Opinions Paweł Musiolik
26.09.2017
Avermedia Live Gamer HD 2 – the best card for recording game footage? Review.
Avermedia Live Gamer HD 2 – the best card for recording game footage? Review.

Avermedia Live Gamer HD 2 is the latest offer from Avermedia for recording game footage from consoles and streaming. I’ve tested it extensively for a month to see how it works and if it’s worth a couple of hundred euros.

Game recording devices’ market is looking much better than a couple of years ago. There are a lot of new products in many price ranges, giving a wider choice of those cards. Currently there are two leaders – Elgato and Avermedia – of which I have experience with the latter. For some years I’ve been using Avermedia cards - Live Gamer Extreme was reviewed by me two years ago and Extreme Cap U3 I use on a daily basis. They both are connected to PC through USB port. Live Gamer HD 2 on the other hand is inserted into a PCIe slot and you’re ready to go.

Somebody could say that if we hide the card inside PC, it doesn’t have to look nice – but I beg to differ. PC market is full of hardcore players, youtubers and streamers and for them the looks is as important as quality of a device or its functionality. Avermedia Live Gamer HD 2 was made with this in mind, but luckily there are no expendable gadgets. It is all covered with stylish metal mesh with blue LED lighting which looks… good. Simply good. Of course we can turn the LED off (or tone the brightness down). The card itself is made very well with this “premium” feeling, which is expected at this price point.

Avermedia Live Gamer HD 2 (beside the manual) includes one HDMI cable and two audio cables for mic and headphones.

The installation is easy – you just have to insert the card to PCIe slot, tightened a screw and voila – you’re ready. Literally. Avermedia Live Gamer HD 2 doesn’t need any drivers, if you’re using Windows 10. The previous cards from this brand needed those drivers which turned out quite problematic with every Windows update, but the problem is no more. No USB also means no troubles with chipsets’ compatibility. I haven’t had problems like that with Live Gamer Extreme, but Extreme Cap U3 did not cooperate with Intel chipset and I had to buy an additional PCI card.

Avermedia is working on ReCentral 4, which will provide 20% less resources usage during the recording and to be much more intuitive. Unfortunately, its beta crashed on me every time I tried to use it with this card.

Thanks to me knowing three cards from Avermedia, I had an opportunity to try every version of the software for recording and streaming from this firm. I’m talking about ReCentral, that in its initial version was working with Extreme Cap U3 but not without problems. ReCentral 2 was pretty unstable and ReCentral 3… I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised. Firstly, there are no freezes like with its predecessors. Secondly, I managed to eliminate the stuttering in a recorded footage, which was also a nightmare in the past. Finally, ReCentral 3 takes a little less CPU resources when recording in 1080p/60 and with h264 codec.

Extreme Cap U3 + ReCentral; codec h264, recorded at 1080p/60
LiveGamer HD2 + ReCentral 3; codec h264, recorded at 1080p/60

There are an option to record in ReCentral 3 with AMD codec, which results in lower CPU load, but we need Radeon graphic card for that and the quality of the footage is somewhat worse. If you have nothing to compare to, though, you won’t detect that.

LiveGamer HD2 + ReCentral 3; codec AMD, recorded at 1080p/60

And how is it working? Pretty smoothly and easy. We can record up to 60 Mbps in max resolution set on 1080p and with 60 frames per second – which is enough. With streaming it’s a little worse – we can stream at most in 4,5 Mbps. Twitch recommends 6 Mbps in 1080p, but you can bypass it through installation of OBS. Besides, there is no need to complicate things – the core software is perfect for beginners. There are no delays with our screen (maybe a few users can see them). Passthrough option allows for very low delay on PC’s screen, although I always recommend using the HDMI splitter and playing on TV, while ReCentral is working on its own.

The software lets us also edit our videos and share it on social media – it can be pretty helpful for those who plans to do something more with their footage. The ReCentral’s design allows to change video’s layout without 3rd party software, so it’s a huge help for less advanced users.

Avermedia Live Gamer HD 2 with no doubt is the best recording card that I have worked with. For me, changing USB 3.0 to internal card not only makes more space on the desk (I know, obvious, but it’s important!), but it also lets me record stress-free. And when it comes to recording, I do it a lot – sometimes even a couple of hundreds gigs of videos in one day. With Live Gamer HD 2 I had no freezes, no problems with OS and it was all very intuitive. ReCentral 3 lets everyone easily make their first streaming session. With this level of quality goes (unfortunately for many) the price - Live Gamer HD 2 costs 169 euros. I expect this price to slowly drop to more attractive offer for players with a lighter wallet.

You can ask what is the purpose of this card if we can just use PS4’s SHARE option. Well, it depends if you have a good PC and you want full control over your footage, including recording in much higher quality. Let’s face it – footage from PS4 is coded with low bitrate, so the compression is not so great.

Last but not least – technical details:

  • Interface: PCI Express x1 Gen 2
  • Input: HDMI, 3.5 mm audio
  • Output: HDMI (pass-through), 3.5 mm audio
  • Max Resolution: 1080p60
  • Bundled Software: RECentral 3
  • Compatible Software: XSplit i OBS
  • Size: 125 x 151 x 21.5 mm
  • Weight: 145 g

Requirements for PC

  • OS: Windows® 10 / Windows 8.1 / Windows 7
  • CPU: Intel® Core™ i5-3330 or better (recommended i7-3770)
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • GPU: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 650 / AMD Radeon™ R7 250X or better

Avermedia provided the card for testing.

avermedia Avermedia Live Gamer HD2 review test

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