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Budget Capture Card

The 8 Best Budget Capture Cards – 2021

If you’re new to streaming online, then you might be in search of the best budget-friendly capture card to get you started.

Capture cards allow the user to record and save gameplay from external devices (e.g. your PS5 or Xbox), so that it can be uploaded to the internet. It does this via an HDMI cable.

In the past, it was never a good idea to purchase a capture card at a low price threshold, as most used a USB 2.0 connection, which often resulted in issues with latency.

Now that technology has advanced, this has become less of a concern. All of the top-rated cards on this list use a high-speed USB 3.0 and can record in 1080p 60fps or greater!

What is the best budget capture card?

1. Elgato Game Capture HD60 S+

Resolution: 4k/ 1080p | Frame rate: 30/ 60fps
Price Range: $150-$200

The Elgato HD60 S+ is the go-to bit of kit for Twitch streamers on PC and consoles alike. Elgato are experts in their field, and their reputation with this current line of models proves it.

With this device, you can play all your high-fidelity games in stunning 4K60 HDR, while capturing your gameplay in superb 1080p 60fps quality. Most gamers still choose to record at 1080p, however, there is also the option to record in 4K 30fps for anyone who wants to take that leap forward.

The UVC Support – USB video support means that no software or drivers are necessary – making it one of the best cheap products to start with if you’re new to streaming. Once it’s connected via the USB 3.0 input, your PC will simply treat it the same way it would a standard webcam.

The ultra-low-latency connection provides “Instant Gameview” to give you full creative control over your workflow. As an upgrade of the HD60, we highly recommend this card for all users of modern-day consoles!

2. Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro MK.2

Resolution: 4k/ 1080p | Frame rate: 60fps
Price Range: $200-$250

The Elgato MK.2 Pro stands out for being the most affordable card that can deliver 4K content at 60fps. It’s capable of delivering an impressive array of resolutions and refresh rate combos; ranging from 1440p at 144hz, to 1080p at either 120hz or 240hz.

Unlike other cards that support USB 3.0, the MK.2 differs due to having a compact PCI-e interface connection. This means it can slot straight into your PC and offer ultra-low latency speeds free from input lag or stutter.

Just like the HD60 S+, this model works straight out of the box for a seamless setup experience. Once installed, you can begin simultaneously capturing your video feed in multiple apps. Of course, the option is there to use the dedicated “4KCU” software, or any other streaming OBS program of your choice.

If you absolutely need the 4k image resolution, this card is a must.

3. LEADNOVO Video Capture Card

Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 60fps
Price Range: $50-$100

The Leadnovo video capture card provides a cost-effective solution to your live streaming problems. At less than half the price of the Elgato HD60 S+ you might be initially skeptical, however, it’s fully capable of capturing 4K gameplay in 1920×1080 (1080p)@ 60fps.

What we like most about this card is that it’s incredibly easy to get started with. No drivers or extra software are needed during installation, and instructions are written in plain English. Simply plug in the device, wait for it to automatically configure, and within 5 minutes you’ll be recording.

The unit itself is very light and portable. It comes in a brushed aluminum case with soft, rounded edges and it does not require any external power supply. After opening the box, you will also find the inclusion of two USB 3.0 cables, as well as a Type-A to Type-C cable for newer devices.

4. MRLI HD Video Capture Card

Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 60fps
Price Range: $50-$100

If you’re a part-time streamer looking to share your 1080p (60fps) gameplay for cheap, then look no further than the MRLI HD. Most capture cards are priced based on their marketing budget or value, which is how this company has been able to slash costs to produce such an awesome little card. 

The high-performance chip allows for clearer and smoother gameplay devoid from freezes, crashing, or delay. It does heat up, but not to a point where it gets too hot to touch, so this might be something to keep in mind if you plan on streaming longer than six-hour periods.

When compared with some of the more expensive devices on this list, it’s surprisingly not missing out on many standout features. In the same way, this card performs without any drivers, does not require an external power supply, and even has a high-speed USB 3.0 port.

5. ZumYu Video Capture Card

Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 60fps
Price Range: $0-$50

At less than $50, the ZumYu Capture Card is undoubtedly one of the best budget options for streaming. Capable of recording high quality 1080P 60fps video-capture, it works like a charm with all devices including Camcorders, Consoles, and DSLR’s.

The slender design is easy to install and carry, which makes it ideal for high definition broadcasts, and video recording. It requires no drivers to function, and the USB 3.0 technology also acts as a dedicated power supply.

This capture card is highly compatible with gaming and supports all HDMI inputs found on your Switch, PS4, and Xbox One. It appeals to gamers who want to share their footage online, but are not prepared to miss out on capturing their screen at the most familiar resolution and frame-rate.

6. GOODAN Video Capture Card

Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 60fps
Price Range: $50-$100

The GOODAN Capture Card is one of the best budget devices for anyone wanting a quick way to run a stream. It packs a smooth 60fps at 1080p resolution and has 4K pass-through, so you can still play in ultra HD (even if it’s not captured in 4K).

What’s great about this little card is that It’s very flexible if you record on the go. It works straight out of the box with no plugin play drivers and does not require any external power supply. The Aluminum build is compact and robust so you won’t have to worry so much about damaging it.

This card has all the standardized input connections you would expect for a newer model. It includes an HDMI in/ out, a  1/8″ audio plug for your mic, and a 3.5mm audio out. Additionally, the package comes with all the necessary cables such as the USB power, USB 3.0, and one HDMI.

7. UOEOS Capture Card

Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 60fps
Price Range: $50-$100

The Uoeos Capture Card is a highly-rated product that takes the fuss out of streaming. Based in the China, Uoeos is a global leader in developing USB-C accessories at unprecedented speeds. As a result, this particular device is capable of recording 1080p, 60fps with close to zero latency.

Aesthetically, the design is slim and extremely pleasing to look at. It comes in a sleek silver finish and measures 1.8 × 4.1 × 0.5 inches, making it supremely portable. Like most other cards, it requires no external power and is simply “plug in and play”. You Just need to download OBS to get it working.

Besides an attractive form-factor, it has all the functions you would need for live streaming. Three standard 3.5 mm Audio Jacks can be found on the side for your external devices, and it’s entirely possible to synchronize the HDMI port to a larger screen.

8. DIGITNOW HDMI Capture Card

Resolution: 1080p | Frame rate: 60fps
Price Range: $50-$100

The DIGITNOW is another great option for anyone wanting to record their gameplay online with as little hassle as possible. Just like the previous models, it has no drivers to install and leverages the capabilities already built into the current software for a seamless experience.

The standardized design can detect the input video formats and will adjust to the set output size and frame rate automatically. Moreover, it requires no external power and is compatible with a plethora of different software to capture 1080p game footage at a smooth 60fps.

Providing you have a graphics card capable of utilizing the Nvidia NVENC hardware codec, you can expect a super low CPU interaction. This is because the device off-loads the capture processing to your GPU instead of your processor.


Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

What makes a good budget capture card?

A good budget capture card is easy to set up, has a smooth seamless pass-through rate, and can produce high-quality footage with crisp audio. For a Twitch streamer, the biggest deal-breakers are having high-quality footage and no input lag.

The majority of input lag issues come from external capture cards using USB 2.0 ports. Assuming you purchase one of the newer mid-range models with a USB 3.0 port and have a USB 3.0 port to plug into on your PC, then this should not affect you.

Internal cards tend to cost more but provide instant passthrough due to a connecting directly with the motherboard. To install an internal card you will need a spare PCI-e slot inside your computer. You will also need to make sure your processor is powerful enough to handle it.

Another thing to take into consideration is what resolution you have on your gaming monitor, as it will downgrade to whatever the pass through resolution is on the card. If you’re using a 4K monitor, be sure to buy a 4K Capture Card.

Capture cards are generally one of the best long-term investments a streamer can make due to the relatively slow advancements in display resolution technology. In most cases, if you decide to purchase a mid-range 4K card from the start, it should last for many years to come.

How does a capture card work?

Capture cards process analog video-signal to digital video-signal for the purpose of storing it locally, or on an external storage device. The resulting data (often referred to as digital video stream), can then either be sent to a video display or recorded as a computer file.

Click here to find out more about “What is a capture card?”

We hope you found this post useful on the best budget capture card!

Click here for a list of Streaming Essentials to get you started on Twitch!

Click here for the 10 Best 4K Capture Cards for the PS5!

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