A dash camera is a useful protection for any driver. It helps detail any crash and can be a key bit evidence when making an insurance claim.
Out of all the dash cams we’ve reviewed two stand out. If you want the absolute best image quality, the 4K Nextbase 612GW dash cam is the model to buy. If you just want something cheaper to keep an eye on the road, the Aukey DR-01 is a great choice.
How we pick the best dash cams
Video quality is, far and above, the most important aspect of a dashcam. We test all dash cams in a variety of driving conditions, from bright lights to night time, to see how the quality stacks up. Shooting video in this way also lets us compare the results between dash cams, so we can tell you which ones are best. We test each camera’s mounting options, finding out how easy it is to physically attach to your car, and how well the camera remained in position once fixed.
The quality of the interface and software is vital for any dashcam, as you need a reliable way to recover footage in the event of an accident. Again, we test all of these features, looking for ease of use and quality software.
Where extra features are available, such as integrated GPS, safety-camera warnings or collision-detection, we test these to find out how useful they really are.
Nextbase 612GW dash cam
- Superb image quality
- Solid build quality
- Quick-release mount
- Limited advanced dash cam safety features
- Wi-Fi doesn’t work
The 612GW is Nextbase’s latest flagship dash cam, and is the first we’ve tested to offer insanely sharp 4K video capture.
The super-sharp video is a godsend during incidents, offering a crystal-clear image of what happened that’ll help clear up any potential confusion during a collision or incident. Its collision-detection charms are further aided by the inclusion of a G-sensor for detecting incidents, and built-in GPS, which makes it easy to retroactively see where any issues occured.
The Nextbase 612GW is expensive for a dash cam that isn’t exactly packed with bonus features, and it’s a shame that we couldn’t get the Wi-Fi connectivity to work. Make no mistake the 612G offers the best-quality footage we’ve seen from a dash cam so far.
Add to this the dash cam’s sturdy build quality, intuitive user interface and easy-to-read 3-inch LCD touchscreen and the 612GW easily earns its place as one of 2018’s best dash cams.
The only downside is that it’s seriously expensive. Still, you get what you pay for, right?
- Reasonable image quality for Full HD
- Comprehensive mounting bundle
- No built-in GPS
- No extra safety features
- No memory card included
You’re probably more familiar with the Aukey name from its USB hubs and audio gear, but the DR-01 dash cam puts the brand inside your car for road-recording on a budget.
It keeps things simple with a limited list of features, but what it does, it does well. It offers only Full HD video recording, which is sufficient for basic use, and can drop to 720p at 60 and 30 frames per second to save battery life, too.
Its 2.19-megapixel Sony Exmor CMOS chip gives it a good picture in low light situations, as well as in broad daylight.
There’s no storage option included, so you’ll have to grab an 8GB microSD card yourself, which should be enough for about 80 minutes of Full HD footage – more than some of the more high-res cams out there.
Features include incident detection with three optional sensitivity levels, and the ability to time and datestamp video. Unfortunately there’s GPS to track where knocks and bumps happened though, sadly.
Elsewhere, there’s timelapse recording to capture the highlights from your journey, and a motion detection mode which lets the DR-01 transform into a parking protector.
Simple, solid, and easy to use, the Aukey DR-01 is a great budget option if you just want an eye on the road to keep you feeling safe.
Buy now: Aukey DR-01 for £39 from Amazon
- Rear-view camera option
- Built-in GPS
- Parking Mode with permanent installation
- Only Full HD resolution
- Smartphone required for setup and configuration
- No suction-cup mount included
The Thinkware F770 looks a little different to the average dash cam, sitting horizontally on the dashboard with no screen. To get a view of the road, you download the Thinkware app on your phone and connect to the F770 via Wi-Fi.
This will also give you a variety of options on your phone screen, including live monitoring of what the camera can see, with guide marks so you can ensure positioning is correct.
The F770 runs on a Sony Exmor CMOS, with 2.19-megapixel resolution. There’s no Super HD resolution available – just Full HD at 1080p, 30fps. Footage is recorded at a fairly respectable 9.5Mbps bitrate on the front camera, and you get a 16GB microSD in the box for storing footage.
This 16GB will keep around 200 minutes of footage from the front camera only. The footage will loop if the storage hits full capacity, unless an incident has been tagged via the G-sensor.
Built-in GPS will store the location of incidents, and there’s a range of useful notifications for while you’re driving. You get a warning when you approach the car in front too closely, notifications when you’re straying from your lane on a motorway, and an audible message when the car in front moves in a stationary traffic queue.
Buy now: Thinkware F770 for £249 from Amazon
- Full HD dashboard camera
- Safety camera alerts
- Comprehensive additional safety features
- Requires dual-power car adapter for use alongside sat-nav
- Desktop software needs further development
- Enabling all the features can lead to distraction
With a 2.7-inch screen, the Snooper DVR-4HD is much smaller than a sat-nav and attaches to your windscreen using a suction cup. The power cable is also long enough to be routed around the windscreen.
Footage is recorded to a microSD card and the DVR-4HD comes with a 16GB module included. Set-up is straightforward and recording is started simply by sliding the switch on the bottom of the unit.
The device will record in 1080p with a 17Mbits/sec data rate, although there is also a 720p option. In 1080p mode, the 16GB storage card will store around two hours of footage.
Once the card is full, the device will begin recording over the oldest files unless specific footage has been marked as an ‘event’, in which case it will be saved indefinitely.
Overall, image quality is good in both bright daylight and night-time, although in low light you’ll need to be fairly close to another vehicle to make out details such as the licence plate number.
Features of note include an accelerometer to detect collisions or emergency stops, a GPS receiver to record your position and speed alongside the video, and speed camera warnings.
Buy now: Snooper DVR-4HD for £149 from Amazon
- Built-in GPS with GLONASS
- Parking Mode with permanent installation
- Second camera option
- Only Full HD resolution
- No suction cup mount included
While the Thinkware X550 might not have the super high resolution of some of its competition, it does have a high quality sensor. That means it’s one of the better sat navs for recording in low-light conditions, thanks also to some clever software trickery.
If you want to make the most of the X550’s features, you’ll want to connect it to your car’s electrical system (or have someone in the know do it). Fiddly but perfectly easy to use once done.
Connecting it this way lets you take advantage of the Parking Mode option which means the X550 “wakes up” and starts recording when it feels a shock or movement.
The X550 also comes with highly accurate GPS, handy speed camera alerts and the ability to use two cams together for better coverage. It might not have the sharpest image quality but the X550 is a well-rounded dashcam.
Buy now: Thinkware X550 for £157 from Amazon
Garmin DriveAssist 50LMT-D
- Dashcam only adds £50 to cost
- Lifetime European map updates and traffic alerts
- Wealth of extra driving assistance features
- Traffic alerts not as comprehensive as TomTom’s
- Interface sometimes crowded
The Garmin DriveAssist 50LMT-D is not only a dashboard camera but also a fully-featured sat nav. The dash cam captures video at your choice of Full HD resolution or 720p, both at 30 frames per second.
There are two microSD card slots, one dedicated for the sat nav’s maps, and the other for the dash cam’s recordings. You’ll get a 4GB microSD card included for the latter, which amounts to about 76 minutes of Full HD footage.
Features include automatic collision detection as well as loop recording. There’s also Forward Collision Warning, which lets you know if you’re approaching the vehicle in front too quickly, and a Lane Departure Warning, which will tell you if you’re drifting across lanes on a motorway.
A Go Alert will even give you an audio notification if the car in front starts moving while you’re stationary, ensuring no angry beeps from impatient drivers behind.
Coupled with the top-notch sat nav functionality, the DriveAssist 50LMT-D is a great car companion.
- Excellent “Super HD” video recording
- Safety camera alerts
- Rear-view mirror attachment reduces windscreen clutter
- Viewing software looks cluttered on a sub-Full HD screen
- Might be too heavy for some rear-view mirrors
- No cable routing fixings included in box
A dashboard camera with a twist, the RAC 03 is actually a massive rear-view mirror which straps over your existing one. Not only will the RAC 03 record the road ahead, but you get an enhanced rear view at the same time.
It records footage in 2340 x 1296 resolution, with a 2520 x 1080 setting that doesn’t actually widen the view, just narrows the window vertically whilst increasing the horizontal resolution.
There’s a microSD slot available for video storage, with an 8GB card included. At the top video resolution and quality settings, this will be enough for a little over 50 minutes of footage.
The RAC 03 comes with a built-in GPS, so your location information is recorded alongside the video, as well as safety camera warnings, collision detection, and the ability to set alerts for when you exceed a certain speed.
With decent footage quality and plenty of extra features, the RAC 03 is a novel and very functional dashboard camera.
Buy now: RAC 03 for £133 from Amazon
Garmin Dash Cam 55
- 1440p resolution
- Excellent image detail
- Many additional safety features
- Smartphone app provides limited control
- A little pricey
- Car power adapter can’t be removed from cable
The compact, attractive Garmin Dash Cam 55 builds upon Garmin’s dashboard prowess with a host of handy features for capturing life on the road.
It automatically starts recording when connected to a power source so it doesn’t miss a trick, capturing footage in a maximum 2.5K capacity – or 2560 x 1440 pixels at 30 frames per second, to be precise.
It’s possible to record in Full HD at 60 frames per second too, or at a minimum of 720p to conserve memory.
It comes with 8GB storage as standard, but you can add anything up to a 64GB microSD card. At top resolution, the 8GB card should be able to keep around 56 minutes of footage before looping begins.
On the features front, the Garmin Dash Cam 55 brings Travelapse recording into the mix, which will pick the highlights from your journey to make a short reel that’s easy to watch when you park up. You can also use the dash cam like a normal camera to take snapshots of vehicle or property damage.
Like Garmin’s previous cams, it comes with GPS-enabled G-Sensor tech that automatically detects incidents and saves the footage on impact to show exactly where the event happened.
There’s also built-in voice control for starting/stopping audio recording, taking pictures and activating the Travelapse feature.
When you’re ready to view the footage, you can do so either on your computer or the dash cam’s own display while sitting in your car. Built-in Wi-Fi lets you wirelessly sync footage with Garmin’s VIRB app on your smartphone, too.
- Good 1440p image quality
- Built-in GPS
- Wi-Fi connectivity and smartphone app
- Quick-release mount
- Photos only 1920 x 1080
- Lacks advanced dash cam features
Nextbase’s dash cams are readily available from Halfords and are allegedly endorsed by the AA, so it’s no surprise that the specification and build of the Nextbase 512GW – its mid-range dash cam – make for a promising start.
Recording is available up to 1440p at 30fps, though you can also choose from Full HD and 720p too. At the top resolution, a 16GB memory card will be enough for 77 minutes of footage before the recoding loops to replace the oldest files with new ones. There’s no microSD card included though, which is a shame for a dash cam that is well out of the budget territory.
The rear of the 512GW is dominated by a 3-inch LCD screen with touch-sensitive buttons on either end for working your way around the menus. Features include a G-sensor for detecting incidents, GPS for location tracking (but no speed camera notifications), timelapse and parking modes and built-in Wi-Fi for viewing footage on your phone.
Image quality is up there as one of the best too, giving you plenty of detail should you require it at a later date. It doesn’t have the largest list of features to rival some of its competitors, but it’s a well-built device that’s easy to fit and very reliable where it counts.
Mio MiVue Drive 65 LM
- Two-in-one device reduces screen clutter
- European mapping of 44 countries and TMC Traffic
- Cheaper than buying sat-nav and dash cam separately
- Size means it could block screen visibility
- TMC traffic not as comprehensive as TomTom’s or Garmin’s systems
The Mio MiVue Drive 65 LM kills two birds with one stone by combining a sat nav and dash cam into one device, helping you to cut down on windscreen clutter and the powering issues that come with two devices.
Its 6-inch screen is pretty chunky though, and comes with some pretty sizeable bezels to boot. It’s not the easiest to position for doing both jobs at once either, plus misses a trick with no quick release on the mount for hiding it out of sight when unattended.
Still, the Super HD resolution (2304 x 1296 at 30fps) camera does a good job, with a 1080p option available too. There is some image compression at speed, but text is easily readable from a distance.
It comes with a 16GB microSD card, which would be enough for 135 minutes at top resolution before looping occurs, with a second microSD card slot for adding maps.
Other features include a speed camera alerts, a Lane Departure Warning System and Forward Collision Warning System. All that, plus of course the built-in sat nav, which is clear and easy to read, and comes with 44 European countries pre-installed.
It’s not perfect, but offering two invaluable in-car accessories in one package is no mean feat, especially at this price.
That was our pick of the best dash cams. If you want to know more about choosing the right model, read on.
Dash cams buying guide
If you’re a safety-conscious driver, a dash cam can be a great way to buy peace of mind. Not only do dash cams provide you with evidence when it comes to accident disputes, but some insurers will offer discounts of up to 15% off your premiums if you fit a dash cam, offsetting any initial outlay.
What form factor do I need?
As with all technology, dash cams come in a variety of forms. Some feature a single, forward-facing lens, while others include both forward and rear-facing cameras. These are the type you’ll want if you are worried about being rear-ended.
Others feature multiple lenses capable of recording various angles or have a wide-angle lens that gets in almost as much as you can see with your eyes. You can even get cameras that incorporate GPS technology that are able to measure your speed.
Can I use a GoPro or action camera instead?
So what makes dash cams different from other mountable cameras such as GoPros? First, most dash cams ensure you don’t run out of memory by splitting recordings into small chunks. Although the camera will be recording continuously, the stored files will be broken up into 1-3 minute recordings. This allows the camera to record over the oldest file once the memory becomes full, ensuring you don’t miss any important events or fiddle around with deleting unneeded footage.
Do I need an SD card?
Many dash cams will record to a microSD card, so you can install a larger card to record more footage. Factor in the cost of a memory card, because many dash cams won’t come with one in the box. Some dash cams make it easy to access this footage through a smartphone or tablet, too, so you don’t have to take the card out of the dash cam.
What resolution video do I need?
All dash cams should support at least 720p resolution as the quality of the footage needs to be as high as possible to ensure it can be used to determine blame in disputes over accidents. Grainy grey blobs that aren’t clear won’t help you win a case.
The same goes for night vision: you’ll want to make sure that footage recorded during low-light driving is as good as during the day.
What else should I look for?
More sophisticated options might include a G-sensor, which can detect when you’ve been involved in an accident due to a sudden change in movement. This could be an impact or heavy braking. This will then tell the dash cam to record the event and save it to a protected section of the memory card, ensuring it doesn’t get overwritten, safeguarding your precious evidence.