Nvidia Shadowplay vs. Beepa Fraps

I know I’m late to the party when it comes to capturing game play videos, but I recently tried this out using both Beepa Fraps and the built in Nvidia Shadowplay tool. The results were quite interesting.

First of all, they are both very easy to use and some excellent videos. In both cases the amount of configuration was selecting where to store the files. By default they go in the Videos directory, but since I have two drives I moved them off to a separate location.

So how did it work?

Both worked incredibly well and I didn’t see any degradation of performance in Dirt 2. Both can be activated by pressing a key combination and then saved by hitting another combo. It’s pretty much that hands off. At the end of my gaming adventures I had plenty of videos of my greatest spills and thrills.

So which is better?

That is a harder question to answer based on multiple factors. First off Nvidia Shadowplay is free. It comes with the latest version of the driver. Fraps is $37. That being said, Shadowplay is only available for Nvidia cards whereas Fraps works across platforms.

Additionally, Shadowplay has a "rolling" record feature which means it’s always recording X number of minutes while the game is playing. That means you don’t have to expressly his the Record button to capture something cool. If you make a spectacular move Shadowplay already got it, you just need to save the buffer.

With Fraps you have to tell it to record the entire session. Since Fraps store uncompressed video to enhance performance, the video file is insanely large. For several minutes of game play, you’ll be looking at several dozen gigs worth of hard drive space used. And you have to plan ahead. If you don’t hit record, it’s not doing anything.

Shadowplay only records inside a game. Fraps records anything. This means you can use Fraps to capture a software demo or record a presentation so it can be shared out later. This also means if you plan to record other games like Minecraft, Age of Empire or Rise of Nations, you need to use Fraps. Shadowplay will not record your desktop. Maybe that will come in later versions, but I highly doubt it. I haven’t found documentation on it, but Shadowplay may only work with Steam or maybe when the CUDA cores actually kick in. I haven’t tried anything outside of Steam yet. I’ll need to test that.

Additionally, Shadowplay is always running, while you have to start Fraps and then start the recording. It just means you have to plan ahead.

For my simple needs and budget, Shadowplay offers everything I need. The configuration is simple, the rolling record is an awesome feature (I’d like to be able to increase the buffer though) and it’s always at the ready. I can see why people like Fraps, but the price is simply too damn high. Since I have Nvidia cards, Shadowplay gets the nods for the best way to capture games. And since it’s in beta, in theory, it should only get better.

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