The importance and functionality of capture cards may not seem like much with the introduction of gameplay recording functions in recent game console releases, as well as gaming PCs, which can capture gameplay themselves at a decent quality. That’s true for the new generation of consoles (PS5, Xbox Series X|S) as well, which are capable of capturing gameplay at even higher resolutions and frame rates than ever before. So what use could a dedicated capture card provide for these newer consoles? AVerMedia recently released the Live Gamer Duo, which positions itself in a unique space where it includes not one, but two inputs, which negate the use of a secondary device to capture your camera’s feed.
The Live Gamer Duo is a PCIe capture card that plugs into your PC and uses the GPU present on the computer to capture and record footage from any device’s HDMI port. This means that in order to use it, you’ll need a PC with a decent configuration, with the minimum required to use the Live Gamer Duo being the following:
- CPU – Intel Core i5 (6th generation)/AMD Ryzen 5 1600 or above.
- GPU – Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050/AMD Radeon RX 560 or above.
- RAM – 8 GB or above.
With that set, the capture card needs to be plugged into a PCIe Gen 2.0 port, with an optional firmware update through AVerMedia’s Assist Central app. After that, it can be used through either a capture software like OBS or AVerMedia’s own RECentral. I installed the card on my PC which has an Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 Super, 32 GB of RAM paired with an AMD Ryzen 7 3700X CPU.
The capture card supports the following resolutions for input and capture:
- Input 1 – 60fps at 1080p with HDR (HDMI 2.0) recording/Input resolution supported till 4K.
- Input 2 – 60fps at 1080p (no HDR, HDMI 1.4) recording/Input resolution supported till 1080p.
- Output (Passthrough) – 60fps at 4K in HDR, 144fps at 1440p, 240fps at 1080p (HDMI 2.0)
Using the capture card is quite easy, and RECentral makes it a breeze to set up scenes for recording and broadcast, which works in a similar way to OBS where both inputs on the card can be used for different elements. With so many streamers making the move from webcams to dedicated face cams using DSLR/mirrorless cameras, having the second HDMI input on the card itself saves a lot of hassle.
But how is the recording experience itself? Since the capture card uses the encoder present on your PC’s GPU, the quality may differ based on whether one’s using an Nvidia or AMD graphics card. In my experience, Nvidia’s encoder (NVENC) has always provided consistently good looking footage, which is what I highly recommend anyone to use with any capture hardware. In RECentral, you can choose between 4 quality presets, on top of making your own preset, for recording footage:
- ‘Optimal’ Preset – Records 60fps at 1080p, with a bitrate of 60 Mbps.
- ‘Good’ Preset – Records 30fps at 1080p, with a bitrate of 60 Mbps.
- ‘Normal’ Preset – Records 30fps at 720p, with a bitrate of 30 Mbps.
- ‘Default’ Preset – Records 30fps at 1080p, with a bitrate of 12 Mbps.
All of this footage can be recorded in either H.264 or H.265 formats with Nvidia GPUs. RECEntral also has the option to show preview capture in HDR on supported monitors, which is great if your end goal is to create content in HDR for delivery on YouTube. If you’re capturing footage in HDR from your console and don’t have it selected in OBS/RECentral, then the footage will be automatically tone mapped to SDR.
The preview window on the recording software of your choice has surprisingly low latency, making single monitor streams or captures quite viable. This makes it so that you can plug in your console to the card, and use just one monitor to record or stream gameplay without losing out on any responsiveness that usually comes with capture cards for live gameplay.
One thing to note is that in order to use the capture from both inputs, you’ll have to use the ‘Multi’ screen mode in RECentral where both inputs will show up separately. In general though, my experience with AVerMedia’s own apps has never been great, and the
versatility of OBS has always felt like the better option to use. Of course, for quick and easy recording sessions, such as pure console gameplay capture, the RECentral software gets the job done.
I used the Live Gamer Duo to capture gameplay from my PS5, which already includes options to record and stream gameplay directly, and the console can record 4K footage directly. So why should anyone invest in a separate device, which costs almost half as much as the console itself, for the same goal? Well, this is where the functionality of a capture card comes into play. The ability to capture not just the output from the console, but a second input as well, is a great boon for multiple reasons. For starters, you can stream and record different instances with the same inputs for different delivery conditions. For example, since the capture cards allows its inputs to be captured in different instances across different apps, you could stream using OBS with a custom overlay, and have RECentral record clean gameplay in the background.
While the PS5 can capture gameplay at 1080p and 4K at decent bitrates, there’s also the question of storage management as well as footage compatibility. With the live gamer duo, you can directly capture and store gameplay on your PC without having to deal with arbitrary time limits for capture on your console of choice. This is doubly true if you’re capturing gameplay from older consoles such as the PS4 or Xbox One, where the built-in recording/streaming functionality isn’t good to begin with.
With all that said, I do find the asking price for the card to be quite high, especially in a market like India unless you’re already into live streaming or using recorded footage to create content online. The capture card can make for a great tool for a niche audience, although that doesn’t signal anything negative for the improvements in the space that AVerMedia is making with this card.
The AVerMedia Live Gamer Duo is a great tool for streamers who want to record footage from two devices at the same time without compromising too much on quality, even if the asking price may be a bit too much for its functionality. It’s one of the best capture cards in the market right now with incredible versatility provided you have the right hardware and technical knowledge to use it to its full potential.