Recommend me some video game video recording software (cheap is good, free is better)

All,

I now have a massive Steam library, and I'm just egotistical enough to want to do some Let's Play videos.

What's a good free (or very cheap) program for capturing game video and audio?

I'm okay with spending a little money if it means keeping away from malware, spyware, or obnoxious advertising and has lower overhead-- my PC is good, but not Crysis Final Boss good. Ideally I'd like to keep it under $5. But if there's good free stuff out there, so much the better.

Thanks!

If you have an NVidia card, I think they added a recording feature into the driver software, not too long ago. I haven't looked at all, but I believe it's free, and I don't _think_ it requires latest-and-greatest hardware. Might be worth looking it up.

This all really depends on your hardware, but xsplit is a more popular solution for Twitch streamers. You should be able to get it for free and verify how it runs for you. Newer Nvidia cards have streaming capabality. I think the minimum is a GTX660, but their site would have more info. If you have issues with getting a decent frame rate and resolution with your current hardware, the easiest thing you can do is get the AverMedia Live Gamer HD. It retails for $200, but can be found much cheaper on sale or used.

So I run a YouTube channel and record buckets of footage for it. I've actually got access to several recording tools. My setup is a little weird cause I'm often recording emulators but if anything, recording more modern games should be easier.

Open Broadcaster is actually a streaming tool but it has local recording capability. It's not the most intuitive product in the world but it's free, clean of any adware and works very well. The author is also updating it like mad and is very active in his forums. If you make sure you have your audio levels set properly before you start recording, it's great. If you want to do any editing and mix audio levels after the fact (which I have to do), this won't do that. XSplit is a subscription based tool that does a lot of the same stuff. It has a better interface but does nothing exceptionally better than OBS and also tends to have a lot of weird quirks in my experience.

As for standalone recording tools, the two I recommend (neither of which are free) are Dxtory and GameClaw. The latter is available on Steam as well and was recently on sale (sadly, not anymore.) Dxtory is extremely powerful and flexible but is one of the most unintuitive pieces of software I've ever used. Getting it configured will drive you nuts but once you do, nothing does a better job. You can also have it record your commentary and game audio on separate tracks which at least for me, is super handy in editing. If you're doing simple Let's Plays though, that might be overkill. The author is active in his forums but he's Japanese and his English isn't great.

GameClaw is a much simpler tool, more intuitive to use and also fairly powerful. It won't record game audio and commentary on separate tracks but it will spit each audio track out into its own MP3 file. My gripe with this is at least on my setup, it doesn't start the MP3 recordings at the exact same time as the video so in my editing software, the audio is always about three quarters of a second out of sync and I have to manually fix that. It's really annoying but not the end of the world. I've also found that when capturing certain emulators, the image quality isn't as good as Dxtory. Capturing emulators is voodoo science though so I can't attest to whether this is an issue with modern games or not. If you just have it combine all the audio into the video file, this doesn't happen. I haven't tried e-mailing the developer for support but they don't appear to answer any posts in their own forums which is pretty crappy.

Both of the above tools will run you not a ton of money but not $5. In my opinion, they are worth it. There is also FRAPS but I do not recommend it at all. It's a very dated product with limited capabilities and it will force the frame rate of any game you're playing down to your recording frame rate. All of the modern tools listed above don't do that.

With the GeForce Experience software and a GTX6xx card and up, you have access to NVIDIA ShadowPlay. I haven't used this personally but I've heard good things. It actually uses your GPU to handle the encoding (GameClaw can do this too), which takes the load off your CPU to better handle the game. On my system, this isn't an issue but it might be for yours. As I understand it, ShadowPlay can be a bit touchy with certain games but it has a minimal performance impact and has very nice capture quality. Best of all, it's free! If you have an NVIDIA card that can do it, absolutely try this first.

I hope this helps. If you decide to go for one of the tools I mentioned above, let me know if you need a hand configuring it. I've got a fair amount of experience with them all.