I guess if you found this article you did run out of HDMI ports to capture your video and are wondering if you can use an HDMI splitter. Well, you came to the right place.
HDMI splitters work with capture cards. You can use any of the outputs from an HDMI splitter as an input for a capture card and then use it to record/stream video and audio from the splitter.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about HDMI Splitters and capture cards.
What Is An HDMI Splitter?
An HDMI splitter is a device that takes in one HDMI signal as an input and is able to output it to multiple HDMI-compatible displays. The primary use case for a device like this is when you have one particular input device, say, your gaming console, and you have two TVs chucked in different places of your house.
Now, purchasing two different consoles for your TVs might not be the smartest idea. So, instead, opting for a splitter that takes in the input from your console and transmits it to two displays makes much more sense.
One point to note, though, is that your displays should have an identical resolution/frame rate. This is because the splitter will not inherently downscale or upscale a particular image. So, if you have a 1080p and 4K TV, for instance, the splitter will output the lowest resolution (1080p in this case) to both TVs.
A practical solution to this is to implement a downscaler/upscaler into the mix. This tricks your splitter into sending out identical signals to all displays regardless of their actual output capacity. So, you’ll be able to ensure that your sweet new 4K TV doesn’t suffer a loss in quality because of the shoddy old 1080p TV in your attic.
What Is A Capture Card?
A capture card acts as a pass-through for your input device that allows for the output signal to be viewed on different screens. Essentially, on a very basic level, a capture card operates just like a splitter. But, it also adds in the ability to encode video from various other sources that do not inherently transmit using HDMI.
For instance, a DSLR camera may not output using HDMI, but having a capture card allows your PC to understand and process the video being output from your camera, thereby allowing it to be recorded.
Contrary to popular belief, a capture card does not record video. It merely acts as a pass-through. So, if you want to record gaming clips from your PS4, you will need to use OBS on your PC or some other video-recording software in order to do so.
And, it also does not reduce the CPU / GPU load off your system. In essence, when you use a capture card, all the heavy-lifting is still being done on your PC. And, you will need a compatible PC in order to record video in the first place.
If you are recording gameplay off your PC, you do not need a capture card. However, since recording does take a heavy toll on your CPU and GPU, most streamers tend to use a capture card to transmit their gameplay from their primary PC off to a secondary one.
This allows them to close down OBS on their primary PC and let their secondary PC do all the recording and streaming. With this setup, commonly referred to as two-way PC recording, you are able to get the same frame rates that you would without recording natively on a PC, while still being able to record your content off a secondary system.
Can I Use My HDMI Splitter To Capture Video?
No, you cannot use your HDMI Splitter to capture video. This is because your laptop / PC only has HDMI OUT ports and no HDMI IN port. So, it can’t process/encode the signal that your HDMI splitter is sending.
If you were to plug in an HDMI splitter from your console to your TV and PC, while your TV would display the console, the PC would be doing nothing. This is where the need for a capture card comes in. If you were to now, take the output going to your PC and use a capture card as a middleman, you’d then be able to view your console’s display on your PC via the capture card.
Essentially, if you wish to record something off an external device, be it another PC, monitor, TV or console, you will need to use a capture card. An HDMI splitter, on the other hand, can be used to transmit that signal to multiple other displays alongside a capture card if you want to get a live feed of what is being recorded to a secondary display, for instance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need An HDMI Splitter For My Capture Card?
No, you do not need an HDMI splitter for your capture card. If you want to capture video from a singular device and then transmit it to your PC for further processing/recording, a splitter is not needed (as long as you have enough HDMI ports). However, if you need the signal to be transmitted to multiple displays, then you need a splitter.
Do All Capture Cards Use HDMI?
No, all capture cards do not use HDMI. Multiple capture cards allow for various other outputs/inputs such as DVI, VGA, DisplayPort, and more.
Do I Need An HDMI Splitter Or Switcher?
If you want to transmit a singular signal to multiple devices, you need an HDMI splitter. But, if you want to switch between multiple signals on a singular display, then you need a switcher.