Capture solutions are commonly in the form of a external card or software. Both have unique yet detrimental drawbacks that affect the user experience.
External cards have strict limits on bandwidth (the Mbps affecting video quality) because of their USB connections and capture just video signals. It is often a laborious process to get cards to receive both video and in video audio. Software requires significant system resources and have tendencies to create system instability.
PCI cards take the best of both external and software capture and fix the common problems they have. The Elgato HD 60 Pro is currently the only consumer product capable of 1080P 60Fps capture with an insane 60Mbps. It’s PCIx1 interface means it achieves this flawlessly, but the areas the Pro shines in are much more than simply being powerful hardware.
Interface: PCIe x1
Input: HDMI (PlayStation 4 with HDCP turned off , Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, PC, IOS with a thunderbolt port and AV thunderbolt adapter)
Output: Lag Free HDMI Passthrough
Resoultions: 1080p60, 1080p30, 1080i, 720p60, 720p30, 576p, 576i, 480p
Bitrate: 60Mbps Maximum
Sound: Build in Sound (GPU dependent) 224 kbps AAC
The spec sheet is standard for Elgato’s gaming line up but sound, interface and output are the most significant aspects of the hardware. Built in audio receiving the signal from a GPU’s audio feature fixes and simplify’s the process of recording a video’s sound. But the 60 Pro expects that the users TV/monitor has built in speakers, (not a audio jack on the TV/monitor) otherwise users cannot hear anything. Users with standard monitors can work around this using Elgato Sound Capture. This extension app that comes with Elgato’s software updates allows users to set the inputs and outputs of connected audio devices.
PCI is the exact same interface used by a CPU and GPU, both constantly sending and receiving information across a motherboard and hard drives. The intensity of capture software paired with the fact they take vital, system sensitive resources is why they have tendencies to cause problems for users. Capture cards often need trouble shooting in order to receive both video and in video sound, while cluttering up environments with their cable connections. Because the 60 Pro is hardware dedicated solely to video capture, it requires only the minimum amount of data connection from the CPU and hard drive, which takes the strain off of both the CPU and GPU and is at pace with the two because it has direct contact with the motherboard.
Output has an unexpected versatility. Because the output is almost completely absent of any latency, users can play game consoles through the Elgato’s output with no drawbacks. Sadly, getting the Elgato software to display a console preview within the interface is not a plug and play scenario like advertised on Elgato’s tutorials. In order for the user to see both the interface and console feed, the TV/monitor used requires 2 HDMI ports (Input) for it to work, a crucial detail the tutorials fail to mention. This issue is only applicable to TV/Monitors with a single HDMI input, preventing users from pairing the 60 Pro with their consoles in a optimal manner.
The Elgato HD 60 Pro has fixed every problem I have ever experienced with other solutions. Getting it up and running was the most painless experience and gave me a good lesson on how video signals work. I don’t use a streaming machine and PC capture has been flawless, expect the fact that I have to set Sounds to Elgato-4 every time on my speaker less monitor. The interface is to be commended for its clean, simple yet robust design. I still have yet to find capture software that makes naming footage so easy and still have important functions be easily accessed with a mouse.
MP4 60Mbps files are absolutely gorgeous, almost true to the original signal on a screen. But the subtly noticeable compression I saw in the Witcher 3’s right side map did nothing to diminish its quality and perfect frame capture.
(You may have to click on the gear icon and set Quality to 1080p 60fps)
Capture solutions like Shadow Force, Action and Fraps are capable of 60 frame capture, but they are bound by system resources and often fail to or inconsistently hit that frame target. In exchange for having to wait for the Elgato to process the large data of a 60Mbps file before you can close it, you are guaranteed a 1080p 60fps capture with no compromises.
But I did experience some issues, just like any other capture solution. But these problems were nowhere near the level of hell I experienced from the Roxio and Action. Pressing the mute button stopped an echo effect when I saw the live feed of my stream, as some of you may have seen on my Twitch Channel.
Sometimes the display would not show up but after updating the software, which is a smooth and reliable process from my experience it worked without issue. I have vivid memories of the tedious trouble shooting I went through just to get video to have an audio signal on the Roxio and have my desk space invaded by cable clutter. While it’s an annoyance to set Sounds to Elgato-4 for every recording and hear nothing, this is only because my monitor doses not have build in speakers.
I never experienced a laborious set-up process that was picky over how it wanted to receive audio and video like with the Roxio and then have Action become a broken train-wreck after it received updates. While your mileage will vary greatly because of your PC’s individual characteristics, the Elgato HD 60 Pro’s hybrid unity of capture cards and software allows for one of the most consistently functional products that only has users experiencing petite annoyances if they didn’t have the ideal input requirements from their equipment.
Users wanting to get straight into streaming to Twitch and YouTube videos are right at home with Elgato’s software. But the software goes above and beyond the passable quality of most software for capture solutions. The most prominent feature of Elgato’s software is Flashback Recording. System RAM allows the software to constantly preview passing footage and by dragging the timeline to a specific place, users can record right at that specific moment or take screenshots.
This feature is a miracle worker in multi-player or needing screenshots of a game. Users can turn flashback off if they do not want storage to be affected. Overlays are wonderfully integrated into the interface. Users can add custom overlays or edit the stock overlays to suit their tastes. They offer great benefits in creating a polished and well done video, but there is little guidance on how to effectively customize GIF’s and web pages that are much more technical that the simplicity of images and scenes.
Audio mixing is great for normal users who want a functional way of getting their microphones to simply work, but experts will be disappointed by the hardware’s lack of audio inputs. Sadly, Elgato does not provide a way to test microphone recordings, something that can be a frustration for many. The Threshold and Attenuation can be modified and by default, other sounds are reduced automatically when using the microphone.
The overall package is extremely well done and a delight for people who want to enjoy their streams and recordings. People well versed in audio set-ups will be left underwhelmed by the software’s options, but basic 3.5mm mic jack and USB set-ups work wonderfully with Elgato’s products. Overlays add a effortless way to add that personal touch to streams and videos, but it’s a shame GIF’s and web pages are impractical for most users.
External and software capture solutions have issues so detrimental to the user experience, only a small handful are truly worth someone’s time and investment. Elgato’s PCI capture solution has broken down many barriers. This piece of hardware has capitalized on the interface used by CPU and GPU’s to be one of the most consistently problem free capture solutions, with its most egregious issues being little, easily fixed quirks.
The HD 60 Pro is a top of its class capture solution, costing over $269AU. It is a small number of products that live up to the saying “what you pay is what you get.” Users that want the best experience with the HD 60 Pro however are sadly going to need the following, specific features in their equipment:
A TV/Monitor with Build in Speakers
2 HDMI Input ports
While this does not ruin the user experience if consumers do not have these exact specifics on their displays, It sadly means some users cannot use the full capability of the Pro. But it does little to seriously harm the functionality and potential of the Pro. Elgato have addressed the audio input/output issue for users for standard monitors with Sound Capture, that does a fantastic job of setting up audio for footage and the users recording environment.
With brilliant footage quality, a great in all the right places interface and robust features that can be effectively altered to the users set-up while fixing the shortcomings of common capture solutions, the Elgato HD 60 Pro is the definitive and the best capture solution of the modern video game world.
- Streamlined and robust software interface
- The best capture quality that does not hog resources
- Simple HDMI setup
- Wonderful integration of streaming and capturing
- Flashback Recording
- Genuine 60Fps capture
- Sound Capture allows any audio setup to suit the users needs
- Web page/GIF overlays need to be more straight forward
- Audio Mix options should be expanded upon
- Mute prevents echoes in microphones and live stream feeds
- Basic video editor suited only for simple highlight cuts
- signal flash when exiting the software in the PC set-up
- 2 HDMI Inputs are needed for consoles to take advantage of Elgato
- Set-up tutorials fail to mention this important detail
- Rare occasions on specific games where the live feed won’t receive the footage’s audio signal
- No live Stream Hotkey option