This capture card does something NO OTHER capture card does! MAGIC?! – Elgato 4K60 Pro MK2 Review


Intro
Today, Elgato (now owned by Corsair, for those of you confused why the Amazon pages sometimes
show Corsair – it’s the same products) announced and released their second 4K capture card
into the wild. Sadly, it’s not a USB capture device. Instead, we get the Elgato 4K60 Pro Mark 2. Well, it’s just the “4K60 Pro” since
it’s replacing the original, but I’ll be referring to it here as the “Mark 2”
just to avoid confusion. This is a pretty major update to the original
4K60 Pro device that both makes it more capable and shrinks it down substantially, and is
finally competitive to AVerMedia’s Live Gamer 4K that’s been stomping the floor
with them since release. Plus, it packs a secret trick that no other
capture card seems to have thus far! I’ve had it for a few days to put it through
its paces and we’ll cover my full review after a word from AntLion Audio, this video’s
sponsor. [Modmic wireless ad spot] Context/History
I’m EposVox, here to make tech easier and more fun.. The ‘stream professor’ as some have started
saying… and this is the Elgato 4K60 Pro Mark 2. This is a HDMI capture card capable of pulling
in your cameras, game consoles, or gaming PCs in and recording or streaming them. This is great for capturing or streaming your
PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, or in a 2 PC streaming capture setup – but this does NOT benefit
a single PC streaming setup, normal OBS works fine there, and plenty of cheaper capture
cards available if you’re on a Nintendo Switch or older, 1080p-only consoles. The original 4K60 Pro launched nearly 2 years
ago for an asking price of $400 and was met with some skepticism of the price, but mostly
great applause. It was the first 4K 60fps gaming capture card,
after all, and the most affordable – with competing options on the professional side
from the likes of Magewell costing $800 or more. Also this was the first time that high refresh
rate PC capture was made available to gamer capture cards. However, about 7 months later, AVerMedia released
their new wave of capture cards. Three of which could at least pass through
4K 60FPS, and their flagship not only capturing it, but also capturing or tone-mapping HDR,
something Elgato couldn’t do. The worst part? It was $100 cheaper. And had a few other features that Elgato’s
offering lacked. Between that and the 4K-passthrough-compatible
USB cards, which Elgato has yet to produce, it’s seemed like AVerMedia was very much
winning the “capture card wars” for the past year, so it’s nice to see Elgato finally
catch up – and at a cheaper price tag than AVerMedia’s option. $250 is what Elgato wants from you for their
new 4K60, HDR, 1440p144, 1080p240 capture card, and it’s hard to argue that it’s
not worth it. But, as usual with Elgato, they’re most
held-back by their software, though in ways that most users won’t care about. Disclosure
Full disclosure time, as always. This product was sent for review by Elgato. Neither Elgato nor Corsair are paying for
this review, telling me what to say, nor seeing it before it is posted. Elgato has purchased advertising on my channel
in the past, but not related to this device, and that has no impact on this review. Video description will contain Amazon affiliate
links, which give a small kickback to the channel at no extra cost to you. Hardware
While the devices come with less-than-ideal software, the hardware however, is ROCK SOLID. They took what was once a big, beefy boi which
they even added a support piece for when it’s used in x16 PCIe slots for, and shrunk it
down to perfectly fit the exact size and shroud of their older HD60 Pro. It’s still PCIe 4x of course, but much smaller. This comes with the added benefit of supporting
small form factor PC builds again, and the bracket is included in the box – along with
an HDMI cable and a case badge. This does come at the cost of a backplate
on the card – which personally I couldn’t care less about, but I received a RIDICULOUS
amount of comments from people saying they outright wouldn’t buy the Live Gamer 4K
due to it not having one – and no LED lighting like the 4K60 Pro has. Oh well. Unfortunately there’s also no heatsink. You may remember that the original 4K60 Pro
got stupidly hot in use – well I’m told this is because the new FPGA on the card – specifically
the SmartVDO 1917 or P2140 from Yuan – runs much cooler and doesn’t need it. It’s also what we owe the new HDR and tone-mapping
functionality to. In researching this, I also realized that
the upgrade is so significant, especially in terms of cooling, because the 4K60 Pro
literally has 4 of the HD60 Pro’s FPGA onboard, with another chip stitching them together. Oh, Elgato, the cost of being first… For those asking why they didn’t “fix
it” with just software updates instead of a rerelease – this is why. Either way, everything is nice and black and
sleek and I appreciate the build here, even if the shroud feels like it’s just a heating
coil for my GPU’s TDP. You’re looking at HDMI 2.0 input and output,
but no analog audio support or DisplayPort or anything like that. I’ve actually asked Elgato if they’d consider
making a DisplayPort Capture Card and they said it’s basically not even an option for
them due to the cost of manufacturing. Secret Trick
I need to go on and talk about this before this video goes any further. Elgato have done something with the driver
of this capture card – which seems to work plug and play, by the way – that I’ve not
seen done in ANY other video device in Windows… EVER. The 4K60 Pro Mark 2 can output its video stream
to two programs at once. Yes, really. The driver is magic. This means you can record your raw gameplay
without overlays in their 4K Capture Utility and still stream a lower resolution copy with
overlays in OBS! Now, Elgato previously implemented this as
a bonus feature to their 4K Capture Utility by means of the “Stream Link” option. This used the NDI network streaming protocol
to loop the video in your PC to then be pulled into OBS. This is different. This is happening in the driver. None of that nonsense. It’s like magic! This way you deal with none of the delay or
weirdness that can happen with the Stream Link beta. While it’s not something I would use a whole
lot at this point in my career, I’ve run into plenty of headache with devices only
being accessible in one program and blocking out another – and I get requests on how to
work around this ALL THE TIME… so for some creators this may be the SOLE selling point
of this capture card that makes them open their wallet. Capture specs
As mentioned, this new capture card is capable of great things, though most of it will be
familiar. The 4K60 Pro can pass through 1080p up to
240hz, 1440p up to 144hz, and 4K UHD up to 60hz, as well as HDR10. You can pass-through 4K and capture or stream
1080p or 720p, you can passthrough 1440p 144fps or 120fps and stream 720p60fps, any combination
you like. I don’t currently have the ability to test
ultrawide, but typically the support here is up to 3440×1440 around 100hz – but I don’t
have the monitors to test this at the moment. This makes it great to go in your streaming
PC in a dual PC streaming setup, or to capture your 4K HDR consoles. Again, this doesn’t benefit a single PC
streaming setup in any way. Please don’t waste your money and then ask
me how to make it improve your stream performance. Unfortunately, this capture card still only
operates in the 4:2:0 color space. So while XRGB, and YUY2 are exposed as emulated
options for the driver, you should only be selecting NV12 or YV12. XRGB will add more system load and make your
image more punchy for no reason. Now, this doesn’t matter to many people,
and honestly by time your stream hits Twitch or Mixer, it may not matter BUT the reason
it matters to me is due to the way text is rendered for PC output. Lower color resolution, such as 4:2:0 can
generally make your image feel softer, but also text and fine details from sources like
PC inputs can exhibit color fringing, where there’s green and red around the text. This is frustrating, and potentially harder
for the encoder to compress, but not noticeable in a final stream to most. But it bothers me, and garbage in garbage
out, right? Plus, the Live Gamer 4K operates in 4:4:4
RGB, so why not? HOWEVER, the lag-free passthrough is still
4:4:4 RGB. This is super important so that YOUR view
of the game or screen isn’t compromised. Older Elgato cards like the HD60 Pro did not
have this and using them with PC was a frustrating experience if you noticed the issue. Speaking of things that will mainly annoy
just me – the 4K60 Pro Mark 2 doesn’t play nice with 4:3 PC resolutions. I was using the Live Gamer 4K to run Ion Fury
at 1024×768 120hz to a CRT, which worked fine. The 4K60 Pro, however, kept forcing it to
1080p at times, stretching it to widescreen, and weirdly cutting off part of the image
by the time it got converted to my CRT. There’s many quirks along the way here that
may have affected it, but still frustrating to run into. I cover more retro use cases later in the
video. 1080i does work, though the deinterlacing
in 4K Capture Utility feels a little blurry. Adaptive Sync such as FreeSync or GSync is
not supported. Period. Lastly, we have input latency. I measured an average of 58ms to OBS fullscreen
preview with the 4K60 Pro Mark 2. Having the stream sent to both the 4K Capture
Utility and OBS did not seem to impact this number. That puts the 4K60 Pro Mark 2 significantly
faster than the original 4K60 Pro but not the fastest card, even from Elgato, that I’ve
tested. It’s more than good enough, though. But again I must remind people, this is NOT
fast enough to play from the preview in Windows. You need a monitor connected to the output
passthrough or you’ll have a bad time. Also just to mention it since their old devices
confused people: There isn’t a “max bitrate” for the capture card. There hasn’t been such a thing since the
original HD60. The HD60 S and newer devices send an uncompressed
signal to your PC and the only bitrate limitation is what their software caps at – in OBS you
can go way higher or record full ProRes with the FFMPEG plugin from Xaymar if you’re
crazy like me and have a 16+ core CPU. Setting it Up
BEFORE I tell you how to set this up, you gotta LISTEN to the required system specs. This capture card requires Windows 10 64-bit
or newer (no Mac support as of yet and no Linux support at all). You need at minimum an Intel 6th Gen Core
i7 (so i7-6xxx such as the 6700k) or AMD Ryzen 7 or newer CPUs. You also NEED a 10-series Nvidia GeForce card
or newer. (Yes 20 series and the 1660 and 1660ti will
work, the 1650 will NOT.) No AMD GPU support is listed for now, and
if you plan on doing anything above 1080p60, you will need the 10-series’ encoding capabilities. It’s a requirement. You also can only install this in a desktop
PC with an available PCIe x4 or larger slot available. This isn’t a x1 like the HD60 Pro, you need
a full x4/x8/x16 slot available. And yes, you really do need these specs. This is a high end capture device that requires
high end specs to run. Capturing 4k60 or HDR or 1440p120 is no joke. Part of me wants to say I’d like to see
AMD Navi support listed, but given the encoder troubles I’ve had in previous videos…. I’m just not. Turn off your PC. Install the 4K60 Pro in an available x4 or
larger sized PCIe slot. Hook up the HDMI IN cable to your video source
– a PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, or secondary PC. Hook up the HDMI OUT cable to your monitor
you wish to game on. Again, you can’t game from the preview in
Windows here. It will NOT be a fun experience. If you’re using a dual PC setup, you CAN
use display cloning if your monitor doesn’t support HDMI 2.0 – though the experience with
how Windows cooperates with this can vary wildly. I have a full video showing how to set that
up linked in the description. Turn your PC back on and go to Elgato’s
website linked in the video description and download and install the 4K Capture Utility. Maybe reboot. Open 4K Capture Utility, make sure your 4K60
Pro is selected in Device tab, and you’re good to go. In OBS, add a new video source, choose Elgato
4K60 Pro Mark 2, and you’re good to go. I recommend sticking with NV12 as a video
format, as that’s what this card operates at, leaving your consoles, OBS, and this card
set to Limited or Partial Color Range, and Rec709. Make sure this matches your Advanced Settings
tab in OBS, too. Set audio buffering to off. FIND HALO STICK NADE DEATH WARTHOG STANDOFF
THEATER CLIP Software
The weakest part of Elgato’s new 4K60 Pro is the software. This has been the case for a while now. The 4K Capture Utility is pretty spartan in
terms of features and not very reliable. I’ve had many instances of recordings just
not saving when they were supposed to or weird performance issues that aren’t reported
by the software, audio desync – a problem with Elgato’s software since their very
first gaming device – and so on. While they have added some neat updates over
time: Key updates being the “Stream Link” to allow you to send your video feed to OBS
to record in both programs at once with the older device, though that’s only needed
in a very specific use case I’ll cover in a bit with the new Mark 2, and Live Commentary
which they just added recently. I have a whole video covering this linked
below. This has been frustrating to see, as they
clearly need to keep investing in the software so buyers can have something more simple and
user-friendly to use versus OBS and I’m always an advocate of this – but their previous
Game Capture HD app had MANY more features and capabilities than their new app has been
given. And on the competition’s side, AVerMedia’s
RECentral has gone from a dump that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone back around 2015 to a
really kickass recording and streaming software with most of the features of OBS. All that aside, let’s take a walkthrough
of the software for a moment. Opening Elgato’s 4K Capture Utility greets
you with a big preview window from your device, a record button and timer at the bottom and
just a couple periphery controls. Bottom-left gives you control to name your
recording, select a game name, and add tags. This affects both the folders in Windows Explorer
that it sorts your recordings in and the Library organization tab. Bottom-right gives you a screenshot button,
audio meters, and mute buttons for the monitoring previews of your game sound and microphone
sound. Generally keep those muted. Top-right gives you a free space indicator
for your target record drive, and a settings cog. Click that. Here, you have many settings. In general, you can check for software updates
– always make sure you’re updated – and enable that “Stream Link” NDI functionality
I mentioned before and choose which resolution it sends to OBS at. The Device tab lets you choose a capture device
to manage, if you have multiple Elgato devices connected to one PC, change the HDMI Color
Range – I recommend leaving this on “Bypass”. You can view your video input signal to make
sure it’s being detected properly, too. “Input EDID Mode” basically tells the
device you’re connected to either to read the supported resolutions and frame rates
from your monitor or the capture card. I usually use Display so it reads my monitor. If you set the Input EDID Mode to Internal,
you can also choose between a couple specific resolution modes – useful for getting Ultrawide
to work – or input your own custom EDID file – though I’ve yet to find a decent way to
actually MAKE these. The workflow has never made sense to me. In the Picture tab, you can customize how
your video feed looks with basic Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, and Hue shift controls. I generally recommend leaving this alone – if
your image looks too punchy or too washed out, it means your HDMI Color Range settings
between your console and device are mis-matched and you should fix those instead of trying
to fix with post-processing. BUT the option is available to you. The Recording tab has a lot of information. First, you can set where your recordings and
screenshots save to. Next, you can choose which encoder the software
uses, either NVENC on an Nvidia GPU or Software CPU encoding. Even on my 18 core, 36 thread i9 CPU, encoding
4K60 in Software mode is… not a good time. You really need a 10 series or newer Nvidia
GPU for this to work. Next, you’re presented with a checkbox for
“Enable HDR Recording.” With this checked, and HDR gameplay being
fed into the card, the software is recording HDR footage to HEVC. With this un-checked, it’s still passing
through HDR, but tone-mapping down to SDR in the recording. This is a really cool capability and is more
than fine for most people who just want to play in HDR and stream normally. If you hold the Control key while opening
the settings menu, you also have the option of choosing whether this tone-mapping is done
in-software, which is the default, or on the device itself. I haven’t found any downsides to tone-mapping
on hardware, so I have that enabled just so it uses less resources. Below the HDR Recording checkbox, you have
video resolution and framerate that you’re recording to, bitrate of your recording – with
limits that scale based on your selected format, and a preview of what your output file will
look like, specs-wise. Next, you have the option of reducing the
frame rate of your video preview in the software while you’re recording. This helps reduce the overall system load
to help keep recording performance up. But it can be distracting to some while playing. Lastly, you have the option of enabling flashback
recording. This keeps a recording buffer going – up to
2 hours’ worth – that you can then go back in and select when you want to save the recording
from. This is useful for multiplayer gameplay recording
where you don’t want to have to manually record and manage every match, and simply
want to go back and save the last 5 minutes or so of a good match, instead. This has been a key selling point for Elgato
since the original Game Capture HD. And then there’s the Mic tab, where you
can select your microphone for live commentary, downmix it to mono, and change levels. I cover this all in its own video, linked
below. Also in the software, you have the Library
tab, which you can use to view, preview, manage, export all of your video recordings. Personally I’ve always just used the Windows
Explorer file management for this – but you do have the option available. They have some smart tagging and sorting. It can help you keep organized, so if you
do a lot of recording, Why 4K? Now there’s an elephant in the room that
I’m always just *so happy* to see comments about: “Is 4K worth it?” “Why even record 4K at all?” “4K is pointless!” Like it or not, the standards for TV and content
are moving to UHD 4K more and more, so it would be foolish of Elgato and competition
to not support it for capture. While very few people are streaming 4K live
anytime soon, 4K YouTube videos are mainstream these days. The higher bitrate offered by YouTube’s
4K transcodes bypass a lot of the quality issues that come up with their 1080p videos,
and even upscaling 1080p to 4K for videos, if you record at a high enough source quality,
can be beneficial. But 4K isn’t worth it for everyone. For some it’s not worth investing in on
the TV side, console side, graphics power side, any of it. That’s cool. Don’t buy this. While recording and editing and exporting
in 4K is quite resource intensive and takes some serious computing horsepower, capture
cards like this are still great for people who want to play on their 4K TVs or their
high refresh rate monitors and just stream normal 720p or 1080p60. This is now the most affordable option that
still supports actual 4K capture for future-proofing such setups. HDR
While I operate everything I can at 4K these days, HDR on the other hand has NOT been worth
it for me. Gaming and watching movies in HDR is cool
– but trying to make HDR content is super messy, and capturing it is a bit of a headache. But the fact that the 4K60 Pro Mark 2 can
now tone-map HDR to SDR, like the Live Gamer 4K before it, is great and much more worth
it. I talked about the option to enable this on-hardware. When it comes to OBS, I have mixed news. If 4K Capture Utility is closed, the HDR feed
is also tone-mapped to OBS, too! So no work required. But if the 4K Capture Utility is open and
you’re CAPTURING HDR, then the feed is not tone-mapped in OBS, since the device is set
to the HDR mode, and you’d have to use the Stream Link NDI feed to access a tone-mapped
copy of the feed. But if you’re not capturing HDR at all and
just passing it through, you have nothing to worry about. Capturing HDR is where I ran into some serious
issues with Elgato’s software. At higher bitrates, the recording gets completely
choppy and can’t keep up. Lowering the resolution or bitrate helps,
but it can still get all stuttery and freak out. While it’s worth noting that encoding 4K60
HDR is incredibly intensive, which is why there’s high GPU requirements, I’m on
a 1080ti which should handle it and I’m able to record 4K60 HDR in AVerMedia’s RECentral
all day with no issues and double the bitrate. I’ve confirmed that Elgato engineers were
able to replicate this issue and are working on it, so hopefully it’ll be fixed by time
these end up in users’ hands. But again, few people are actually going to
be using this feature, so its impact is minimal overall. I also had an issue where one of my test HDR
recordings was outright rejected by YouTube, but who knows why that happened. Playing HDR
Playing back the HDR files of course requires a HDR-capable monitor. Three software programs are recommended: VLC,
which will play HDR with no problems if your monitor is set to HDR mode, Potlayer with
the MadVR renderer, or MPC-HC – which will actually automatically kick your monitor over
to HDR when playing HDR files, and back to SDR when closed. I really like this, as having to switch the
Windows setting constantly is annoying. If you upload your clips to YouTube, your
PC must have HDR mode on, then open the video page and Chrome will give you the HDR options
for the video. Yes, even 144p HDR is a thing. Weird. If you view the video with HDR off, it will
just present you with the SDR-tonemapped video. I will have samples linked in the description. Editing HDR
Editing HDR is also a complicated mess at the moment. In BlackMagic DaVinci Resolve, it’s actually
pretty simple. Set up your timeline resolution and framerate
as desired, then go to Color Management and set the project to Rec2020 Scene or Rec2100
ST2084 Scene, and enabling mastering for 1000 nits. Drag in your HDR footage, edit as usual. Of course you can’t utilize normal SDR assets
or they won’t look quite right. When you’re ready to render your footage,
Resolve’s export Advanced Settings will give you options to Embed HDR metadata. Check that and render. I recommend using DNxHR HQX 10-bit or HEVC,
but H264 will technically work. Premiere, on the other hand, I’m not 100%
sure on. There doesn’t seem to be any explicit setting
to put your project in HDR mode, but if you do use Lumetri color effects, you do need
to set that to HDR mode. Then in your H264 export settings, change
the profile from Main or High to High10 and check “2020 Color Primaries” and it…
should work? According to guides I have found. But I have had limited success getting this
working properly and it just honestly hasn’t been worth messing with. Retro Setups
I also wanted to note some retro gaming-related tests real quickly here. The Open Source Scan Converter works with
the 4K60 Pro Mark 2 up to 4X mode from the SNES. At 5X it freaks out. The EON Super64 seems to work fine. And the GBA Consolizer works, but not with
the DVI+ audio mode. Even my fancy Magewell card isn’t cooperating
with that mode. Other options
What is the new 4K60 Pro competing with? AVerMedia has many 4K-adjacent capture solutions. The direct competitor is the Live Gamer 4K,
which does everything the 4K60 Pro Mark 2 does, though it’s bigger, has RGB lighting,
and operates in the 4:4:4 RGB color space. And usually costs $50 more, though the OG
4K60 Pro and this card have been battling in sale discounts for a year now. AVerMedia also offers a few USB options that
do 4K passthrough. The Live Gamer Ultra can capture up to 4k30
and can even capture HDR at 1080p60 from the 4K signal, and supports high refresh rate
PC modes. The Live Gamer Extreme 2 and Live Gamer Portable
2 Plus both support 4K passthrough, but no HDR support at all and no PC modes are supported,
and they only capture up to 1080p60. Razer recently released their Ripsaw HD capture
card, which again passes through 4K, captures 1080p60, and no HDR or PC modes are supported. Same with the Pengo HDMI Grabber I reviewed
earlier in the year. Lastly, Magewell has both a PCIe and USB capture
card that does most of what Elgato’s capture card does, and more! But they cost $800 to $900 and are not very
accessible for game streaming purposes. Conclusion
Over the past year, I’ve been flooded with questions both on Twitter at Twitter.com/EposVox
and in our Discord server at EposVox.com/Discord – both of which you should join, by the way
– asking whether you should buy the Live Gamer 4K or the 4K60 Pro, and while I try to now
express any sort of brand loyalty, it’s been pretty tough to recommend the original
4K60 Pro over the Live Gamer 4K. It was a less-feature-ful card, had plenty
of issues, and AVerMedia’s was cheaper. But Elgato has hit back, making their new
4K60 Pro a strong recommendation. The only real thing this card can’t do is
some of the new, crazy, non-standard ultrawide modes like over 100hz at 3440×1440 or the
weird 5K ultrawide stuff. It’s smaller, sleeker, and does more – they
just need to get the software caught up. I had originally planned on doing this video
entirely in HDR for the kicks – but that would’ve made the screen capture weird, and anyway
my HDR-capable camera is back with the manufacturer for a RMA. It’s funny, my original review of the 4K60
Pro in 2017 was shot on my crappy T3i because my G7 was being RMA’d and now I review the
Mark 2 and the same thing happens. At least I have a better backup camera this
time, oh well. If you want to buy the 4K60 pro Mark 2 for
yourself, I’ll have Amazon affiliate links in the description below. Hit the like button if you enjoyed this review,
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