An Impressive Newcomer – Review Geek

Rating:
8/10
?

1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
3 – Strongly Flawed Design
4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
5 – Acceptably Imperfect
6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $140

Mark LoProto / Review Geek
For the past decade, Elgato has been a market leader when it comes to capture cards, providing several options for low-latency, high-quality broadcasting. NZXT’s Signal HD60 may be a newcomer, but this little powerhouse proves formidable competition for already well-established companies.Here’s What We Like
4K, lag-free passthrough
Compatible with most broadcasting software
Simple to setup

And What We Don’t
Some setup issues with OBS
USB 3.2 Gen 1 required
No dedicated software

Having entered new territory in 2022 with its Signal HD60 capture card, NZXT took a gamble by trying to muscle in on an established space with alleged 4K60Hz latency-free passthrough streaming and 1080p60fps video recordings.
The HD60 is such a small and simple package that it seems unlikely to fulfill NZXT’s promise of seamless streaming. However, there are plenty of surprises to be had in this tiny black box. It may not look like much, but the HD60 stands up well against higher-end cards.

As Easy as Capture Cards Get

Gaming Compatibility: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Switch
Software Compatibility: OBS, XSplit, Skype, Zoom, Discord
Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 11, macOS

Working with older capture cards wasn’t generally a difficult task. Three wires and a quick download were typically all it took to get classics like the Elgato Game Capture HD to start streaming and recording. NZXT somehow found a way to simplify the process further, removing an entire step to go from setup to streaming within minutes.
The HD60 comes packaged with a USB-A to USB-C cable that connects the card to a PC’s USB 3.2 port, and an HDMI cable that links the capture card to your console or computer of choice. The final cord comes from the television, monitor, or camera, completing an easy circuit that generates high-quality streams and video recordings.

NZXT’s HD60 card, much like the slightly more expensive Signal 4K30 released alongside it, is designed to work without designated software. Once properly hooked up, the unit sends a 4K video feed straight to OBS (Open Broadcast Software) or other streaming programs. Many streamers are already familiar with their go-to software, and not having to learn the ins and outs of a new one is a timesaver.
Having jumped onto the capture card bandwagon early on in the device’s lifecycle, I remember the early days of lag, stutter, and out-of-sync audio. Right out of the box, the HD60 is configured for 4K60Hz zero-latency passthrough, meaning the card can transmit video signals up to 4K and 60Hz directly to your broadcasting software without any lag. Essentially, what you see on your TV or monitor will be identical to what you’re streaming and there should be no delay.
Unfortunately, with no built-in software, users can’t easily change the HD60’s presets, though it’s pretty intuitive and tends to remain on its best settings.

No Software, Limited Features
As convenient as not having to download another dedicated app can be, that means users are at the mercy of third-party programs like OBS, XSplit, Lightstream, and Camtasia. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially for those already familiar with a particular option, it does mean that compatibility issues are more likely to arise.

I tested the HD60 with OBS and immediately ran into a snag. Despite setting up the video capture environment, audio wasn’t being filtered from the card. A similar issue is discussed in our 4K30 review, though the fix is relatively easy if you know what you’re doing. And that’s the crux of NZXT skimping on streaming software. If the HD60 is someone’s first capture card, getting to know OBS and similar programs can be frustrating and intimidating.
NZXT does have its own maintenance software, NZXT CAM, but its functionality with the capture card is practically nonexistent. You can see what settings the card is outputting and access the very limited support articles, but that’s all.
Is NZXT CAM Required?
NZXT
While it’s recommended users do download NZXT Cam when using any NZXT PC product or peripheral, it’s far from necessary. It serves as a hub for the computer’s stats, with tabs dedicated to PC performance monitoring, overclocking, power, cooling, and NZXT mice and keyboards.
Note: NZXT CAM is not available on Mac or Linux.
For the capture card, CAM only reports on what resolution and framerate the HD60 is streaming and recording at. There are no built-in functions that allow users to adjust settings for different use-cases.
Every adjustment to the HD60s output needs to be made in the broadcasting software, but it’s not always possible. Working in the third-party environment is a suitable workaround for now, but built-in or downloadable software would be far more convenient and easier to manage, particularly for new streamers and creators. Especially if it doubled as a broadcasting tool, similar to Elgato’s setup, or provided even basic video editing.
Crisp Video with Crystal Clear Audio

HDMI 2.0 input and passthrough
USB 3.2 Gen 1, Type-A to Type-C
Audio: HDMI, 2 channel stereo, 16-bit, 48k samples/sec
Scaling: Upscaling to 1080p
Dimensions: 6.81 x 5.63 x 2.36in (173 x 143 x 60mm)
Weight: 9.91oz (281g)

Putting the HD60 to the test, I started with recording gameplay off of an Xbox Series S. I decided to go with two visually contrasting games, Evil Dead the Game and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, to see how the card handles high and low light situations.
After hassling with an audio feed issue that required me to create a separate input monitoring environment, I booted up Shredder’s Revenge and was surprised to find OBS’ video environment keeping up with the on-screen action. The no-latency connection could make it possible to play off my laptop screen, though I can’t imagine a scenario where it would be necessary.

While the recording had some very brief and infrequent moments of stutter, it does playback in crisp 1080p60fps. That is, so long as you don’t expand the media viewer. In full size on a 27″ monitor, there is a bit of artifacting that takes away from the quality of the recording.
Though Shredder’s Revenge recorded well and showcased the seamless capabilities of the HD60, I expected the darker environment of Evil Dead to suffer. To my surprise, without having to adjust the brightness, the image fidelity is nearly flawless. Again, there were some very infrequent moments of stuttering both in video and audio, but they’re easy to overlook if you’re not looking for them.

I ran a third test on a PS4 playing Grand Theft Auto V and found the same results. Even the taxing open world of Los Santos continued to look great in the HD60’s 4K passthrough and 1080p recordings.
What’s missing from the HD60 is HDR support, which would amplify the visuals just enough to be noticeable. It’s not completely necessary, but the prevalence of HDR in modern gaming makes its absence feel like an oversight that should be corrected. Players looking for that HDR boost may want to consider NZXT’s Signal 4K30 or Elgato’s Game Capture 4K60 Pro cards.

Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2

This card from Elgato creates recordings as crisp and clear as the 4K screen you captured them on.

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$228.96 $249.99 Save 8%

Seamless Streaming
Though the HD60 performed well while recording, I was curious if its latency-free passthrough would remain as smooth while streaming and taxing out my systems. With the same base settings for video and audio environments in OBS, it was simple to get the HD60 to stream to Twitch. There’s a lot of room for audio and video hiccups in a live environment, but the HD60 held up well. I swapped between streaming from an Xbox and a PC and found that they both performed well thanks to the SuperSpeed USB 3.2.
Note: USB 3.2 Gen 1 is officially required for the Signal HD60 to work. However, ports labeled as USB 3.0 are ultimately suitable for use.
I noticed very few video glitches throughout the stream, though I can’t say whether they were caused by the card, OBS, or Twitch. Considering how seamless the HD60 had been working, it was likely just brief buffering on Twitch’s end.
Since there is no analog audio port on the card, setting up a microphone the first time can get a little confusing. The NZXT Chat Cable I used connected to my PC, Xbox controller, and headset to ensure I could chat with the room without muddying the sound from the card. It’s a bit elaborate and requires users to have a gaming setup where all components are near one another. That’s not the case in my office, so I had to do some rearranging to test the cable.
Versatile & Multi-Use
Like most capture cards, the HD60 can do more than capture gaming content. It can also help turn the right camera into a high-quality, 1080p webcam that doesn’t suffer from the pitfalls of traditional webcams.
The HD60 hooked up to my Canon 80d fairly easily, though it took a stroll through the camera’s menus to get it to transmit video. Through the capture card, the DSLR camera produced a high-fidelity video feed, though it wasn’t remarkably impressive compared to the Logitech C922. It certainly isn’t the same quality as if I just recorded video from the 80d.
This isn’t a great replacement for a webcam, primarily because DSLR cameras are not cheap or compact. A tripod coupled with monitors and other equipment and peripherals can really clog up the desk. However, it may be a decent way to stream a live sporting event with a laptop on hand.
Should You Buy the NZXT HD60?
When designing the Signal HD60, NZXT knew two things had to be true. First, it needed to be functional and do something many other capture cards don’t. Second, it needed to fit in with the new-aged aesthetic where big and bulky don’t cut it anymore.
Despite its smaller size, the HD60 is an impressive powerhouse that does pretty much everything NZXT promises. Its 4K passthrough is spot on and the 1080p60fps recordings will serve content creators well. Outside of some very small audio glitches, which I couldn’t intentionally recreate, everything offered clean playback.
There are some compatibility issues with broadcasting software, which is a fixable inconvenience. However, dedicated software would bypass those annoyances entirely and give users a more versatile and dynamic experience with the HD60. Not being able to adjust settings in a program built specifically for the card can make it difficult to achieve a specific look. Luckily, not much should be needed in the way of adjustments as the HD60 goes right for the best settings for a high-quality broadcast and recording.
One of the biggest pitfalls of the Signal HD60 is the USB 3.2 Gen 1 requirement. While that issue will fade as older USB ports are phased out, it limits who can make use of the simplicity of the capture card. An option to bypass zero-latency would have made the card more accessible to a broader audience, which may have been a better decision considering this is NZXT’s first foray into capture cards.
Overall, there’s little not to like about the Signal HD60. It may be slightly weaker than its counterpart, the 4K30, but the lower price and high-quality broadcasts and recordings make it more than suitable for streamers and content creators.

Here’s What We Like

4K, lag-free passthrough
Compatible with most broadcasting software
Simple to setup

And What We Don’t

Some setup issues with OBS
USB 3.2 Gen 1 required
No dedicated software