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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!

12 Responses so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Aw nice. I've been looking for a review on this card from someone who's really knowledgeable about streaming. Great work Apoc, I think I'm going to pick up one of these cards.

  2. A really good review Apoc! The only thing I'd like to know is what if I have one videocard, but two monitors? For what I know of NVidia only supports two monitors and this Avermedia Live Gamer HD will also be used as a 'monitor'. How does this work and can it be fixed?

  3. _ says:

    @JustDrawCats If your monitor is 60hz, then you will be fine as-is. You will just run your HDMI cable from your graphics card to the card, then out from the card and to your monitor.

    Though, if your monitor is 120hz and using DVI-DualLink, then you will need to buy a 2nd graphics card (a cheap one, I bought the gtx 630 for $60 but you can get a $20 gfx card) and use it for your 2nd monitor, then use your main graphics card for your main monitor + the avermedia card.

    Best of luck!

  4. billymonstar says:

    Hey APOC! quick question: Along with possibly getting this card I might be picking up a BenQ XL2410T 120mhz which has D-sub, and use as my main monitor along side my 60mhz samsung in dual monitor setup. The BenQ 120mhz has DVI-D, and HDMI connectors. Would I still need a second graphics card? Could I just HDMI from my GTX670 to the Live Gamer HD card and then HDMI to my monitor?

    The setup is now confusing the ish outta me yo.

  5. _ says:

    Only problem is that HDMI is only 60hz. So you wouldn't be able to get 120hz out of your monitor that way. You would need to use DVI-DL to your monitor to get 120hz on it, then a 2nd output from your graphics card (HDMI) to the avermedia card.

  6. Anonymous says:

    As a streamer i really want to hear about that card a simple thing...
    WHO NEED to get that card?
    And who DONT NEED to get that card...

    For example... a person with i7-3770k overclocked to 4.8ghz and with a 7950 gpu have any benefit using that card?

    For example also... a person having an phenom 940 3ghz and with a 4870 gpu will benefit from that card?

  7. _ says:

    Anonymous: I have an i7 3930k overclocked to 4.7ghz and a GTX 680 SSC+ and I get benefit from this card. I think both of the scenarios you proposed would also get benefit from this card.

    I feel I should also note I have a Kona LHi (~$1500 USD) that does 1080p 60fps that I also use from time to time. But there are certain games I want to stream at 720p 60fps, and I use the AVermedia Live Gamer HD for this.

    Hope this helped!


  8. Anonymous says:

    Hey Apoc thanx for fast reply...
    I think your computer is capable to stream 720p 60fps with fair low cpu usage... What exactly is your benefit ... even more low cpu? or something else

    Thanx in advance

  9. _ says:

    Anonymous: Well, you seem to be tech savvy, so I'd say most benefits of a capture card are pretty obvious and I assume you know them. For me, the biggest benefit is stability. Your FPS will be a rock solid 60fps without any drops of any kind. When doing a screen capture or a game hook (especially with a 3930k), it's overall a steady 60fps but there are times you can and will get some dropped frames. With the capture card, it just doesn't happen. Generally speaking, anytime you can have a function or process done via hardware as opposed to software, it will be superior.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Conclusion: this card is fine if you want to capture a slow game and stream it in shit quality.
    Like UNO on XBOX360 or something.

  11. Unknown says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  12. Anonymous says:

    Hi Mike - I have a 144Hz monitor that is G-Sync and uses DP only. I have 2 GTX 980 Ti's. Can I use a HDMI from the AVerMedia to the other video card HDMI port and still game at 144Hz? I'm confused.

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