How do you create a high-quality stream that attracts massive viewers? Of course, you have to be a really good player first and really commit to your audience. But it would be best if you also had better gaming equipment to keep up.
Why this change? Before November 2018, streaming and downloading videos from Nintendo’s games and consoles was nearly impossible due to strict regulations. Since they simplified these rules, Nintendo’s streaming offerings are growing by the day, especially on their newest console, the Switch.
As a result, the number of gameplay recordings on the Switch increases rapidly. Unfortunately, the capture card market hasn’t fully embraced development yet, and most cards are still primarily developed for the PS4, Xbox One, or PC. However, we’ve done all the hard work and put together a comprehensive guide to help you find the best capture card for Nintendo Switch.
What is an Acquisition Card?
As you probably already know, the Nintendo Switch has a built-in feature that allows you to share gameplay, usually in the form of screenshots or videos. However, only 30-second clips and a maximum of 4 screenshots per post are allowed. These numbers are certainly not ideal for most people.
If you want to record and share advanced Nintendo Switch gameplay or stream live, you’ll need an additional device: a capture card. This external device is mainly used to record, store and transfer games.
How do capture cards work?
Normally, the capture card is placed between the console (in this case, your Nintendo Switch), the monitor, and the computer. The console is connected to the capture card and then to the display, usually via HDMI. It is then connected to your computer to record your game with special software. Just as importantly, you need to be in Dock mode to stream and create videos.
The capture card captures video and audio signals from your console via an HDMI connection. It captures the information, stores and encodes it, and then forwards it to a PC for processing. The videos are then stored on your computer’s hard drive, where you can later open them like any normal video file. So once everything is set up, all you have to do is play while the recording card and computer do the work.
Here are the 5 best capture cards for Nintendo Switch on the market:
1. Elgato HD60 Pro Game Capture
Elgato HD60 Pro1080p60 recording and passthrough, PCIe capture card, low latency …
- Interface: PCIe x1
- Entrance: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Xbox360, Nintendo Switch, and Wii U
- Exit: HDMI (no delay transition)
- Resolutions supported: 1080p60, 1080p30, 1080i, 720p60, 720p30, 576p, 576i, 480p
Elgato is certainly one of the pioneers in developing premium capture cards. However, the Game Capture HD60 Pro is perhaps the best of them all.
This is an external capture card that your plugin use. This is a PCI-e card, which means it must be plugged into an available slot on your computer for optimal performance. The HD60 Pro fixes most of the issues with streaming on the Switch, including the drop in video quality in docking mode. In addition, it offers an impressive 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second.
It also has an instant playback feature that lets you stream even with low latency. As the name suggests, this feature allows your viewers to see what is happening on the screen in real-time.
- Suitable for 1080p 60 frames per second.
- H.264 encoder.
- No latency thanks to the PCI-e connection.
- Not very portable.
- Rather expensive.
2. AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 plus
If you need a capture card that does a good job and is also easy to carry around, the AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus is worth considering.
It weighs only 1.1 pounds, making it portable. It has a PC mode and a single mode without a PC. PC Free mode allows you to record gameplay at the touch of a button without connecting the memory card to your computer. This mode only requires a USB connection to provide constant power. It has a status light that indicates when it is ready to record video. It lights up red and fades slowly when you start recording.
This capture card can make stable video recordings at 1080p 60 fps and file size of 130 MB/min. You can also reduce the file size by turning off the video quality setting. Overall, this surprisingly portable capture card can broadcast with or without capture and still produce a high-quality video.
- 4K recording.
- Ultra-low latency.
- No registration is required.
3. Razer Ripsaw HD
Razer, the company for gamers of gamers, has an incredible line of grip cards, Ripsaw. Ripsaw HD is likely to be a game-changer for Nintendo Switch streamers.
It has a processing power of 4K and is way ahead of the curve. It also has hardware audio features that make software mixing unnecessary. This makes the process of broadcasting and recording videos quite simple. This means the Ripsaw HD has a built-in microphone and headphone jacks for monitoring.
Unfortunately, this switch capture card does not come with its own streaming software. So if you’re looking for 1080p streaming, you’ll need to optimize your OBS or purchase an XSplit premium account. But these are small reservations at a fair price.
- 4K compatibility.
- Easy audio mixing.
- Reasonable price.
4. Elgato 4K60 Pro Game Capture
Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro may be useless, mainly because of the Switch’s limitation. Nevertheless, it is still a good choice if you look for a promising video capture card for the next generation of consoles. It can capture impressive gameplay in HDR-10 4K 60fps with ultra-low latency on eighth-generation consoles such as PS 4 and Xbox One X.
This PCI Express card has a rather elegant design. It is housed in a galvanized steel casing with smooth airflow grilles. Its compact design allows it to fit perfectly into your gaming rig. Capture 4K60 Pro supports streaming software such as OBS Studio and Streamlabs OBS. It also comes with a suite of proprietary software, so you don’t have to reach into your pocket for premium broadcast applications.
You can start streaming to your Nintendo Switch in the best resolution possible with this capture card. However, it does not have built-in H.264 encoding. This means you need to pair it with the right processor and graphics card to get the best performance.
- Solid and brilliant design.
- Ready for the future.
- Intuitive acquisition software.
5. AVerMedia Live Gamer Mini
- Full HD 1080P recording: Stream and record any content in Full HD in the comfort of your home
- Zero video playback: Enjoy uncompressed video playback directly on the PC
- Plug-and-play function: convenient; just plug it into your computer and play
- H.264 hardware encoder
This is an affordable capture card option that does not compromise on quality. It offers the standard 1080p 60fps resolution without too many problems.
The capture card has a compact size and is therefore easy to take with you. Installation is straightforward, meaning you just need to connect your HDMI cables, and you’re good to go. No additional driver is required, and you can use it directly with OBS.
The AVerMedia Live Game Mini uses a lag-free transmission system. This feature is ideal for reducing latency, especially if you have a powerful PC and a strong internet connection. The H.264 encoder is equally reliable on most computers.
The only downside might be the tendency of the audio system to drop out or stop working. Still, it’s a good buy for anyone looking for a reliable and inexpensive capture card.
- Pretty cheap.
- Small and portable.
- Easy to install.
- The built-in encoder is not always compatible with Mac computers.
- Sound problems.
If you are buying a capture card for the first time, consider a few things. They should help you find the option that best meets your needs and preferences:
What kind of content do you create? The capture card specification varies from target to target. Some are more suitable for recording high-definition video, while others are perfect for streaming video for long periods.
If you want to stream gameplay in high resolution, your capture card should be able to display 1080p. While some cards allow recordings in this resolution for editing, they do not support 1080p streaming, which is the highest output resolution of the switcher. However, as long as you’re not using a capture card with next-gen consoles like the PS5 or Xbox Series X, this release is more than adequate to work with.
Capture cards are quite expensive, so you inevitably have to factor in the cost. In general, the price of a capture card depends on its brand and features. The higher the price, the higher the quality of the recorded video.
Therefore, professional gamers are more likely to opt for high-end capture cards like the Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro, which can be prohibitively expensive for the casual gamer. However, if you don’t want constant power, a cheap capture card should suffice.
3. Video output quality
You will probably need a rich video if you want to broadcast your game. Unfortunately, this means you have to invest in one of the most expensive cards.
Since the Switch can only produce 1080p video, there is no need to purchase a Full HD or 4K recording card. It should be fine as long as it can deliver 1080p resolution at 60fps.
4. Ease of use
It is always advantageous to get an easy capture card to manage. It helps to read reviews or watch YouTube videos to understand exactly how a particular product works. Fortunately, the capture cards in this guide have features and applications that are easy enough for both casual and professional players.
How to Play and Register the Game
If you’re using a capture card to stream to your Nintendo Switch, you’ll also need additional hardware and software, especially if you want to record high-quality video:
- Broadcast software such as Streamlabs OBS.
- Bridge to the creek.
- A headset with a good microphone. You can also purchase a special tabletop condenser microphone if you really want your voice to be heard loud and clear.
If you have the necessary equipment and are ready to start streaming, the following steps can help you set up the physical installation:
- Disconnect the HDMI connector from the display and connect it to the capture card.
- Connect the capture card to your computer via the Type-C connector.
- Finally, connect the capture card’s HDMI output to the display or the display’s HDMI input using a second HDMI cable.
Nintendo has always had incredibly loyal and unconditional fans. So streaming on the Switch could be extremely useful for this ready audience. Unfortunately, the video game library is quite limited. But that can work to your advantage since the niche isn’t as saturated with streamers as popular titles on various other platforms.
Here are some of the most popular Switch games in streaming mode:
- Crossings: New horizons
- Pokémon Sword and Shield
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Super Mario Odyssey
- Super Smash Bros. Natural
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a capture card for the Nintendo Switch cost?
A: It depends on your budget. If you need a simple capture card, you can probably get one for the price of a new Nintendo Switch game. However, a high-end, premium option will likely cost you 3 to 4 times as much as an economy card.
What settings are needed to make good video recordings?
A: The Nintendo Switch is limited to 1080p resolution. So the best way to make sure you get high-quality video is to optimize the game video recording file format. There are two main options: MPEG-4 and H.264.
H.264 is the best option. First, it creates smaller files, so you can record more video while using less storage space. It also offers better video quality with slightly lower latency for live streaming.
Can I use a capture card on my Nintendo Switch Lite?
A: The Nintendo Switch Lite is a smaller version, so it does not include any external controllers or visual output options.
However, if you want to take photos with Lite, you can put together a physical configuration of the camera, including the camera itself, the setup, and the proper lighting.
Do you need a capture card for Nintendo streaming?
A: Capture Card – Since the Nintendo Switch does not support internal streaming, you must purchase a capture card.
What capture cards do streamers use?
A: The Elgato Game Capture HD60 S card is widely recognized as one of the best options for streaming in the most popular online destinations. The card can stream video at a maximum bit rate of 40 Mbps and also record live video in 1080p resolution at 30 or 60 frames per second.
Does the capture card help with streaming?
A: Capture cards are used to record content and stream it to the screen – usually in streamers for video games. Due to computer power and data rate limitations, modern set-top boxes cannot render and encode video in real-time at high quality. This is where the capture cards from the game come into play.
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