Video Game Capture Hardware Vs. Software

versus

So you’re interested in capture cards and capture software? What’s the difference? Which one’s better? Who should use what? Well my fellow geeks, let’s find that shit out. Shall we?

Which one is the best?

As with many of life’s difficult questions, it’s not really that simple, and it mostly depends on your needs. I know. I know: “WTF Tripp?”. I’m sorry, but do you want an answer or a lie? Pretty sure I just had a conversation with myself. Anyway, what do you plan on using these recordings for? How amazing is your rig? Are you recording from a PC or console? These are all questions you have to ask yourself, but I can give you answers based on how you answer the questions.

How good is your rig?

The simple fact is that capture software uses resources from your PC to capture what’s going on. Luckily, the software is primarily CPU driven, and many PC enthusiasts have plenty of headroom to spare in that department, due to modern game’s lack of CPU utilization (though some games are getting much better at using CPU resources).

Do you plan on doing this professionally?

If you do, seriously look at the investment of getting a great capture card. From less failure rate to less frame drops, a good capture card can save you a lot of trouble. To top it off, a great capture card can be swapped to different computers quickly (portable ones, of course).
It also goes without saying, though I guess I’ll say it anyway, if you plan on doing benchmarks, using capture software will almost certainly affect those results. So using a card is required in those scenarios.

Okay, so when should I use software?

It may seem like I’m bashing software driven video game capture, but it really has come a long way in 2016. From Nvidia’s GeForce Experience Share to fraps, there are a ton of great free and premium options out there. Many of them make the price difference simply not worth it. Capturing your game to show your friends or throw up on YouTube is a perfect way to use this incredible software. Plus, if you’re using a portable capture card, it can be a pain to set it up constantly before each capture (many will probably just leave it in one place until it craps out, but some don’t).

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