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Budget capture cards

10 Best Budget Capture Cards – [Jul 2024]

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?

10. ZasLuke Capture Card

Pass-through: 4K
Record Resolution:
1080p/ 60fps
Connection: USB 3.0

The ZasLuke Capture Card is a highly rated product that takes the fuss out of streaming. Based in China, ZasLuke 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.

Flaunting a brushed silver finish, the design itself is extremely pleasing to look at. Moreover, measuring just 2.0 × 2.3 × 0.5 inches, it’s quite slim and supremely portable. You’ll be able to slip it in your bag or pants pocket without even really noticing it’s there.

Besides a compact form-factor, the Zazluke has all the functions you would need for live streaming. Two 3.5 mm audio Jacks are on the side for external devices, as well as two HDMI inputs/ outputs. Furthermore, like most UVC devices, it requires no external power and is simply “plug in and play”.

All in all, it’s a great little capture card on a budget.


9. Jaydear Video Capture Card

Pass-through: 4K
Record Resolution:
1080p/ 60fps
Connection: USB 3.0

At less than $40, the Jaydear is undoubtedly one of the best budget options for streaming. Capable of recording high quality 4KP 30fps video-capture, it works like a charm with all devices including camcorders, consoles, and DSLR’s.

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.


8. CaptureC – 4K Capture Card

Pass-through: 4K
Record Resolution:
1080p/ 60fps
Connection: USB 3.0

If you’re a part-time streamer looking to share your 1080p (60fps) gameplay for cheap, then look no further than CaptureC. 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.


7. DIGITNOW HDMI Capture Card

Pass-through: 4K
Record Resolution:
1080p/ 60fps
Connection: USB 3.0

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.


6. UCEC GAM Live

Pass-through: 4K
Record Resolution:
1080p/ 60fps
Connection: USB 3.0

The UCEC GAM Live 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.


5. EVGA XR1 lite Capture Card

Pass-through: 4K
Record Resolution:
1080p/ 60fps
Connection: USB 3.0

The EVGA XR1 lite capture card was designed specifically for gameplay. It allows gamers to play at 4K resolutions (60 FPS) while recording at 1080p (60 FPS) with zero issues at all. Moreover, there are no latency issues, no screen tearing, and there aren’t a lot of power demands, either.

Certified by OBS (the most popular streaming software on the planet), this is a real plug-and-play kind of solution. To get it running, simply connect the included HDMI-in/ out cables into the device, and then the USB Type-C cable into your PC. No fancy drivers or software are necessary.

As for build quality, this is a real resilient bit of kit. For increased longevity, the tough ABS plastic shell has a subtle wave design with the ports cleverly situated in the dips. That works to protect the unit from any accidental masses of weight (from above) or knocks on one of the corners.   

When you combine all of that with, fantastic warranty, and some of the best customer support in the industry, it’s not hard to see why this is such a top budget capture card.


4. DIGITNOW Video Capture Card

Pass-through: 4K
Record Resolution:
4K/ 30fps, or 1080p/ 60fps
Connection: USB 3.0

The DIGITNOW Capture Card is one of the best budget devices for anyone wanting a quick way to run a stream. It packs an ultra HD pass-through that can record and capture a 30fps input, however, although you can still play in 4K60fps, it will only record in 1080p 60fps.

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, PS5, and Xbox X. 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.


3. DIGITNOW 4K60 Pro

Pass-through: 4K60fps
Record Resolution:
4K/ 30fps or 1080p/ 120fps
Connection:
PCI-e

The DIGITNOW 4K60 Pro is a budget PCI-Express capture card that takes inspiration from the Elgato internal line of cards. Unfortunately, while it does have a very similar appearance, it cannot quite meet the same specs, capturing at a slightly lower 4K 30 Hz or 1080P 120 Hz resolutions.

Nevertheless, there’s still a lot to like about this card. Due to the direct PCI-e connection with the motherboard, its latency is considerably lower than any of the other 4K30fps USB capture cards on this list. As a result, you can expect real-time broadcasting satisfaction with this device.  

We also like how the setup is incredibly simple. To install it, all you have to do is slide the 4K60 Pro into the PCI-E X1 slot on your motherboard and twist one small screw to secure it in place. After this, connect up the HDMI in/ out cables to whatever console you wish to record from.

Finally, for extra features, you’ll appreciate that it offers multi-feed and multi-device support. Multi-feed allows it to simultaneously capture video in multiple apps, such as XSplit, Streamlabs, or OBS. Whereas, multi-device lets you record with more than one.  


2. Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro MK.2

Pass-through: 4K
Record Resolution:
4K/ 60fps, or 1080p/ 240fps
Connection:
PCI-e

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 144 Hz, to 1080p at either 120 Hz or 240 Hz.

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.


1. Elgato Game Capture HD60 S+

Pass-through: 4K
Record Resolution:
4K/ 30fps, or 1080p/ 60fps
Connection: USB 3.0

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!


Overview:

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Are Budget Capture Cards Worth It?

Modern budget capture cards are far better than the budget options of the past. They may be lacking in features, but you should still be able to get a minimum of 1080p record resolutions out of them, and in some cases even 4K. This is entirely possible with very little in the way of lag.

In addition to this, most budget capture cards allow for 4K30fps pass-through on the lower end and 4K60fps on the high end. External USB 3.0 capture cards are likely to pass through up to 4K30fps, while internal budget capture cards that connect via PCI-e will likely hit 4K60fps.

Although budget capture cards are never going to give you the highest quality video recordings, they will certainly come in useful if you want to record your finest gaming moments. The video quality from a budget capture card should still be good enough for content destined for Twitch or YouTube.

Sometimes the audio quality on budget capture cards is not as high as the more expensive models. This is because most budget cards focus on video quality rather than audio quality. Although, it certainly isn’t going to be awful. Just do not expect the sound to be quite as ‘full’.

Apart from that, there are some other situations where budget capture cards fall short. For example recording 4K content at high frame rates e.g. 4K120fps+, or 8K resolutions and higher. Overall, budget capture cards are generally worth it if you are not attempting to record at a pro-level.

Connecting my DIGITNOW 4K60 Pro budget capture card

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.

What makes a good budget capture card diagram

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?”


What Specs Do You Need For a Capture Card?

This will always be dependent on what you are attempting to accomplish with the capture card. The main spec that you want to pay attention to will be the resolution. Ideally, you want this to be either 720p or 1080p. This is the minimum for Full-HD video recordings.  

While they can be tougher to find, it may be worth looking for a budget card that can record at 60fps. This will give you the smoothest video experience. However, don’t worry if your budget doesn’t stretch that far. 30fps can also work. Anything lower than that should be avoided.

If you are purchasing an external capture card, then you will want to ensure that it supports USB 3.0. If it does not, then the device won’t be fast enough to transfer quality video and sound to your computer. This will severely affect the quality of any recordings that you make.

In an ideal world, the capture card will also support 4K pass-through. This will allow you to play your favorite games on an external monitor or TV (sometimes in a higher resolution) and saving/ downscaling that video to your HDD at the same time.

It will prevent you from needing to play your favorite games through your computer monitor, which could be too laggy, as the computer will be doing most of the work.  

Elgato HD60 S+, my best budget capture card

How to Choose the Best Budget Capture Card in 2024?

Pass-Through

The best budget capture cards will have 4K60fps pass-through built into them. This will allow you to connect the capture card directly to a monitor or television via a separate output HDMI slot.

The goal of a pass-through is to allow you to continue to play on the screen of your choice, while your computer is still recording the gameplay.

Record Resolution

With budget capture cards, you can’t expect the highest quality recording resolutions. However, you should be able to record at 1080p. If you are willing to sacrifice a few features, then you may be able to find options that can record at 4K.

Most budget options on the market will capture at 30fps, although some options will capture at 60fps. Your main aim is to ensure that the record resolution is as high as possible.

PCI-e capture cards that install directly on the slot in your motherboard are generally capable of higher record resolutions than USB capture cards. This is because they are not limited by the speeds of the USB connection.

Compatibility

Most things you’ll want to record from (e.g. consoles, cameras, and PCs) will all have an HDMI output. This shouldn’t be a problem for all of the capture cards on this list, which have an HDMI input. You can then connect the capture card to your PC via a USB connection.

Furthermore, you will need to ensure that the capture card is compatible with your operating system. Some capture cards are not compatible with MAC devices so this is something to keep in mind. Besides this, there might also be a minimum PC spec, with regards to CPU and Disc speeds.

Before you purchase any card, you will want to ensure that the card satisfies both of these points. Though, in most cases, budget capture cards are pretty easy going, in terms of their compatibility.

Build Quality / Aesthetics

The build quality and aesthetics of a capture card is not necessarily the most important buying decision but it’s still something you might want to consider. If you Stream between multiple locations, then a durable capture card will likely last longer than one that is not.

Moreover, if the capture card is going to be visible on your desk, then you’re going to want one that looks good.

Ease of Use 

The best capture cards are dead-simple to use. The majority of these capture cards are UVC compatible. Unlike other capture devices that require proprietary driver installation, UVC-based capture devices install automatically for a truly plug-and-play solution.

Moreover, always try to ensure that you purchase a capture card from the best companies around. These will often have better recording software, with a simple user interface and minimal settings that you will probably use at some point.



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 11 Best 4K Capture Cards for the PS5!








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