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Best Capture Cards For Retro Gaming

Best Capture Cards For Retro Gaming

If you've been a gamer way before the internet ever existed, it wasn't easy to capture your retro gaming footage from the CRT television they were meant to be played on.

Now a days, we have super high performance RGB graphics cards and fiber optic internet that are pennies on the dollar in terms of cost. With the increase of online streaming platforms like Twitch, Youtube or even Facebook Gaming, the need for a reliable capture card is more than ever!

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In terms of pricing and portability aside, we'll cover what it takes to capture high resolution capture from both modern and retro gaming and what types of features will give you a great picture in a capture card. Don't be surprised if you find a great option at a low cost!

HD or SD Video Output

Most products that cost less than $100 (with a caveat) will only give you an output with S-Video or Composite outputs. Luckily few cost cutting improvements have been made with unbranded HDMI capture cards that make things a bit easier to get a decent output. Further to those details below.

For a high quality HDMI capture card that can output 1080P or higher, you'll be looking at a capture card to record both retro and modern gaming in excess of the $100 price point.

4K capture cards at the time of this writing are still very expensive and haven't become mainstream as of yet. As with any emerging technology, once the standard of (3840 x 2160) becomes available, it will slowly gain traction to become more affordable.

Input Type


External USB capture cards will almost remind you of an external hard drive. They'll connect via USB and typically will be enclosed devices that have a USB output as well as an HDMI input. Some capture cards will also have an HDMI output to pass through the signal from the computer over to a second monitor or TV. This feature will help you avoid having to purchase a separate HDMI splitter.

PCI Express (Internal)

This capture card type will be located directly inside the computer using the built in PCI Express port on the motherboard. This will require you to open your computer, locate the PCI Express port, unclip the cover from the case and install the capture card into the computer. The downside of this will be portability of an external device you can just unplug and bring to each PC. The benefits of an internal capture card are quality and input lag. The internal bus of a PCI Express capture card can handle more data, resulting in a cleaner image.

Frames Per Second

FPS is extremely important when capturing gameplay footage. You'll want to at least look for a 1080P capture card that can handle 60 FPS recording. 30 FPS capture cards are quite common but will suffer from screen tearing when playing high paced games. A lower cost option would be to opt for a 720P 60FPS capture card such as this one. Going down this route, you'll require the HDMI splitter found above.

Best Analog Capture Card of 2023

If you're looking for a great analog capture card especially for your retro gaming needs, you're going to want to check out the GV-USB2 Capture Card

I-o DATA USB connection video capture GV-USB2
I-o DATA USB connection video capture GV-USB2

This device will take your composite as well as S-Video input for all your low resolution retro gaming needs and capture it at 60FPS. That said, it is RAW 422 uncompressed capture, which means its generally high bandwidth over USB2.0. If you plan to capture it to a hard disk, it needs to be fast and uninterrupted.

Best Digital Capture Card of 2023

If you're looking for a great option for an HD capture card, you're going to want to check out the  Elgato HD60 S+.

Elgato HD60 S+
Elgato HD60 S+

It features true 1080p at 60hz capture with fantastic uncompressed color output. It also serves as an input and output to a separate monitor if you want to capture using one monitor and game on a tv. The Elgato HD60 S+ will even take a 4k input and output it to 1080p when capturing. You will need a USB 3.0 input on your PC as this is a much higher quality capture card with true 1080P 60FPS output.

Best Cheap Capture Card of 2023

If you just want a no frills capture card that can give you an HDMI input as well as a 720p 60FPS game capture, you're going to want to look at this Generic USB Capture Device.

4K HDMI Video Capture Card, Cam Link Card Game Capture Card Audio Capture Adapter HDMI to USB 2.0 Record Capture Device for Streaming, Live Broadcasting, Video Conference, Teaching, Gaming(Black)
Generic USB Capture Device 

Unfortunately it only has an input, meaning you'll have to use your OBS studio window to record as well as game on. Otherwise, you might want to consider an HDMI Splitter in order to have to outputs. The quality of the game capture will not be as high as the HD60 S+ but is also a fraction of the cost!



Passionate gamer and nostalgia enthusiast. Journeying through the pixelated realms of retro video games, unearthing forgotten gems and sharing the joy. Join me on a nostalgic adventure! 🎮✨