Tech, eSports, and Gaming!

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
Posted by _ - - 12 comments

Review: AVerMedia Live Gamer HD (C985)

*** Disclosure: I received this capture card from AVerMedia for free, but this in no way affects my review of the product.  My opinion does not sway at all regardless if I bought the item with my own money or it was provided to me at no cost. ***

If you are involved in the streaming community at all, then you've heard of AVerMedia's Live Gamer HD (C985) capture card.  As far as consumer capture cards go, it's considered one of the high end cards, and for good reason.  Whether you're doing a 1 PC stream setup, 2 PC stream setup, or even streaming your console games, the Live Gamer HD can give you increased performance and/or increased stream quality.

The card retails for ~$215 USD and in my opinion it's well worth it.  It comes with the card, all the cables and basic converters you could need, as well as a device that plugs into the card and sits on your desktop.  The device has a button on it that allows you to start/stop capture without having do anything software-side.  Additionally, this isn't something I normally mention, but the packaging of the Live Gamer HD was excellent and really impressed me.

Top notch packaging!

Alright, let's get to the specs of the card. It has a max input of 1080p 60fps and an output max of 1080p 30fps or 720p 60fps.  This is quite nice, it means you can have your monitor running at 1920x1080 at 60hz yet output to XSplit (or otherwise) at 720p 60fps, or 1080p 30fps if you choose.  I use a 120hz monitor, so I did what's called the "mirror method".  This involves having your graphics card mirror your desktop on both your monitor's output (dvi/dl-dvi/hdmi) as well as the HDMI to the capture card.  

Another feature of the Live Gamer HD is the option to use the card for hardware encoding.  This means in theory you could have 2x Live Gamer HD's, and use one for capturing and the other for encoding and have zero load on your PC due to streaming.  As this is something I have tested, I can tell you that the hardware encoding really isn't feasible in comparison to using x264 encoder via XSplit for example.  I would highly recommend not getting the card for this purpose.  This card's strength lies in it's capture and output of 720p 60fps, or 1080p 30fps, from a 1080p 60fps source

Installing the Live Gamer HD was truly a breeze. It comes with it's own software called "RECentral" that can be used for both recording and streaming.  I tried the software out and it worked well, but I was eager to get it hooked into XSplit and get that 60fps stream rolling!

In box: actual capture card (connects into PCI-E x1 slot), a device with a button to start and stop recording (connects into USB-port), CD-ROM with software and drivers, HDMI-cable, audio cable and two adapters – “HDMI to DVI” and “DVI to HDMI”. Also included is a user manual which discusses in detail all the possible ways to connect video sources to the capture card.
XSplit will automatically detect your stream settings and match the Live Gamer HD's output to match.  For example, if you are streaming at 1080p, it will have the card output at 1080p 30fps.  Currently (2012-10-21), we have a new beta build of XSplit (currently in testing) that allows you to toggle on or off the auto-configuring in XSplit.  This is nice because you can turn it off and force the card to always output at 720p 60fps for example. There was one other problem I did notice in XSplit though, and that was the picture that the card outputted.  It had a "washed out" look to it, as if the brightness was too high.  But, I found a simple fix for this.  In the color settings for the Live Gamer HD in XSplit, just add +4 contrast.  It makes a huge difference!

Overall, I've been really pleased with this card.  Normally I would use DXTory to hook into my games and output to XSplit to get high-fps capture.  When streaming a First Person Shooter game at 720p 60fps for example, I've found my personal frames per second performance to be superior when using the capture card instead.  Even more important, the FPS of my stream is a lot more stable.  This is because DXTory can fluctuate it's fps output via DirectDraw, whereas the Live Gamer HD does not. Currently (2012-10-21), there are a couple bugs that I do want to mention though. First, sometimes when a game will refresh your monitor (ie when a game runs fullscreen) it will cause the Live Gamer HD to output a black screen to XSplit.  To fix this, in XSplit you have to go to Config -> Video Output for your card's settings and hit "OK" and it outputs properly again.  Whether this is an XSplit bug or firmware/driver bug for the Live Gamer HD, I'm not sure.  Second, there's an issue with random (and somewhat rare) freezes/stutters on the output to XSplit.  Though, I'm 99% sure this is an XSplit bug, and once it's identified we should have it fixed.  I would like to note that the card only captures via HDMI, which was perfect for my setup personally.  Also, it does not capture content protected by HDCP -- take note PlayStation 3 gamers!
[ Read More ]

Posted by _ - - 12 comments

The Definitive XSplit Guide
by ApocTV and TechnicalMonkey (XSplit Community Staff)

This guide is for setting up and tweaking XSplit.  If you’re not familiar with XSplit, it’s software to live stream just about anything you want.  Whether it’s your desktop, a video game, camera content, a console game via a capture card, or even a video from a file, XSplit can do it!  XSplit can also make local recordings on your hard drive of the content.

Get XSplit:
First off, you need to download and install XSplit from  This guide assumes you are an XSplit licensed user.  If you are not, as you go through the guide you can adjust the settings to what you are restricted to in the free version of XSplit.

 The video version of this guide:

Main XSplit Window:

Get Results:
Next, go to and do 1 or 2 speedtests to locations near you, making note of your results, or even just saving the image file of your results.

Basic XSplit Setup:
In XSplit, we first need to setup the basic settings.  Go to Tools -> General Settings, and go to the “General” tab.  In here, we want to turn on “Disable Aero Theme”, turn off “Hide from Screen Region”, and turn off “Enable Skype interaction”.  You will also see “Enable virtual camera output”.  This is used if you want to use XSplit as a camera source for another piece of software.  In most cases, you want this turned off.  The last option is “Enable Game Source”.  This is for “hooking” into games and using them as a direct feed into XSplit.  If you are not familiar with GameSource, you can read more about it on  It also is explained a bit more in depth in the “Add Sources” section of this guide.

Still in the “General” tab of XSplit, you will see where you can set your Microphone.  Select your mic in the dropdown.  Below that is “My Recordings”, and this is where you specify a location where local recordings will be saved when using the “Local Recording” profile in XSplit.  The “Local Recording” profile is setup like a stream channel is, but instead it records it to your computer locally instead of uploading it out.  Keep in mind, you can stream out and also do a local recording at the same time.  It’s a great way to save your content for making VODs later.

(It is highly recommended to use less CPU resources on your desktop while streaming. In Windows 7, you can change the theme by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Personalization on the context menu. You can then force your PC to use either the Windows 7 Basic theme or the Windows Classic (which disables Aero). This will save on both CPU and GPU resources when it comes time to stream.)

Stream Channel Setup:
Now let’s setup your channel where you will be streaming to.  We will assume you have an account with or and have already activated your channel by going to your streamer dashboard.  If you don’t have an account, go set one up!  It’s free.

To setup the channel, go to the “Channels” tab under Tools -> General Settings.  Click “Add”, and then choose your stream provider, generally or  As far as settings go, this is where things vary from person to person.  We’ll include some basic “templates” based on your CPU, but even then you will probably want to tweak the settings a bit to find the perfect settings for you.  If you aren’t sure what CPU you have, google “CPU-Z” and download and run it.  It will tell you all the info you need related to your CPU such as make, model, and speed.

We will list two settings for each CPU line.  The first settings are the “low” settings, assuming your CPU is stock and untouched.  The second settings will be marked with “(OC)” and assumes you have your CPU overclocked and are a more advanced user.  Again, these settings are only a rough template, and although accurate, can still be tweaked for each individual:

CPU                  Resolution @ FPS        Preset          Quality#
i7 3930k             1080p @ 30fps         Fast                10
(OC) i7 3930k     1080p @ 60fps        Fast                10
i7 2600k             1080p @ 30fps      Veryfast             10
(OC) i7 2600k     1080p @ 30fps      Veryfast             10
i7 920                 720p @ 30fps        Veryfast             10
(OC) i7 920         1080p @ 30fps     Veryfast             10
i7 2630QM          720p @ 30fps        Veryfast             10
(OC) i7 2630QM  1080p @ 30fps     Veryfast             10
EDIT 2012-09-20: ZeroTalent and I (ApocTV) have a spreadsheet now with all this info and more that will be kept up-to-date @

Anything older than these, you will have to test it out yourself.  If we get input on settings from users with other CPU lines than what’s listed, we will add them into the guide.  Keep in mind, this is what the CPU is capable of, not necessarily what you should stream at.  More explanation later in the guide.

Now to actually setup your stream channel:
1. Username - Input your username for the stream provider in all lowercase.
2. Password - Input your password for the stream provider. Note: This is case-sensitive.
3. Stream Key - Alternative to your password. You will still see this used at sites like Note: DO NOT SHARE YOUR STREAM KEY. ANYONE CAN USE THIS TO STREAM UNWANTED CONTENT TO YOUR CHANNEL.
4. Channel - This should automatically fill itself out and will match your username.
5. Location - This is the ingestion server you will be uploading to.  
To test ingestion servers, first you want to set your VBV Max Bitrate and VBV Buffer to your full upload speed.  To do this, look at Item #8 and #9 in this list.  Those are the fields to input your full speed to.  So if your result was 5Mbps on the upload, put “5000” for both.  Then select an ingestion server near you, and click “Test Bandwidth” button at the bottom of the channel setup window.  Note the results, and then test a couple more.  Whichever yields the fastest speed, use that server. If you ever get lag, you will want to test the speeds again.  Remember, once you are done testing, return your Bitrate and Buffer (Items #8 and #9) to your normal stream settings.
Video Encoding
6. Preset - In almost all cases I recommend “Veryfast”.  If you aren’t sure what to put here, start with that.  You can also reference TABLE #1 above for what you should put.
7. Quality - This number is used to set the quality and affects the bitrate that your stream may spike up to. The max setting allowed for streams is 10. Note: this can be changed manually, and will be covered in the Advanced Guide.  You can also reference TABLE #1 above for what you should put.
8. VBV Max Bitrate (kbps) - This is the bitrate of your video, and directly relates to your upload bandwidth.  Remember in step 2 of the guide we had you speedtest your line at  Look at the results and note the upload.  Remember, 1mbps = 1000kbps.
Here are some rough examples on what to put:

TABLE #2 upload result        What bitrate to use in XSplit
1mbps                                                     600
1.5mbps                                                1100
2mbps                                                   1500
2.5mbps                                                2000
3mbps                                                   2400
4mbps                                                   3000
EDIT 2012-09-20: ZeroTalent and I (ApocTV) have a spreadsheet now with all this info and more that will be kept up-to-date @

Any higher, and you will want to test it out yourself to find optimal settings.

9. VBV Buffer (kbps) - This should be the same as your Max Bitrate setting (Item #8).
10. Resolution - For almost all users, you want to leave this at “Default Stage Resolution”. This is used to choose a resolution to transcode to. Note: This is generally used to have a stream or recording at a lower resolution, and may affect the picture quality of the video. Use at your own discretion. Recommended for advanced users.
Audio Encoding
11. Format - We recommend “44.100 KHz 16 bit stereo”.  If you know what you’re doing, feel free to change this.
12. Codec - If you are a licensed user, you definitely want to use “AAC-LC”.  This selects the audio encoding method to be used on your stream.  If you are using the free version of XSplit, you will be limited to “Speex”.  Sorry :(
13. Bitrate - It depends on the content of your stream and how important audio quality is to you, but in almost all cases “128000” is fine.  This is 128kbps.
14. Automatically record broadcast - You never want to use this.  If you want to do a local recording, use the “Local Recording” profile, not this.
15. Interleave audio and video in one RTMP channel: In most cases, you will want this turned on.

When you have everything setup, press “OK”.

Now you need to specify the resolution and FPS (frames per second) which you will stream at.  From the main XSplit window, go to View -> Resolution.  Make sure you reference “TABLE #1” above, where we listed CPU’s.  That was what your CPU is capable of, assuming you have unlimited upload bandwidth.  Though, that’s usually not the case.  Now that you know the bitrate of your stream (Item #8 in the channel setup list above), you now can setup a resolution and fps to match that.  Remember, your bitrate directly relates to your resolution and fps.  Here are some recommended templates:

Bitrate            Resolution                   FPS
< 500            360p (640x360)          25
500-1200      480p (852x480)          30
1200-2200    720p  (1280x720)       30
2200+           1080p (1920x1080)    30
2200+           720p (1280x720)        60
3000+           1080p (1920x1080)    45
4000+           1080p (1920x1080)    60
EDIT 2012-09-20: ZeroTalent and I (ApocTV) have a spreadsheet now with all this info and more that will be kept up-to-date @

This assumes your CPU can handle the resolution and fps at each bitrate setting.  Make sure to reference TABLE #1 earlier in the guide and balance it with this table.  Also note, these resolutions are all 16:9.  You want to stream at a resolution that is native to your source, whether that be a game or your desktop, or even a webcam.

Add Sources:
Now you have your channel all set up and you’re ready to stream to it, but what are you going to stream?  We’re gonna show you how to add some “sources”.

In the main XSplit window, you will see “Scene Sources” in the bottom left.  (Note: To the right of that you will see a microphone icon and a speaker icon with bars next to each.  This is where you can set the volume for the default microphone and speaker capture respectively, or you can click one of the icons to mute or un-mute.)  At the bottom left of scene sources you will see “Add”, “Remove”, and “Settings”.  This is how you will manage your sources.  Click “Add”, and you will be presented with a drop-down box with some options.

Add Camera - Add a camera source.  Note: It’s also where you would add a DXTory source if you are using it as a “hook” source for your games.
Add Media File - Add single picture, video or sound/music files with this choice. Some files that can be added to your presentation are .mp3, .wmv, .jpg, .flv, etc.
Add Screen Region - Add a screen region.  A screen region is an area of your desktop.  To add your whole desktop, just click any blank space on your desktop, and the full desktop will be added.
Add IP Camera - You can add an IP camera, which is a camera that is linked to an internet feed.  Most people don’t have one of these, and will just use “Add Camera” to add their webcams.
Add Video Playlist - If you have multiple videos and you want them to play one-after-another, this is where you add them.  There are quite a few features, so play around with it.
Add Title - This is a basic text title.  It also has a scrolling effect that can be used.  Example: “BRB in 10 minutes” can be added on your stream, even scrolling across the screen if you like.
Add Livestream - You can add another livestream as a feed directly on your stream.  Make sure you have access to the content you are adding so you don’t run into copyright infringement.
Add Game - If you have GameSource enabled, you can directly add a game.  GameSource has some pro’s and con’s vs Screen Region.  Screen Region is lower on resources (less lag), but can do only a maximum of 30fps.  GameSource in some cases can result in a bit of lag, but can also do up to 60fps as a source, and also typically has higher quality image than Screen Region.
More Sources - This is where you can access the “Plugin store” and can add other sources that aren’t packaged by default with XSplit.  Have fun here :)

If you plan on streaming regularly, this is definitely something you want to setup.  It allows control over many aspects of your stream without having to go to the XSplit interface and click stuff, but rather to just hit a hotkey on your keyboard to handle it.

Go to Tools -> General Settings, and select the “Hotkeys” tab.  Here, you select an item that you want to set a hotkey for, and in the bottom right use the dropdown box to select what keypress it is.  Additionally, you can toggle “modifiers” for the hotkey, such as “Shift”, “Control”, and “Alt”.

We definitely recommend setting up hotkeys for at least a couple scenes, as well as turning on/off your stream.

VOD: “Video On Demand”.  (Example: Videos on or are VOD’s)
Mbps: “Megabits per second”.  This is a measurement of internet speed (aka “bandwidth”).  Note: 1mbps = 1000kbps
Kbps: “Kilobits per second”. This is a measurement of internet speed (aka “bandwidth”).
FPS: “Frames Per Second”.  Measurement of how many images are shown per second in the video.
DXTory: Software used to record PC game content.  It can also be used to output the video via “DirectDraw” which XSplit can use as a source (under Add Camera).  Great quality, allows 60+ fps capture, and doesn’t impact your game performance much at all.  Can be found at

Need More Help?
Join the Official XSplit IRC Help Channel!
Server =
Channel = #xsplit

Not familiar with IRC?
Go to  and enter your alias under Nickname and put “#xsplit” (without quotes) in Channels, and click “Join chat”.

ApocTV ( , )
TechnicalMonkey ( , )

We are working on an Advanced XSplit Guide also.  It will cover settings more in depth, and help you tweak advanced settings for your stream.

To contact us, you can message us on the XSplit forums:
ApocTV on XSplit forums = apoctv
TechnicalMonkey on XSplit forums = TechnicalMonkey
[ Read More ]

Posted by _ - - 45 comments

Many streaming veterans consider SCFH DSF with FMLE (Flash Media Live Encoder) to be one of the best streaming solutions, but for newbies it can be quite the task.  Why?  Well, because SCFH DSF's web site and installation instructions are in Japanese.

One of the most common streaming methods is VHScrCap + FMLE.  It works well and is definitely a viable method.  Though, VHScrCap has some issues with scaling.  If you run a 720p or 1080p stream and want all the text on your desktop to be easily readable and perfectly crisp, you will see the flaws.

Let's dive straight into SCFH DSF...

  1. Download SCFH DSF and unpack it into its own directory.
  2. Close and fully exit any applications you have which can utilize video capture capabilities. I’m referring to things like Skype, MSN Messenger, etc. — basically anything that might be able to capture video from a device (think: webcam).
  3. If using a 32-bit OS: download and install the Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable Package (x86) here:

    If using a 64-bit OS: download and install the Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable Package (x64) here: 
  4. If using a 32-bit OS: go into the SCFH directory you unpacked the files in, and double-click the install.bat file. (NOTE: To uninstall SCFH DSF, follow Step #2, and run uninstall.bat

    If using a 64-bit OS: go into the SCFH directory you unpacked the files in, and double-click the install64.bat file. (NOTE: To uninstall SCFH DSF, follow Step #2, and run uninstall64.bat)
  5.  You’ll get a cmd.exe window and a pop-up dialog box that should say DllRegisterServer in succeeded (or if you’re using a 64-bit OS). If not, something else is wrong and I can’t help past that point (I’ve never seen this step fail). Click OK to close both the dialog and the cmd.exe window.
  6. In the same directory there’s a program called SCFH.exe. Make a shortcut to this somewhere for convenience, e.g. on your desktop. This is the main SCFH DSF control program. Once you run it (hold off on that for a moment), you should leave it open while capturing.
  7. Launch any of the capturing utilities you want, such as Windows Live Messenger or Firefox/Internet Explorer with Flash which can capture from a webcam, etc… is a good example.
  8. Run SCFH.exe or the shortcut you made. You’ll be given a window that says Select process. Pick the process name of the program which you wish to control SCFH in and click OK. For example, if you want to let someone watch your webcam (SCFH DSF that is, e.g. stream a copy of your desktop) in Windows Live Messenger, pick msnmsgr.exe. If you’re using Ustream or something similar, pick your browser process instance. Unlike VHScrCap, the process instances here make a lot more sense, and there aren’t multiples of the same name to confuse you. If the process in question isn’t listed, you probably need to set up said program (or Flash) to note that you have a new capture device available — the device is literally called SCFH DSF.
  9. You’ll now be in the main SCFH DSF control program.

I’ll document the features the SCFH DSF control program that I’m familiar with or have a pretty good idea about. And whenever changing any of these features, be sure to click the Apply button!

  • Drag here — used to select a portion of a window or a dialog/model by clicking the left mouse button + holding it down and “dragging” the selection window/border around. You’ll have to try it to understand what I mean. Note that the one beautiful thing about the Drag here feature is that once you select part of a window, you can move that window around and not have to re-adjust SCFH to tell it where the X/Y coordinates are.
  • Area Selection — used to select a specific region of your desktop that you want to capture. Left click it once, and you’ll be shown a green translucent box that has the text Double-click to Apply in it. You can drag this box around and resize it (like you would a normal window), and when you’ve selected an area of your desktop you want to capture, double-left-click in the green translucent box.
  • X/Y and Size input boxes — define what X/Y coordinate you want SCFH to capture (upper left corner) and what width/height. Any changes you make here should show up in the capture window of the program (Flash, Windows Live Messenger, etc.) in real-time. If there are common X/Y coordinates or sizes, you can click the Add button next to the respective item and they’re stored for future use. More on that at the end of this write-up.
  • Show Mouse Cursor — defines whether or not SCFH DSF should capture your mouse cursor or not.
  • Show Layered Window — allows you to capture things like Tooltips and other things that aren’t technically a window.
  • Keep Aspect Ratio — should speak for itself. This option works significantly better than VHScrCap, in my opinion, and more reliably. This is quite possibly the main reason I stopped using VHScrCap given the described bug earlier in this post.  It's a well documented bug and is seen in both VHScrCap *and* XSplit Broadcaster.  Both are made by the same company.
  • Enable Enlargement — only works when Keep Aspect Ratio is enabled. Say the program which is using SCFH DSF as a capture driver is capturing at 640×480, but the area/window you have selected to capture in SCFH DSF is only 200×160. When Enable Enlargement is disabled, what you’ll see in your program is the 200×160 capture region, centred, surrounded by a black box to fill in the remaining 440×320 pixels. When enabled, it would stretch the 200×160 contents to fit the size of the capture area.
  • Over-Sampling — adds somewhat of a blur between two frames during animation/movement. Look up what oversampling means on Google, and some example sites/videos, and you’ll then understand it, or just play around with it.
  • Thread Num — not entirely sure on this one, but based on how the program works, my guess is that it probably defines the number of threads SCFH DSF should use for internal operations. If you have multiple CPUs or a dual/quad core system, you might benefit from increasing this to 2 or 4. I myself have a quad core system and I’ve never had to adjust this; I always leave it at 1.
  • Resize Method — allows you to pick how resizing functions and looks, and not just for Enable Enlargement but for any kind of resizing. They all look slightly different, and it’s especially noticeable on small resolution capture areas. I tend to use DirectDraw (1Pass) mostly because it’s incredibly fast and looks great. Note that you may want to adjust this if you’re capturing an area that has text. Try them all out, see which one looks best to you and to the person you’re streaming to. Keep in mind that most online streaming uses compression of some sort, so some of these resize methods might look better or worse once compressed by the streaming software.
  • Capture: XXX fps — should be obvious. This defaults to 30fps, which is more than sufficient. I’m pretty sure it’s adjustable, I just can’t remember where…
  • Performance — gives you an idea of how SCFH DSF is performing.  The author chose a unit type of frames per second, which is a little odd but understandable given the role of the program. The value shown here is highly dependent upon 4 things: 1) CPU speed, 2) video card speed (since many DirectX functions are offloaded on to the GPU), 3) Resize Method selected, and 4) size of the capture region. For example, the performance is going to be much higher for a 200×200 window than it is for a 1920×1200 desktop that has to be resized/scaled down to fit into a 640×480 capture region. :)

 Finally, SCFH DSF does not store any data in the registry — instead, it stores configurations per application (e.g. firefox.exe, msnmsgr.exe, etc.) in INI files in the directory where SCFH DSF is located. The files will be named things like SCFH.msnmsgr.exe.ini, SCFH.firefox.exe.ini, and so on — you get the idea. The SCFH DSF capture driver itself does not use these, only the SCFH DSF control program, so be sure you exit the control program before deleting any of them.

 This guide assumes you have some previous experience streaming.  Along with SCFH DSF, you're going to need FMLE.  If you need a guide on FMLE, I *highly* recommend Tim at's guide:

Just don't install VHScrCap.  Anytime in the guide it refers to VHScrCap, just read it as SCFH DSF.  If you have VHScrCap or XSplit installed prior to installing SCFH DSF and you experience problems with SCFH DSF, I'd recommend uninstalling them and reinstalling SCFH DSF.  I've not had problems personally with having them both installed, but I've heard of people who have.

Good luck and enjoy streaming with SCFH DSF, one of the best streaming solutions available.

-Apoc / apoct

Thanks to Koitsu from for his help and allowing me to reference parts of his guide.
[ Read More ]

Posted by _ - - 2 comments

Blizzard has decided to sue Valve for using the "DotA" name.  According to Blizzard,  "The DotA name for more than seven years has been used exclusively by Blizzard and its fan community, under license from Blizzard." DotA (Defense of the Ancients) was originally a custom fan-made map in WarCraft 3.  For DotA 2, Valve hired two of the original creators of the WarCraft 3 map (IceFrog and Eul) and trademarked the name DotA to use for their upcoming MOBA game, DotA 2.

[ Read More ]