► PLEASE NOTE: This review was originally done back in July 2012 (same goes for the video). Elgato have over the years been improving upon improving the software's features and usability even more than what was originally a top game capturing software.
There are now two device options to choose from: 1) Elgato Game Capture HD: The first model which is what my review is based on. This model supports devices via its HDMI & A/V inputs. This one is more suited for the last generation of consoles and prior such as the PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360. You can only record up to 30fps with this device.
2) Elgato Game Capture HD60 Featuring just HDMI inputs, this is made for the newer generation of consoles such as the PlayStation 4 & Xbox One... Well basically anything that supports HDMI. This newer version can also record up to 1080p 60fps!
Below you will find my original review for the Elgato Game Capture HD, followed by any updates I've made thereafter. It's a long review, however I hope it will help you make the right decision based on your needs.
When it comes to capturing gameplay from your consoles, you want as good quality as you can get so you can show your friends or the world those amazing moments in detail.
The problem is there are so many different game captures to choose from these days such as Roxio,AverMedia,Hauppauge +more, that it can be a daunting task to choose the right one.
Whilst I can't comment on the others being bad or good due to the fact I haven't personally tried them myself, I can safely say that 'Elgato Game Capture HD' offers simple connectivity, ease of use and very high quality.
♦ Box Contents & System Requirements ♦
So what's in the box?: Game Capture Device | AV Cable(PS3) | Unencrypted HDMI Cable(Xbox or use as pass-through) | Component Cable | Micro USB - USB cable.
Minimum system requirements: * Mac: Mac OS X 10.7, 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU. * PC: Windows 7, 2.0 GHz dual core CPU. * Sound card | 4 GB RAM | Built-in USB 2.0 port | You will also need an internet connection to download the software from Elgato's official website as there is no software disk included.
♦ Set-Up ♦
Setting everything up was extremely simple:
Step 1) Download the game captures software.
Step 2) Connect your console to the 'Game Capture HD' using the appropriate cable:
- PS3: You need to use the AV cable rather than HDMI cable, this is because the PS3's HDMI port is encrypted (You can still get 1080i quality). - Xbox: Use the HDMI cable provided.
Step 3) Link the 'Game Capture HD' and HDTV together via HDMI cable.
Step 4) Insert the USB cable included to both your computer and 'Game Capture HD'.
Step 5) Load up the software.
Step 6) Turn on your console.
- IMPORTANT PS3 Information: PS3 users will need to go to their PS3 "Settings" - "Display Settings" - "Video Output Settings" - "Components / D-Terminal" - When selecting resolution, make sure "1080p" is NOT selected, only go up to "1080i".
The PS3 auto-detects when an HDMI cable is used, but it doesn't auto-detects the AV input. The way I got around this at the time was hooking the PS3 up directly to the TV(whilst AV cables were also connected to the game capture), I then went to the display settings and clicked on "Component / D-Terminal", once selected I had quickly removed the HDMI from the PS3 and connected it to the 'Game Capture HD', this solved the problem and took me 30 seconds for me to do.
Alternatively (had to find this out afterwards...) if you start the PS3 by holding the power button for around 10 seconds, it will auto-detect your output, saving you even more time.
Step 7) If there is no picture displayed on the game capture software, go to the 'Game Capture HD Settings' which can be located within the "Device" box under the "Capture" tab. The setting button is to the right-hand side and looks like a hammer and spanner crossed over. It is important to have the "Input Device" on the right settings, after selecting the right option, you should have your gaming consoles screen displayed on the software. *Note*; the software has a few seconds delay on game footage, so use your TV to play games.
Step 8) Tweak other settings if necessary, then your done!
Set-up took barely 5 minutes overall, I was very pleased with how easy it was to set-up. :)
♦ Software / Use ♦
The computer specs I used whilst using the 'Game Capture HD' software were: * Windows 7 64-bit Operating System | Intel i7 960 3.2 GHz Processor | NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 Graphics Card | 12GB RAM.
First of all, the installation process was error free(always a good start), the program loads up promptly and so far I have yet to see it crash.
The layout is basic in a good way and is very easy to navigate, you have simple settings to choose from such as where you would like the gameplay recordings to be saved, the quality of the video files(which will impact the file size) and adjustments in the picture output.
As for recording gameplay, couldn't be any simpler, just press the big red button to start the recording process and press it again to stop.
To the right of the record button you have a "time-shift" bar, this is probably the best feature I have ever seen. Lets say you decided to stop recording because the game your playing is not going in your favour, then out of the blue you do the most epic thing you have every done in gaming history, which of course could not be re-created even with the highest bit of luck... well don't despair, the software keeps an ongoing backup for a certain period of time, which by using the "time-shift", you can go back in time to record that epic moment.
There is also an edit tab available, however it is very basic. Tools available are 'trim' & 'delete', it basically lets you keep the good parts and throw the bad out. For those wanting that extra editing experience, I would suggest something like Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 11 (other software's available).
The final part of the edit section is a quick share where you can click on lets say "YouTube", then all you have to do is type in your account details and it uploads the video for you.
♦ Overall Opinion ♦
Overall I think this is a completely solid package, and whilst it may seem a tad expensive, I do feel you get your monies worth and would highly recommend!
Since the review had initially been published, there have been several significant updates for the software:
1) Now supports 1080p.
2) Live Commentary: This is my most favourite update for the software, it lets you capture your voice by using a microphone that's connected to your computer, results are fantastic and I use it all the time.
To use, you have to enable the microphone icon and then select the microphone from the "Audio In", there is also an option which when checked, reduces the game volume as when your talking through the microphone which delivers a fantastic balance between game & microphone audio.
When you decide to stop recording using this feature, as you would before, give it 5-10 seconds after you have finished your gaming before you click to stop recording, this will ensure nothing is cut off.
3) Stream live gameplay onto websites such as Twitch.
4) You can now record from your standard definition retro gaming consoles.
After recently having the chance to use the HD PVR 2 GE+, I have decided to do a mini comparison below: (+ Positive | / Neutral | - Negative).
+ Sleek looking, very lightweight and portable. + Simple and clean looking software. + Time-shift mode (allows you to go back in-time to record the footage you've missed). + Advanced microphone features (Game audio dimming when talking). + No power adapter needed.
/ Cables aren't too long (Great for people who love less clutter, not good for people who have their devices further away).
- Requires much higher computer specs to use on your computer: Windows 7, Windows 8 or later | 2.0 Ghz (or higher) dual core CPU, or 2.0 Ghz (or higher) multi-core i3, i5 or i7 CPU | Sound card | 4GB Total Installed RAM (or higher) | Built-in USB 2.0 port.
+ PVR 2 In my opinion looks cooler, especially when the LED lights up. + Instant record button on the PVR 2. + 5.1 surround sound support via optical cable. + Comes with additional editing software where you can add text and effects. + Not too demanding on computer specs: Windows 7 (32 or 64-bit), Windows Vista or Windows XP Service Pack 3 | PC with 3.0 GHz single core or 2.0 GHz multi-core processor | 512 MB RAM (1 GB recommended) | Graphics card with 256 MB memory | Sound card | USB 2.0 Port.
/ Cables are long (This for me is EXTREMELY handy for my recent set-up, but some could see this as a nuisance).
- Requires the use of a power adapter.
+ They are both normally available with a similar price-tag. + Easy to set-up. + Software is simple to navigate. + Commentary features.
- Requires computer to be turned on to pass-through to TV.
Picking one over the other is a very hard choice because they both have their positives and both output top quality.
To date... I much prefer the Elgato software mainly down due to the advanced mic & time-shift features, but when it comes to practicality for my needs, the PVR2GE+ wins with it's longer cables, one-push record and is less resource heavy on my computer.
Both are very good contenders in the Game Capture market and both deserve 5 stars, I would recommend either one so it entirely depends on which suite your needs the most.