Hardware Review: Gamers from all over the globe are recording themselves playing games for the entertainment of others. They're doing their part. Are you?
AVerMedia's new Game Broadcaster HD is a PCI-E capture card geared around capturing, well... games. The card features HDMI and VGA inputs, so with the right adapters you can use RCA or component to record your console gaming. Fortunately AVerMedia know what accessories to provide and a component to VGA adapter comes in the box along with an RCA sound to 3.5mm cable.
After playing for quite a few hours with the Game Broadcaster HD, we found that it was simultaneously brilliant and flawed. Firstly, AVerMedia doesn't provide a work-around to break High-Bandwidth Content Protection (HDCP), so if you want to use the included software suite to record your gaming, you're left with capturing through component 1080i rather than the glorious 1080P that HDMI is capable of.
HDCP will leave you unable to receive sound via HDMI, so you'll need to output from the console using RCA or optical to your PC, then set the software to use your sound device for audio recording.
Not having a component cable for a PS3, we decided to stick with the HDMI input and use FRAPS to record our shenanigans. We played Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare, Call of Duty: Black Ops and Uncharted 3. We had horrible issues with CoDBLOPS, with dipping framerates and a maximum playback speed ranging between 14 and 30fps, but Red Dead and Uncharted played flawlessly.
To get the best performance, however, we'd recommend getting a HDMI splitter and sending the signal live to your monitor and the card. Recording <i>will</i> cause input lag, but the footage that is produced is absolutely lag-free and stunning. This may also strip the HDCP from your HDMI signal as well, letting you keep your sexy 1080p signal and digital sound.
By far the poorest part of AVerMedia's package is the capture software. It is the same software used for capturing live television through a TV capture card, or any other AVerMedia input device for that matter. We would have liked to see the software be geared towards the card itself. The menus are confusing and unintuitive, and while tweaking to get your settings just right it will crash.
When working, you can set the AVerMedia encoder to H.264 and tweak the bitrate and resolution so the second you hit stop, it's already optimized for YouTube. Another thing to note is that volume output from your console must be set in-game to about 20% in order to avoid massive distortion; though once configured the result is quite crisp.
We then moved on to live streaming, or ‘broadcasting’, which was far too difficult to set up. There was no clear explanation of how to do this in the documentation or on the website. After some googling, we discovered that we needed to establish a TwitchTV account. We did that, then went to the "apps" menu – which didn't work – and in the end we couldn't access the service. Yet again the card was let down by a reliance on a third party.
We did a fair bit of browsing and came to the conclusion that our inability to access to the app dialogue was just bad luck, because there are plenty of people out there having a great time streaming to TwitchTV from their Game Broadcaster HDs.
In all fairness you could establish an account with any streaming service that will support the device, so we'd recommend looking elsewhere. In terms of getting an audience, though, the main advantage of TwitchTV is it streaming specifically for gamers.
If you have your heart set on capturing footage from your console and you're willing to put in the time, effort and money for third party hardware and software, you're going to love the Game Broadcaster HD. It is, in our opinion, a great buy for the tweaker – the person who enjoys spending as much time setting up as they do using a new toy. For everyone else, this is not a great choice.