Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2 HDR capture card Review
Published: 28th August 2019 | Source: Elgato | Price: |
When it comes to 4K video capture, there is very little in the way of competition. Elgato was the first company to enter the 4K capture card market, coming hot on the heels of the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X. Unfortunately, there is a cost to being first.
In all regards, Elgato's 4K60 Pro MK.2 is a clear design win over its predecessor. It's cooler running, support HDR recording and pass-through, ships in a smaller form factor and releases at a lower price tag. That's a win, win, win, win scenario. It has also forced Elgato's competitors to reduce the cost of their own internal 4K capture cards. Unlike its predecessor, the Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2 doesn't get burning hot to the touch, which is excellent news for those who intend to use it for long capture sessions.
Another neat addition to the 4K60 Pro MK.2 is its ability to be used with multiple capture/streaming applications at once, a feat which will be incredibly useful to some users. We could use Elgato's 4K capture utility, OBS and XSplit at the same time. Not bad for a consumer-grade capture card.
While 4K 60FPS HDR capture is the main selling points of this new unit, the bandwidth requirements alone would make resolution/framerate this a no-go for live streaming. Even so, support for higher resolutions and HDR will become more important for streamers as encoders and internet speeds improve. Beyond that, 4K and HDR support is already popular on platforms like YouTube, making Mark II's 4K HDR capabilities useful for select use cases. That said, editing HDR video is a tricky process, which is why most content creators avoid it.
A lot of the promise of the Elgato 4K60 Pro Mark II is being ready for tomorrow's rendering standards. Next-generation consoles are due to release next year, making 4K resolutions more achievable in games while bringing HDR further into the lives of gamers. Even so, the card's lack of Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) support and HDMI 2.1 could prove to be problems in time. That said, Elgato can only create what today's technology can offer. VRR support is an HDMI 2.1 feature, and HDMI 2.1 isn't available yet. We can't fault Elgato for not having a time machine.
Yes, 4K at 60FPS isn't for everyone, but what about 1440p at 144Hz or 1080p at 240Hz? With the 4K60, pro-level gamers can capture/stream their game footage and use high framerate without any issues. Bandwidth is bandwidth, and what's required for 4K 60FPS can also be used to play 1080p games with a 4x boost in framerate.
If you need 4K 60FPS recording, Elgato's 4K60 Pro MK.2 is a great option. Do you need to record/stream the same footage on multiple apps at once, the Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2 is a great option. There are plenty of great use cases for this capture card, but problems arise when we venture into Elgato's software.
For starters, we believe that Corsair/Elgato is in another iCUE situation (iCUE is a merger of Corsair's Link and CUE apps). Windows has two Elgato recording apps, one for HD recording and another for 4K. Both apps have different features, but only the 4K version functions with high resolutions. We would like to see Elgato work to unify these two applications, as it adds an unnecessary level of complexity to proceedings. Beyond that, users of Elgato's premium 4K capture card should have access to all of the features that the standard HD capture tool offers.
Please note that the Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2 doesn't support internal video encoding, which means that users will require external hardware for video encoding. This hardware can come in the form of a powerful multi-threaded processor or a GTX 10 series GPU or newer. These specs are specified in Elgato's 4K60 Pro MK.2 system requirements.
When it comes to capture performance, we will first note a few things. First, while CPU-based encoding is supported, it only works with SDR capture. 4K at 60FPS was far beyond the capabilities of our overclocked Ryzen 7 1700X, granting us captures which were little more than slideshows. GPU encoding is what most users of the Elgato 4K60 will use, at least when using high refresh rates or resolutions. With SDR content, all of the Pascal and Turing GPUs that we tested worked perfectly, capturing smooth gameplay footage at our desired quality levels.
HDR is when things become a little tricky. For starters, we had issues recording HDR content on Pascal series graphics cards. These issues are detailed on page 4. Our conclusion is that these problems are ultimately down to software or driver issues. With Pascal GPUs, HDR captures are a stuttery mess, owing thanks to constantly shifting video encoder loads, which rapidly change from 0% loads to 50% or higher loads. Our Turing-based RTX 2060 Founders Edition recorded HDR footage flawlessly.
We have informed Corsair/Elgato of their software's issues when capturing HDR video with Pascal-based graphics cards. Right now, Corsair/Elgato have confirmed that they are working on a fix for the issue. We expect to see this issue addressed in the coming weeks. As it stands, most streamers and mainstream content creators don't use HDR video, but we nonetheless believe that this shortcoming needs to be addressed quickly. This review will be updated when this issue is resolved. In the meantime, lowering the capture video bitrate of the Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2 to around 60-70Mbps at 4K HDR will help alleviate this issue.
The Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2 presents users a design leap over its predecessor in almost every possible aspect. The card ships with a lower UK price of £229.99, a smaller form factor, cooler operation and additional features in the form or multi-app concurrent streaming/capture and HDR pass-through/capture support.
Elgato's 4K60 Pro MK.2 is a solid piece of hardware that's worth considering if you are in the market for 4K 60Hz or 1080p 240Hz pass-through or capture. That said, Elgato has a few software issues to iron out over the coming weeks. Thanks to Corsair's assurances that these issues will be resolved soon, we are willing to give the Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2 the OC3D Enthusiast Grade award.