Last updated: August 18, 2021

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Welcome! Taking screenshots or recording the videos with a dedicated capture card results in 4k full HD image streams. There are several models, so it is necessary to understand some concepts before buying.

Video games, cameras, DVD players, in short, different devices can transmit content with impeccable quality based on the use of capture card and computer. See in the text the main details about this important technological product.


  • There are internal and external capture cards.
  • Pay attention to the number of inputs of the device before confirming the purchase.
  • More capable capture cards are ideal for streaming games at higher resolutions.

The Best Capture Card: Our Picks

From far away they look like similar products. But by learning some technical points of the best versions you realise there are differences:

Buying guide

Do your social media live streams crash at any point? What you need is an advanced capture card. See how to buy this product according to your preferences.

Imagem de garoto jogando uma partida multiplayer.

Full HD capture card with no latency reduces the chances of crashes when streaming games (Dean Drobot /

What is a capture card and what is it used for?

A capture card is a type of device that has the characteristic of making possible the transfer of images or sounds from DVDs, video cassette, professional video camera, video game, smartphone, among other devices, directly to the computer, to store, play or transmit.

The captured files are stored in digital form, such as MP4 format. Some users use a capture card in order to capture videos from the computer without using other programs.

What are the advantages of a capture card?

With a capture card the act of capturing images from television and games becomes something more practical, achievable by anyone who has basic computer knowledge.

In addition to capturing content, the capture card also helps you to transmit online with high graphic quality and less crashes.

There are models that have internal software, eliminating the need to install extra programs to capture or transmit content.

Discover more positive and negative points of the capture card by observing the table:

  • Different prices and standards
  • Convenient to use
  • Live broadcast in high quality
  • Internal software
  • Conversion into digital file
  • Ideal for editing, sharing or storing content
  • Requires powerful computer
  • Some models are little dedicated
  • You need to have plenty of storage space on the PC

Internal or external capture card: Which to choose?

There are two types of capture card: internal and external. Each choice has its own particularities. Understand the difference between the two models to increase your level of knowledge about this product:

  • Internal capture card: Popular, these models offer superior performance, mainly because the internal installation facilitates the access to the PCIe interface band that exists in the motherboard, amplifying the speed in the capture of high resolutions.
  • External capture card: Being portable is the main advantage of the model that can be transported to different locations easily. A lightweight, small and specifically designed version for easy transportation.

The connection via USB can reduce the power of the version by the delay in sending signals to the motherboard, although there are higher-priced models that offer an acceptable configuration. The table below summarises the features of each device:

Internal capture card External capture card
Performance Superior by the connection in the PCIe interface A little inferior because of the signals sent via USB
Transmission capacity More dedicated Less dedicated
Portability Little portable by the installation in the internal part of the PC Simple to use in PCs and laptops
Average price Bigger Smaller

Purchase Criteria: Comparative Factors of Capture Card Offers

Many video game players make worldwide success after they broadcast some of their historic matches, capable of attracting millions of hits.

You can also show off all your joystick skills perfectly. As long as you learn how to compare models to bring a production with guaranteed successful data processing. Compare according to the following criteria:

  • Interface
  • Use
  • Ports
  • Program
  • Synchronisation

You can learn the meaning of each point further on.


In the case of capture cards the term interface refers to the way in which the product establishes the connection to a computer. Popularly the USB input stands out for ease of fitting and configuring.

USB and PCI are two common interfaces in capture cards.

USB and PCI are two common interfaces in capture cards. Another option of interface is the PCI-express that records images with excellent quality of sharpness, a little more difficult to configure. When making this choice first you need to make sure that the PCI input on the motherboard is not occupied with another device.


It is possible to save on the product if you want to have a capture card just to save videos and store on the computer or other devices. You just need to make sure that the product is capable of saving in formats accepted by your PC. MP4 and AVI are the most common standards in capture cards.

You can convert the recordings of the capture to other formats with the use of various software programs available online for free.

On the other hand, you need to invest more money if you want a card to record and (or) broadcast online video games or gameplays with high graphic quality.

This same rule of investing in high quality is valid if you want to record live content from your TV to the machine which you broadcast online to other people.


Before buying you should pay attention to the ports of the devices and the capture card, selecting the models according to your real needs.

For example, to record from old video camera, analog TV or VCR, you need a capture card with S-Video or RCA A/V inputs, probably.

There is HDMI output on certain models of digital cameras, so it is necessary to use a card that has the input for this same format in order to capture videos, another example.


Most of the capture card manufacturers provide their own software for you to perform editing services, record, perform live broadcasts, among other tasks.

It is worth mentioning that these softwares differ a lot in quality and features. Some standards are evolved to the point of allowing you to place comments and activate the webcam during transmissions.

There are third-party programs that offer these same functions as the factory software of the capture card. So, depending on the case, you do not need to pay more for the product just because of the program.


Some dedicated versions of capture card are able to make more flexible the services of capturing video and audio from different sources by combining everything into a perfect synchronization.

These productions are effective for those looking for the model that facilitates professional editing. They cost higher prices, generally.

(Featured Image Source: Jurgis Mankauskas / 123rf)

References (1)

1. Criação e Gravação de DVDs. CARMONA, Tadeu. 1° Edição. 2006. Digerati. 34p.

Criação e Gravação de DVDs. CARMONA, Tadeu. 1° Edição. 2006. Digerati. 34p.
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