Nvidia’s ShadowPlay software certainly isn’t perfect but neither is anything else currently out on the market, many of those you have to pay for as well. For a totally free software offering I am pleased to say that Nvidia’s ShadowPlay makes a great little tool for the avid gamer looking to share his/her experiences or gameplay. Currently the ShadowPlay software is in its beta stages and some features are still missing or in need of fixing. However, as it stands if you’ve got a Kepler GPU and you game at 1080P then ShadowPlay has you covered. The Shadow Mode feature is perhaps its strongest advantage as it allows you to indefinitely record a length of footage prior your current point in time meaning if anything good happens you can go ahead and do it, then end the Shadow Mode and capture the event plus a preceding amount of footage that occurred before it. This means you simply don’t have to know, predict or pre-empt when something interesting is going to happen, it can happen at any time and you’ll never be caught off guard as you long as remember to end the recording once the event has happened. Another blindingly obvious feature is that it offers hardware level video capture for free, currently if you want to capture footage at a hardware level you need expensive video capture cards like those made by AverMedia or Hauppage. Of course this doesn’t boast the 0% impact on frame rates that hardware capture rivals do but it also doesn’t sport a hefty price tag, some capture cards can cost as much as an Nvidia desktop Kepler GPU on its own.
Other advantages of Nvidia’s ShadowPlay include the fact the recording size is drastically lower than rivals, like Fraps, but at the same time the quality is comparable despite the reduced size footprint. 50Mbps videos from ShadowPlay give a great recording experience that looks and feels like real gameplay. Of course there are some weaknesses as I’ve already alluded to.
Firstly, the audio options are sparse. You can either record in game audio or none at all, there isn’t an option to do system audio which would allow you to do voice commentary or chat. You can now record in-game and VOIP audio simultaneously with the GeForce Experience 1.8 update. Secondly, you can only do 1920 x 1080 at 60 FPS. There is no support for higher or lower resolutions and if your average FPS is below 60 .You can now capture footage at native resolution and aspect ratios up to 1920×1080 (beyond 1920×1080 the aspect ratio is preserved) thanks to the 1.8 update. The recording may look choppy unless you can increase your frame rate Nvidia say the GeForce Experience 1.8 update also brings improved fluidity and reduced stuttering to gameplay recording. Thirdly, the Twitch LiveStream support simply isn’t ready yet and Nvidia doesn’t want to commit to a date so it could take days or it could take months – who knows. We certainly hope it will come sooner rather than later as we know a lot of people are eagerly awaiting it. However, what’s important to note is that Nvidia’s ShadowPlay is still in its beta stages. With future versions of the program we expect many of these deficiencies to be addressed and we look forward to the first final release being a much more refined package. As it stands it is still easily one of the most versatile, lightweight and simple-to-use free game recorders out there.
- Free with GTX 650 and higher Kepler GPUs
- Twitch LiveStream support coming
- Small file sizes compared to rivals
- Minimal performance impact on FPS, <5%
- Excellent support on Windows 8
Basic audio options, in-game audio or off, no system audioFixed in the GeForce Experience 1.8 update Can only do 1080p at 60FPS, no other resolutions or frame ratesPartially Fixed in the GeForce Experience 1.8 update
- Twitch LiveStream support not here yet!
Windows 7 has some limitationsFixed in the GeForce Experience 1.8 update
- Only supports Nvidia Kepler desktop GPUs, no current mobile GPU support or support for older GPUs
“Nvidia’s ShadowPlay software goes above and beyond what we would expect a graphics card vendor to provide for its customers. What Nvidia have done in supporting video recording and game capture at a hardware level is unique and something that has the potential to revolutionise the way gamers capture, stream and record in-game footage. While ShadowPlay is still a bit rough around the edges right now it’s worth considering that this is still only beta software. In future versions of Nvidia’s ShadowPlay we can expect to see an array of improvements and new features that will make the software even more versatile. ShadowPlay is yet another reason why gamers won’t regret buying a current-generation Nvidia GPU.”