Every avid video gamer would have thought of creating video content by recording gameplays and create their own creed of subscribers.
With competitive gaming and esports already becoming the next big market segment in this industry, it’s only obvious that casual-to-pro gamers like you would want to know how to record gameplay on PC.
From simple walkthroughs to capturing funny game moments or just serious competitive gaming, streaming your game can be a profitable venture as well, beyond just the passion of it.
This sudden popularity of streaming gameplay is backed by newly added features on leading streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube. But how can we record the gameplay on PC in the first place?
Well, there are a number of free and paid recording software – Wondershare, Bandicam other than the quintessential OBS. Suggesting one over the other is not the easiest thing to do considering that each software does something better than the other.
We can, however, advise you to try out OBS first. It’s free to use and open source, the perfect learning curve for a beginner serious about streaming content live. If however, you just want to game and stream, keep things simple, go for any other top streaming platform that we have already mentioned.
Worth mentioning though, while most recording applications are free to use, they do not offer 4K recording, without affecting your gameplay that is. So, if you have a streaming PC that can churn out decent frame rates at an acceptable quality and at 4K, you should instead think about directly recording gameplay videos.
In-built recorders such as NVIDIA GeForce Experience and AMD Radeon Relive offer an exceptional class of recording for free.
Frame rates will still drop though as these apps will use your GPU for the streaming itself, but not enough to suggest otherwise if you have a good enough graphics card.
Recording Gameplay on PC!
Before you begin to walk down the road of recording gameplay on PC, contemplate on different available options and your intended purpose for recording. In case it is for educational purposes, sharing a cheat code with your friends, free software services will suffice.
It is better to go with the best quality you can record while sticking to your budget. Record or live stream gameplay and increase subscribers over time. For higher quality videos, you will need HD recording software, probably a paid service, or a Capture card.
In reality, you have just two options to record gameplay on PC, viz. –
- Free/Paid screen recording applications
- Using Capture Cards for recording gameplay videos
Here’s a detailed what and how of it!
What Do You Need to Record Gameplay on PC?
For recording gameplay on your PC, firstly you need to have a gaming system powerful enough to display the quality you intend to use for recording.
Other than that, you need the necessary equipment that will record a live gaming session, which can either be a capture card or screen recording software.
Files recorded from either of the two methods can then be used for post-processing where you can edit, crop, or make copies of different moments to compile content of your liking. Both these methods allow the use of external audio into the original video file recorded by them.
What Software to Use for Recording Gameplay on PC?
There are a large number of popular recording software available on different websites. While some of these software are free, others are available for an annual subscription fees. Each software does offer different quality standards and freedoms over the raw recorded software.
Most free software are limited in their outputs and not suitable for recording gameplay at over 60 frames per second or at resolutions above HD. On the other hand, paid software come with a larger array of embedded features and recording abilities at higher frame rates with extra audio inputs through mics.
Here a few software we can suggest based on the first-hand experience. Try them out and find the best game recording software as per your requirements and preferences.
- Xsplit Gamecaster
- OBS Studio
- Streamlabs OBS
- Movavi Screen Recorder
Do You Have the Right PC?
For recording gameplay videos on your PC, your device should have the capability to produce a decent frame rate and lag-free gaming experience. If your device can render 60 fps without stuttering or artefacts, you will easily be able to record good-quality gameplay videos.
If you intend to use the footage for professional benefit, your system should be capable enough to produce at least 70-80 frames at moderate-to-high display settings.
Otherwise, what’s the point of streaming content with below-par graphics quality? You need to know your limitations though. Running graphic intensive games such as Assassins Creed Valhalla at ultra-settings will demand too much from even an RTX 2080 if you are not using a capture card.
Our hardware recommendations for 2020 if you want to record gameplay on PC –
FHD TN panel monitor delivering 120 Hz refresh rates
Intel Core i5 10th generation or AMD Ryzen 5 3rd generation.
16 GB DDR4 RAM
AMD RX 5700 graphics card / RTX 2070 Super.
When Do You Need Video Capture Cards?
Capture cards can push your streaming budget north. However, it can save your PC from burning out. With a capture card working in tandem, your PC is much less involved with a live stream or even a gameplay recording, thus leaving more processing and graphics power to run the game. This also translates into better quality streaming content, vital to get the first few subscribers in.
Hardware you will need to use a capture card –
- Standalone USB
- PCI Express devices
A capture card will record from external devices like gaming consoles, cameras, other than from the PC. In recent years, these devices have tremendously improved their features. These devices are designed to store an unencrypted video signal by converting them into a computer-readable format.
The PCI express capture cards support multiple inputs, including HDMI and SDI. Consider getting HDMI if your PC can churn FHD content. Also, know that PCIe based capture cards are far more reliable thanks to lower latency.
Above all though, a USB capture card offers far more flexibility. Basically, any computer with a USB 3.0 port can support USB capture cards. But using lots of USB connected devices can overload the USB controller of your PC by having too many high throughput devices plugged into it.
Such issues may arise while using a 4K USB Capture card and a 4K webcam at the same time.
There are capture cards, capable of encoding and recording like the Elgato 4K60 S+, which comes with a pre-installed hardware encoding chip. This capture card can convert the encoded data into a playable video format without the need for any processing by the PC.
Verdict: Best Way to Record PC Gameplay
For someone looking to record PC gameplay only once or twice, a free screen recording software is the best possible option. In case you are interested in recording gameplay video for streaming competitively, it is better to go ahead with a cost-effective method.
For a long-term budget-friendly setup, you can consider using a capture card for recording gameplay videos. Even free software makes use of either the graphics or processing capability to record and encode the video files. But frame rates will drop. With a capture card, you may not need to upgrade your PC at all.
This is the best way to record PC gameplay!
Recording via a capture card is far more secure than using free software. Even while using a paid software, the cost difference between a one-year subscription on a single device vs direct recording via a capture card slides towards the latter. However, you can just go ahead with a free or paid software as well. To conclude on a high, if you are serious about streaming, stick to it. Subscriptions rarely happen overnight!