What is a Video Capture Card


A Video Capture card is like a Camera, that can capture your screen it is a peripheral device that can be used to capture and store digital video footage sometimes on the card, but other times you need to record to a hard drive on your computer. They are often plugged into a computer’s USB port to allow for quick and easy recording of footage, and some models also offer the ability to edit and manage videos.  There are also internal capture cards that plug into the PCI-E (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express)port.

How To Use a Video Capture Card

A video capture card is a device that allows you to record video from a source, such as a television, Computer, game console, or camcorder, onto your computer or external drive. They come in both internal and external varieties. The internal type is installed inside your computer, while the external variety plugs into one of your computer’s USB ports.

To use a video capture card, you first need to install the software that came with it. This software will allow you to control how the video is captured and stored on your computer. Once the software is installed, connect the input source to the video capture card using the appropriate cables.  After that, you are going to want to run a passthrough cable to a secondary monitor.  Pretty much all capture cards 1080p and up are all going to use HDMI.   Then launch the software and start capturing video!

What Are the Types of Video Capture Card

USB and PCI-E are two different types of connections that can be used with capture cards. USB is the most common connection, but PCI-E is becoming more popular because it can support more video and audio streams. USB connections are slower than PCI-E connections, so if you need to capture a lot of data, a PCI-E connection is better.

USB capture cards are a lot more portable under normal circumstances.  Making it easier to move from one set-up to another if you have multiple uses.  If you have a 4k capture card and a 4k camera plugged into USB, you might use all your bandwidth and have a bad time.

With a PCI-E capture card, however, you are bound to a singular device without opening up your computer.  I think for most circumstances this is fine as most people aren’t jumping across multiple setups.  This would also allow you to have a 4k camera plugged in without having to worry about using all of your USB lanes.  Only you know your exact needs.

How to choose a video capture card

When it comes to video capture cards, there are a lot of options to choose from. So, how do you know which card is right for you? Here are some tips on how to choose the best capture card for your needs:

1. Figure out what you want to use the card for. There are different types of cards for different purposes. For example, if you want to record gameplay footage in 4k or 1080p.  If you need to be able to move your capture card, you will want to consider a USB capture card, but if it is going to be in the same place then I strongly recommend a PCI-E Video Capture card.  This will benefit you if you are recording using a two PC setup, using a PC to record a console or a camera.

2. Consider your budget. Capture cards can range in price from around $20 to $400 or more. Choose the card that fits your budget and meets your needs.  I don’t personally recommend any on the cheaper end as even the more expensive models can be quirky.  You may not have a choice though if you are on Linux or Mac.

3. Check the minimum specs to make sure it’s compatible with your hardware setup, be sure you have the correct open USB or PCI-E slot available.

How to install a video capture card

Installing a video capture card is a fairly simple process, but there are a few things you need to do beforehand. Install the software and drivers if it is needed.  Most are plug-and-play now days though.  Some have software that allows you to record and edit your videos, while others require additional programs. Most will work with the software that comes with the card and with OBS at the same time.

Once you’ve determined that your computer is ready for the card and have gathered all of the necessary software, you can start installing it. First, remove the side panel of your computer and find an open PCI Express slot. Next, remove the protective cover from the card and insert it into the slot. Replace the back panel and screw it in place.

After it’s installed on the computer run the pass-through cable from your console, camera or computer you are going to be playing on or recording from.  It should be pretty simple if you follow the manufacturer’s diagram.


We learned the basics of what a video capture card is, what it does and what you can use it for.  I can’t recommend any of the knockoff capture cards, for two reasons.

1. The one that you see on the screen isn’t always what you get.

2.  They are generally lacking features.

So I am making a few recommendations that I have some experience with and gave a few from $60 to around $250.  The Elgato HD60s+ is a really nice and easy-to-use USB capture card for under $200. The Elgato 4k60 Pro Mk.2 is an internal video capture card for just over $200.  The least expensive model I feel comfortable recommending is the EVGA XR1 lite, which is capable of streaming at 1080p 60fps, with up to 4k 60fps input.

Elgato HD60s+

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Elgato 4k60 pro Mk.2

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EVGA XR1 lite

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In conclusion, a capture card is a great way to record your gaming sessions, and it’s easy to use. Just be sure to check the minimum specs and have a capable secondary device to record to. Thanks for reading!

Best Wishes,

Chris C.

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