Sure many laptops nowadays have built-in webcams, but they aren’t great and a dedicated webcam looks infinitely better. These webcam span a variety of styles and budgets, so whether you’re a budget-conscious streamer or just wanting to be the best-looking person on your next Zoom call for work, these are the cams to beat.
Update, 10/5/21: Checked content for accuracy. Swapped in all new products.
While the concept of webcams is simple and straightforward, there are quite a few features and specifications to take into consideration when you’re looking to buy one. Here’s everything you need to know:
- Resolution: Most webcams record in HD at either 720p or 1080p, but there are also plenty of 4K options out there for those who need that. You can further optimize how your video looks with a high-quality glass lens, HDR support, and a wide field of view. Higher resolutions will increase the price and are often overkill for the average user, however, so consider your budget and what you plan to do with your webcam before purchasing it.
- Framerate: While the majority of these cams record at the standard 30 frames per second (fps), the best webcams can record at a buttery smooth 60 frames per second. A high frame rate isn’t a must for the average user, but it’s nice to have if you’re streaming or frequently taking video calls.
- Ease of Use: Does the webcam have simple plug-and-play functionality, or does it require a more complex setup? Does it work out of the box or demand you download and install desktop software in order to run? None of this is a huge deal, but knowing what your webcam requires ahead of time can make setup go a little more smoothly. We also favor cams that make it easy to access and adjust settings as needed and feature flexible mounting options.
- Microphone: Many webcams also have microphones, which is great given how much happens via video call these days. However, the vast majority of these microphones sound not just low quality but downright terrible. Sure, they work, but if you want your audio to actually sound good, we recommend investing in a dedicated USB mic or even just a good pair of earbuds.
- Privacy: It’s easy to become ambivalent to such a ubiquitous piece of technology, so webcams with a privacy feature built-in are easy to appreciate. And while it’s easy enough to reach over and unplug a webcam, many of them now have built-in covers that you can physically close to ensure your privacy without any fuss.
- ✓ Automatic lighting adjustment
- ✓ Autofocus
- ✓ Inexpensive
- ✗ No 4K or 60fps
- ✗ Narrow field of view
Logitech is already well known for its wide array of quality, reliable computer peripherals, and its C920x webcam is no exception. It records in 1080p HD at 30 frames per second—plenty sufficient for video calls with family or coworkers. It also has dual omnidirectional microphones that capture natural-sounding audio and a 78-degree field of view.
The C920x features automatic lighting adjustment and autofocus, as well as a three-month XSplit VCam for removing, replacing, or blurring your background without a green screen. If you choose to use Logitech Capture, the company’s advanced capture software, you can create, edit, and share your video content with ease.
Setup is a cinch on this one, with its plug-and-play design. It has versatile and secure mounting options for monitors, laptops, or tripods thanks to its adjustable clip and threaded base. The webcam works with Windows and macOS computers and tablets, all major video call services, and is still pretty affordable, too.
Get great video and audio quality and tons of other features with this affordable and robust webcam.
- ✓ Inexpensive
- ✓ Wide field of view
- ✓ Glass lens
- ✗ Limited controls
- ✗ Only 30fps
Webcams can be really expensive. However, there’s no good reason for you to spend a small fortune on one as there are plenty of great budget-friendly options out there, like NexiGo’s N60. Despite its low price point, it boasts 1080p HD recording, a 110-degree field of view, a 2MP sensor, and a 3.6mm glass lens that’ll provide a crisp image at fixed distances but that is also optimized for anywhere between 19.6 inches and 13 feet.
The cam’s noise-canceling microphone reduces ambient noise to ensure your voice always sounds good, no matter whether you’re streaming, recording a YouTube video, or chatting with coworkers. The N60 has a convenient plug-and-play design, a folding portable design, a physical privacy cover, and a mounting clip that allows it to be placed on devices, tables, and tripods. For less than 50 bucks, this webcam is feature-rich and a great choice for anyone who doesn’t need a top-of-the-line design.
This is a stellar webcam given its low price point and is the perfect choice for anyone on a budget.
- ✓ 4K Sony STARVIS CMOS sensor
- ✓ AI-powered face tracking
- ✓ Magnetic mount and cover
- ✗ No Mac configuration (yet)
- ✗ Pricey
Got a few extra bucks to spend here? Dell’s UltraSharp webcam is the one to beat. It features a back-illuminated 4K Sony STARVIS CMOS sensor with HDR and technology that’s inspired by DSLR cameras for an unbeatably bright and crisp picture, even in low light.
It’s also rich with AI-powered features, like face tracking that keeps you centered in your feed, three video angles (a la zoom settings), a magnetic privacy cover, and Dell’s ExpressSign-in to automatically log you in and out of your Dell computer. This premium webcam also includes a tripod adapter, and features a magnetic mounting system that’s secure yet still allows you to remove and adjust it with little effort. Yes, this webcam is pricey, but it’s made with high-quality materials, stuffed with features, and offers beyond-excellent video.
Get unbeatable video with lots of useful extras with this webcam, albeit for a higher price.
- ✓ Adaptive light sensor
- ✓ Uncompressed 1080p 60fps
- ✓ Uses STARVIS technology
- ✗ Expensive
- ✗ Manual HDR activation
If you’ll be using your webcam in a dim room, or don’t feel like shilling out your hard-earned dollars for tons of peripheral lighting equipment, the Razer Kiyo Pro is your best bet. It’s driven by a high-performance 2.8MP CMOS sensor that features STARVIS technology and can shoot in uncompressed 1080p at 60 frames per second for super smooth, natural-looking footage.
The webcam is also HDR-enabled, which will make your picture pop with a wider range of vibrant colors. It also corrects over- and under-exposed areas in the shot, though you’ll need to manually activate HDR if you want it. With its wide-angle lens and adjustable field of view, you have control over how much visual space you want to display. This is a quality choice all around, but especially for those in low-light areas.
Razer Kiyo Pro
Nail the video with this spectacular webcam that's designed to excel in low light situations.
- ✓ Supports 60fps
- ✓ Premium glass lens
- ✓ USB-C
- ✗ No 4K
- ✗ Spendy
Don’t worry, streamers, we’ve got a pick specifically for you as well regardless of which OS you’re using. The Logitech Streamcam was designed with streamers in mind. It’s rocking a premium glass lens with a smart auto-focus feature and can record in 1080p at 60 frames per second so you’ll look good no matter what you’re doing.
It has auto-framing and intelligent exposure, which keeps you in the center of the shot, and it adjusts the exposure automatically so you’re always in the best light. The cam supports both landscape and portrait mounting options and is optimized to work with most popular live streaming software, like OBS, XSplit, and Streamlabs OBS. Its ultra-fast USB-C connection ensures stable quality, and you can even opt to enhance things further with Logitech Capture Software if desired.
Stream in style with this small yet powerful webcam designed specifically with streamers in mind.