However I need to tell you the facts and in what instance should you go out and purchase a device for £130 as other reviews are unclear and in my personal testing will conclude a few points for you. Just to clear things up, the device comes with software for recording and doing basic streaming, the program allows you go from "Basic" to "Pro" in short giving you more options to record / capture. The software is fine, however for streaming it shouldn't be used. It is ok for capturing pure gameplay, but you cannot add overlays, text or do much other then display your own gameplay. The device is PCI meaning it has no delay when recording as it doesn't have to travel through a USB port when compared to its portable brother. This is of course a bonus.
Now this of course varies, but if you have a modern processor, something of similar power to an Intel i5 or it's AMD equivalent then your system will likely see no benefit using this card to stream, at best, slightly better / poorer performance, at worst. Definitely not a £130 improvement. So I'll explain why this is the case and why some people are getting confused.
Now if you take a look at my crudely drawn paint image, this is the setup you end with when using ONE computer. The image on the left was how I used to use my HD PVR ( Console capture card ) and I presumed this would work the same way when buying my new card. Except instead of my having the physical capture card on my floor, going to my PC that it would be neatly hidden away in my PC.
However until I got the device I never actually realised what I had really orderd.
Capture cards in single PC set-ups ( Like the image above) are pretty much completely useless.
What I mean by single PC setup is this, you are playing your PC game on the same machine you intend to produce the stream from.
The only exception is unless you intend to do the encoding with the hardware encoder on the card, but the quality on anything under 200 bucks is going to be completely horrible. OBS ( My chosen streaming program) can't use most the hardware encoders so all encoding ( Producing the video) is still going to be done by your CPU and as a result you will still feel that "streamy, It's not quite right feel".
Now and correct me if I am wrong, Xsplit the program that it gives you 3 months access for does use its encoding but the program is far more intensive then OBS, so the gains you get from using its encoder are lost because the encoder basically is crap for streaming and the program uses more resources, so any gains from the two are lost when compared to OBS. That's from personal testing, again someone may find it "ok".
You also have to remember that Xsplit costs money, meaning that every 4 months you spend $24.95, so in a year that's another $100 on top and considering you might only stream randomly for fun, you might only use it 20 times or you might buy 4 months and on the 5th month want to stream and you find you need to pay for another 4 months and considering you might only stream a few times or just fancied it as a "one off" it gets pretty expensive for a spur of the moment thing.
The built in capture methods in OBS ( A program the streams without the need of a capture card) are already absolutely as efficient as possible, so the only way to lower streaming impact without losing quality is to build a second, dedicated streaming PC and use the capture card to grab the image from your gaming rig.
Now me being new to all of this thought that is what I WAS doing by buying the card, the Avermedia C985 would "add" its power to my current CPU or for better wording, lighten the load as it would encode as my PC plays, but of course, I still have to encode. To make it simpler I'll say it like this.
Whilst playing on my Console,for the example that would be my "First PC", the capture card then gets that image, encodes it, and my PC (Second PC) would encode that again into a stream.
That is why when I used to use my second PC I wouldn't feel laggy but it still felt slower as it was encoding a video not playing a game and encoding.
Now imagine that but instead of two pc's what you have is, me and you playing the game on PC, My Graphics card plugs into my Avermedia Capture card and now I stream the video coming from the output.
Well..... that means as it doesn't use the inbuilt encoder that its effectively looping. PC plays games, goes into capture card, capture gets the video, does nothing and sends it back to program to be streamed. It is effectively doing nothing and as I suspected when I hit stream, be it 1080p 30fps ( It can't do 60, the box lies) and 720p 60fps that it felt just as laggy, if not worse when forcing it to encode on the Avermedia card. I was shit, bluntly.
I just found it a bit misleading for the streaming aspect. Now don't get me wrong this is a CAPTURE CARD and it is designed for recording locally and that is great, even with a One PC setup the inbuilt encoder takes the stress of your PC and you can have great recordings, I wouldn't knock that. I just feel they should drop the whole streaming aspect of it, make it cheaper and sell it cheaper as a PCI console recorder / PC local recorder.
Again, you can make the stream be amazing with two PC's. You could have your gaming PC passing to the card in your second PC and then streaming the picture the card is encoding
( Or buy the portable then you don't need to put in the Second PC but there will be a slight delay when syncing your voice to game-play if you are live-streaming as it travels through USB, although unfairness that can be fixed with some audio delay settings in most streaming applications)
But here is the thing for me, having two PC's for a CASUAL streaming session takes the fun out of it for me, the electricity bill goes up and the setup is a pain. Instead of buying two PC's to stream you are far better taking that money you saved on the PC/Bill and buying a real top end I7 with hyper threading or a real tank 6 core I7.
I like the card, it's button is convenient for recording but for streaming its a no goer from me, save your money, and buy a real top end processor, in the meantime lower your resolution / FPS of your current stream and enjoy streaming casually untill you can afford to splash the cash on one of the most intensive things a PC can do,
Thanks for reading and hopefully you understand a little bit more as I now do after trying lots of options and scouring the web / streaming myself.
If you have ANY questions comment below as I will respond, tweet the link or message me on twitter
- https://twitter.com/VideoFletcheror on Youtube
- Samuel Fletcher.
If you want the technical approach here is a response from the Open Broadcast forum by their moderators.
"Here are the only circumstances where using a capture card with OBS and playing a game on the same computer will help you:
- You want to capture a fullscreen game that game capture wont pick up through normal methods (due to being DX8 or older, or due to hack shields)
- You want a way to capture everything that's on your monitor, no matter what (including desktop, browser windows, and fullscreen games) without using Monitor capture (which can't capture fullscreen games and performs poorly on Win7)
There are two parts of streaming that can take a lot of system resources: capturing and encoding. Encoding is by far the most impactful part of the process. For god's sake, you're live-encoding video...doing that while playing a game was unthinkable a few short years ago. Video encoding is extraordinarily CPU-intensive, and that's what causes the biggest impact on your system while streaming. Capturing can also have an impact, but it's relatively small to the video encoding process. Game capture pulls video frames straight from the GPU's VRAM, while a capture card has to go through the CPU for the DirectShow source, so Game capture is a faster capture method than a capture card. So as long as you are playing a game and streaming on the same computer, a capture card will not improve your performance.
Capture cards are supposed to be used in a second PC that is dedicated to streaming. The normal setup is to have a second PC that captures what is happening on the first PC, so that the gaming PC is not affected by the heavy CPU-intense video encoding tasks of streaming.
There are some capture cards that have encoders built in, but OBS can't utilize them. If you use RECentral to streaming with a Live Gamer HD, then it can use the encoder, but you're not using OBS at that point, and the buit-in AVerMedia encoder is not that great compared to x264."