Already one of the leading companies concerning consumer grade capture devices, Avermedia has been hard at work refreshing their most popular product lines. With the Live Gamer Extreme (LGX) and the ExtremeCap U3, Avermedia dipped their toes in the USB 3.0 market, releasing two powerful external capture devices. The ExtremeCap U3 lacked an HDMI pass through, requiring you to record and play using the preview window on Avermedia’s RECentral software, or your favorite third party program. If you desire to play on a television or a different monitor, and frankly who wouldn’t, you had to invest in an HDMI switch, which can be quite expensive depending on your needs. Avermedia solved this limitation with the LGX, adding a much-needed HDMI passthrough, negating the need for a finicky splitter setup. More importantly, it added two separate 3.5mm audio inputs, allowing for a microphone and auxiliary audio to be piped in for recordings or live streams. It was clear that the LGX was being marketed towards live streamers, especially with the updated release of RECentral 2 (more recently RECentral 3), and being able to personalize the graphic on top of the device.
Since then, Avermedia has returned to its two most popular devices, refreshing the Live Gamer Portable, allowing you to record gameplay directly onto an SD card, negating the PC requirement. The most recent addition to the lineup improves upon one of the most popular streaming capture devices, the Live Gamer HD, allowing for improved visual fidelity and functionality with the Live Gamer HD 2 (GC570).
The Live Gamer HD 2 was designed with the future in mind, allowing you to capture uncompressed videos at 1080p60. It also delivers compressed videos that require less bandwidth, but if you are a content creator on YouTube or live streamer on Twitch, you’ll want the visual fidelity from the uncompressed footage. It does mean that file size is higher, but it’s well worth it in the long run. While 4K is still quite a few years off from being the industry standard, games running at 1080p60 are still visually stunning. As a PCIe slot capture card, the LGHD2 is an internal solution, requiring a single PCIe 1x slot available on your motherboard. The Live Gamer HD was limited to only 30 frames a second while recording or streaming at a 1080p resolution, making the LGHD2 Avermedia’s staple internal capture card. It can easily match the performance of the USB 3.0 Live Gamer Extreme, making it a variable solution for those that don’t have any compatible USB 3.0 ports.
If you have used any capture device in the past, you know how inconsistent performance can be the result of older firmware. Sometimes, things may not work for no discernible reason, requiring you to ride the uninstall/reinstall Merry-go-round. Avermedia made sure that the LGHD2 is truly plug and play ready, allowing you to use it as soon as it is installed. Rather you are using Avermedia’s own software solution or a third party option, such as OBS or vMix, the LGHD2 simply works. With that said, the only way to select the uncompressed video option is using a third party solution. USB 2.0 capture devices suffer from delay, making it impossible to play off the preview pane, something that has been nearly eliminated in both of the USB 3.0 products. Considering this is a PCIe internal card, the latency is quite minimal, similiar to the USB 3.0 offerings. The amount of delay may be depending upon your build, so I recommend not playing off the preview pane just in case.
When you are using the RECentral software, which has come a long way over the years, you’ll be required to select the quality of the video footage for recordings. This means that using their software; you will be using a compressed video image. Before moving to a third party solution, we captured footage for all of our reviews and let’s play videos straight from RECentral. Video Bitrate is limited to 60Mbps, which will still produce a high-quality image, especially since you’ll likely be sending it through a video editing program and then uploading to YouTube which will compress the picture even further. Audio bitrate is still limited to 256 kbps, which is much lower than it should be in 2017.
On the streaming side of things, RECentral already has integrated support for the most powerful clients such as Twitch, YouTube Live, and Facebook. While it lacks Microsoft’s new streaming service, Beam, you can add any custom RTMP. It still offerings industry standard options, such as adding webcams, images and a slew of resizing options. While many streamers use a green screen to mask out their background, Avermedia has a commercial solution for those unable to add one to their setup. TriDef SmartCam studies your webcam footage, slowly removing the background without the need of special lighting. There is a free trial for the product, allowing you to use it in RECentral or XSplit, but you must purchase a license once the trial expires. I came away thoroughly impressed with the software during my tests, as it can easily distinguish my wall populated with shelves of Star Wars figures from myself. I did find that it may have some difficulty if you are wearing a color that matches the wall, but then again you’d have a similar issue wearing green and sitting in front of a green screen.
The Live Gamer HD 2 is an absolute marvel. Without the need of installing finicky drivers or updating the firmware, LGHD2 simply works right out of the box. Avermedia continues to innovate and improve their recording/streaming software. If you opt to use a third-party solution, ensure you select the uncompressed video image for the best quality.Note: The Live Gamer HD 2 review was written after testing the device with a PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Live streaming was tested using XSplit, OBS, vMix, and RECentral 3.