Elgato HD60 S+ Review
Since Twitch was established in 2011, live streaming has evolved into a billion-dollar industry where names such as Shroud, Dr Disrespect, Summit, and Ninja have all become household names. Not only are these players extremely high skilled and entertaining to watch, but a key component of their content is the high level of production value. There is where having the correct hardware, in particular capture cards, is the key to having great looking content
What is a capture card?
A common misconception is that capture cards are used to reduce the encoding and processing demands on your hardware, making more resources available for the video game you are playing. In the majority of cases, this incorrect (some captures card such as the 4K60 S+ can actually handle the encoding and even record the gameplay on an SD card) as the encoding is still done by your PC’s CPU. In fact, using a capture card on a single PC setup can actually increase CPU usage depending on the card and configuration, but used correctly and a capture card can become an asset to a streamers kit.
A capture card’s sole purpose is to capture the audio and video of its source (PC/console/camera) and transfer it to another source, such as a PC. This means capture cards are primarily used for two reasons; capturing gameplay on consoles and for dual-PC streaming setups.
Current-gen consoles allow gamers to stream their gameplay via integrated broadcasting software within the consoles operating system. This is sufficient for most amateur content creators who want to test the waters, but there are obvious limitations to customising your stream such as the absence of overlays, notifications, and scenes. By using a capture card, console streamers can capture their gameplay footage and transfer it to a PC. This allows the PC to handle all of the encoding with no added load on the console. The biggest appeal of capture cards for console streamers is the ability to use any third-party software such as OBS Studio, X Split, and Streamlabs OBS to increase the production quality on their stream, something your current-gen console cannot provide.
Dual-PC streams act in much the same manner — The capture card transfers the footage from the gaming/primary PC to a streaming/secondary PC that will handle all of the encoding. This reduces the load on your primary PC as it no longer handles the encoding of video and additional software required for streaming. This is now all done on your streaming PC and can save you thousands of dollars in upgrading your PC’s hardware as it slowly becomes dated.
Elgato is a household name for streaming products with everything from capture cards to lighting, to microphones, to stream decks; Elgato is the goto brand for streaming and content creating products. Elgato has identified that streaming from current-gen consoles is somewhat limited and is not allowing console streamers to take their product to the next level, but not any more thanks to the Elgato HD60 S+ USB capture card.
The Elgato HD60 S+ in an external video capture card that allows for recording and streaming of video/audio content from any HDMI source (such as PC, gaming console, camera etc.) at 1080p, 60FPS, with HDR10 and true 4K60 passthrough. This means that content creators can record/stream footage at Full-HD (with HDR10), yet still enjoy the benefits of 4K60 gaming on their own display.
As HDR10 is becoming an industry-standard amongst displays, it is amazing to see that Elgato has embraced this technology. This ensures that content creators are able to provide the highest level of detail in their content with the darkest darks and lightest lights thanks to HDR10 technology.
The HD60 S+ uses its captured video and audio and transfer this data to a connected PC or laptop via its USB 3.0 interface. This data can then be live-streamed (using software such as OBS, Studio, X Split, or Elgato’s Game Capture software) or recorded for editing and content creation. An HDMI passthrough is also connected to your display so you can actually play the game without having to watch your own stream! I encountered no latency issues when using the HDMI passthrough, which is critical for FPS or fighting games. There was some delay from my actual gameplay to my stream, but this is expected and is no different from a single PC set up.
The HD60 S+ also features a 3.5mm audio input for capturing external audio that I found useful for when I wanted to provide additional commentary over my video content, other than that I didn’t come across any additional use.
Setting up the HD60 S+ could not be any easier — Simply connect HDMI cable from your console into the HDMI In port on the HD60 S+, then plug in the supplied HDMI cable from the HD60 S+‘s HDMI Out to your display/TV and finally connect the USB-C cable from the HD60 S+’s USB Out to your PC/laptop and you are ready to go!
I did encounter some common issues when setting up the HD60 S+ on consoles, mainly around HDCP (digital copyright protection). I had to disable this feature on my PS4 (in settings) and change my power settings on Xbox One to get around this. Disabling HDCP on your console will prevent you from watching Netflix or any other copyrighted content while your HD60 S+ is connected, so just a heads up.
When using the HD60 S+ in a dual-PC setup, simply follow the same process but connect the HDMI Into your gaming PC’s graphic card (make sure your GPU has HDMI output) to capture your gameplay and then provide this footage to your devoted streaming PC. This allows for your gaming PC to devote all of its performance to your game, while the HD60 S+ works with your streaming PC to do all the encoding and processing required for live-streaming and recording.
I tested the HD60 S+ with OBS Studio, Streamlabs OBS, X Split and Elgato’s 4K Capture software and I experienced no issues in setting up and recognising the HD60 S+ as the video input device. This was a painless process and I was able to stream within minutes of connecting the HD60 S+, I only wish I had some people actually watch my stream!
One feature I was particularly fond of was the 4K60 passthrough. This meant I could stream at 1080p60, yet still play The Last of Us Part II in 4K on my PS4 Pro and Valorant at 1440p on my PC.
I was impressed with the performance of the HD60 S+. Not only was it extremely simple to set up and integrate into 3rd party software, but the image quality it was able to capture was perfect. Usually, when I review a game I find myself posing in-game to create the perfect screenshot. However, with the HD60 S+ the capture quality is that good that I was able to simply record my entire session and go back and select the perfect screenshot.
There aren’t many settings that you need to be aware of when setting up and calibrating the HD60 S+, in fact, the majority of settings need to be set from the video source you are using. For instance, to ensure that you are recording in HDR10 you need to ensure that HDR10 is enabled on your Xbox One or PS4.
Thanks to the USB interface of the HD60 S+, there is no need for spare PCI-e slots. This means that all you need is a laptop (with support for even macOS) to capture all your gameplay and manage your stream. Elgato has included USB 3.0 in both the HD60S and HD60 S+ to ensure that there is no bottlenecking of data transfer and this worked flawlessly in my testing as I experienced no latency issues at all. The only issue with its USB interface is that the HD60 S+ uses USB to power the unit, which means it needs to be connected in order to passthrough the HDMI signal. This is a bit annoying as there were times I didn’t have my streaming PC turned on and the HD60 S+ didn’t passthrough the HDMI signal, but this is a small complaint as once you are aware of it it is easy to workaround.
“What is the difference between the HD60S and the HD60S+?”
This is a question I was asked when I was testing the HD60 S+ and I am sure I will be asked once this review goes live. The differences may seem minimal, but in my case (and I dare say in the majority of cases) the difference between the two models is chalk and cheese. The HD60 +S features the ability to record (and passthrough) HDR10 content, passthrough 4K, UVC support, and support for Elgato 4K Capture Utility software (rather than Game Capture HD software). The 4K passthrough and HDR10 support make the HD60 S+ a worthwhile investment in my opinion. Sure, if you don’t have a 4K/HDR10 supported display, you could argue that saving a few dollars on the HD60S is the sensible option, but as technology continues to evolve it is only a matter of time until 4K becomes the standard and that is when you will regret not purchasing the HD60S+.
Elgato HD60 S+ Review
- DESIGN - 82%82%
- FEATURES - 80%80%
- INSTALLATION - 91%91%
- VALUE - 87%87%
The Elgato HD60 S+ is an essential product for streamers, in particular console streamers. PC streamers will benefit greatly from reducing the load on the gaming PC by incorporating the HD60 S+ and a second dedicated PC/laptop, while console streamers will be able to take their presentation quality to the next level by taking advantage of third-party software. At $359 AUD, the increased production value that the HD60 S+ can deliver to console content creators and reduced resource strain for PC users makes this a must-have purchase.
For more on Elgato, check out our previous coverage.