So, many of gamers these days like to record some their gameplay and put it up on social media sites to show off their ‘leet’ FPS skills (Non FPS players don’t be offended).
For that reason I managed to get a couple of AverMedia capture cards to put them to the test. On hand I got two models to toy with, the Game Broadcaster HD and the Live Gamer HD.
This is your entry level capture featuring dual inputs including VGA and HDMI. While the card does not have a dedicated audio input, it can record audio when an input is connected via its HDMI plug.
The Game Broadcaster HD can record up to 1080p at 30fps with a maximum video bitrate of up to 18Mbps. As an entry level card it doesn’t support hardware recording and encoding, so it does cost a bit of your available resources, however in my testings of it, I found it to be not affecting the performance of the game.
The software bundled with the card is a complete failure and should be avoided at all costs! It simply does not work. I know the golden rule with any bit of hardware is to skip the bundled driver CD altogether and download whatever is on the manufacturer’s website but the problem with this was not just a performance decrease in using older drivers but the funny fact that the card wasn’t even working with it! After a too long time period I jerried and downloaded the latest drivers and was up to some extent. The software itself wasn’t all that pretty and looked like something from the early 2000’s.
My next issue was setting up the audio. For some reason it didn’t detect HDMI audio, and due to the lack of it having any audio inputs or outputs I was required to have a cable running from the headphone output of the computer to the line in on my actual work computer. This as you can imagine may be problematic for most people as they would not have two computers ready at their disposal. So I had to record the audio and video separately and later combine them to complete the video. More of a hassle as one could imagine.
After too long I was up and running recording my game footage. I had a HDMI cable running out of the graphics card into the capture card and footage was looking good. I saw no decrease in performance what so ever and the recordings showed great quality. It did show signs of slight defects at time for a few seconds but it wasn’t major and didn’t ruin the overall recordings. The quality of the recording compared to the actual game play showed quite a close difference. I’d say it records at about 70-80% of the actual image on screen which really is a good number. What also made it pretty handy was the quality was consistent through the whole video so you wouldn’t see inconsistency in the video.
Overall the Game Broadcaster HD allows you to record or stream your gaming with somewhat ease. It does take a bit of time to set up when recording footage from the computer, but console players should find it a breeze.
This device has a few extra goodies including a dedicated USB button to start and stop recording with fancy LED lighting which alerts you when you’re actually recording and when you’re not. It also features on board H.264 hardware compression allowing it completely take control of all recording and compression processing on its hardware chip. This is more beneficial to those with slower systems or those paranoid about loss of performance. A bigger plus for this model is the dual HDMI ports for in and out and audio jacks for input and output! This means you can either input the audio source directly into the card or even attach a mix and record commentary. Pretty nifty to those wanting to make some intuitive videos.
The software for the Live Gamer HD differs and features a much better somewhat hi-tech interface with good quality preset’s to choose from while still allowing modifications. One thing that did catch my eye was the maximum video bitrate at no more than 15Mbps. That’s quite surprising as the lower end card allows you to record at a higher bitrate. Some might say 4Mbps isn’t a lot of a difference, but in fact it is. With an on board hardware processor I would’ve expected and liked to see recording bitrate up around the 30Mbps mark. This would allow you to edit, chop and re-encode the video to an appropriate size for web distribution while losing minimal quality. The higher the bitrate the more breathing space you’d have in compressing that down.
In terms of performance, the Live Gamer HD is much simpler and easier to use. The basic card required you to click record with your mouse within the software to begin recording and stopping while the Live Gamer HD features a nifty little USB button which you can hit to start or stop recording. The button lights up and glows in and out while recording and staying on consistently while idling. This gives you a good idea on what’s going on with the software allowing you not to alt-tab out just to make sure.
The quality of the recording is a bit better than the basic models and with dedicated audio inputs allows you to easily record audio/video together into the one recording.
Overall the Live Gamer HD is quite a decent piece of recording device. It allows you to record audio and video at a hardware level with ease and simplicity.
By Sahin Selvi
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