The latest games consoles offer the ability to record and share clips of your gaming glories, but they only offer limited control and the maximum time you can record is quite short. If you want to record hours and hours of footage and do more with your recordings afterwards you’ll need something like the Elgato Game Capture HD 60.
This latest version adds in support for 60 frames per second recording so you can get the smoothest possible recordings of your escapades. It also supports streaming with live commentary with support for Twitch and YouTube.
Like most such capture devices, the Game Capture HD 60 is a pretty simple affair. It has an HDMI input into which you plug your console (or the video output from any other HDMI-equipped device) an HDMI output into which you plug your TV (so you can still play the game) and a USB socket for sucking out the video stream and storing it on a computer.
The device itself is one of the smallest we’ve yet seen at 110 x 74 x 18mm – a smaller footprint than a smartphone, though a little thicker. There is a reason for this, though, as there are very few extra features here. Whereas the likes of the Roxio GameCap HD Pro and Elgato's own previous Game Capture HD offer analogue audio and video inputs and outputs (for use with older consoles) here the only other connection is a stereo jack socket for recording video commentaries – just plug your microphone straight into it.
The small size also means that the device won’t sit firm on a TV cabinet as the tension in most HDMI cable will push it around. A minor point, but worth noting.
Another little thing that caught our eye is that the USB socket is miniUSB, when we tend to like to see microUSB these days just because most mobile devices use microUSB, but it’s a minor point.
Otherwise the HD 60 is as elegant and compact as you could hope for such a device to be. It’s finished in a soft-touch plastic that is bisected by a shiny strip. From here a row of LEDs shine through to indicate the device is powered on and recording.
In the box you get a nice long (2m) USB cable and a much shorter (80cm) HDMI cable. The short HDMi makes sense as the device should only be sitting between what should have been a long enough HDMI cable to reach from your console to the TV anyway. There’s no audio cable for your microphone, but this seems like a reasonable omission given it’s far less likely to be used.
Setting up the Game Capture HD 60 is very simple. First thing to do is download and install the software from the Elgato website, then you just hook it up between you console and TV, connect your microphone and plug in the USB cable.
The software provided with the Game Capture HD 60 is generally easy to use and tidily laid out.
In the top left is the live stream of what’s running through the HD 60, with it generally running a few seconds behind the live feed you’ll see on your TV. Below this are the main recording controls, a hard drive space indicator and buttons for starting the streaming service and turning on commentary.
To the right are the various live options where you can adjust game and commentary audio levels, tweak live streaming bit rate and change tags. The main settings are in the preferences menu accessed via the little gear button in the top right. Here you can set where you’d like the recorded files to be stored, adjust recording format options, enable streaming, set sharing options and more.
As well as recording, the software can also be used to do some rudimentary editing. The interface offers the ability to chop the recording up, removing and rearranging sections, start a new video from the chopped selection, pick out screenshots and choose the audio tracks you’d like to keep.
There are also output/sharing options, with YouTube, Facebook, Wtitter, Email, Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, Windows Movie Maker, MP4 original and MP4 1080p options available.
It’s a decent little selection for making some basic edits, though the lack of manual control over output options may be a concern for more advanced users.
Both PCs and Macs are supported by Elgato’s official software, but there’s no word on Linux support.
The overall experience of using the Game Capture HD 60 is very easy. It all just works once plugged in correctly and the software is loaded up.
We were scratching our heads for a while until we realised that there was nothing showing on the screen because the Xbox One we were testing with was showing TV so was enabling HDCP. HDCP or High-Definition Content Protection is the protection used by things like Blu-ray discs to stop people being able to just record the video being played over HDMI. For consoles like the Xbox One, HDCP is enabled whenever protected content is being played, making the screen go blank when the Elgato software is enabled. HDCP is not used when playing games or just navigating the interface.
When HDCP protected content is being shown the screen goes blank
The other thing to watch out for is the speed of the machine you’re using to capture the video. We were using an Ultrabook laptop that struggled a little to keep up with the constant stream of video being thrown at it.
In terms of files size, you can alter the output size and compression level but the default settings of 60fps, 1080p and mid-way along the compression level setting resulted in a 3:28 long file being 485MB.
Streaming is as easy to setup as recording. Depending on which service you're using there can be a few hoops to jump through, providing permissions and such like, but it's a process that takes a matter of seconds. Once setup, just select the service you'd like to use, the streaming bit rate (which determines the resolution) and click the streaming button.
When streaming you can continue to record but only at 720p, which is also the maximum resolution of the stream.
A quick demonstration of footage captured using the Elgato Game Capture HD 60 on an Xbox One.
Overall image quality is excellent. The detail levels you’d hope for from a 1080p capture are clearly visible. There is a very slight haziness to the overall image and occasionally colour can look a little blocky compared to the original image, both symptoms of the video compression algorithm, but both are negligible and the footage is easily up to broadcast quality.
The advantage of 60fps capture is also clearly visible with markedly smoother looking footage during normal playback (note that the 60fps advantage won't be visible in the above video as YouTube doesn't yet support this). There’s also greater scope for picking out slow-motion sections and more finely chopping up the footage for analysis.
With an MSRP of £139.95, the Elgato Game Capture HD 60 is a significant investment just to get a bit more control over game footage capture, and for those that simply want to share their latest ‘frags’ with friends it’s probably overkill.
Even if you’re remotely serious about your video game capture and need the extra versatility that a dedicated capture device can provide, 30fps capable models are less than half the price, so again it’s worth considering how likely it is you’ll need the higher framerate.
If you do need the full feature set that the Game Capture HD 60 provides, though, then its price is about on the money with 60fps capable competitors coming in around the same price. That said, the AverMedia ExtremeCap U3 does offer uncompressed capture and component inputs for around the same money, though we’re yet to test that model.
A capable game capture device that's overkill for casual users, but a very good option for anyone who wants the best quality stream possible.