Elgato Game Capture HD Review

DrakeAldan

Follow the rules!
I've been wanting to make videos as teaching devices for a while now. Text on a forum is good, but we don't play text games- we play video games! Subtleties can be explained in a book, but it's not really "real" until you see it.

I had experiences with capture equipment before (a Hauppauge 1192 WinTV HVR-1950)- it was a hassle, basically. You have these cables everywhere, you have to get a distribution amplifier, you're wrestling with the software... I didn't make many videos at all because it was just a pain.

Getting an HD PVR would have been the same thing... and I just don't have the computing power necessary for the Blackmagic Intensity.
I thought maybe I would pick up making videos again some other time.


Well, one day, I'm just bumbling around on Youtube, looking at videos of Tritton headphones (what they had at EVO- they were really nice, actually!) when this product came up in the related section... It was supposed to be an all-in-one, easy solution, hook it up and record. Since I use HDMI (EVO VH236 monitor) I thought this was gonna be a problem (you can't record using HDMI with the PS3 because of HDCP), but apparently they thought of that, too!


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The whole thing runs you about $160. But, considering the amount of equipment it replaces, I think it's a pretty fair value.


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More boxes in boxes (...)


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Comes with a quick start manual and all the cables (a component in, a PS3 cable, a HDMI cable, and a USB cable to your PC).


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It's pretty small for a capture device! Kind of like a deck of cards.


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You download the software from their website (it's a pretty slick program, actually). Everything is pretty much plug-and-play. The encoding is done within the device so there's no strain on your computer (the main reason why you'd get an external capture card).


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First thing I notice is that the picture is a little fuzzy compared to what I'm used to. I have a sneaking suspicion that this doesn't happen with the Xbox (that can record from HDMI); it seems like the culprit is the component input taken from the PS3 (stupid HDCP). The "fuzziness" seems forgettable when looking at rendered videos on Youtube though, I'd have to really be a stickler about it to see it, I think.

Speaking of which, analog to digital conversion happens in the Elgato's passthrough (what prevents the need of distribution amplifiers) so- there's the question of lag. Is there any?

I don't know. I don't have the equipment to check. Elgato says that the passthrough is lag-free, but I'd just have to trust them on faith.


The Elgato can record 720p 60 FPS video, which is... pretty good I'd say, you get all the frames (no 30 FPS nonsense) and I heard from a little birdie a long time ago that you're probably supposed to be playing on 720p for most games anyway. It can go up to 1080p 30 FPS, but I don't see a need for that.


It has some adjustable quality settings. I ran a few tests... Honestly, I can't see a noticeable, stark difference.

It doesn't seem like throwing a whole lotta bits at the video does any good, but I know it does increase my filesize by 2 or 3 times. We're doing compressed h.264, and we're going through component on the PS3 so I think this is pretty much it. I'm pretty happy with the quality though (compared to the 480p PS3 render that the game can make... Yuck.)






The wonderful thing about the Elgato is that it has a "DVR" feature while the software is active; if you remember to start it up before you play, it will automatically record up to an hour of footage. You don't have to manually hit record and set everything up like "oh I'm making a video", you can just play as normal and if something cool happens, you just walk over, rewind, and grab the moment. I don't know if anyone else has this feature on the market, but it's really convenient.

The above videos were made spur-of-the-moment, same day I got it in. The software even has straight-to-Youtube export, so you can just put stuff up right off the bat if you don't want to edit it. Recording is a lot easier than I remember it to be, and for me, easier recording means more videos made.



If you want more information, you can look up their website, or look it up on Youtube, there's a lot of reviews there. (but ugh, Youtube commentators… like comment subscribe it’ll really help me out. Ptui!)

This thing is supposed to blow the Youtube world wide open. Of course, it's up to the user to create content that's actually worth something, and not... you know, not crap on a screen.
 

Schneider-X

[11] Champion
Fine choice you made in getting the Elgato. Its an excellent piece of hardware for game capture. Just wanted to mention that the Elgato does introduce some lag due to having to convert an analog signal to a digital one. The only way to guarantee that there is no lag experienced is to have an hdmi splitter and an hdmi to component converter.

I don't have a number to it, but I do feel that my timing is off when I try to do timing based JFs. I can get a number for it once I've got the time since I've got a kitty board installed in my madcatz stick and can record the difference between the led flash and when the input appears in training with a camcorder.
 

d3v

[10] Knight
Does it work with XSplit?

How does it compare to say, something from Avermedia?
 

DrakeAldan

Follow the rules!
Does it work with XSplit?
I'm not much of a streamer, so I have to go off of what I've heard.

Apparently it works through "Game Source", I've heard of people using Screen Capture instead.

From what I can tell they don't officially support Xsplit through their software (https://twitter.com/ElgatoSupport/statuses/233623053244964864)

but they do know that it exists (http://support.elgato.com/index.php?_m=knowledgebase&_a=viewarticle&kbarticleid=4573)

They say they'll address it/twitch.tv functionality in an update, but who knows when that's coming.

How does it compare to say, something from Avermedia?
Depends on which product you're talking about... the C281 (standalone "Game Capture HD" w/ internal HDD unit) has no HDMI ports, just component-to-component passthrough. It seems like the recording bitrate can't go as high as the Elgato's can (but if you're not recording on 360 that's probably not an issue).

The C985 Live Gamer HD seemingly won't work with the PS3 out of the box, 'cause of the PS3's HDCP (did I tell you how much I hate HDCP?)
It does have Xsplit integration. But, it's an internal card that has to be installed in a PC, it's not quite "plug and play" or "portable".

The C127 Game Broadcaster HD doesn't have hardware encoding (stresses your CPU) or passthrough which is one of the main reasons I got the Elgato (I hate extra cables from splitters/distribution amps and I don't have a beefy PC lying around).
 

Marginal

Chikara Sashimi
Depends on which product you're talking about... the C281 (standalone "Game Capture HD" w/ internal HDD unit) has no HDMI ports, just component-to-component passthrough. It seems like the recording bitrate can't go as high as the Elgato's can (but if you're not recording on 360 that's probably not an issue).
That's what I have. It does ok, though I haven't bothered trying it higher than 720p. (Since SCV doesn't output in a higher res anyway.) Few things about it though:

You can't stream with it.
You need to supply an internal or external HDD for the capture to work at all. (Supports USB 2.0)
Most units are older and will need a firmware upgrade to do 30fps 1080p.

The realtime pass-through works well though it degrades the TV image drastically compared to the capture quality.

Basically it's nice if you just need a small unit you can take with you and record things pretty much like you would with a VCR. I didn't want to mess with a laptop and all while I was playing so it fit my fairly picky needs quite well though other's MMV.
 

JDub

Mmm. Pie.
I guess I'll show my ignorance here:
Are capture cards/devices what people use to test frame data? If so, wouldn't it require a card that captures 60fps?

I've been thinking about getting one but I don't know what I need to know. I've compiled drivers for Linux so I'm not too concerned about being OS specific. I'm just more familiar with the video editing software on the Linux side. (Pitivi, Openshot, Avidemux, Cinelerra, etc...)
 

Siegvriel

[08] Mercenary
Fine choice you made in getting the Elgato. Its an excellent piece of hardware for game capture. Just wanted to mention that the Elgato does introduce some lag due to having to convert an analog signal to a digital one. The only way to guarantee that there is no lag experienced is to have an hdmi splitter and an hdmi to component converter.
Have you tried that? Does it still avoid hdcp if you use hdmi and then convert it to component? I really need to eliminate this capture card's lag if I want to use it to record footage from local tournaments.
 

Schneider-X

[11] Champion
Have you tried that? Does it still avoid hdcp if you use hdmi and then convert it to component? I really need to eliminate this capture card's lag if I want to use it to record footage from local tournaments.
Yes converting to component will eliminate the HDCP protection though you could also buy this HDCP stripper off of ebay and stay all digital. Try contacting the seller if they will post another listing for it.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/230870586670?_trksid=p5197.c0.m619
 

Siegvriel

[08] Mercenary
Yes converting to component will eliminate the HDCP protection though you could also buy this HDCP stripper off of ebay and stay all digital. Try contacting the seller if they will post another listing for it.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/230870586670?_trksid=p5197.c0.m619
would this work too? It would be easier for me to just buy from amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Sewell-HDMI-Bi-Directional-Switch-Passthrough/dp/B00629NHW6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364346307&sr=8-1&keywords=hdcp
 

Schneider-X

[11] Champion
I don't know if that'll work. You aren't going to be finding something that will advertise stripping HDCP because it isn't exactly legal to do so. SRK was just lucky to find a seller for these on ebay.
 

Luetin

[08] Mercenary
Hey guys this has to be one of the only places I have found talking about the specific problem of the lag caused by the Elgato's conversion and how it effects Live commentary. Can you explain or even draw a diagram to help me understand what is required and in what order to resolve this issue. I purchased an HDMI splitter thinking just passing through that would resolve the problem but from reading it seems as Schneider said a component to HDMI converter too?

Can you guys advise me? I work on youtube currently and eliminating the lag for live commentary is something I badly want to do, thanks guys.
 

Schneider-X

[11] Champion
would this work too? It would be easier for me to just buy from amazon.
This one appears to remove HDCP and seems to be a re-branded version of what was on ebay.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AHS8LD8/ref=s9_simh_gw_p23_d0_i2?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=11X7TZ9E37ARJ4Y6KED9&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846

Hey guys this has to be one of the only places I have found talking about the specific problem of the lag caused by the Elgato's conversion and how it effects Live commentary.
The Elgato will automatically time the live commentary with the gameplay footage. I haven't had any issues with commentary lag when using the native elgato software. I know if you use xsplit you have to use some sort of delay for the commentary to be in sync. You will need a component to hdmi converter or a hdmi HDCP stripper to record from hdmi with HDCP protection. If you're recording off of a 360 you won't have to worry about that.

Also when I spoke of lag before, it was with regards to when the gameplay is shown on screen. Using an hdmi splitter allows you to have a direct connection with your tv, thus avoiding any conversion processes that the Elgato may do to the video before reaching the screen.
 

Luetin

[08] Mercenary
This one appears to remove HDCP and seems to be a re-branded version of what was on ebay.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AHS8LD8/ref=s9_simh_gw_p23_d0_i2?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=11X7TZ9E37ARJ4Y6KED9&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846



The Elgato will automatically time the live commentary with the gameplay footage. I haven't had any issues with commentary lag when using the native elgato software. I know if you use xsplit you have to use some sort of delay for the commentary to be in sync. You will need a component to hdmi converter or a hdmi HDCP stripper to record from hdmi with HDCP protection. If you're recording off of a 360 you won't have to worry about that.

Also when I spoke of lag before, it was with regards to when the gameplay is shown on screen. Using an hdmi splitter allows you to have a direct connection with your tv, thus avoiding any conversion processes that the Elgato may do to the video before reaching the screen.
Hmm the problem that I have had is that when I am using the Live commentary feature I will sometimes appear to react before a situation by about 0.5 of a second. I dont think this could be down to what im seeing on tv because I obviously respond to what im seeing or hearing in real time, so I only assumed it was a problem on the Elgato end.

I honestly dont know what could cause that issue its been frustrating the hell out of me and im open to any suggestions.
I use a blue yeti for my commentary and run the Elgato with the default PS3 connector.

I will try and find another in game example but I output so many vids its hard to find a specific moment off hand right now. I appreciate any help on this but I have tried my very best to think around this situation myself and I cant be the only one having the problem for sure.
 

Luetin

[08] Mercenary
Right, so I have actually unbelievably solved my problem through the classic situation of finding it was ridiculously simple.

I will post the vid I made about it here tomorrow because perhaps it will help someone else out but if its too off topic I dont want to hijack a thread so admins feel free to move or remove as necessary.

Cheers guys and thanks for the fast responses
 

Schneider-X

[11] Champion
Right, so I have actually unbelievably solved my problem through the classic situation of finding it was ridiculously simple.
Glad to hear it, I'm sure posting the video wouldn't be off topic since this thread has become pretty general in nature.