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Budget Capture Cards in 2023

The idea of a capture card is to allow you to stream and record video footage with the best quality possible. It can be from your gaming console, professional camera, or PC. High-end capture cards will provide you with crisp imagery. But the downside is that they are costly.

Here is where a budget option enters into consideration.

Budget capture cards are more than capable if you are starting in the streaming world. These cards are great if you are not recording or broadcasting fast-paced videos. That footage is typical in professional environments and requires immense power that a budget capture card won’t give you.

However, you can expect latency-free recording and streaming videos in low-key environments like classroom lessons and PowerPoint presentations. The newest gaming consoles have built-in live-streaming options. Unfortunately, they come with output limitations that affect the gaming experience. Consequently, you’ll still need a capture card to output the superior video quality the console provides.

A capture card is not always necessary to stream video games from your PC, but it is helpful. Without a capture card, you would need a powerful PC to run a game and stream simultaneously. So, the ideal configuration involves a capture card to reduce your PC’s load.

Although they tend to be pricey, there are impressive options that allow you to live stream and record for some bucks.

Comparison of the Best Budget Capture Cards

ImageProductDetailsCheck Price
Elgato Cam Link 4K on Amazon
Elgato Cam Link 4K Type: External
Input Resolution: Up to [email protected] fps
Passthrough: Up to [email protected] fps
Capture Resolution: Up to [email protected] fps
USB: 3.0
Buy on Amazon
MYPIN Game Capture Card on Amazon
MYPIN Game Capture Card Type: Internal
Input Resolution: Up to [email protected] fps
Passthrough: Up to [email protected] fps Capture Resolution: Up to [email protected] fps
USB: 3.0
Buy on Amazon
DIGITNOW 4K on Amazon
DIGITNOW 4K Type: External
Input Resolution: Up to [email protected] fps
Passthrough: Up to [email protected]
Capture Resolution: Up to [email protected] fps
USB: 3.0
Buy on Amazon
GENKI ShadowCast on Amazon
GENKI ShadowCast Type: External
Input Resolution: Up to [email protected] fps
Passthrough: Up to [email protected] fps
Capture Resolution: Up to [email protected] fps
USB: 3.0 and Type C
Buy on Amazon
UCEC GAM LIVE on Amazon
UCEC GAM LIVE Type: External
Input Resolution: Up to [email protected] fps
Passthrough: Up to [email protected]
Capture Resolution: Up to [email protected] fps
USB: 3.0
Buy on Amazon
Papeaso 4K on Amazon
Papeaso 4K Type: External
Input Resolution: Up to [email protected] fps
Passthrough: Up to 1080p30
Capture Resolution: Up to [email protected]
USB: 3.0 and Type C
Buy on Amazon
Guermok 4K on Amazon
Guermok 4K Type: External
Input Resolution: Up to [email protected] fps
Passthrough: Up to [email protected] fps
Capture Resolution: Up to [email protected] fps
USB: 3.0 and Type C
Buy on Amazon
Mirabox USB3.0 on Amazon
Mirabox USB3.0 Type: External
Input Resolution: Up to [email protected] fps
Passthrough: Up to [email protected] fps
Capture Resolution: Up to [email protected] fps
USB: 3.0
Buy on Amazon

As its name suggests, the Cam Link 4K captures camera signals reproducing stunning imagery. This device will turn your camera into a webcam capable of recording and streaming in [email protected] fps and [email protected] fps.

It captures any HDMI camera input, providing enough compatibility with brands like SONY, GoPro, Nikon, and Black magic. You will only need one Cam Link 4K for all your cameras, but you can connect one at a time.

Thanks to plug-and-play, this capture card is easy to use, making it perfect for professional streamers on the go. The built-in UVC driver makes it instantly recognizable by streaming apps like Twitch or YouTube, eliminating the need to install complicated device drivers.

On top of that, it is only a little bigger than a USB memory stick. It fits any pocket or camera bag, making it even more convenient for those who need something powerful but portable.

This capture card works flawlessly with OBS and XSplit, the most common software streamers use to record live broadcasts.

PROS
  • It is light and pocket friendly.

  • It supports the most common streaming apps.
  • It is compatible with leading Windows and macOS software.
  • Unperceivable delays on live streaming thanks to its ultra-low latency.
  • The built-in UVC driver makes it instantly recognizable as a webcam.
CONS
  • It is the most expensive capture card on the list.

2. MYPIN Game Capture Card – Best Internal Budget Capture Card

Finding any other capture card as reliable and cheap to record video games is challenging.

It connects directly to your motherboard’s PCI-E slots and enables transferring video signals faster than USB. This feature makes it perfect for high-fidelity applications like recording AAA video games. That’s why it captures up to [email protected] fps and easily records [email protected] fps and [email protected] fps video footage.

The MYPIN Game Capture Card is the right choice for recording high-end consoles like PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

If you plan to use it with PS5 or Xbox Series X, you will face delays that interfere with an uninterrupted streaming session. It can get short with the newest consoles leading to appreciable latency due to crashes and freezes while recording and playing.

This capture card connects directly to your motherboard. This connection method avoids USB driver bugs that external capture cards face, eliminating long configuration times due to troubleshooting. However, you pay the price with the installation. This card is only an internal device, meaning you must open your desktop PC, find a suitable place and install it.

PROS
  • Incredibly fast, as it connects directly to the motherboard
  • You won’t face bugs by USB drivers, as it connects directly to the mother
  • It is fully compatible with streaming apps like OBS and XSplit.
  • It is plug-and-play.
CONS
  • It is only suited for PC.
  • It is tricky to install if you are unfamiliar with building PCs.

3. DIGITNOW 4K – Best Broadcasting Budget Capture Card

Thanks to its dedicated microphone 3.5mm jack, the DIGITNOW 4K is perfect for broadcasting your teaching lessons and video conferences. It allows you to connect a stereo microphone to comment on the video from the HDMI source without overriding the original audio signal.

It suits professionals or students that need to talk while sharing slides or spreadsheets. But it is beneficial when explaining videos where you need to do a voice-over.

It is easy to use as you only need to connect it to your device via HDMI and USB 3.0 to your PC or laptop. You can work with it from the comfort of your home without needing an expert to configure it.

PROS
  • It comes with a dedicated microphone 3.5mm jack with good fidelity input.
  • Robust housing from aluminum alloy.
  • It supports the most common recording Windows and macOS software.
CONS
  • It won’t record at a desirable resolution for new consoles like PS5 or Xbox series X.

4. GENKI ShadowCast – Best Small Budget Capture Card

For those who want the smallest capture card that works with next-gen consoles, the GENKI ShadowCast is the number one choice.

It is tiny but packed with enough power to capture up to 1080p30 video signals. This resolution is sufficient for casual gamer who wants to share their gameplay with friends and want to avoid the trouble of carrying a bulky capture card.

From casual gaming in a cafeteria to live webcam streaming in a coworking, it works best if you need it on the go.

The Genki Arcade app for gaming is a must, making the setup easy. You only need to connect it and hit the record button to capture your gameplay and voice with good fidelity.

Its compact nature also means it has its share of downsides. It doesn’t have video passthrough, so you won’t be playing high-resolution games while streaming as it only supports 1080p30. It gets sluggish while recording, and you’ll need a different setup to avoid latency.

PROS
  • You can use it to stream from a professional webcam.

  • It is light and pocket friendly.
  • It works with next-gen consoles like PS5 and Xbox series X.
  • It includes a USB-C to USB-A adapter.
CONS
  • It works best with the free Genki Arcade app for gaming consoles.
  • Noticeable lag when playing while streaming.

5. UCEC GAM LIVE – Best [email protected] Budget Capture Card

With the UCEC GAM LIVE, you can play and record at [email protected] This combo of resolution and FPS will let you game at excellent quality with proper motion.

And if it doesn’t sound exciting enough, it allows you to play and record at 1080p60. With this video quality, you can upload most AAA games on YouTube or Twitch with crisp visuals and sound.

It works flawlessly with next-gen consoles, making it a top choice for budding streamers on a tight budget. It is easy to set up and works in Windows and macOS with OBS without any trouble or demanding configuration. You only have to plug it into your device’s USB 3.0 port and play.

PROS
  • It works with next-gen consoles like PS5 and Xbox series X.
  • You can play video games and capture them at [email protected]
  • It is fully compatible with the OBS streaming app.
  • For its resolution output, it is a small capture card.
CONS
  • Customer support needs to be improved.
  • Little less color saturation in the captured video.

6. Papeaso 4K –Budget Capture Card For Photography Enthusiasts – Budget Capture Card For Photography Enthusiasts

The Papeaso 4K is a device that lets you capture good-quality video at decent FPS. Although it receives 4K quality, it only captures 1080p30. This device is perfect for amateur photographers who want to upload videos on YouTube or share them with their families.

It is far away as professional a device as the Elgato Cam Link 4K. But for its low price, it’s a far better bargain.

This capture card works for students needing a device for virtual classes or presentations. The Papeaso 4K displays good-quality imagery that will satisfy your teacher when doing an online presentation.

PROS
  • It is tiny and pocket friendly.
  • It is compatible with most pro and budget cameras.
  • It is effortless to set up as a webcam.
CONS
  • It’s not a long-lasting device.
  • Only suitable for low-paced footage.

7. Guermok 4K – Capture Card With [email protected] Passthrough

If the Papeaso 4K 1080p30 motion is too low for you, the Guermok 4K has an upgrade in the FPS section.

It also receives 4K signals and captures at 1080p, but you gain an extra 30FPS, making it suitable for casual gaming. Additionally, you can play video games at [email protected] while capturing with the same quality.

It has an aluminum body that makes it durable. But the USB-C cable looks cheap, so the entire component doesn’t last heavy use.

Like the Papeaso 4K, this is not a suitable device for footage with too much movement as it shows noticeable lag.

PROS
  • It comes with a USB-C to USB-A adapter.

  • It is tiny and pocket friendly.
  • It is compatible with most pro and budget cameras.
  • It is perfect for students and casual gamers due to its low price.
  • It is effortless to set up as a webcam.
CONS
  • It’s not a long-lasting device.
  • Only suitable for low-paced footage.

8. Mirabox USB3.0 – Affordable External Capture Card for 4K Gaming

The Mirabox USB 3.0 is the preference for streamers needing a lasting budget device that captures high quality.

It records fast-paced footage without perceivable lag, so you can use it for almost any broadcasting activity; a live eucharist, a family party from the comfort of your yard, or a video game to upload on Twitch.

It is compact and light, perfect for carrying on your daily bag. And it is easy to set up with third-party apps like OBS. These two features combined make it the ideal companion for live broadcastings.

The only noticeable downside is its sound configuration. It isn’t the easiest to set up and requires technical know-how to enable it, as third-party apps don’t recognize its sound output.

PROS
  • You can play at [email protected] while capturing at 1080p60.
  • It is compatible with high-end video consoles.
  • It has a sturdy construction, making it durable.
  • It is fully compatible with the most recognized streaming apps.
CONS
  • It is tricky to set up the sound.
  • It tends to relaunch the OBS software with a heavy load.

Budget Capture Cards – Our Buying Guide

If you want to use a capture card to stream your teaching lessons or to play and share your experience with friends and loved ones, keep the below points in mind.

Internal or External?

Internal capture cards are way faster than external capture cards. They connect directly to your PC motherboard, so there are no delays or no issues caused by USB driver bugs.

On the other hand, you only can use it on a PC needing an external capture card for laptops. There are in no way portable.

Besides, installing an internal capture card is tricky as you need to consider the inner PC available space and PCI-E slot. If you plan to get a capture card for a particular desktop PC, an internal capture card is your priority.

An external capture card is ideal if you need a portable device to move between different streaming and recording configurations. It works perfectly for photographers and video editors who constantly change their workplace or often switch between devices.

Consider that you might have some troubleshooting due to the USB connection. To solve this, it’s better to use a recognizable device like Elgato Cam Link 4K; It is instantly identifiable by your laptop or PC as a webcam.

Resolution

There are three essential resolutions on a capture card: The input resolution, the passthrough, and the capture resolution.

The input resolution is the maximum quality your capture card can receive from an external device. If your capture card accepts up to [email protected] fps and your gaming console sends [email protected] fps video, your card will only take the signal as [email protected] fps.

The capture resolution is the resolution the capture card will save the recording into your hard drive for you to upload. It is by no means the resolution you are going to play.

Finally, the passthrough allows you to watch the content at a maximum resolution while the capture card records or live streams. This is the resolution you will watch while playing video games or recording a class.

The passthrough avoids delays between data transfer from your external device to your PC—the reason why you get ultra-low latency video signals.

Capture and pass-through support lower resolutions than input for budget capture cards.

Go with at least 1080p60 as input resolution and 1080p30 for passthrough and capture.

Software Compatibility

Most streamers and gamers use OBS or XSplit to record and stream.

Some capture cards, like Elgato Cam Link 4K, have built-in UVC software and are fully compatible with OBS or XSplit. It would be best to ensure that the capture card you are buying is compatible with OBS or has built-in software that is easy to use and set up.

This will save you setup time and prevent downloading suspicious software to your laptop or PC.

Easy Setup

Most of the budget capture cards will come with built-in UVC software. It allows your device to instantly configure in your PC without figuring out which driver will work.

You can rest assured with companies like Elgato and Avermedia. With other manufacturers is better to do some research before buying.

Budget Capture Cards – Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need a Capture Card to Record From a PC?

It is unnecessary if you have a powerful PC with a top CPU and GPU. However, the capture card will take the streaming and recording load, releasing the CPU and GPU.

Do Capture Cards Reduce FPS?

The capture card won’t reduce the FPS as it is only a device that passes video signals. Compared to streaming without a capture card, it can improve frame rates as it reduces the CPU and GPU loads by taking care of the streaming/recording.

What Capture Card Do Most Streamers Use?

The most common brands for streamers are Elgato and Avermedia. They have the best customer support and software and app compatibility.

Are Budget Capture Cards Worth It?

It’s advisable to get a budget capture card if you are still deciding on live streaming as a living. Professional capture cards are expensive, so it’s better to try a budget option first.

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