The 6 Best TV Capture Cards and Video Capture Cards to Buy in 2018

Recording your favorite shows on your PC is easier than ever

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If you’re interested in getting live TV on your computer or television, a TV tuner card is here to answer the call. Some tuner cards come in a form that is internal and connects inside a PC. Other cards are external peripherals that can connect to your set top box and plug back into your computer via USB or HDMI cable. No matter which option you select, whether it's live TV or video game playback, you can utilize this unique technology to cut the cord or complement your existing cable offering. This list represents the best in today's offerings and while some options are slightly older, they still offer the exact capabilities you're looking for in a TV or Video tuner card.

Best Overall: Hauppauge Colossus 2 PCI

The very best tuner TV Card is the Hauppauge Colossus 2 PCI. Requiring just a single PCIe x1 or x16 slot, the feature-rich Colossus 2 is capable of recording videos directly from cable TV, satellite receivers and DVRs, as well as PlayStation 3/4 or the Xbox One or 360. With H.264 compression, the Colossus 2 records at HD resolutions up to 1080p all while storing data on your PC hard disk where space is limited only by the size of your own hard drive. Additionally, live streaming on applications such as Twitch and YouTube with Hauppauge’s StreamEez features add another layer of video game recording and playback.

With many TV tuner sticks, PC performance during playback and recording can often be a concern, but Hauppauge addresses this with video compression handled directly inside the Colossus 2 to offset any potential impact to PC performance. Audio quality is also not affected, thanks to the optical audio input that delivers standout audio quality from both video game playback and live TV broadcasts. Lastly, the final benefit of almost unlimited storage over a storage-limited DVR helps make the Hauppauge exceptionally well-valued. If you run out of storage on the PC with video, offload it to an external or cloud-based drive and carry on with new recordings. It’s that simple.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Hauppauge WinTV-quadHD PCI Express TV Tuner

If watching, pausing and recording up to four ATSC or clear QAM HD TV programs at the same time catches your eye, the Hauppauge WinTV-quadHD PCI express TV tuner card is exactly what you’re looking for. For use with computers capable of fitting a half-height PCI express board, the Hauppauge works inside both full and half height PCs with minimal installation and setup. The included remote control comes with a one-meter infrared receiver cable for easily plugging into television, so it's ready to work right out of the box. Beyond controlling playback from the comfort of your couch, the actual capturing is done via third-party programming or with Microsoft’s own Windows Media Center that’s active on Windows 7, 8 and 10. Support for all ATSC formats with four ATSC over-the-air digital TV tuners onboard is included, so the Hauppauge won't miss a beat and can handily grab programming that’s currently being broadcast.

Best Apple Option: Elgato EyeTV Hybrid TV Tuner

The self-proclaimed “world’s smallest hybrid TV tuner stick,” The Elgato EyeTV hybrid TV tuner for Mac is an ideal piece of hardware for watching, pausing or recording live television on an Apple computer. Capable of receiving unscrambled cable TV, plus digital and analog signals, captured video in standard definition can be grabbed with a composite/S-video output, as well as a set-top box or a VCR. Adding to the Mac-specific features of the Elgato EyeTV, recordings can be directly imported into iTunes for seamless syncing with Apple devices. Watching TV is as basic as it gets with a resizable window on a Mac that’s easily controlled via mouse, keyboard or the included remote control.

The user-friendly on-screen menu will help you navigate and surf through the program guide with ease. Recording programming is just as easy as watching; you can set up automatic scheduling for recording a favorite series or even record the one-off shows you don’t want to miss. Editing programming gives you the opportunity to remove unwanted content (think commercials) or crop the beginning and end of a show to eliminate unwanted spoilers. iPhone owners will find their own magic with the Elgato EyeTV with the downloadable app available in iTunes, which allows them to watch live TV wherever there’s an available Wi-Fi connection.

Best Multifunction: Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner

While Hauppauge’s Digital TV Tuner might be primarily designed for the Xbox One, its multipurpose function for both the Xbox and live TV make it an ideal purchase for buyers. Initially, the Hauppauge’s primary function is to enjoy over-the-air television alongside game play with the Xbox One allowing access to any broadcast networks available in your area. This type of viewing would eliminate the need to switch inputs between games and TV. Beyond the Xbox, the Hauppauge adds extra functionality by including an activation code for the company’s Hauppauge Win TV v8 application for Windows 10, 8.1, 8 and 7. The application itself allows Hauppauge owners to watch TV in a window or full screen as well as record digital TV programs to a connected PC’s hard drive.

Installation is easy, just connect the Xbox One via USB, and with the included antenna, it can receive the best reception within a 10-mile radius from any TV transmitter. For reception beyond 10 miles, a high-quality antenna can be separately purchased to boost the channel selection. At just eight ounces and measuring at 3 x 6.5 x 8.5 inches, the Hauppauge is small and easily disappears when connected to either the Xbox One or connected Windows PC. If you were not already sold on the Hauppauge TV tuner, perhaps the addition of streaming live TV to Windows PCs or iOS and Android devices around the house is enough to win you over.

Best Video Game Capture: Elgato Game Capture HD60

If capturing memories of video games are just what you need to remind your friends later of that all-important victory you achieved, Elgato’s Game Capture HD60 is a great get. Capable of recording from both the Xbox One, Wii U and Playstation 4, the Elgato records 1080p quality with 60fps right back to your Mac or PC. To make things even more convenient, Elgato offers “flashback recording,” allowing the user to “slide back time” retroactively and record your game after you’re done playing.

A built-in live streaming feature offers connectivity to Twitch, YouTube or Ustream that offers users not only a way to record their own victories, but a way to show them off to the world. Additionally, there’s just one-click sharing available to push captured videos to YouTube, Facebook or Twitter. Most important is that at 3.7 ounces and measuring at 4.4 x 3 x 0.75 inches, the Elgato doesn't take up any room on your desk.

Best Internal Card: Blackmagic Design DeckLink Mini Recorder

From Blackmagic Design, this low profile PCIe capture card lets you record SD, HD or 4K footage via HDMI or SDI. Its input panel holds a single SD/HD/3G/6G-SDI input and its HDMI 2.0a connections let you capture all formats up to 2160p30 on your computer. The inputs automatically detect and switch between audio formats, and it supports all of your favorite software including DaVinci Resolve, Fusion, Premiere Pro CC, After Effects CC, Avid Pro Tools, Photoshop CC and more. You can even develop customizable capture solutions with the Blackmagic Desktop Video SDK for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.