Rating: 8/10 ?
  • 1 - Does not work
  • 2 - Barely functional
  • 3 - Severely lacking in most areas
  • 4 - Functions, but has numerous issues
  • 5 - Fine yet leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 - Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 - Great and worth purchasing
  • 8 - Fantastic, approaching best-in-class
  • 9 - Best-in-class
  • 10 - Borderline perfection
Price: $100
NZXT Signal 4K30 capture card resting on desktop
Marcus Mears III / How-To Geek

Streamers and video content creators should look to a capture card for lossless recording across multiple consoles or PCs, especially if the footage is 4K. NZXT’s Signal 4K30, released June 29, 2022, is a simple solution to high-quality screen recording without suffering a blow to performance.

With the Lift gaming mouse and Function mechanical keyboard, NZXT is on the path to total PC setup assimilation. Now, two new capture cards, including an HD60 model, are welcomed into the lineup. Here’s a look at the Signal 4K30.

Here's What We Like

  • Design aesthetics
  • Simple setup
  • HDMI passthrough
  • Competitive price point

And What We Don't

  • Magnet for smudges and fingerprints
  • USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 required

How-To Geek's expert reviewers go hands-on with each product we review. We put every piece of hardware through hours of testing in the real world and run them through benchmarks in our lab. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product and never aggregate other people’s reviews. Read more >>

Setup and NZXT CAM: Smooth and Simple

NZXT Signal 4K30 in NZXT CAM software

  • Console Compatibility: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Nintendo Switch
  • Other Device Support: 2-PC setups, professional cameras, smartphones, tablets
  • Software Compatibility: OBS, Stream Labs, Discord, Skype, Zoom, and more
  • Ports: 2x HDMI 2.0, 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 1
  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 11, macOS (no NZXT CAM)

The setup is completely straightforward. Remove your capture card from the box along with the included HDMI 2.0 and USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 cable. Connect your Signal 4K30 to the recording PC using the USB cable. Then, connect your other device to the capture card’s input port using an HDMI cable. Nothing needs to be plugged into the output port of the capture card.

Now, if you’re using Windows, download and install NZXT CAM (NZXT’s customization software). You can’t customize the capture card in any way, but it’s handy to validate that everything is recognized and set up properly. You can see information such as the current FPS and resolution of your recordings, whether or not HDR is enabled, and the current color format, range, and bit depth.

Note: NZXT CAM is only available on Windows. You can use the Signal 4K30 on Mac, but will not be able to run the customization software. NZXT does not plan to release support for Mac or Linux any time soon.

If you’re not sure what any of these settings mean, mouse over the information icon to populate a brief explanation. You can also click “Learn More” to find in-depth guides on configuring your Signal 4K30 to best match your setup.

The 4K30’s initial setup process is done for the most part—plug and play. There’s a good chance you’ll have to put in a little more work before pressing record, though.

Firstly, you’ll need screen recording software if you don’t already have it—I’m using OBS Studio, but any software compatible with the Signal 4K30 will do. Now, you’ll need to configure the software to recognize NZXT’s capture card as a video source. In OBS, that means right-clicking the Sources window and adding a Video Capture Device. Then, give it a name and select NZXT Signal 4K30 Video as the device.

I won’t go into configuring your settings for streaming or recording; these vary from machine to machine or even project to project. The good news is, once you have a baseline preset established, you’re all set up and ready to record.

Design: Compact and Sleek

NZXT Signal 4K30 capture card held in hand over desk
Marcus Mears III / How-To Geek

  • HDMI 2.0 input, output, and passthrough
  • Audio: 2 Channel, 16 bit, 48 kHz
  • Dimensions: 4 x 3 x 0.5in (10.16 x 7.62 x 1.27cm)

As with the Lift gaming mouse, NZXT employs a slick matte black to create the Signal 4K30’s eye-pleasing exterior. The only color you’ll see are the four purple feet on the bottom of the card, and the (usually white) LED indicator on the front-facing side.

Not just for contrast, these colorful bits serve purposes. Starting with the purple feet: to a capture card, cables are heavy. Especially cables under tension, which are all too common in many setups that require a significant amount of cable length for clean routing or spanning the gap between a PC and a standing desk. These feet grip your desk, preventing the capture card from sliding about and ensuring it rests neatly on the surface you chose for it.

The LED indicator, on the other hand, tells you about the status of your Signal 4K30. If the LED is a solid white, your connection is sound and you can use the card properly. If the LED blinks red, you’re plugged into a port with slower speeds than required. Make sure your motherboard supports USB 3.2 Gen 1 before buying this capture card.

Otherwise, this card features a blackout design sure to fit into almost any setup. It will hold smudges and fingerprints like nobody’s business, but thankfully, it’s easy to wipe off and have looking good as new in about 30 seconds.

The left and right sides are lined with divots for cooling, and they do an adequate job dissipating heat. The card became somewhat warm to the touch after a few hours of use, but it never climbed anywhere near worrisome temperatures.

Moving to the rear side of the card, it offers 2 HDMI 2.0 ports (input and output connections), and 1 USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 port. Each port is labeled in subtle lettering; they read “Type-C,” “In,” and “Out” from left to right (as you view the card from the back). If you’re familiar with other capture cards, like the Elgato HD60 S+, you know that this selection of ports is pretty standard practice.

Tip: Make sure your devices have free HDMI 2.0 ports to accommodate your capture card alongside any external displays.

At 4 x 3 x 0.5in, the Signal 4K30 is compact and easy to stow. It’s larger than a deck of cards (save for the height) but just smaller than a passport. Fit it anywhere on your desk or pack it up in a backpack pocket for safe travels—size and portability are definitely winning areas for this capture card.

The Best Capture Cards of 2022

Best Capture Card Overall
AVerMedia Live Gamer 4K
Best Budget Capture Card
Elgato HD60 S+
Best Internal Capture Card
Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2
Best External Capture Card
NZXT Signal 4K30
Best 4K Capture Card
AVerMedia Live Gamer Bolt
Best Capture Card for Streaming
AVerMedia Live Gamer Duo

Performance: True to the Box

NZXT knows how to deliver on style, but how does the Signal 4K30’s performance match up? Here’s the short answer: well.

I recorded various games (namely Escape from Tarkov, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and Red Dead Redemption 2) on a 2-PC setup at a couple of the available resolutions (the figures in parentheses represent refresh rates):

  • 3840x2160p (30, 25hz)
  • 2560x1440p (60, 50, 30, 25hz)
  • 1920x1080p (120, 60, 50, 30, 25hz)
  • 720p (60, 50, 30, 25hz)
  • 576p (50, 25hz)
  • 480p (60, 30hz)

I chose to record in 4K 30hz (3840x2160p 30) and 1920x1080p 60hz. Typically, 1080p60 is the most you’ll need for a successful Twitch stream; but if you need 4K video, this card can certainly handle it. Plus, with HDMI passthrough, you can game at higher resolutions than the card records. For instance, if you want to explore the wilderness of Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2) in 4K on your screen while streaming to your viewers in 1080p, you can do so without any extra legwork.

Note: We captured the above 1920×1080 gameplay at 60hz.

I didn’t experience any noticeable drops in performance; I was hitting my usual 50-60 FPS in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order while capturing a 1080p60 recording with seemingly no added lag. Of course, it’d be nice to capture 4K footage in 60 FPS, but a consistent 30 comes out smooth in the recording, and the sharp, vibrant look of gaming in 4K covers a multitude of sins.

One thing to note is that I didn’t test the Signal 4K30 with an external camera (like a face cam for streaming), which can spell trouble for audio/video syncing on some cards. If this issue happens to present itself (nothing leads me to believe it would), it can generally be fixed in the software you use for streaming or recording.

Should You Buy the NZXT Signal 4K30?

If you’re in the market for a capture card to complete your content creation loadout, I can recommend the NZXT Signal 4K30 for its ease of use, stylish design, and performance at its price point.

However, there are a few cases in which you should not buy the Signal 4K30. If you don’t plan on recording any 4K footage, this card is overkill. Check out the Signal HD60 instead; it has all the performance you need with $40 taken off the top. Also, make sure you actually need a capture card—if you’re just planning to record a single PC screen, you almost certainly don’t.

As an alternative, the Razer Ripsaw is slightly more affordable and features 3.5mm audio jacks for simple sound management. You may also want to consider other capture cards and determine if an internal card would better suit your needs.

You can pick up the Signal 4K30 today for $179.99 or its HD60 counterpart for $139.99.

Rating: 8/10
Price: $100

Here’s What We Like

  • Design aesthetics
  • Simple setup
  • HDMI passthrough
  • Competitive price point

And What We Don't

  • Magnet for smudges and fingerprints
  • USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 required
Profile Photo for Marcus Mears III Marcus Mears III
Marcus Mears III is the Reviews Editor for How-To Geek and Review Geek. He’s a lifelong technology enthusiast with over three years of experience developing prose that keeps readers in the know. With hundreds of articles across a number of tech publications like MakeUseOf and iGeeksBlog, Mears’ work helps readers around the globe learn to make the most of their devices and software.
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