The Elgato Cam Link Pro is the third generation of the cam link lineup, and it sports a particular feature that no one else on the market has at the same price bracket – the ability to capture four HDMI inputs at 4k30. Before the Cam Link Pro, such a feat was only possible with enterprise-grade hardware by Magewell.
While yes, the Cam link pro is still expensive, as far as a single device is concerned, it is still cheaper than buying four individual cam link 4ks and doesn’t consume four different USB ports in the process. And that is before you even count the fact that the other option by Magewell is well in excess of $1000.
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What Makes the Elgato Cam Link Pro Good?
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the cam link pro is the only sub $400 option on the market that I know of that supports four simultaneous HDMI input capture. Not only that, but it is cheaper than buying four individual cam links, which each require a USB port.
For streamers, who heavily utilize USB ports for the various streaming tools, such as an audio interface, mixer, or stream deck, this is a really useful benefit. However, this does come at a cost. The maximum supported framerate at any resolution on the cam link pro is 60 fps, it does not support HDR capture, and it has a limited officially supported resolution list.
- 4x 4k30 HDMI capture inputs
- Doesn’t consume USB ports – uses PCIE lanes
- Cheaper than buying four individual cam links
- No support for HDR
- Limited framerate – 4k30 and 1080p60 only
- No official support for 1440p (Really wish this resolution wasn’t treated with such disdain.)
The Cam Link Pro VS 4k60 pro mk2
The Elgato Cam Link Pro and 4k60 Pro mk2 can’t really be fairly compared, as they are designed for two separate purposes. Let me explain:
- For high resolution, high fps and/or HDR content that you want to capture, you’ll want to nab yourself a 4k60 pro mk2.
- If you plan on having 3+ cameras in your setup, then the best option for you would be the Cam link pro.
While you can use the Cam link pro to capture gameplay from a console or dedicated streaming pc, the lack of support for resolutions outside of the officially supported resolutions, and relatively limited fps support makes it a less ideal choice.
What is This Capture Card Best For?
You might be thinking to yourself, “Why would I need four HDMI capture inputs?”. The answer lies in multi-camera setups. When it comes to multiple camera setups, this can be really beneficial for a live streamer.
As for why it is beneficial, well that is because our attention span is very short. If we aren’t satisfied within 3-10 seconds, we’re likely to go somewhere else to satisfy our need to be engaged. Having multiple perspectives allows you to switch around that perspective to create more visually interesting content. For streamers in particular, who are unable to benefit from the power of editing that would typically be used on videos made to be consumed on YouTube, this is really helpful.
Where the Cam Link Pro Probably Shouldn’t be Used
There are cases that the cam link pro probably shouldn’t be used, such as using it to capture four consoles simultaneously. Unless you and some friends all want to play a different console at the same time, you could merely swap out the HDMI to another console and use the much cheaper cam link 4k, or go super budget and get a “can’t link” knockoff.
The biggest detractor of using the cam link pro in this way is the lack of HDMI passthrough. What this means, is that you are restricted to gaming off of a preview window in a program like OBS Studio. This adds a noticeable delay in input latency due to the capture process itself delaying the frames slightly.
Now, you could circumvent this issue entirely by using an HDMI splitter before the signal gets to the cam link pro, but then you add the physical spaghetti monster to your setup because one HDMI cable turns into three. For four inputs, that’s 12 separate HDMI cables you need to buy in addition to the 4 HDMI splitters for all four. This raises the cost significantly for what is a small convenience booster.