With streaming rapidly rising in popularity, we thought it time to test and review webcams. In the hopes of finding the very best ones for 2018.
Whether you’re streaming, make videos or just Skype a lot. A good webcam and microphone can really come in handy.
Just as it is with regular cameras, there is a lot of very bad ones out there, and it is easy to make a horrible purchase.
This is where we come in, with our complete buying guide to computer webcams in 2018.
We will be looking to find the overall best, the runner-up, the best on a budget, best for streaming and finally the best 4k cam.
The Best Overall Webcam
The c920 from Logitech is undoubtedly the best overall webcam for its price. And those few webcams that actually perform a little better, tend to cost double the C920 or more. Making it the perfect fit for anyone looking for a fantastic overall webcam.
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A good example is the C922x, which is pretty much just a newer version of the C920, but it cost almost twice as much, even though the difference between the two are so small. That being said though, the C922x can be worth, if you are a streamer.
The C920 is the most popular webcam in the world right now, and we can really see why. It manages to outperform some of the most expensive webcams on the market and comes at a very affordable price.
One of the things that really make C920 our absolute favorite webcam, is that it don’t have any major pitfalls. Which may sound like an exaggeration, but hear us out. While some features are not as good as they maybe could be, there is nothing about this camera that down right sucks. This is extremely rare with any tech product, and why it is deserving of so much praise.
A lot of webcams have a tendency to either be quite the eyesore or to just be very big and distracting. We think that Logitech found the perfect middle ground with the C920, as it is very subtle, and often you won’t notice it once it has been attached. While also look absolutely fantastic, if you actually do happen to notice it.
This almost minimalistic design might also have been a contributor to the incredible price tag. Since they didn’t go over the top in any shape or form, which a camera series like the Microsoft Lifecam sometimes tend to do, at the cost of performance and value for money.
Sharp Picture and Smooth Recording
Likely the most important feature with any webcam, the image, and video recording quality. Once again Logitech shows why they are considered the kings of the cam industry.
The picture quality is full HD and on par with most of the high-end smartphones now a day, which is quite impressive. However, the really important part is the video capabilities and how well it does with recording.
We were glad to know that it does not disappoint and that even on the 720p HD it looked very good. Whereas you also have the option to crank it up to 1080p, for stunning full HD visuals. However, we actually found the 720p to be the best options. Even though the 1080p looks absolutely stunning, it also sacrifices some FPS, not to say that it runs poorly on full HD.
The webcam is able to hold a steady 30fps with the full HD 1080p, which is just fine. Nonetheless, we found that the 60fps with the 720p just look a little smoother.
We will leave it up to you to decide which resolution you prefer, 1 thing is for sure. Whether you want the full HD with mid-tier frame rate or the 720p with 60fps, both options look great. And being able to hold a steady 30fps with full HD is not a small feat for a camera of this price class. Bravo Logitech!
Newer Version, why not?
As mentioned earlier, there is actually a newer version of the C920 called the C922x. While this is an upgrade on some fronts, it is also way too similar to justify the major price difference.
This is what has been improved with the C922x:
- Background replacement technology
- Slightly better autofocus
- Slightly better microphone
You might think this sounds pretty good, and to some individuals, it will absolutely be worth the extra money. But this is for very few people.
It has clearly been upgraded with streaming in mind, for all the aspiring Twitch streamers out there. However, if you are really serious about streaming you will likely be better off getting a separate microphone, and a little extra lighting.
The background replacement tech can justify it a little, since getting a green screen can be quite expensive and annoying to have to hang up.
In conclusion, if you are a streamer, the newer version may be worth the extra money, but for almost everyone else the C920 is the same camera for half the money.
No other camera on the market offer this kind of value for money, and very few come close. Other webcams in its price range are so far off in terms of performance, that it is really the only cam worth considering. Unless you are willing to spend more or if you are on a budget and need a cheaper option.
Even though the C922x is better and more optimized for streaming, because of its extra features. The C920 is just as good a camera, and work just fine for streaming, especially if you don’t mind getting a separate microphone since the one on the webcam is a bit lacking for streaming purposes.
Microsoft Lifecam Cinema
This Microsoft Lifecam was the only one of those which we tested, that offered any real competition to the Logitech C920 in terms of value for money. Although not quite as powerful as the C920, this is an excellent webcam for those looking for an all-purpose cam.
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While the Microsoft Lifecam does not have full HD like the Logitech, it is not entirely fair to compare the two. Seeing as this webcam is a little cheaper and therefore obviously not quite as powerful. There are a few things that this cam does better than the C920 however. That is the microphone and its flexible stand.
The microphone quality is actually top-notch, which is incredibly rare among webcams. While we don’t feel that the microphone is a big part of the webcam, it is a nice feature. If you usually use your headset mic or have a separate one, you will sadly not get any real value from this. Which is why we didn’t give it more importance.
The flex stand will be able to fit onto any surface you wish, desktop, laptop or just on your desk, this webcam will fit just fine. Although it really thrives when mounted onto a screen.
Whether you love or hate the trademark Microsoft webcam design, the quality is non-negotiable. It has a top-notch aluminum body and a very sturdy, yet flexible mount.
The lens glass also feels very strong, and from the durability tests, we did it took no damage at all, which very few webcams can brag about.
We are not the biggest fan of the shape that Microsoft has chosen since it can feel a little clunky. It also feels like the cam takes more focus away from the screen than more subtle options.
Good Image but No Full HD
The image on this cam is quite good, and in terms of pure imagery, it even rivals that the 720p mode of the C920 cam. However, this Microsoft camera can only keep the frame rate at a steady 30, which is the standard and quite good, but the Logitech cam simply feels more smooth.
There is no option to crank it up to 1080p full HD, which is a little sad but to be expected at this price. Actually, it surpasses all competitors of the same or lower price class, which is why it definitely was our runner-up for the best webcam of 2018.
The picture quality is not the best, but the actual video recording capabilities are top-notch. And who really take pictures with their webcam?
Why not the 1080p version?
This cam also has a higher-end version, which does support full HD video, so why not pick that? It’s quite simple, the full-HD version is quite a lot more expensive, and you do not get your money’s worth.
You pay a lot extra for the full HD, but you will likely end up using its 720p mode either way. This is mostly because the frame rates are a lot better when using the 720p, and in that mode, this cam does just as well as its big brother.
Another reason is the C920, since it is cheaper than the upgraded version of the Microsoft Lifecam, but also better in every way. Both it’s full HD and 720p modes are a lot better, so if you want a webcam in that price class, the C920 is the only one worth considering.
Almost the Best
Although it is a little cheaper, we still feel that the C920 offer a little more value for money. That being said, if you enjoy Microsoft as a brand, then this might be the perfect fit for you.
The microphone is excellent compared to normal webcam standards, but still a lot weaker than most separate microphones, such as the Snowball.
Best Cam on a Budget
Microsoft proves that budget webcams can actually be really good, with this budget webcam. While obviously not on the same level as the aforementioned cams, this is as good as it gets if you are looking for a cheaper solution.
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Even Though this camera is extremely affordable, it fit the needs of most PC users. It is small and efficient, with its video recording going as high as 720p and convenient size to carry around your laptop bag.
Obviously, this is not the one for you if you have serious webcam needs, such as streaming, Youtube etc. This cam will simply come off as unprofessional and lack in quality in those cases, but if you are serious about such things you should also be ready to invest a little more.
What makes this cam stand out as the best budget option is the fact that it outperforms every single competitor in its price range. With the Logitech C310 being its closest competition in terms of performance and price. While the two cams turned out the be extremely close, Microsoft won this round.
This is the ideal travel webcam, due to its reasonable quality and small convenient size. Easy to slip into your backpack, and a great choice for people doing frequent business trips and such. Its video quality is more than sufficient for a minor business call or a Skype call with your family.
Minor Stutter Issues
If you plan to use your webcam much and often, then we would recommend you look into a more expensive option, however. Since the 720p quality is far from as smooth as it is on the Microsoft Lifecam or Logitech C920.
Sadly we often felt like we had to crank down the quality, in order to get proper frame rate results. Which is to be expected in this price class, but we ended up using the 800×600 mode instead of 720p, since it was a lot smoother. Not to say that the 720p is bad, but the 800×600 actually just offered such great frame rates that it generally looked better.
Better than Cheap
When reviewing for ”the best budget cam” there ended up being 3 serious contenders. Logitech C310, Logitech C270, and this one. So why not the Logitech cams? they are extremely popular, and we do understand why. However, while the C270 is cheaper, it is also far inferior in every aspect, especially when it comes to video quality. The Logitech C310 is a little more expensive, but essentially performing on par with the HD-3000.
So the C310 is also an excellent option, but we just prefer this one a little.
The Best Cam for Streaming
The newer and more expensive version of the C920 is not the best in terms of value for money, but it is likely the best cam on the market for streaming. Especially if you are looking for an all-in-one option.
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There is no way of getting around it, this is basically the same webcam as the C920, with a few extra features and a larger price tag. However, if you find these extra features useful, the C922x can prove very useful. But if you are just looking for a good camera, then we recommend the C920.
The extra additions are all made with streaming in mind, such as the background replacement technology and a slightly better microphone. But we do feel that these things can be achieved for efficiently by purchasing a separate microphone and green screen, but the green screen can be very inconvenient and expensive. So it is a cheap, decent alternative.
Background Replacement Tech
This is the big one, and it is the feature that Logitech use to justify the bigger price tag. So is it worth it? Honestly, we were quite pleasantly surprised. It is not as good or effective as a real green screen, but it actually does a decent job.
What it does is basically replace the boring wall behind you with a new background of your choosing. There is a lot of different ones to choose from, and more can be downloaded. They look quite good and it is incredible at separating you from the wall, which is what surprised us the most.
The feature do requires you to have a 1-colored and pretty clean background behind you, since multi colors and such will confuse it.
Better Microphone but it is no Snowball
Having a good microphone is incredibly important if you want your stream/videos to be taken seriously. And we feel this one is a little insufficient for that purpose and would recommend any streamer and content creators to buy a separate one.
For most people, no. The video quality is the same as the C920, which is incredible, but it cost twice the money.
If you wanna start streaming and you want a cheap alternative to green screen tech, then this cam is an excellent pick. Green screen can be a pretty expensive affair, and this webcam is a great way to test the waters as a content creator.
Best for Professional Content Creators
Logitech Brio 4k
Do you make a living from making videos? or maybe from streaming on Twitch? if no, then this is likely not the webcam for you. It is quite expensive, but equally impressive and is the clear choice for professionals.
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This is as good as it gets, but also quite expensive. This is the best pick, without the shadow of a doubt if you are a professional streamer or content creator. The Video quality is simply second to none, but if you don’t work with video making it can feel very overpriced.
There is not much to say really, this is the best webcam currently on the market, but also one of the most expensive.
It is only fitting that Logitech takes the crown in another category and proves themselves the official kings of the PC camera market.
In short: this webcam has the best possible frame rate, resolution, and overall video quality. So if you don’t mind spending (a lot) of extra money, then this is the one for you.
For most people, this cam is not worth the money, but if you make a living or have a side job as a YouTuber or streamer, then this can be an excellent investment.
For the Pro Content Creators
This is clearly made for those people who take their craft very seriously, and it pays off. Even though it is pretty expensive, the investment can really pay off if you make videos or stream on a daily basis. The extra quality will likely lure more viewers in, and keep them interested for longer.
This is the cam that a lot of the best and most viewed Twitch streamers use, and we really understand why. This camera screams quality and proves to your viewers that you take them and your job serious.
Too Much for John Doe
As we have mentioned before, this is not a webcam worth paying for if you are just a regular Joe. This is only for the streamers, video creators or those with a little too much money on their person.
But make no mistake, this is a phenomenal webcam.
Other webcams we tested
On our journey to find the best webcams of 2018, we tested a LOT of cams. This is a list of those worth mentioning, but that didn’t quite make the list.
While a popular budget option, and definitely offer a great deal of value for money. The few dollars saved do not make up for the lack of performance compared to the Microsoft HD-3000 or the Logitech C310.
This one just barely made the list and is actually one that we highly recommend. We did like the Microsoft budget option slightly more, but they are basically the same webcam, but the C310 is just a little more expensive, which is why we chose the HD-3000
This is actually our runner-up, to the runner-up. Making it our third favorite webcam on the market. There is no denying the fact that Logitech knows their way around making webcams, and we struggled to find a single bad one. What really stands out about this one is its versatile capabilities. It can be optimized and changed in a hundred different ways, which can make it perfect for most situations, once you learn to operate its software.
Basically just a lite version of the C615. It is a great webcam for the price, but not quite among the best ones on the market.
Another high-end option from Logitech. Like any of the other Logitech webcams we tried, it is not a bad deal, which is actually a general rule when it comes to webcams. If you buy Logitech, you get exactly what you pay for, or more. So it is hard to go wrong with them. But we don’t feel the extra power is worth the extra amount of money compared to the C922x or C920.
Cimkiz USB 2.0
This is the budget version for those whose budget, is on a budget. Its price is almost non-existent. But the performance was very fitting for the price, and we can only recommend this cam if you have the absolute minimum of webcam needs.
Ausdom 1080p Cam
This is a great pick for those specifically looking for 1080p video, and look to save a few bucks. It is by far the cheapest 1080p PC camera on the market but is not so good at anything else. Hence, why it did not make it onto the list.
Microsoft Studio Lifecam
The 1080p version of our pick. It’s in the same price class as the C920 from Logitech, but nowhere near as perfect. The 1080p mode is also lacking, which will often force you to go down to 720p, making the upgrade obsolete.
How we Tested them
This is some of the criteria we used to test out the many different webcams and may aid you in finding the ideal pick for you.
Side-by-side Camera Quality Comparison
This is where we always start off, and it is a quick way to figure out where a cam is, performance wise. Luckily most webcams can be co-connected, meaning we could effectively test 2 cams, side-by-side and easily determine which was the better webcam, at least in terms of video quality. Which is without a doubt one of, if not the most important factor to most people when looking at webcams.
Also, a good way to get a feel for the frame rate, seeing as you can see the two screens right beside each other. So if one of them holds a steady 30+ fps, it is very easy to call out a bad cam. Also, makes it easier to determine the minor difference and find the ultimate victor.
This is different from each camera, but most cams have a particular niche or feature that is supposed to sell the product. Often times it is extremely easy to determine whether or not the feature is functional and working as intended.
A good example is the Logitech C922x since it had to new major features over the C920. New microphone and background replacement tech.
First we tested the microphone, which was a little better, but still lacking for the purpose it was created for, which is streaming. So after a little while, we decided that the microphone could not be considered a pro, and might even be a slight con, seeing as it drives the price upwards.
The replacement tech is a little rarer, and therefore a harder to test. But we found the other cams with similar features and quickly learned that no one had come remotely close to what Logitech had achieved here. Making it a very successful feature.
Quality and Durability Test
This is quite simple, what can realistically happen to a webcam? it will fall off the screen occasionally, and maybe even get stuck when you close your laptop. So that is what we did. Every cam got dropped a LOT, from small and medium heights. Surprisingly few cameras actually struggled with this test, which is why we consider durability to be a less important factor than with most other PC equipment.
A few more struggled when it came to getting stuck in the laptop, and this is where we could literally remove all the weak and poorly made cams from the test.
What you should consider when looking for a new webcam
Things that might help you find the correct cam for you.
What are your needs and budget
This is crucial to ask yourself, seeing as there is a huge difference in price depending on your needs.
To us, there are 4 different price layers, and finding yours can save you from wasting money.
- Minimum webcam needs, budget options ideal
- The avid Pc user, who use their webcam often
- The amateur streamer/content creator, who will need a good cam and mic to be taken serious and to properly test the industry.
- The professionals, those who live of streaming or video making. These people will find it well worth their money to buy the best of the best.
Obviously, your economy can also play into this, if you are a struggling streamer you can start out with a budget cam and if you are a wealthy regular gamer, you might want to get a very expensive cam.
This is a minor thing, but worth mentioning. We found that with webcams, brand matter a lot, more so than with any other PC equipment we have tested. The industry is dominated by Logitech and Microsoft, and understandably so. While there are other decent brands, this is what we found:
- Logitech: They dominate this industry, and of the 9 Logitech cams we tested, we failed to find a single bad one. So if you want to make sure to always get your money’s worth or maybe more, Logitech is a safe bet.
- Microsoft : The Second best there is, with almost all of their webcams being decent or better. With a few bad ones(looking at you VX-6000).
- Ausdom : Pretty much a poor man’s Microsoft, they have made quite a lot of good webcams. However, they always seem to be a little lacking compared to Logitech and Microsoft, but if you want more features for your money, such as a cheap full HD cam, they can be the way to go.
- Creative : Risky, although they have a few decent cams out there. They are generally not of the best quality.
- Cimkiz : Full on budget mode. Haven’t made a good webcam, as far as we experienced.
- Technet : Another budget brand, which does a little better than Cimkiz, and does have a few budget version worthwhile. But generally, budget versions from Logitech and Microsoft do a better job.
What makes a good webcam
The Internet has facilitated the ability of people to communicate quickly and more conveniently. Through the Internet, interactions are no longer limited by space or time as people all around the world can communicate more efficiently. Technological advancements have necessitated several changes in the mode of communication. An excellent change which is noteworthy is the ability of people to not only send and receive audio but also video footage. This form of communication is much more enhanced by the combination of sound and pictures or live images, in this case, are much better than audio alone.
The benefits of Webcams can never be overemphasized as they are responsible for adding this new and exciting element to communication systems.
Now, it doesn’t matter if you are in a different country on vacation or if you are abroad for a business convention. With Webcams, you can enhance your chatting experience while communicating with your loved ones and associates regardless. Webcams eliminate the differences in time zones as both parties feel that they are in the same room while interacting with one another.
Due to the importance of the device, a purchase of a webcam should depend solely on its level of functionality. The type of webcam required for professional use is entirely different from that which will only be used to keep in touch with friends and family. Webcams are available in various shapes and sizes, but several vital features make a good webcam.
Important Features of a WebCam
This is perhaps the most critical aspects of a webcam. Resolutions are subdivided into two different categories, namely ;
• Standard definition – This has a lower resolution of 480-pixel
• High Definition – There are two levels of resolutions available under this category. The 720-pixel option and the 1080 pixel option.
It should be noted that how clear or sharp an image depends on how many pixels are present in the vertical scanning lines. As the resolution of a webcam determines how clear the video broadcast will be, it is equally essential for users to have high definition monitors to view HD videos.
This is another feature that a webcam is expected to have. The quality of the microphone integrated into the webcam will determine the type of videoing you will do. Video chatting does not require a webcam that comes with a top of the range microphone. For more professional uses, it is necessary for you to invest in a good quality external microphone if the inbuilt mic is not up to par. The built in-microphone is mostly for casual video conversations with friends or family, seeing as serious content creators should look for a high-end headset or a stand-alone mic.
Megapixels are dots of color which create a visual image when combined. A webcam with more megapixels will offer clearer pictures, and it is advisable for users to get webcams that have either 320×240 or 640×480 pixels for standard images. If your computer monitor has an HD function, a webcam of 1280×720 pixels would be more preferable.
The question of design will be determined by the type of Computer or monitor you use, the size of your desk, or if you’ll require a webcam that can be attached to the monitor with a clip. It is also crucial for you to decide if you’ll need a stationary webcam or one which can rotate during filming.
Clip-on webcams are usually designed for computers with thin monitors such as laptops. This type of webcam can also be used on desktops with slim monitors, and it is ideally suited for users who have limited space. Freestanding webcams require more space, but they are easier to adjust. What kind you want will most likely depend on whether you are a Youtuber, Twitch-streamer or businessman. Whereas the clip on cam is more than enough for any business needs, the Youtuber and streamers will likely want one of higher quality that can offer better quality video recording to their viewers.
Although the lens is less noticeable than other features, it is a very important feature of a webcam.
The lens of the webcam captures the light on the subject which is then transformed by the sensors into an image. The quality of images are connected to lens quality and a high-quality lens will capture more light thereby producing images with higher quality. This means that a good quality lens will create a better-broadcasted image. Without a proper lens, it won’t matter much which resolution or pixel quality you are sporting.
6. Low Light Quality
It is essential for users to consider the low light quality of webcams if they intend to use them during low light conditions. Without this feature, the webcam will create low-quality images, and no amount of tampering will generate an image with better quality. Webcams are now designed with a bright light feature which enables users to create pictures in low light conditions without compromising quality.
7. Connection Type
It is also important for you to consider how the webcam connects to your computer. Some webcams make use of wireless connections while others are connected to computers via a USB cable. USB webcams are more common as they are easy to attach and convenient to use. Wireless webcams are positioned further away from the computer and are ideally suited for home monitoring and not conventional video uses. The wireless option is also much less ‘value-for-money’ efficient and is usually not recommended unless you absolutely need it to be wireless.
Some webcams are designed with autofocus. This feature works by automatically focusing on a moving object during filming. Though invaluable, this feature can further complicate things because it takes some time for the camera to focus. Fortunately, some webcams allow users to turn off the autofocus option.
The durability of a webcam is another aspect worth considering. If you do not plan on carrying the webcam around often, then a plastic webcam is a safe option. However, a metal webcam with a rugged construction is less likely to get damaged during trips.
10. Frame Rate
The frame rate is the rate at which the webcam can capture images. Images captured and broadcast in quick succession appear as animated videos. To create smooth and lifelike videos, it is essential to start with webcams with 30 frames per second and work your way higher.
Webcams are fantastic communication devices that allow people who are separated by distance to have enhanced interactions as well as being a crucial part of modern streaming and video creation. Every quality webcam must have most of the features mentioned above to create high-quality images for a user’s satisfaction.
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