New Recording Devices

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Audio/Video Connectors

Standard Definition Connectors

From left to right: Composite Video (Yellow), L Audio (White), R Audio (Red), and the higher quality S-Video
Resolutions 240, 480i

Standard definition capture devices have connectors for the three RCA plugs. Yellow for composite video and red and white connectors for stereo audio. For older consoles that only have mono audio (NES), sometimes only the white or red plug is available. Otherwise, red corresponds to the right channel and white to the left. There is another connector for S-Video that provides significantly higher quality than composite. These connectors are common for older consoles (Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Nintendo 64). You can also use these connectors to capture standard definition footage from newer consoles.

High Definition Connectors

Component Connectors - the Green, Blue, and Red cables on the left are used for video (Y,PB,PR) and the white and red connectors are used for audio

HDMI Connector - With HDMI a single cable is used to send both video and audio
Resolutions 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p

High definition capture devices have component connectors and/or HDMI connectors. For component connectors you have three cables for video (Green, Blue, and Red) and red and white connectors for audio. HDMI connector uses one connector for both the audio and video signal. HDMI video is superior to component since it provides a digital signal. These connectors should be used to capture footage from newer consoles (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii U) in high definition.

Note for HDMI Capture

A/V footage sent over HDMI connectors may have content protection that will prevent you from recording it. This content protection is known as High Definition Content Protection or HDCP for short. If you plan to record footage from a Playstation 3 using an HDMI connector, HDCP will prevent you from doing so. You have a few options.

  • Use component A/V connectors instead
  • Some HDMI splitters may be able to bypass HDCP.

Currently the Playstation 3 is the only console on the market that uses it. It is not yet known if the upcoming Xbox One or Playstation 4 will use HDCP.

Capture Devices

One of the major steps in an eventual submission is recording the run. VHS is no longer an acceptable medium for submissions, so runners will have to invest in a dedicated device that can capture their gameplay. There are many, many devices available for this purpose to fit a variety of needs. This page is meant to give runners a resource for what to look for and what other runners have used and recommend.

The first thing to note is that a proper recording setup usually requires a bit more than just a capture device. Specifically, a distribution amplifier (aka a splitter) is used to provide the same input signals to multiple devices, namely a TV and your capture device. Creating a full capture setup is discussed in more detail on the Recording and Streaming Setup page. This page will eventually expand to include recommendations for distribution amplifiers and other equipment.

Also keep in mind some of your limitations. Some devices might require a more powerful computer to run smoothly (especially HD devices). Recording footage directly to a hard drive on your computer might ease organization, but it will use up a lot of space. Many people choose external DVD or HDD recorders for this reason. DVD/HDD recorders also provide a benefit in that they "just work", while many PC-based devices require some setup and are dependent on the stability of the recording software. Most DVD or HDD recorders do not provide a way to stream gameplay though, so a PC-based device would still be required if you intend to stream.

Device Parameters

There are many things to consider when looking for a capture device, but the main concern should be whether or not it will capture the games you're interested in running. The easiest way to determine this is to narrow down which inputs you are interested in capturing. See the A/V Connectors page for specific information about each of the types of video cables. The devices table below lists all of the inputs that a particular device can handle. Also make sure that the device supports your particular type of video signal. This information is listed in the Compatibility column; NTSC for US/Japan, PAL for EU. If you plan to stream, you should avoid HDD and DVD Recorders since they will generally not be able to provide real-time video to a computer. You would have to purchase another capture device in order to stream and record simultaneously with an HDD or DVD recorder. Finally, if you intend to capture content from systems older than PS2, make sure that the device can handle 240p signals. This includes NES, SNES, Genesis, and some PS1 output. Some devices have nuances where they cannot correctly capture these signals; this is something that has to be learned from experience, and is not something that a manufacturer lists in the product details.

The other columns in the table list other information about particular devices. Issues are simply any known technical limitations or problems with the device. Any fields with asterisks (*) have some caveats that are noted in the comments column. Finally, the Recommend column lists the number of people that have used and recommend a particular device. 4/4 means that all of 4 users recommend a device, while 2/4 means only 2 of 4 users would recommend it. Any fields marked with N/A were not reported for that device.

Capture Devices List

Device Inputs Type Price Compatibility 240p-Capable? Issues Recommend? Comments
Encore ENMVG2 A/V Grabber Composite, SVid USB $20 NTSC, PAL Yes Slightly washed-out images. 1/1 Dull colors can be easily fixed during post-processing. ENMVG3 is the current production version.
Hauppauge HDPVR 2 Component, HDMI USB $150 NTSC, PAL No?* Early units may experience blackouts when analogue Component input is used, known defect 1/1 Max supported data rate of 14 Mbps. Features HDMI pass-through.
Elgato Video Capture Composite, SVid USB $80 NTSC, PAL No?* Must use bundled capture software, limited recording options. 0/2 N/A
Blackmagic Design Intensity Shuttle Thunderbolt Composite, SVid, Component, HDMI Thunderbolt $230 NTSC, PAL No? N/A 1/1 Works with variety of editing software, passes uncompressed video.
Pinnacle Dazzle DVC100 Composite, SVid USB $50 NTSC, PAL, SECAM Yes Cannot handle audio stream directly. 2/3 Audio stream is not exposed to DirectShow or the OS; can be bypassed by using Line-in port instead of relying on audio from the device. Can also use Virtual Audio Cables to grab the audio stream. DVC101 models also exist; differences not known.
StarTech HD Video Capture (PEXHDCAP) Component, HDMI, VGA, DVI PCIe $120 NTSC, PAL Yes* N/A 1/1 SD capture is only supported by using special RGB conversion cables and via the VGA port. Composite and SVid not available.
EZcap 116 Composite, SVid USB $30 NTSC, PAL Yes N/A 2/2 Many, many "cloned" versions of this device. Clones may exhibit different characteristics.
AVerMedia C027 Composite, SVid, Component, HDMI PCIe $90 NTSC, PAL Yes N/A 3/3 Name varies by region.
AVerMedia C281 Component HDD Recorder $115* NTSC No N/A 1/1 Requires user-provided 2.5" HDD to record footage. Features a pass-through so a distribution amplifier is not needed.
Roxio Game Capture HD Pro Component, HDMI USB $120 NTSC, PAL No Can only record through bundled software. 0/1 N/A
Diamond VC-500 One Touch Composite, SVid USB $35 NTSC Yes Onboard sound not the best. 1/1 N/A
AVerMedia C985 HDMI PCIe $180 NTSC No N/A 1/1 Provides HDMI pass-through so no distribution amplifier is required.
Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro Composite, SVid, Component, HDMI PCIe $190 NTSC No N/A 0/1 Features pass-through on all inputs.
Elgato Game Capture HD Composite, SVid, Component, HDMI USB $160 NTSC, PAL No SVideo and Composite inputs may have chroma problems. 0/2 Includes dedicated component cables for PS3.
AVerMedia C875 Component, HDMI USB* $160 NTSC No Low bitrate capture and frame rate is auto-selected. Pass-through blacks out occasionally. 0/1 Also known as Live Gamer Portable. Uses hardware encoding, so the raw stream is not passed to the host PC.
AVerMedia C127 HDMI, VGA PCIe $110 NTSC No N/A 1/1 Works great by itself, but can have driver issues if used alongside a C027 in the same system. Can take 1080p60 input, but can only record 1080p30 from it.
Blackmagic Design Intensity Shuttle Composite, SVid, Component, HDMI USB 3 $190 NTSC N/A Compatibility with various USB 3 controllers very iffy. Make sure it works with your USB 3.0 card or mobo before purchasing. 0/1 Features pass-through on all inputs.
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