Theres a lot of choice out there if you want to capture your gaming achievements. Obviously, theres the all conquering Share button on PS4 and Xbox Ones clip capturing, but a good lets play or livestream needs more gear if you really want to do it properly.
We tested four options in total: the Elgato Game Capture HD60, Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket, Roxio Game Capture HD Pro, and AverMedia Live Gamer Extreme. Surprisingly there are no clear winners or losers. Rather, each best fits a different situation. Rather than recommending an overall number one its best to consider what youre planning to do. There are options here for casual capture and streaming, portability and more high end packages. Its best to take a look and see what suits your needs. One note though: none of the packages offer a truly great editing solution, so if thats something you want to do properly youll have to investigate something like Premier, or one of the many pro-level free options.
(For each device tested weve rendered out a 20 second clip, edited using proprietary software where available. Otherwise its just a sample of raw capture)
Elgato Game Capture HD60
This is probably one of the best semi-pro to pro devices if you want to get serious with capturing. Its easy to set up, simply plugging in between your PS4/XBox One and the TV. It also does all of the work for you, with the software cycling through resolution options until it finds a signal (although you can also set it up and tweak options manually should you have any problems getting a signal on your TV). Another great bonus is that you dont need the software running to use it: as long as it can draw power itll send a signal to your screen so theres no need to unplug it when you dont want to capture.
The capture software that comes with it is clear and easy to use, with a few basic, useful options to fiddle with the audio and streaming set ups. Theres an audio in on the unit itself if you want to add audio directly to your stream, and a range of streaming screen sets up for in-set cameras and so on. The only area in which it disappoints is its rudimentary editing package thats only really good for trimming. Theres no transitions or clip reordering so all you can really do is cut bits out. Rendered clips also didnt exactly match the cuts we made, making precise editing impossible. Its a great capture and streaming unit but youll have to look elsewhere for a decent editing solution.
Best for Pro use
Roxio Game Capture HD Pro
A nice surprise for its very reasonable price, the Roxio Game Capture doesnt have any frills but gets the job done exceptionally well. There are no leads in the box other than the power lead but the box has HDMI ports for up to 1080p capture - remember to up the setting in the software because default is 720p - and component options for older consoles. Its easy to set up and the software that comes on the included disc (yes, a disc) has a UI thats easy on the eyes and clearly labelled with options for online streaming and capture.
When it comes to editing your precious capture, the Roxio Videowave software is on hand if you dont have Premier or other programs, and its simple and self explanatory. Theres a timeline and story view and you can add plenty of text options, music, commentary and as many ridiculous transitions as the video can cope with. Once again however, this is PC only so those with a Mac will want to look at one of the other options for use with OSX or setting up Boot Camp for PC programs.
Best for...Budget capture and editing
Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket
The big win for the the HD Rocket is the fact that this little box doesnt actually need you to plug it into a PC to capture from PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360. All you have to to do is power it from your TV or console with the included USB cable and then pop in a USB thumb stick. Its ridiculously easy to set up and that giant red button buddies up with a clear LED light system that lets you know that everythings recording OK. The unit glows reassuringly red when capturing and theres even a helpful flashing green option thatll tell you if youve left HDCP on
While it doesnt capture at 60fps, sticking safely to 30fps like the majority of games, the Rocket records in mp4 format for easy importing and editing. Plus, the included mic and input on the box also means you can add commentary direct to the footage without waiting to get into editing to add your dulcet tones. For capturing via a PC, the set up is equally easy but its worth noting that the specific software doesnt run on a Mac. This is the only set up where we saw obvious artifacting in visually dense moments too (check the end of the video). The combo of Hauppauge Capture and its proprietary streaming software StreamEez, means you can record, edit and upload to YouTube or stream your antics live.
AverMedia Live Gamer Extreme
Of all the systems here this seems the most streaming-focused option - although it also does excellent quality capture. AverMedias solution has zero latency, so where other systems can lag on the capture screen this has basically no delay. That means you can play just as well on the PC you're capturing with as you can on the TV screen. This is ideal if you have a setup with a camera, images and other screen furniture, and means you only need eyes on one screen instead of juggling two. It also has //two// audio inputs so you can add music and dialogue separately.
This is simple to set up and captures crisp 1080p60fps with no problem. However, its USB 3.0 only, and you wont get an image through to you TV unless the unit is powered on //and// the softwares running. So there are two options there - keep plugging and unplugging the thing depending on your capture needs, or always have its proprietary Recentral2 software running in the background. UPDATE: I've been informed that the capture unit will run a through signal without the software running. For some reason however that didn't work during testing Theres also no editing option bar a live editing system of cutting out bits of your capture, meaning that youll need to source software for that separately.
Best for... Streamers that want to capture as well