Review: Elgato Game Capture HD

Elgato Game Capture HD Review

So here’s the thing — I’d been searching for an easy way to save my Skyrim game footage and screen shots from my Xbox 360 to my computer. My current rig is a 27″ iMac with a Windows 8 partition (best of both worlds — Mac and PC). I knew the technology existed to capture epic (and not so epic) game moments for my personal collection, as well as YouTube videos and screen shots for desktop wallpaper. After a little research, it came down to either the Hauppage PVR 2 or the Elgato Game Capture HD. Both devices were highly rated and appeared to offer what I wanted, but I finally decided on the Elgato for a couple of reasons:

  1. Size. The Elgato is significantly smaller than the Hauppage  unit, and is tiny by comparison (measuring a pocket-sized 4.4 x 3 x 1 inches ). My gaming/home theater system is crowded enough with game consoles, speakers, DVD players, etc., and the diminutive size of the Elgato Game Capture was definitely appealing. 
  2. Plays nice with Apple. Although I run both OSX and Windows 8 on my iMac, I anticipated editing  game videos in iMovie and tweaking screenshots in Photoshop for Mac. For workflow reasons, it just made a whole lot of sense to purchase a game capture device that was Mac friendly. Between the two, the Elgato Game Capture was the winner.
  3. Ease of use. I consider myself technologically savvy, and have never shied away from electronics because they might be too complex or complicated to use. With that said, when I play video games I just want to chill. It’s my special time to relax and immerse myself in the gaming experience, and the last thing I’d want to do is monkey around with ornery gizmos or software. From my research, it seemed the Elgato was the simpler of the two to operate.

After making my decision to purchase the Elgato, I hunted around for the best deal. I’m not opposed to buying used, but as crazy as it sounds people were selling second-hand units on eBay for more than brand new. At the time of my purchase, Amazon and Rakuten (formerly had the best price out there — $159.95 with free shipping. I buy most of my tech on Amazon, but I opted to buy from Rakuten because I had some customer loyalty “Super Points” to spend, which knocked the price back a bit [Note: the price on Rakuten has now jumped to $176.14, while the Amazon price has dropped to $158.77. If you’re in the market for an Elgato, make sure you shop around].

My Elgato Game Capture HD arrived by FedEx yesterday morning, and I had a chance to play with the device throughout the day. Let me tell you, I’m stoked. The quality of the captured video and sound is flat out amazing, and it was unbelievable how bone-head easy it was to set up. The device works with Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, but seeing as how I wanted to primarily capture Skyrim footage, I hooked it up to the 360 in three simple steps:

  1. Connected the Xbox 360 to the Elgato’s “HDMI In” port with the supplied HDMI cable.
  2. Connected my home theater receiver (which in turn is connected to my television) to the Elgato’s “HDMI Out” port with my existing HDMI cable.
  3. Connected the Elgato to my iMac with the supplied USB cable.

That was it! The Elgato draws power through the iMac USB port, so there was no need to plug a power brick in the wall outlet (again, saving on space and clutter). Once everything was hooked up, I downloaded the Elgato Game Capture HD software from the company’s website and I was up and running in about 15 minutes. The software was intuitive to use (click big red button to record, click the same big button to stop), and I was recording amazing 1080p video from my Xbox 360 onto my iMac with ease.

The Elgato Game Capture HD has met and  exceeded my expectations. If you’re looking to capture video from your game console to your computer, I don’t think you could find a better device.

To illustrate the Elgato’s video and sound quality, I’ve posted a 39 second video of me getting my butt kicked by an ancient dragon. Good stuff!

[youtube_sc url=”ebHJD6iuGp8″ title=”Skyrim%20Fansite%20Epic%20Fail%20#1:%20How%20Not%20to%20Fight%20a%20Dragon”]

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Shane Scarbrough
Shane Scarbrough

Shane Scarbrough is the founder of the Skyrim Fansite. He's a business owner, video game journalist, and role playing game aficionado. When he’s not working he enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games. He's currently on his third playthrough of Skyrim, and is playing as a Templar in The Elder Scrolls Online. You can find Shane on Google+ and FaceBook.

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