Best Screen Recording Software 2018 – Free & Paid Solutions

image of content creationIt has never been easier or more lucrative to get into Youtubing or Twitch Streaming than it is now.

Partly because the audience is expanding so quickly but also because the tools are better than ever before.

One of the most important things you need is the best screen recording software suited for your needs, and there is a LOT to choose from so it is not that easy.

Today we will help guide you through the process and aid you in finding the perfect piece of video capture software for you. Whether you are a PC or Mac user, we have got you covered.

Other Streamer/Youtuber Related Articles:


Best Free Screen Recorders

First, let’s take a look at the best free solutions on the market. Our focus was to find high-quality free game recording software with no watermarks, that don’t affect frame rates too much and has a decent amount of features without paying a dime.

Ispring Free Cam

Best Software for Beginners

Let us start out with a software that works on all platforms and is very user-friendly.

Screenshot of IspringIspring Free Cam is a wonderful place to start if you are a first-time content creator. It is straightforward to use, free and comes with a nifty video editing feature as well. Ispring Free Cam is entire without watermarks and don’t even have a premium version.

ISpring is a fantastic way to start out as it is easy to both record and edit video with it and it even has a smart uploader so that you can upload your videos directly to Youtube once you are finished. It’s an all-in-one software and is perfect for beginners on a budget.

The GoodNo time limit, no watermarks, free, very user-friendly, has integrated direct upload for Youtube

The BadLacking in features for professional users. Don’t have a lot of features.

Official Site

Nvidia ShadowPlay

Best Overall

This is a free recorder that even professionals can get behind. However, it does require you to have Geforce experience.

Nvidia ShadowplayNvidia is an extremely feature heavy free software whose only downside is that you need Geforce Experience for it to work, as it is an addition to it. A lot of you probably already have this, whether you know it or not. It just means that you have a PC with a Nvidia driver, which is most gaming capable computers.

It is relatively easy to use, at least compared to the likes of OBS but unlike most other free screen recorders it also offers a LOT of handy features and settings. Making it easy to get precisely the recording you are looking for. It is also broadcasting friendly, which mean it can be used for both video recording as well as live streaming.

I cannot talk about Nvidia Shadowplay without mentioning it’s instant replay and highlights features. Instant replay is such a cool feature, and it allows you to instantly make a recording of the last 30 seconds as long as it runs in the background. This means that every time you make an outstanding play that you want to share with the world, it is as easy as pressing a button. This can also be used to instantly create GIF’s in 4k from your gameplay and upload directly to the social platform of your choosing. While the highlights feature creates a reel of your best and most exciting moments in-game, it detects clutch kills, game-deciding moments and more and puts it together. This sounds a bit futuristic but for the most part, it does just that, and it’s a lot of fun and an effortless way to get a cool video reel with your best plays.

The GoodNo time limit or watermarks, feature and settings rich, highlights and instant replay features are fantastic, can be used for live streaming/broadcasting as well.

The Bad: Requires Geforce Experience to work.

Official Site

Open Broadcaster Software(OBS)

Runner-up, Best for people without Geforce Experience

One of the most popular software for streamers everywhere is a great video capture software as well.

Screenshot from Open broadcaster softwareOpen Broadcaster Software or OBS as it is more often referred to is the go-to broadcasting software for streamers but rarely used as a screen capture software. Which is a shame because it is one of the best free solutions on the market.

You merely have to change the broadcast setting from live stream to file output, and you are good to go. It is a very high-quality game recorder, and it has an almost endless array of settings and adjustments you can make it create the perfect recordings. This does however also mean that it is less suited for beginners and can be quite a handful to get started.

The GoodNo time limit or watermark, free, can be used for both live streaming and recording, setting and feature rich.

The BadFairly complicated for beginners, not as user-friendly as Shadowplay or ISpring.

Official Site

Honorable Mentions

While these 3 are our favorites and we feel that they do fill all the needs a gamer might have there are a few other free recorders worth mentioning.

IceCream Screen Recorder

Icecream Screen Recorder is an excellent alternative to Ispring and it best suited for beginners. It is also straightforward to use and put almost no strain on your PC’s frame rate. However, it also has a 10 minute limit to your recordings, which to be fair is more than most will need but still not as good as having no limit. It also has some features locked behind a paywall but not the most essential. IceCream Screen Recorder is still worth considering as a beginner, but we do feel that Ispring comes out on top.

Official Site

Smartpixel

Smartpixel offers some very high-quality recordings and has some great features for a free plugin. That being said, it does have a watermark unless you choose to pay for the Pro version. If you can live with the watermark, then Smartpixel is among the best beginner software out there, but the Pro version is not worth it. It removes the watermark and adds a few additional features but compared to other paid options on the market it falls short.

Official Site


Best Paid Game Recording Software

While there are several fantastic free options out there, it is very much worth getting a premium recorder if you want to take your content creation seriously.

We chose to focus highly on some specific essential features. Such as multi-channel recording capability, how much it hurt the frame rate, premium settings and ease of use. You can read more about these features on the bottom of the page.

Mirillis Action!

Best overall screen capture software

The go-to premium screen recorder on the market right now, which is likely due to its stable performance and an incredible array of features.

Screenshot from Action game recording softwareAction! has so many things going for it. It has a decent free version which can let you lean into it before committing. It is also booming with great features such as multi-channel recording, a very precise benchmarking function, a lot of frame rate and pixel settings and it is even very budget friendly.

Action! also has a broadcasting feature which will allow you to use it for live streaming and it has directly linked functionalities with Streamlabs and Twitch, so it’s easy to set up a beautiful overlay. While OBS might be preferable since it is free of charge, I would recommend Action to anyone having trouble with OBS as it doesn’t worth smoothly for everyone.

Its performance is awe-inspiring and it is probably the most stable regarding frame rate in its price class. On top of that, it is also phenomenal at compressing files and give you a tiny file size compared to the quality.

I only have one issue with Action! which can be a bit annoying. Its file conversion has it’s own type and can sometimes mean you have to convert twice which can be a slow and tiresome process.

The GoodFeature rich, powerful and stable performance, excellent benchmark feature, multi-channel recording, affordable, has a decent free version, very good at compressing files.

The BadVideo converting can be a pain.

Official Site

BandiCam

Runner-up

Bandicam is a reasonably priced screen recorder with an excellent performance to boot.

Screenshot from Bandicam recording softwareBandicam is a powerful game recorder which only had five frames per second drop overall which is impressive. It also has a decent amount of options that will allow you to alter the recording to your preference. Among them, multi-channel recording which most content creators will know can be quite valuable. It allows you to record audio on separate tracks, so your microphone and game are recording on different tracks.

There is only one real negative about Bandicam and its pretty minor. There are a lot of settings but no benchmark feature, meaning you have to use some time to test your computer if you want to find the ideal settings for you.

If you don’t mind using a bit of extra time setting Bandicam up then it is a great option for gamers who want to take their recording a bit more serious.

The GoodA lot of options, almost no FPS reduction when used, multi-channel recording, high pixel and fps capabilities.

The BadNo benchmark feature, can be laborious and time-consuming first to set up.

Official Site / Buy on amazon

Camtasia Studio

Best two-in-one recording & editing software for PC users

Camtasia is of a whole other caliber and is an excellent two-in-one editor and recorder software.

screenshot from Camtasia video recording softwareCamtasia is one of the best game recorders on the market but also has a powerful editing tool. Effectively giving you a premium recorder and editor in one. That being said, it is also considerably more pricey than the rest on this list.

Camtasia is really for those that have already started their career as content creators and want to up the quality of their work. Once you get good at using this software you can make very professional high-end videos.

I would not recommend it if you are starting out as it has a pretty hefty price tag and also a lot of advanced features that can be hard to get the most out of as a beginner.

The GoodEditor and screen recorder in one, professional grade quality, feature rich, works on Mac and PC.

The BadPricey, a bit advanced for beginners.

Official Site / Buy on amazon

Telestream Screenflow

Best recorder & editor for Mac users.

This is probably my favorite software and is for real professionals but sadly only work on Mac.

Screenshot from ScreenFlow professional mac screen recorderLike Camtasia, it is also a two-in-one solution and has a brilliant editor alongside its high-end recording feature. One of the things that ScreenFlow does better than Camtasia is the ease of use. ScreenFlow is so incredibly intuitive that it can make a professional out of a beginner rather quickly.

Unlike Camtasia, I would recommend ScreenFlow even to beginners, as long as you are confident they are ready to spend this kind of money on their career as content creators.

So if you are a Mac user and want to create stunning top-tier videos, then ScreenFlow might be your best possible option. It can create everything from regular Youtube videos to absolutely stunning 4k films.

The GoodEditor and screen recorder in one, professional grade quality, feature rich, incredibly intuitive to use, great for both beginners and professionals.

The BadPricey, only for Mac users.

Official Site / Buy on amazon

Honorable Mentions

As always some decent products didn’t quite make it onto this list. These are the software that we tested and liked but still didn’t outperform those on our list.

Dxtory

Probably our favorite software of those that didn’t make it onto our list. Dxtory has the most prominent array of settings of any recorder in its price range, making it a real dream for software geeks that like to fool around with the perfect options setup.

Sadly it falls short due to having a not so user-friendly interface and the fact that it can hurt your frame rate if you don’t have a really powerful computer.

Official Site

Fraps

Fraps likely remain the most famous screen recorder to the regular gamer, and that is just because it was leaps and bounds better than any other option when it came out. It is still incredibly easy to use and a good choice if you want to jump straight into it and not worry about setting it up.

Sadly they stopped supporting Fraps in 2013, making the newest version ancient which does cause some issues. It gives the occasional stutter and is a bit rougher on the computer than most other options.

Official Site

D3DGear

D3DGear is just a lesser version of Action!, as it is straightforward to use, has a lot of features, multiple media outlays and has a very reasonable price tag. However, it does end up hurting the overall quality of the video, despite running very well concerning its frame rate. The audio quality takes a significant hit as well as the coloring of the recording.

Official Site


What to look out for in a screen recorder

Some of the terms used in this article are somewhat technical so let us take a moment to go over what features we feel are the most essential to a good video recording software.

Frames Per Second(FPS)

Frames per second is a term used to define the number of frames your screen shows every second and generally speaking, 60 is considered to be very good and anything below 30 is unacceptable in many cases. Recording software can put a strain on your computer, and a few years ago it was impossible to find a software that didn’t decrease your FPS a LOT. Luckily there are a lot of great options today that barely touch your frame rate or at least don’t ruin it.

The FPS, or rather the effect the software has on your frame rate is probably the most important factor of them all. At least it is one that can singlehandedly ruin the program for you.

Multi-channel recording

This is a term used for a feature that allows you to record on multiple channels. As an example, it will enable you to record your video separately from your microphone audio, and your microphone audio separately from that as well. At least having the possibility of two channels is a significant upside for most content creators as it can really make editing frustrating if everything is on the same channel. However, generally speaking, the more channels, the better and having 3 or more can make your life so much easier.

Benchmark Settings

Benchmark setting is a feature that the software uses to detect what build you are running with and how much your computer can take and then set your computer to the most optimal automatically.

Benchmark settings make everything so much easier, but it is not always gospel. A professional content creator will likely not use it as it is a general overall setting that can often be optimized even more manually. I’d say this is a must-have for beginners.

Ease of use

While a software usually gets a bit harder to use the more advanced feature it has it is still important to consider how easy and intuitive it is to use. ScreenFlow as an example, it has all the pro features that high-end software has but it also easy to use for beginners because those options are not thrown at your or forced on you.

Price

There a three general categories of price when it comes to video recorders. Firstly, the freebies of course. There are a lot of great free software out there, and the likes of Nvidia Shadowplay can even compete with some paid recorders.

Secondly, the 30 dollar category(ish). These are the classics such as Action and Bandicam; this is probably the software to consider if you want to take content creation very seriously but don’t make any money on it yet.

Thirdly are of course the professional-grade programs such as Camtasia and ScreenFlow. These are usually around the 100 dollar mark and is worth considering once you start making money on your content and want to take your videos to the next level.

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