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Best Game Recording & Streaming Software for PC 2019

Gaming has come a long way in recent years; both in terms of the quality of the games, and the interest in watching other people play. Whether it’s through live streams on Twitch or watching recorded gameplay videos on YouTube, gaming videos are becoming increasingly popular. But how do the YouTubers and streamers do it?

While many professional gamers will have a dedicated recording/streaming PC, you don’t need one. In fact, you might not even need to pay a penny to record games and livestream to popular platforms including Twitch, Facebook and YouTube. Here, we explain the differences between hardware and software-led recording, along with our recommendations of the best game recording and streaming software for PC.  

Should I opt for streaming software or hardware?

If you’re looking into game recording and streaming, you’ll have probably noticed two options: software or hardware. Is there any difference between the two? In a word, yes.

Software-powered streaming and capture is recommended for those just starting out, as it’s usually much cheaper than buying streaming hardware that can cost upwards of £100. In fact, if you opt for OBS or Nvidia ShadowPlay, it’s completely free to download and use!

The downside? Software-powered capture and streaming can have a negative effect on the performance of your PC, especially when gaming. This is because your PC is using your CPU and GPU to record, encode and (if applicable) stream your gameplay alongside powering the game itself. While it won’t have a noticeable effect on PCs and laptops running the latest hardware, you may see frame rate drops and more if you’re running it on an older PC.

Hardware-powered options like the Elgato Game Capture HD60 have a minimal effect on your PCs performance because all the recording and encoding is handled by hardware that sits between your PCs display output and the display itself. The bundled software is usually a breeze to use too, though this will depend on the capture card in question. We’ve got a list of the best capture cards if that’s the route you’d like to go down.

It’s worth noting that if you’re looking to stream your gameplay live, you’ll always have some kind of effect on game performance as that is always handled by the PC, regardless of a hardware recorder. 

If you think that software-led game streaming and capture is the way forward, keep on reading for our recommendations of the best game recording and streaming software for PC.

Best Game Recording & Streaming Software 2019

Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)

XSplit Gamecaster

XSplit Gamecaster

Nvidia ShadowPlay

Nvidia ShadowPlay

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