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Should I Continue Using FRAPS, or Look for a Hardware-Based Solution?

Last response: in Video Games
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April 2, 2010 9:21:33 PM

Hey all,

I'm not sure if this is the correct subforum, but I have a number of questions to ask, and I didn't know which one upon which to base my subforum choice.

Anyway, I've begun making PC gameplay videos using the paid-for version of FRAPS (here's my YouTube channel), and as of right now, I'm not sure if I'm satisfied with it. The video files it creates are of fantastic quality, but the performance hit is a bit unbearable.

Here're my specs:

Windows 7 Pro 64-bit
Phenom II 940 BE @3.4GHz
Gigabyte GA-MA790X-UD4P
WD Caviar Black 500GB (this is my system drive, where my OS, applications, and games are installed)
WD Caviar Green 500GB (this is my storage drive, where all the FRAPS files are being written to)
Geforce GTX 260 216 896 MB
2x2GB 1066 G.Skill DDR2
(let me know if there's anything important I'm forgetting)

Anyway, I'm recording at 1080p, and I want to continue recording at that resolution so that my YouTube videos will look nice, but I was wondering what steps I should take so that my in-game performance isn't awful. I get around 90 fps in CoD4 when I'm not recording with FRAPS. When I set FRAPS to record at 1080p at 60 fps, my in-game framerate fluctuates between mid-30s and mid-40s, but it "feels" choppy as hell. Almost unplayable. If I set FRAPS to record at 30 fps, even if I leave the option in FRAPS to lock the framerate unchecked, my in-game fps gets locked at 30, and it still feels choppy as hell.

So, my questions are as follows: should I upgrade my system components to improve my performance while recording with FRAPS (and if so, which component upgrades would be most effective), or should I look into buying a hardware-based solution, like a capture card (and if so, do you have any recommendations on which hardware-based solution would be best for what I'm doing).

Currently, I'm leaning towards going the hardware-based route, that way my in-game performance won't suffer. Going hardware-based will also leave open the option of recording gameplay from my PS3. What's holding me back from going that route is my lack of knowledge when it comes to video capture hardware, as well as my fear that the video quality the hardware will produce will be lackluster.

Sorry for the long-ass post and the multitude of questions. Thanks for any help you can give me.
April 5, 2010 7:56:12 AM

I'd suggest trying to find away to fix it so that FRAPS doesn't lock your frame rate to 30 before buying something. There is probably something that would work.
April 5, 2010 4:24:28 PM

I suppose it depends where the bottleneck is, is it in encoding the video, or writing it to the hdd. Is it possible to encode the video in a more raw format (I.e. less processing) and then post process it for shrinking prior to uploading?

How about finding someone else with a youtube channel that you like the look of and asking them what they do?
!