Elgato is ready to jumpstart the 4K-content revolution for YouTube and Twitch creators with its newly announced 4K60 Pro capture card. This is a new PCIe component that enables your PC to record video at 2160p (4K UHD) and 60 frames per second. It will launch November 21 for $400.
This is an important new product for Elgato and everyone who makes gaming-related video and doesn’t work in a professional studio. We’ve had 4K gaming for a while on PC and PlayStation 4 Pro, and now Microsoft is joining that trend with its updated Xbox One X console. But getting that content off a console or off a PC without hurting performance is difficult and expensive. Existing hardware for capturing 4K video at 60 frames per second starts at around $800, and these products are not built with gaming in mind. That can cause some headaches for people trying to use them with a PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, or even PC.
The 4K60 Pro’s affordable price removes a significant barrier to entry for YouTube and Twitch creators working on a “prosumer” level. But more crucially, Elgato builds its products specifically for gaming. It made the 4K60 Pro to work with the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro, and Elgato’s previous products have delivered predictable, consistent performance for years now. If the company maintains that level of quality with the 4K60 Pro, then it has just provided producers with a reliable way to upgrade from 1080p to 4K.
The company’s marketing says, “capture 4K — flawlessly.” And those are some big words. I’ll try to get my hands on a 4K60 Pro to determine if Elgato follows through with that promise.
But if the 4K60 Pro is as capable as Elgato claims, we’re about to enter a rough transition for content creation and consumption on the Web. Gaming-related video is a huge market online. Twitch has millions of viewers sucking up tons of bandwidth every day watching streams running at 1080p60. Streaming, broadcasting, or uploading video at 1080p is already a data-hungry process, and 4K will exacerbate that problem exponentially. This is not just about download or upload speeds — creating content for Twitch and YouTube is an easy way to reach your internet service provider’s monthly datacap.
Companies like Comcast only permit their customers to use up to 1TB of data each month before it starts charging an extra fee. And more ISPs are embracing this practice to wring more cash from their customers.
So this holiday, when you pick up that new 4K HDR television, Xbox One X console, and the Elgato 4K60 Pro, you may find that you’ve solved all of the hardware issues with watching and recording 4K. But I expect a lot of people will find out that the massive 100GB 4K games and 30GB 4K films will expose your ISP as the new bottleneck in your jump to the next generation of video.