Screenshots are all well and good but when you really want to record your gaming talents it's a bit more reassuring to have a proper capture device between you and your console. Whether you have a PS4 or an Xbox One, all you need to do is plug in one of these little devices between your console and TV and you'll be recording for days. Just remember to turn off the copyright protection. Predictably, there's a stack of capture cards out there to choose from but it's important to think about what you need it for. Will you be editing for YouTube later or streaming live without lag?
Our best gaming capture devices cover all the bases. Whether you want an ultra-portable option that doesn't even require a laptop or PC, or the best way to capture on a budget, we've collected them here. One note though: none of the packages offer a truly great editing solution, so if thats something you want to do properly you'll have to investigate something like Premier, or one of the many pro-level free options.
1. Elgato Game Capture HD60
Small but perfectly formed capture at 60fps
Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 60fps | Interface: USB 2.0 | Works with: PC & Mac
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 don't need the software running to use it: as long as it can draw power it'll send a signal to your screen so theres no need to unplug it when you don't 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 didn't exactly match the cuts we made, making precise editing impossible. Its a great capture and streaming unit but you'll have to look elsewhere for a decent editing solution.
Best for... High quality capture in a small package
2. AverMedia Live Gamer Extreme
Ideal for streaming and PC capture
Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 60fps | Interface: USB 3.0 | Works with: PC only
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. The AverMedia is simple to set up and captures crisp 1080p 60fps with no problem. There's also no editing option bar a live editing system of cutting out bits of your capture, meaning that you'll need to source software for that separately but it's an excellent offering overall.
Best for... Great streaming and high quality capture
3. Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket
Great capture device that doesn't need a laptop
Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 30fps | Interface: USB 2.0/3.0 | Works with: USB Thumb Drive. Records in MP4
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 that'll tell you if you've left HDCP on on your console.
While it doesn't 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 doesn't 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.
Best for... Ease of use and portability
4. AverMedia Live Gamer Portable
Another PC free marvel
Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 30fps | Interface: USB 2.0 | Works with: SD card alone or plugged into PC or Mac
Perfect for recording a quick burst of capture when you spot something cool, AverMedia’s slim, lightweight, and portable capture box slots into consoles like a dream. With no need for a PC, the LGP is powered by the PS4, Xbox One or even PS3. It’s quick to set up and beyond easy to use. Simply plug it in between your console and TV, turn off HDCP, and press the giant red button in the centre. It’ll pulse a soothing red if your capture is working, or alternately flash blue and red to helpfully let you know if HDCP hasn’t been switched off. All your footage is recorded to a standard SD card in MP4.
Prefer to record to your laptop instead? No problem. The Live Gamer Portable (LGP) works with that too. Spitting out your videos in 30fps but at 1080p resolution, it might not look as razor-sharp on the screen as 60fps but you really can’t beat the LGP’s portability. Weighing just 117g and the size of an iPhone, if you’re looking for something to take with you on the go then the LGP should be your first port of call. Even able to record and stream gameplay at the same time, along with adding commentary on the top with no problem at all, it makes livestreaming a sinch.
Best for... Streaming and no-fuss instant capture
5. Roxio Game Capture HD Pro
Great capture at a seriously good price but no Macs allowed
Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 30fps | Interface: USB 2.0 | Works with: PC only
A nice surprise for its very reasonable price, the Roxio Game Capture doesn't 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 don't have Premier or other programs, and it's simple and self explanatory. There's 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.