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The best PC game video capture software: 5 top recording tools compared

Ian Paul | March 7, 2016
For an emerging Twitch broadcaster, or any gamer eager to share epic highlights with pals.

Open Broadcast Software

OBS is a popular open-source solution for recording gameplay, and specifically, for blasting it out to the world. As its name suggests, OBS can be used to broadcast your game streams on platforms like Twitch, and OBS is also used for creating screencasts. It’s a powerful program, but OBS is most definitely not recommended for anyone who just wants a quick and easy game capture solution.

For starters, OBS is very complex, and that complexity is not a result of the program’s powerful features but its design. It’s not at all obvious, for example, how to start simply recording gaming sessions. That means you’ll have to do a little research.

And once you do figure out OBS it gets worse. Essential parts of the set-up process to record a gaming session are buried under a right-click. That’s a cardinal sin of software design. Yes, it helps to have extra features hidden away for power users, but essential basics that everyone needs should not be hidden beneath the non-obvious right-click.

In my tests, I also had serious trouble getting OBS to record my gaming session, succeeding only after setting OBS to capture my entire monitor. Now to be fair, I tested OBS on a laptop with an e-GPU set-up, and OBS’ guide says it has trouble dealing with laptops running two graphics processors. That said, OBS is the only program I tested that had an issue figuring out which GPU to use.

Unless you’re willing to put in some time to learn this software or have needs beyond simple game recording—professional Twitch streamers swear by OBS and its deep, configurable power—look elsewhere.

MSI Afterburner

This program isn’t exactly game capture software, but it is a popular program with gaming enthusiasts, and anyone who already has it could just use this instead of downloading a separate piece of video capture software. MSI Afterburner is predominantly a graphics card overclocking suite—not just MSI graphics cards, either—that comes with a second download called RivaTuner Statistics Server. RTSS is a great tool for limiting the frame rates of your games if your GPU is working harder than necessary.

In the current version of Afterburner—version 4.2.0—you can get to the video capture settings by clicking on the Settings button at the bottom of the main dashboard. Then use the scroll arrows in the window that opens to get to the Video capture tab. By default, you use F10 to start recording, but you can also set it to automatically start recording every time you start a game. There are other settings below that if you want to change any video capture settings, such as the recording frame rate or the default video file type.


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