Recording games is awesome. You can upload your footage to Youtube, brag about your skills, look back on funny/interesting moments, or just have fun with the whole gameplay recording experience.
If you’re new to recording games then it’s only natural to get a bit confused. There are so many programs to choose from that it’s hard to know which one to choose and how to use it properly. So, here’s a small tutorial on how to record gameplay with PC .
How to Record PC Gameplay
- Use recording software
- Use a capture card
Requirements for Recording Gameplay
Every computer that is capable of running a game should be able to record it as well. However, that doesn’t mean that it will be able to do it effectively.
Recording consumes a fair amount of CPU resources. So, if your CPU already struggles just to run your games in the first place, then you’ll likely have a rough time with recording as you’re likely to experience massive frame drops and stutters.
With that being said, the first thing that you’ll need is at least a mid-range CPU. For an example, a dual Core i3 may struggle a bit when recording games with 3rd party software and not with your GPU’s drivers/software – more on that later on. I would recommend at least a quad core i5 for the best experience.
Other than that, it’s also recommended to use a dedicated drive for storing your recordings so that you’ll be able to avoid any weird stutters. If you’re planning on making high-quality recordings, then it’s also recommended to aim for a dedicated SSD instead of an HDD.
All in all, you need at least a decent CPU and a dedicated drive.
Use Recording Software
Recording programs are used for recording your game sessions. When it comes to 3rd party options, there are plenty of choices out there – both freeware and paid. Some of them allow you to stream on Twitch as well.
Other than that, there a lot of GPUs that allow you to record your gaming sessions with their own pre-installed software that comes with their drivers.
Let’s a look at some of the best recording programs that are out there right now – I’ll go through their advantages and disadvantages and I’ll give you a small explanation on how to use them. All in all, here are the recording programs that we’ll be looking at:
Best PC Gameplay Recording Software
- Game DVR
- AMD ReLive
- Nvidia ShadowPlay
Most people have completely ignored the fact that Windows 10 has a built-in game recorder. If you don’t feel like downloading other programs and just want to record games for fun, then Game DVR its probably fine for you.
I gave it a quick try and I was surprised to see that my frame rate was almost unaffected. However, I also noticed a bit of input lag while recording which may not be a problem for casual gaming, but it’s a deal breaker for competitive gaming.
If you don’t know how to use it, you need to enable Game Bar first by going to Windows Settings → Gaming → Game bar and enable “Record game clips screenshots and broadcast using Game bar.
After you complete the above step, just press Windows Key + G while running a game and your Windows Game Bar should come up – then you can press on “Record now” and Game DVR will start recording.
- Pre-installed with Windows – No need for downloading extra software
- Causes a noticeable input lag while recording
AMD ReLive is a program that comes pre-installed with specific AMD drivers for AMD cards. If you’re using an AMD card, then this is probably the best choice that you can make for recording gameplay.
This program doesn’t consume nearly as many resources as 3rd party recording programs and the recordings do not take as much space either, mostly because it’s better optimized for the hardware that it’s going to be used on and because it relies on GPU acceleration as well.
I don’t have an AMD card so I can’t really give you any personal feedback on this one. However, after looking online I found various complaints about people who were experiencing problems with it and others who weren’t even able to even find it in the first place. Just saying.
As for how to use it, assuming that you’ve already installed the drivers that come with ReLive installed, open your AMD Settings → ReLive, then turn it On and configure your recording settings according to your preference
According to AMD, ReLive is supported by:
- Radeon™ RX Vega Series
- Radeon™ RX 500 Series
- Radeon™ RX 400 Series
- Radeon™ Pro Duo
- AMD Radeon™ R9 Fury, R9 300, R7 300 Series
- AMD Radeon™ R9 200, R7 200, R5 300, R5 240 Series
- AMD Radeon™ HD 8500 – HD 8900 Series
- AMD Radeon™ HD 7700 – HD 7900 Series
- Shouldn’t sacrifice too much performance while gaming compared to 3rd party programs
- Only works with certain AMD cards
- Seems like it still has a lot of bugs (According to AMD users)
ShadowPlay is the equivalent of ReLive for Nvidia cards. It should come pre-installed with any Nvidia card which supports it on its drivers, or at least it did for my GTX 750 Ti, and I can confirm from personal experience that it doesn’t sacrifice the same level of performance as 3rd party programs while recording.
It also allows you to stream on Twitch but most people seem to prefer OBS Studio for streaming. You can use ShadowPlay by clicking on Alt + Z → Record → Start recording. To access the settings and configure it just click on “Settings” instead of “Start recording”.
- Doesn’t sacrifice the same level of performance that 3rd party programs do
- Comes pre-installed with your drivers
- Relatively easy to use
- Only available for supported Nvidia cards
Fraps is a 3rd party program that offers a free option which restricts your recording time down to 30 seconds and a paid version which allows you to record for as long as you want.
The good thing about Fraps is that it works for all GPUs. You just download it, install it, and you’re ready to record with the press of a button. No need for checking out if your card is supported and if you have the appropriate drivers or anything like that.
The bad thing is that it sacrifices more performance than all of the above programs which I mentioned and it also costs about 40 bucks – give or take. The price may differ from country to country due to taxes.
Fraps had a massive performance impact on my gaming experience while recording. CS: GO went from 120-140 FPS all the way down to 40-60 with occasional drops. ShadowPlay, by comparison, was hovering around 100 FPS. We’re talking about more than 50% of a performance hit here with Fraps.
Other people are only experiencing 10-30% of a performance hit with it. Fraps generally seems to need at least a mid-range CPU for recording.
- Extremely easy to use
- Works with every GPU
- Asks for a price
- Sacrifices more performance compared to pre-installed recorders
OBS is mostly used as a tool for streaming and not for recording but it also allows you to record your gameplay. What surprised me was that it had a very small performance impact compared to Fraps – about 10-15% with some rare frame drops to be precise.
This program is completely free and should work with all GPUs. To record with OBS simply download it, install it, open it, and click on “Start recording” whenever you’re ready. Simple as that. If you want to start and stop recording with a hotkey then you can set that up in the settings menu.
- Completely free
- Works with all GPUs
- Relatively easy to use
- Still sacrifices a bit more performance than ReLive and ShadowPlay
Use a Capture Card
A Capture Card is a device that captures your video output. Capture Cards are mostly used for either recording with two computers (One for recording, one for gaming) or recording the gameplay of a console. If you only use one computer for recording then you don’t need a Capture Card – just use one of the above-mentioned programs.
As for how to setup and use a Capture Card for recording/streaming with two computers, well, that’s a whole new article by itself. So, I won’t get too much into depth here. Another issue is that the process differs from card to card.
Generally, you need to connect the USB port of your Capture Card with the PC that is recording and the HDMI port with one the video outputs of your GPU – then you duplicate your display and your gameplay should be getting recorded by the second PC at that point. (Assuming that you’re using a recording software on it for the recording of course).
If your Capture Card uses other standards for audio and video output then things change and we’ll leave all of that for another time as this article is already getting a little big.