For the last five years, the Logitech C920 has been the best affordable webcam for streamers and content creators. The problem is that if you wanted to upgrade, you would have a hard time finding a significantly better option without spending hundreds of dollars. You could get Elgato’s $130 Camlink and hook up a DSLR for a professional looking image even in low light. Or you could look into the world of dedicated hand-cameras that use the same kind of image processing as an iPhone. But those alternatives require a lot of cash.
The Razer Kiyo, however, is a big improvement, and it is out now for $100. It still isn’t a match for some of those more expensive solutions, but it is packed with features and great image quality for a webcam.
What you’ll like
The built-in light
The first thing most people will notice is that the Kiyo has its own, built-in ring of LED lights. If you’re already using your own dedicated lighting for a Twitch stream or for making YouTube videos, this is not going to make a dent in that. The Kiyo’s lights aren’t all that powerful, but they are excellent for smoothing out your face with even lighting.
You can adjust the brightness of the light at any time with the dial around the edges of the camera. This can go from completely off to a level of illumination that is right on the cusp of making me want to squint and turn away. And at that highest setting, in my experience, the camera eliminates dark shadows around your eyes.
So while this won’t replace an existing LED panel you have set up in your studio, it does play an important role in improving the look of your footage.
Great image quality
The Kiyo’s biggest advantage over the C920 isn’t the light. It’s the image quality. The Razer camera captures colors with a lot more accuracy than the Logitech webcam. I occasionally use a greenscreen, and when I look at raw footage from the Kiyo, I’m amazed at how much more the green pops. That means when I bring in Xsplit’s Chroma Key feature, the Kiyo handles it a lot better than the Logitech.
I fiddled with the settings on both cameras, and it was a lot easier to get a great-looking image from the Kiyo. With the C920, I was continually making compromises. For example, I can increas the “color intensity” to increase the accuracy of the colors, but that ended up making my face look blotchy. That was not an issue with the Kiyo.
Sixty frames per second
And then there’s the refresh rate. The Logitech C920 and the Razer Kiyo do 1080p at 30 frames per second. But if you drop down to 720p, the Logitech still only refreshes 30 times per second while the Kiyo can actually do 60 frames.
Now, if you’re using the cameras alongside game footage while livestreaming, you don’t need any resolution higher than 720p. But I think it looks great to have a camera feed come in at 60 FPS alongside a game doing the same. Now, to take advantage of a 60Hz camera, you’ll need to keep the exposure setting turned down, but the built-in light helps with that.
What you won’t like
The light isn’t a magic bullet
Don’t buy the Kiyo instead of getting your own LED ring light. As I mentioned, it’s not going to magically make your recordings look professional.
You can get great results with it if you mess around with the settings and make some sacrifices. But is best for removing shadows on your face in conjunction with other lights in your room.
Overall, I still think C920 from Logitech is a great webcam for livestreaming and YouTube. You can get it for $60 — and it is often on sale for around $45. That’s a great deal for something that is definitely good enough. The Kiyo, however, is better, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to upgrade.
Kiyo’s especially nice if you are using a green screen or run a livestream in 60 frames per second. Personally, I have a C920 and an Elgato Cam Link, and I’m going to keep using the Kiyo. It looks crisp, and I don’t need to go buy a $400 mirrorless Panasonic to get the best results.
Razer Kiyo is available now for $100. Razer provided GamesBeat with a sample unit for the purpose of this review.