There are plenty of options available to gamers who want to record gameplay on consoles. But when it comes to PC gaming, there’s only a handful of decent capture cards, and by far the most popular choice is recording software. FRAPS is probably the most well-known of the bunch – it can record full motion video or screenshots from videogames or other 3D applications. If you’ve got a beastly computer, FRAPS is an easy choice for video capture, but those with meager specs or a low amount of HDD space might want to look elsewhere.
When you open up FRAPS, you’ll see an FPS counter on the upper-left corner of your screen by default. This can be turned off (and it won’t be shown in recorded videos), but it’s helpful even when you’re not recording – it can help you fine-tune your graphics settings and benchmark your system. The FRAPS menu is hidden during gameplay, and the FPS counter can be shown on keyboards with compatible LCD screens, such as the Logitech G510s. The counter will display in yellow when it’s on standby, and red when it is recording.
The maximum resolution available for recording is 1080p (1920×1080) and 100 FPS. While previous versions of FRAPS split recordings every 3-4 minutes, an option has been made available to remove this limitation. The ability to record your microphone with the video has also been added, as well as the option to only record when a specific button is pressed. All of the hotkeys for the FRAPS controls can be customized, thankfully, as it would be annoying to accidentally snap screens or stop your recording when hitting a button intended for gameplay.
While the uncompressed AVI files that FRAPS produces are beautiful — practically indistinguishable from live gameplay — they also take up a massive amount of space. Make sure you have a large external hard drive ready, because every five minutes of video takes up a little less than 5 GB of space. While you can lower the file size by recording at a lower resolution or frame rate, the fact of the matter is that this program badly needs an option to compress files on-the-fly, or at least after you’re done recording. As it stands, you’ll have to render the videos in a program like Sony Vegas to get them back down to a sensible file size, which is absolutely necessary if you plan on uploading to a service like YouTube. Another downside is that unless you have a supercomputer, expect FRAPS to lower your framerate by up to 20%. Still, it’s the best option if you want perfect-quality captures with no automatic compression, and it couldn’t be easier to use.
As it stands, FRAPS is a great solution for gamers looking to record gameplay for uploading to YouTube or other services. While the recorded video file sizes are gigantic, and your framerate will likely take a hit, no other capture software offers such clean, crisp recordings. If your computer can handle it, FRAPS is the best PC recording option out there. Download the free trial and test it out – the demo version packs most of the features of the standard version, and should give you a good idea if this is the right software for you.