Capture cards are essential for streaming and recording your gameplay from a console, or feed from a camera. The problem is, there are so many to choose from! What do you pick? We can't tell you what to do, but we can tell you what we use and why we like them! We'll also include current US pricing and links to buy (the links are not sponsored links).
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER...
1. Elgato CamLink
The Elgato CamLink is a no-frills, USB 3.0 capture card that accepts an HDMI input, and spits it out over USB 3.0 type A. There is an HD and 4K model available. They are driverless (plug-and-play), support Mac, Windows, and Linux, small, and easy to use. They are great for capturing a camera feed for recording or streaming. They can be used for consoles too, but unless you are using an HDMI splitter before the capture card, you'll be forced to play through your capture software like OBS (which will be a frame or two behind). We've used multiple of these simultaneously to bring in 2 or 3 camera feeds.
Elgato Cam Link 4K
$109 - $129 USD (may be on sale)
2. Razer Ripsaw HD
An excellent capture solution designed for capturing consoles. It accepts an HDMI input and outputs it over USB type c (3.0). The ripsaw also features an HDMI passthrough so you can view the console feed on your TV without added latency. This capture card is Windows-only, and requires a proprietary driver from Razer - and is controlled through Razer Synapse software. It is the capture card we use for Nintendo Switch feeds. One downside is in software like OBS, you need to add a separate audio input source to capture the audio from the card, and the levels can be too low out of the box (adding gain in OBS is an easy fix, though). We have also experienced compatibility issues with using some cameras as inputs - but we haven't experienced these issues with consoles like the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One S.
Razer Ripsaw HD
3. Blackmagic Intensity Pro 4K
This was my very first capture card. Blackmagic cards are "more professional" solutions and were extremely innovative when they first came out. This is the only PCI-express capture card on this list, meaning that it is designed to be plugged to internal PCIe slots on your motherboard. The card uses a x4 interface and features an HDMI input and output, like the Razer Ripsaw. This card also supports MacOS and Windows and requires the Blackmagic Desktop Video driver. What is super cool about this capture card is that the output does not have to be a passthrough - you can configure it to output anything you want regardless of what the input is. OBS natively supports DeckLink output - which allows you to send the OBS program feed (or other sources via plugins) through the output, allowing you to monitor your stream on an external display easily, or send the feed to another recording or streaming device. The capture card supports up to 4K30p, including 1080p60, and professional framerates like 59.94 and 29.97. The card also includes a breakout cable that includes input and output for analog sources, making it compatible with nearly every console ever made. While this card may not be as easy to use with minimal configuration, it is one of the most versatile capture solutions.
Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4K
4. Other Solutions
There are a ton of other solutions out there, but we haven't used them enough to provide a recommendation. That being said, brands we DO recommend are Elgato and Blackmagic design. We are not sponsored by these brands or receiving anything for these recommendations - we just like them :)
Blackmagic ATEM Mini lineup
Blackmagic Decklink Quad
Elgato CamLink Pro
Another pro tip - if you can't find what you're looking for on Amazon, we recommend B&H Photo Video for production gear purchases. The physical store is amazing - check it out if you are in Manhattan.