Can you live stream without a capture card?

As I helped a friend with his live streaming setup, we ended up having a conversation about a capture card and whether or not he actually needs one.

We had a long discussion on the topic, and I know that many of you might have similar queries as well. So, I decided to do a whole post on it and answer all of your possible questions on the subject.

So, can you live stream without a capture card? Yes, you can live stream without a capture card if your camera has an appropriate output port that you can connect to a laptop or smart device that can be used for streaming. 

Below, I have answered all the potential questions that include what a capture card is, when and why you need it, and why you don’t. Plus, I’ll tell you how to run smooth live streams without a capture card on various setups.

What’s a capture card?

Before we get into whether you need one of these, let us start with the basics and discuss what a capture card is.

In simple words, a capture card is a hardware device, also known as a capture device, if you can connect with your computer. Its primary function is to receive video signals from your camera and convert them into a digital format so that your computer can easily recognize it.

Benefits of a capture card

The reason that capture cards are considered essential and why people invest in them is that they give you lots of benefits. These include high-quality game streaming and dual-stream. Dual streaming means that you can stream on various platforms at one time.

Usually, this sounds like a hectic task to manage. However, the capture card makes it very easy to stream on two platforms without going through a hassle.

Apart from this significant advantage, capture cards also help you eliminate any extra load on your computer. Thus, a capture card helps your game record and stream much smoother.

When is a capture card necessary?

As beneficial as they are, capture cards are not always necessary. You only need them in certain circumstances and situations, and they are the following:

  • If your camera outputs HDMI, HD-SDI, component, etc.
  • If you plan to capture footage on one PC and then export it to another.
  • If you wish to broadcast live footage from games that are compatible with Xbox and PS4 consoles.

Thus, there are only certain circumstances where you necessarily need a capture device.

How can you live stream without it?

Depending on your live streaming setup, there are a bunch of ways that you can livestream without a capture card. I have described some of the most common methods below:

Live streaming with a camera without a capture card

If you own a Canon camera, any other camera for that matter, and want to live stream without a capture card, it is possible. All you need is a camera and a micro USB cord.

  • Copy your stream name in the key on your live stream platform.
  • Go to your OBS software and click on settings.
  • Paste that key into the key bar available and turn the service to YouTube (if that’s where you are streaming).
  • Download the EOS utility from the app store. To do this, go to the EOS website and select your camera model.
  • Now, download the EOS utility for your Windows or Mac.
  • Plugin your camera to your computer using the USB cable and make sure that it is on. This particular step is essential because if you don’t turn the screen on, your video will freeze and be low-quality.
  • Click on remote shooting and click on the box that says live view shoot.
  • Set the focus settings on face detection to only focus on your face throughout the video recording.
  • Set up your OBS.
  • Open OBS and go to your sources.
  • Right-click in the window and select add. Select window capture.
  • From the window drop-down, find Eos utility remote live view window and select ok.
  • You can now start your live streaming and figure out the rest as you go on and experience it. It will take a while before you get used to this setup. However, switch things up and see what settings work best for you.

Live streaming without a capture card for Xbox games on PC

For this, the first step would be to download the Xbox companion application on your PC. After doing this, you can stream it with any software such as OBS. This application will enable adding overlays and sending you videos to multiple different platforms at a time.

  • To start the procedure, you must enable your console’s streaming by going to your console settings.
  • Navigate through these options and click on preferences.
  • Go to your Xbox app connectivity and look at the list on your other devices.
  • Enable streaming for profiles that are signed in on your Xbox only.
  • Also, enable both the options on the right of this bar. These include an allowance to play to streaming and game streaming for other devices.
  • Now, sign in to your Xbox app with the same account logged in on your console.
  • Once you have logged in, navigate the app and land on connection to select the Xbox one.
  • Press on the stream button on the top, and you will see a window opening on your console screen. This window is to notify you that you don’t have any controllers attached to your PC and connect one to either the computer or your Xbox One.
  • Press continue and move forward.
  • Add the window as a screen capture to your OBS or add it as a window capture to your main OBS sources area.

Besides the Xbox gaming console, you can also live stream with a PS4. We go into more detail on this in our article about hooking up a PlayStation 4 camera to a laptop or desktop PC.

PC streaming setup without a capture card

For double PC streaming setups that don’t lag and give you a high-quality, smooth streaming experience, it is not always necessary to own a capture card. However, this setup’s essential components include a gaming and streaming PC, and a LAN connection.

  • Connect both the computers over a crossover Ethernet to ensure a stable internet connection.
  • Your gaming PC will have a direct connection to a LAN, whereas your streaming PC will be connected to your gaming PC and share the LAN connection.
  • Set up the Ethernet adaptors on your gaming PC. To do this, open the internet connections of your computer, open the network and sharing centre, and click on change adaptor settings. Now, you will see your internet adaptors.
  • Right-click on your internet connection, click on the status, and further click on details. Write down your ipv4 address, your ipv4 subnet mask, and your ipv4 DNS server.
  • Right-click on the internet again and go to Properties. Select sharing and enable allowance of computer users to connect on said internet.
  • Select the internet connection connected to your second PC, and your LAN will share your internet with your second PC.
  • To activate this connection, click on your internet connection’s properties connected with your second PC. Select internet protocol version 4, and enter the numbers that it asks you. These include your IP address, which will be different from your primary internet connection, and other information requested in the beginning when you were setting up the other internet connection.

Note: Your preferred DNS server should be the same as your primary internet connection.

  • Test the internet connections on your streaming PC to make sure everything runs smoothly.
  • Set up the NGINX RTMP server on the streaming PC. This server is a media server that allows you plenty of beneficial functions when you are game streaming.
  • Set up the OBs on your gaming PC.
  • Use a video source plugin to import streaming to OBS on your streaming PC.
  • Set up the OBS on your streaming PC. This OBS re-encodes the stream from the gaming PC at a lower bit rate. This converted stream is much easier to upload on the internet.

Is live streaming better with or without a capture card?

The answer to this question depends on requirements and live streaming setup. If you are live streaming with a phone or an iPad, you will need a capture card. If you are using a PC, a capture card is not as essential as you might think.

Thus, you can have a high-quality live streaming experience without a capture card as well. So, with PCs, one could say that live streaming without a capture card is the same as with it, minus the high cost of the hardware device.

However, with iPad and phones, the game streaming experience with a capture card is much better than without one.


To conclude, I want to say that if you are considering buying a capture card for your live streaming, make sure you need one. Capture cards are quite expensive, so they are an investment that you want to make after proper thought.

Because if not, you might just waste a lot of money that you could invest elsewhere.

If you don’t think you need a capture card, take notice of the gaming setup you are using; what PC is it? Is it an Xbox console? Is it a temple PC setup for a single PC setup?

These things play a huge part in figuring out how to live stream without a capture card. Fortunately, all this information and procedures are provided above for your convenience.

Happy live streaming!