If you want to watch the latest and greatest console video games being played online, there are really only two places to visit -- YouTube and Twitch. If you're an aspiring YouTuber or Twitch devotee, you can of course stream or upload video directly from your console to these services, but the inbuilt video encoders of both the PS4 and Xbox One leave a lot to be desired. For a more professional approach, Elgato's Game Capture HD 60 lets you capture your hi-def gaming footage in excellent quality, and delivers it straight to your PC for editing or live-streaming as you like.
What Is It?
- Consoles Supported: PS4, Xbox One
- Connectivity: HDMI in/out, USB 2.0, 3.5mm microphone
- Maximum Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080)
- Maximum Frame Rate: 60 fps
- Maximum Video Bitrate: 40Mbps
- Accessories: HDMI cable, USB 2.0 cable
The Elgato Game Capture 60 is a USB-powered device that sits in between your next-gen gaming console and your TV, hijacking that video stream, compressing it, passing that resultant video file out via USB 2.0, and letting the original HDMI signal continue on its merry way to your TV for you to actually play. This is the premiere way to capture footage of your gameplay, producing video files that you can then edit and mess with in your favourite video editing program and then save to upload to YouTube or any other video sharing service of your choice.
The Game Capture HD 60 is the step-up upgrade of the 30fps-capable Game Capture HD; where the original is only capable of 1080p30 capture the new model doubles that frame rate to suit the current cream of the crop console games that support that resolution and frame rate output. There aren't too many of these, obviously, but as game developers and publishers learn to exploit the power of the PS4 and Xbox One to their fullest the library will continue to grow.
Using the Game Capture HD 60 is simple enough. Install Elgato's complementary Game Capture software on the PC that you're going to use, hook the HD 60 to its included USB cable, connect your games console to the HDMI input, hook your TV into the HDMI output (a second HDMI is included, thankfully), and you're ready to go. Video appears output from your games console to your TV as per usual, but the Game Capture HD 60 sits in the middle and There's no noticeable video lag, either -- the HD 60 just low-jacks the video signal and copies it conveniently to your PC; it's like the NSA on your PS4.
The HD 60 is small, too; at 110x74x18mm and with smoothly curving vaguely ovoid edges it's no larger than a bifold wallet or your favourite plus-sized smartphone, albeit somewhat thicker. The entire package is relatively portable too, so it'd make a convenient travel video capture kit with a reasonably powerful laptop (for all those jet-setting YouTubers out there). Apart from HDMI there's only one other connector on the device, and that's a stereo 3.5mm microphone jack for inserting live commentary into your video stream if you're not using a mic already plugged into your console.
What Is It Good At?
If you want to capture lots of footage of your next-gen console gameplay, Elgato has you covered with the Game Capture HD 60. If you have a hard drive or drives or SSD or SSDs capable of storing the massive amounts of data that you'll capture if you're using the HD 60 to its utmost potential, there's no restriction beyond hard drive space as to how long your recordings can be. It's not as bad as it could be, since the HD 60 doesn't support fully uncompressed video, but it is still very high quality and the limit of your recording ability doesn't come from Elgato but from your connected PC.
The quality of the video that the Game Capture HD 60 can, well, capture, is excellent. Just as you'd expect from a device that takes a direct feed of your PS4 or Xbox's digital video output and applies only minimal compression, examining the quality off the captured video reveals very few artifacts and produces footage that is more than good enough for anything but the most professional video capturing outfits. If you're just planning on hosting your recorded gameplay on YouTube, the Game Capture HD 60 is more than powerful enough and produces video of more than high enough quality.
At its best quality setting, the Game Capture HD 60 can record video at an H.264 compression rate of 40Mbps -- that's 5MBps of gameplay, giving you roughly a minute of gameplay for every 300MB chunk of footage that you want to capture. I'm no video expert, of course, but the quality I saw was not significantly or even noticeably worse than uncompressed output (comparing playback footage to live gameplay on the same monitor). When you consider uncompressed 1080p, 60fps video will cost you as much as 200MB per second, the fact that you're getting 90 per cent of the way there for a massive reduction in file size is a pretty compelling argument.
More than just capturing, though, the Game Capture HD 60 can be used to stream footage from your console through your PC to the 'net, to a site like Twitch, with a significant jump in quality over at least the PS4's integrated encoder and streaming system (that's the system I used to test the device). If you have a connection with the upload bandwidth to support higher quality video -- I tested out the feature on 20Mbps-capable Telstra 4G mobile broadband -- it's a useful boost in quality if you desire such a thing. It does require processing power from your PC, so you'll need to have a reasonably powerful rig alongside your games console.
What Is It Not Good At?
The biggest threats to the Elgato Game Capture HD 60 are the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One themselves. When you can live broadcast a stream directly to Twitch, for example, or save a clip of your best gameplay directly to YouTube from your console without involving an in-between device like the Game Capture and the PC you plug it into, the appeal of the Game Capture HD 60 starts to lose a tiny bit of its appeal. Most gamers will be perfectly well served by the consoles' integrated video sharing features, and so the Game Capture HD 60 has to target a more discerning market.
At the moment, YouTube doesn't fully support 1080p 60fps playback, and that makes sharing the high quality videos that you've created with the Game Capture HD 60 a pain. It's a feature that is coming, and when it does there'll be no reason not to share in this quality if you have the time and bandwidth to upload a 60fps version, but for the time being it really limits the broad appeal of the HD 60 variant of Elgato's Game Capture.
Not having component or composite video input -- and this is a DRM issue as much as it is a physical connectivity problem -- means that you can only use the Game Capture HD 60 with the PS4 and Xbox One and other HDMI-connected devices, not older consoles. This isn't exactly the largest market to appeal to, seeing as the newest, most exciting and most visually stunning games are released on the newest consoles, but it does restrict the appeal of the HD 60 slightly. This isn't the device for capturing your Super Mario 64 speedruns, unfortunately.
Should You Buy It?
The Game Capture HD 60 is a niche device in theory, but in practice it appeals to a broader audience. You may not need the extra quality it offers over the regular Game Capture HD, but if you're the kind of gamer that likes to share their accomplishments, and if you like a bit of social sharing of your gameplay, it's that extra level of quality, of editing and of shareability over regular Twitch streaming or YouTube uploading that the HD 60 offers.
Its utility is restricted to those that want to capture a large amount of footage and edit it, and similarly restricted only to those next- and last-gen consoles with HDMI output. When you consider the fact that the hook of the HD 60 is its 1080p, 60fps recording, you're only really going to want to use it with the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, and only then if you don't like the limited availability of those consoles' built-in Web uploading.
If you consider yourself a gaming pro or a video pro, and if you think you have exploits on your console that deserve to be shared with the world, you don't need to spend the thousands of dollars that a professional-level gaming video capture rig would cost. You can capture beautifully detailed and smooth console graphics with the Game Capture HD 60, and notwithstanding a few small bugs in the bundled capture software, it's an excellent and extremely good value product.
If YouTube's 60fps support rolls out more broadly -- and other video services like Vimeo continue to expand -- then the Game Capture HD 60 may prove to be the simplest and one of the most powerful ways to capture video from your gaming console and share it with your friends and more broadly, with the added level of polish that even a quick bit of video editing offers. The software works well (when it works) and makes the editing and sharing process a breeze. The overall package is worth the small investment of money, time and effort that you make in it.