As a kid who grew up in the 80s, I always wished that I could record some of my sweet gameplay as I ran, jumped, and flew my way through countless titles on my Sega Master System and NES. So many times I wanted to show off my latest clutch boss fight or that insane speed run through the latest platformer. Regrettably, I grew up in an age where the best capture device we had was the Betamax, and, sharing those moments, the only audience I could muster were the neighbor kids because my parents wouldn’t let me wander the streets alone. Jeez, mom and dad.
Thankfully, many things have changed since then and the tech revolution has given us some amazing offerings. I’ve spent the last few months researching the different options for game capture, looking at everything from external USB 3.0 devices all the way to PCI-E cards to see which offers the best performance, options, software and bang for the buck.
Recently, I came across Elgato’s HD60 Pro Capture Card, an internal PCI-E (PCI Express) card that supports PCI-E 2.0 or higher and boasts 60 Mbps transfer bitrates. The card also supports H.264 video encoding. For those not in the know, this essentially means that the card captures or streams video in a format that is flexible with a wide range of applications to suit the user's needs. Being able to capture in full 1080p60, the HD60 Pro is a powerhouse of streaming and capturing potential. This, coupled with a robust software package and instant Gameview (no latency gameplay preview), the HD60 makes some big promises. The question is whether or not it really delivers?
Test system: Asus M5A99FX Pro Motherboard, AMD FX 8350 Eight Core 4.00 GHz CPU, Kingston HyperX Fury Red 8GB DDR3 1866MHz, AMD Radeon R9 390 8GB, Thermaltake ToughPower 750 Watt 80 Plus Gold
What’s in the Box?
The HD60 Pro comes equipped with the PCI-E capture card, one 3ft HDMI cable, an additional bracket to accommodate larger case slots, and a fun little Elgato logo sticker. The card itself is a slick little number, with a simple and clean design. The top casing sports the Elgato logo and card name in white with the front home to simple HDMI In and Out ports. Set beside these once again is the logo in white. Overall it's actually quite a pretty little card and due to its small size will fit in most cases. In my case I was able to easily fit it under my monster AMD Radeon R9 390 8GB GPU without any issues at all. A couple of screws and a quick click-in design makes the install easy and painless.
Once installed, the card is quickly recognized in Windows 10. After installing the Game Capture Software from the Elgato site, the system paired the card to the software and within minutes everything was up and running. From an ease of install and use perspective, I have to give props to the team over at Elgato. I’ve worked with a few different capture devices and software packages over the last couple of years but I’ve never seen one this easy to set up and get running.
The software itself is easy to use. As someone who has really only worked with OBS (Open Broadcast Software), I have to say that I appreciated how easy it was to learn the basics of the software. All of my existing devices were automatically picked up and defaulted without my clicking a button. Setting up a stream is as simple as picking your streaming services and logging in through software menu. Even switching audio inputs is easily managed from a drop down menu on the side of the software package. From a user friendliness standpoint, the Elgato video capture software is incredibly simple to use but robust in features.
The one critique I had with my time with the streaming portion of the software was that although it did offer some great overlays; with more that can be downloaded to the one of nine preset spaces, it was a little limited in the ability to manipulate the stream window itself. From my time with the streaming portion of the software it seemed that the stream window is always the base layer to any overlay building and thus you are locked into having to always cover portions of your stream. This is by no means a deal breaker as you are still given lots of freedom to create multiple layers over top, even importing your own images and video, webcam footage or even an optional commentary audio layer as well.
The software even sports a basic video editing package that offers some great options for editing captured footage from a console. Basic features available with the software allow you to quickly cut and upload to a number of popular sites. It may not be the best for heavy editing, but it is great for capturing moments you need posted quickly.
As mentioned the Elgato HD60 Pro is a PCI-E capture card which means it doesn’t get bottle necked by the transfer limitations of USB. From multiple tests over the course of two weeks I have found that with both streaming and capturing the the Pro holds up the promise of 1080p at 60fps. I did encounter one or two dips along the way but nothing that hindered the capture or stream experience. Overall this card is a powerhouse when it comes to streaming and capturing.
The one area I was most eager to test was the low latency game preview mode. Essentially this means that in theory you should be able to play all of your console games from your PC through the capture software without delay due to input lag. I went out of my way to stress the HD60 Pro, running everything from raids in Destiny 2 to some hardcore PVP in Paragon and Paladins. After two weeks for running the card through its paces, I can not only say that the HD60 Pro can handle the console input without lag, but I now play my consoles exclusively through the capture software. Everything moves slick and smooth without any issues whatsoever.
Whether you're new to capturing and streaming console content or a grizzled veteran, the Elgato HD60 Pro is a card worth considering. For such a small device, it packs a mean punch, holding its own against the latest in console games. The Pro offers a slick, easy to use software package that gives you, the creator, a lot of freedom to capture and stream the content that means the most to you.
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.