Whether you use a capture card depends on your stream goals and your console of choice
Switch Streamers need a capture card
If you want to stream from the Nintendo Switch, you need a capture card. The switch doesn't have a built in app for streaming.
XBOX and PlayStation
Both XBOX and PlayStation have apps that let you stream directly from the console
Most PCS have screen capture functionality that will let you stream without a card
Serious Streamers Need a Card
Unless your streaming from XBOX, which has a companion app, you need a capture card so you can use the computer to set your stream up how you want it.
What Does a Capture Card Do?
A capture card grabs, or "captures" your gameplay and moves it to another app, like OBS. This is where you can add your overlays like your webcam and your microphone
The Best Capture Cards for streamers
Here are the best capture cards for folks who want to take streaming seriously ---->
Internal vs External
You need to know the difference between an internal and external capture card. Internal cards are better, but you need a desktop compute that you can switch parts around with to use one. External cards are good for laptops.
Best External Card
Elgato Game Capture HD 60s
This card can capture up to 60 fps . It also has a recording speed of up to 1080p, so it can capture pretty much anything.
Best Internal Card
Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro
The HD60 pro captures at 60 FPS and includes an h.264 hardware encoder. It only takes up one PCIe port, which is great for folks who love to custom-build PCs.
Best of the Best
AverMedia Live Gamer 4K
This card is a beast. You only need it if you want to be a pro, and it gets pricey. It captures at up to 240FPS!
The most affordable
Y&H HDMI Game Capture Card
If you're on a budget, check out the Y&H card. It offers basic live stream capture and the standard 1080p recording. No bells or whistles, but it will get the job done
For More Options!
Swipe up to learn more about whether you need a capture card - including a secret some folks use to stream from the Nintendo Switch without one!