We live in a world where you can literally make a living playing video games. I don’t mean developing or reviewing games: you can simply sit down in front of a webcam and play.
While both the major consoles allow you to stream to Twitch without any extra work, they lack flexibility. Professional streamers and YouTubers use capture hardware that allows them to control their broadcasts.
Razer is attempting to get into this space with the release of its Ripsaw capture card. The market is dominated by the Elgato with its Game Capture HD (UK) and Game Capture HD60S (UK) models. With good reason, as they’re both solid pieces of hardware (as noted in our review of the original Game Capture HD). Roxio is also a major player with its Roxio Game Capture HD PRO (UK), but it’s just not as good as Elgato’s (or Razer’s) offerings.
There’s also the AverMedia Live Gamer Extreme (UK), which was discovered by some intrepid Reddit users to be basically the same device. The ports are in the same place, and the board looks identical — just different colors. They appear to use the same OEM. It doesn’t seem that anyone is stealing from each other, but if it comes down to choosing between the two, you should just get whichever is cheaper at the time (or which brand you prefer).
In terms of price, the Ripsaw is right on par with the AverMedia Live Gamer Extreme and Elgato Game Capture HD60 S at $180. So that brings us to the big question: how does the Razer Ripsaw get on in the video game capture world? Is it the one to buy, or should you stick with the Elgato?
If you’re honestly thinking about turning your love of video games into a Twitch or YouTube career, you need a capture card that can create the kinds of videos you want. A quick look over the numbers is important, but I will say that the Razer Ripsaw hits all the key marks.
- 1080p game capture (with support for 1080i, 720p, 576p, 576i, 480p, 480i as well)
- Record up to 60 FPS
- USB 3.0 for reduced latency of data transfer
- Audio mix-in for commentary
- Support for older systems that use component with included adapters
If you put those numbers side-by-side with the Elgato, you’ll find everything is pretty much identical, with the only exception being the inclusion of the component cables. If you plan on making your Twitch millions playing original Xbox, PS2 (or with a PS3, which can be difficult to use with other streaming devices), then you can simply stop reading right now and buy the Razer, because it works far better with these and you don’t need to buy any additional adapters.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to capture older consoles like the NES, SNES, or N64 without modifying the consoles themselves, which isn’t something we’d expect most gamers to be willing to do (we’re certainly not). I know it’s a niche market, but with the popularity of retro games right now, it seems like an poor omission to leave out easy support for composite cables. Of course, Razer isn’t the only culprit, as just about every other high-end device on the market leaves off this feature. The original Elgato Came Capture HD has support for old consoles, so if that’s your thing, you do have options out there.
Of course, if you’re only looking to stream and capture the latest and greatest, then that won’t be a problem for you, and you can just keep on reading!
Setup and Initial Impressions
As always seems to be the case with Razer stuff, the packaging is pretty. Once opened, everything is nicely laid out in the box, and all the cables you need to connect any console are included. There’s the USB 3.0 cable, HDMI cable, component cable, and so on.
As far as getting things up and running, the process is painless, even if you’ve never used a device like this. The ports are all labeled: HDMI in goes from the console to the capture device; HDMI out goes to the TV or monitor; USB goes to the computer on which you want to capture.
You’ll need Razer’s Synapse software to get the drivers up and running, but unlike many other manufactures, Razer hasn’t developed its own custom capture software. This could be conceived as a negative, but honestly, you’re going to use OBS or Xsplit anyway, so it makes sense that Razer decided to save time.
Once you have the drivers installed, you use the Ripsaw just like you would a webcam in your streaming software. You add it as part of a scene and adjust the settings. It’s all pretty easy.
What makes this device high-end is the ability to capture footage at 1080p and 60 frames per second. If you’re playing a game that supports that resolution and frame rate, then you’ll actually be able to stream and record what you’re seeing, not a scaled down version of it. Of course, you’ll also need a suitably high upload speed to stream this quality live, but for recording, it won’t be a problem.
The USB 3.0 is key to streaming and capturing high FPS gameplay because it gets rid of latency. In fact, data transfer is so fast between the Razer Ripsaw and the PC, that you could almost play the game directly in the capture window of OBS or Xsplit. I can’t imagine why you’d want to, but the option is there.
There’s really not a whole lot else to say about the footage, though. It works as advertised (as long as you remember to set the resolution and frame rate correctly), and looks great.
As for sound, the built-in audio mixer is quite convenient. By connecting the microphone directly to the capture card, you can control the mix of game audio and commentary more accurately, which will come in handy if you’re trying to stand out in the incredibly competitive YouTube and Twitch space.
Should You Buy It?
If you only want to stream and record new consoles (and some relatively old ones like the Wii, PS3, original Xbox, etc.), then the Razer Ripsaw will do the job with ease. However, because it’s so similar to the AverMedia Live Gamer Extreme, we’d recommend picking up whichever is on sale. You’ll get the same results with either one. If you want to record retro games, get the Elgato Game Capture HD.
Work work for retro consoles, but otherwise, a solid choice for capturing game footage. Appears to be internally identical to the AverMedia Live Gamer Extreme, so buy whichever is cheaper