClaw impacted in-game performance. While recording 1080p videos, we recorded a performance decrease of only 9 percent. That's better than average for all of the video game capture software we tested. However, recording at 720p incurred a performance hit of about 13 percent. This is likely due to the extra processing required to downsample the 720p video from the 1080p game settings.
Starting and stopping recording doesn't affect in-game frames per second (fps) much at all, which is good because some applications can cause huge fps drops at the beginning and end of a recording session. PlayClaw is one of the most consistent video game capture applications we've seen, with a relatively small increase of fps range. This means that, while recording, the minimum fps is not as far off from the maximum fps as it is with some of the other recorders we tested.
PlayClaw has most of the recording tools that we look for in the best game recording software. Notably, the software can capture audio from 16 sources. You can control the volume levels of all audio inputs, ensuring that your voice can be heard clearly in every video, if that's what you want to emphasize.
One of the highlights of PlayClaw is its custom overlays. You get pretty much full control over what your viewers will see and what you can see during gameplay. If you want to monitor your system performance while playing, you can set up a CPU monitor and a GPU monitor. The customizability of overlays in PlayClaw is unmatched by any other video game recording application.
You can't record online sources, which means no web browsers. While this isn't a mission-critical feature for many people, it may cause problems if you like to do more than record video games. Even if you like to show your viewers some other content that's viewed in a browser, you'll have to find workarounds to get it in your video.
PlayClaw doesn't have a hard limit on recordable frame rate. This is exciting, because the more control you have over your recordings, the better. Keep in mind that very high capture rates mean very large files and there isn't much benefit setting high capture rates for most people. However, if you plan on heavily editing your video later or want to add slow-motion effects, then a higher frame rate would be more suitable. Most people can't see the difference between 40 fps and 60 fps in video, so going any higher than 60 fps doesn't offer you much.
The user interface follows the design trend of tiles. If you click on a recording tool's tile, you get the corresponding settings for the tool. While the interface is easy on the eyes, it's not always clear where you need to go to find what you want. Even though PlayClaw has a good number of useful settings, it can be difficult to find them, which makes the software feel more limited than it really is.
Help & Support
In case you're confused about or unsure of something, PlayClaw offers tutorials, a FAQs page and a manual. There's also a user forum where you can learn and contribute to the community. For technical issues, you can email PlayClaw directly.
PlayClaw has a decent frame-rate limit, and the software performs well during gameplay. The biggest drawback of PlayClaw is its inability to capture online sources. Still, this game recorder gives you everything you need to record high-quality videos of your gameplay, ranking it among the best game recording software.