Windows Central Verdict
The ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30 is brilliant, especially if you're planning to stream/record at 1080p or 1440p. 4K is possible (hence the name) but performance is definitely "up to" 60Hz.
Excellent 1080p performance
Certified for OBS
Mediocre 4K performance
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In order to simply enjoy your favorite PC games, all you require is a monitor and a single cable. To record or stream your gameplay, you'll need to rely on your CPU to take the stream going to your monitor and record it to a file or through an app like Open Broadcast Software (OBS) so everyone else can watch.
And this is all for local recording, but what if you also wanted to record footage from a games console or another PC? That's where capture cards come into play and today, we're looking at the ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30. From the name, it's easy to spot the resolution and frame rate supported.
This capture box is capable of handling up to 4K streams at 30 FPS. Could it be the best value capture box to buy for a budding streamer or YouTuber? Read on to find out!
ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30: Price, specs, and availability
ASUS priced the TUF Gaming CU4K30 aggressively. This small capture device only costs $120, which is far more affordable than some competitor hardware, especially those from Elgato. Capture devices aren't cheap, especially when one needs to factor in the cost of a PC to connect to it.
|Header Cell - Column 0||ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30|
|Interface||USB 3.2 Gen1x1 Type-C|
|Resolutions||UHD (4K) 60Hz HDR|
|Row 4 - Cell 0||QHD (1440p) 144Hz HDR|
|Row 5 - Cell 0||Full HD (1080p) 240Hz HDR|
|VRR Support||Yes, 48Hz - 120Hz|
|Video Format||NV12, YUV2|
|Console Support||PlayStation, Xbox, Switch|
|Dimensions||105 x 80 x 21mm|
The main interface to a PC is through a single USB-C 3.2 Gen 1x1 connection. Two HDMI 2.0 ports are on hand for video passthrough, which also handle audio recording. Resolution support goes up to 4K though this is limited to just 30FPS. You'll need to move down to QHD or Full HD for higher frame rates at 144 and 240, respectively.
When buying this capture device, ASUS includes the following with the CU4K30 to get you up and running in no time:
- Quick start guide.
- HDMI 2.0 cable.
- USB 3.2 Gen1x1 Type-C to Type A cable.
- USB Type-A to Type-C adapter.
- 3.5 mm to 3.5mm audio cable.
There are some requirements for the ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30 to work properly. ASUS recommends the recording PC have at least an Intel Core i5-6000 or AMD Ryzen 5 1000 series processor at the base minimum. An Intel Core i7 6000 or AMD Ryzen 7 1000 is recommended for better results.
RAM needs to be at least 8GB though 16GB is preferred and the GPU should be the best graphics card you can afford. The CU4K30 will work with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX570. So long as you match these specifications (most modern PCs should), you're good to go.
ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30: What I like
After unboxing the ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30, it's immediately apparent just how compact and portable this capture box is. Measuring 105 x 80 x 21mm and just 173g, you can take this thing about anywhere. Without requiring anything but the included cables to hook up all your hardware, it's a great companion for those who frequently move between setups.
On one side of the CU4K30 is the array of two HDMI 2.0 ports, which are used for input and passthrough. There's a single USB-C port for hooking up the PC to offload footage. Worry not if your PC doesn't have an available USB-C port as ASUS includes a USB-C to USB-A adapter.
On the opposite side are two 3.5mm audio ports. Whilst the main audio is handled through the HDMI ports, you can connect one of these two 2.5mm ports to your controller using the included cable. The second port can be used for a headset, allowing you to not only listen to what's being recorded through HDMI but also capture input through the microphone.
It wouldn't be an ASUS device without some RGB lighting and the TUF Gaming CU4K30 doesn't disappoint. Whether or not you're a fan of RGB lighting effects, these actually have a function as well as form by indicating the status of the capture box (and if any issues have been detected).
It's compact, well-designed, has plenty of ports, and is capable of handling 4K streams. The ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30 seems like an excellent package before plugging everything in. It gets better since there's no required software to make the thing work. Simply plug all the cables in and your favorite broadcast software will detect and happily communicate with the capture box.
If you do want to use some form of ASUS software to manage the CU4K30, there is the ASUS Video Capture Console suite, which allows you to download and install software updates for the device. The RGB lighting can also be adjusted here, as well as audio connections, but you won't find any means to record any video directly, which is a shame.
When using the device with OBS, the ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30 lives up to expectations. 4K is "okay," but really you should be looking at 1080p or 1440p to really get the most out of this device. It can do 4K at 30FPS, but we'd honestly splash some more cash on a capture box that can do 60FPS.
As with other external capture devices, there's a slight delay (lag) between the console output and what is recorded through the chosen streaming software. This is to be expected with any form of video capture and we'd recommend using a separate dedicated monitor instead of using the recording PC to play console games.
For 1080p or 1440p, the recorded footage is smooth and excellent. Using OBS, the detection of the capture box and setting everything up took less than 10 minutes. Even HDR can be sent through, which is a nice addition, though it's worth pointing out that recorded footage is limited to SDR.
ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30: What I dislike
It would be good to see ASUS flesh out its software a little to allow for recording capabilities through the same control center as you'd use to manage the capture box. This is a minor gripe and simply firing up OBS or your favorite recording app will do fine.
There's not really anything I dislike about the ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30. It can record 4K though it's not designed to do so with excellent results. You can't go above 30FPS for a smoother viewing experience. It's best suited for 1080p or 1440p stream recording. For the price, this is to be expected.
ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30: Competition
One device that could be considered a close competitor to the ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30 is the excellent Elgato HD60 X. In fact, the ASUS CU4K30 has better resolution support for recording as the HD60 doesn't support 4K. It all comes down to the quality of recording desired.
Going for 4K and/or high refresh rates will result in additional costs. ASUS manages to keep this low and offer such capabilities, limited by the connections at 4K resulting in a maximum refresh rate capture of 30Hz.
ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30: Should you buy?
You should buy if ...
- You want to record 1080p and 1440p streams.
- You need a compact video capture box.
- You also have a console at hand to record from.
You shouldn't buy if ...
- You want to record smooth 4K footage.
- You don't own another PC or console.
For those who want to record 4K content alone, the ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30 isn't designed for you. It's best suited to 1440p and 1080p recordings where frame rates can comfortably hit three digits for exceptionally good results. It's well-designed, compact, and easy to use.
Not requiring any background ASUS software is a bonus, though we'd like to see the official software fleshed out a little. Whether you're wanting to record some footage for further editing or fancy yourself as the next big thing on Twitch, the ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30 is a solid workhorse for recording external video streams.
The ASUS TUF Gaming CU4K30 is capable of handling up to 4K streams (hence the name). It's not the most powerful device of its class, but also doesn't cost a small fortune.
Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.