Webcams have become a part of gaming culture. With the rise of YouTube Let’s Plays and Twitch livestreams, seeing who is playing a game has become nearly as important as seeing the game itself. Not everyone cares about seeing a facecam in the corner of their favorite stream, but it’s no coincidence that pretty much every top-rated streamer has a webcam prominently featured.
First and foremost, a camera should be judged by the quality of its picture. If a webcam’s price seems too good to be true, it probably doesn’t look very good. Super cheap webcams can have the visual fidelity of filming yourself with a potato, but spend too much money and you’ll hit a plateau where you can’t see a practical difference besides the cost. As a PC peripheral that will be used infrequently by most of us—when compared to something like a mouse or keyboard—or scaled to the corner of a streamer’s screen, I wanted to find the perfect balance of price and image quality.
The Logitech c920 is my primary recommendation, but I also picked out the best budget webcam (one that doesn’t look like crap, and costs only $25) and the most versatile webcam for travel or unusual desk setups.
I used OBS to both livestream and record video from each camera, testing them both fullscreen and scaled down to a “facecam” size. I also used each manufacturer’s webcam software to take the highest possible resolution pictures with each and manually adjust settings like white balance, brightness, auto-focus, and others where applicable. Each of these situations were tested with multiple lighting setups from overhead fluorescent bulbs to nothing but the glow of the monitor in front of me.
Creative Live! Sync:
Creative Live! Chat:
Microsoft LifeCam Cinema:
Microsoft LifeCam Studio:
I still need to test the Logitech c270, their webcam that is slightly cheaper than the c310. However, it’s still more expensive than the Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000, which I recommend over the c310 as a budget option. In general, I am interested to see a true competitor to Logitech enter the webcam market, as currently only Microsoft can hold a candle to its quality. I also want to test the Brother NW1000, another high-end webcam which could rival the c920, even if it does cost more.
We’ll keep this list up to date as new webcams are released and prices shift. Price for quality had a big influence on my judgment, so if prices permanently dip or raise, it could affect the how highly I rate a specific webcam. As for the Logitech c920, unless it goes back to costing $100, it will take a new webcam entering the market to dethrone it.