Thunder and Lightning

AVerMedia Live Gamer Bolt

Live Gamer Bolt

Desktop Champ

AVerMedia Live Gamer 4K

Live Gamer 4K

Capture card performance this good has, until now, been reserved for internal units connected over PCIe, but the Live Gamer Bolt changes all that.

$449 at Amazon

Pros

  • 4K60 HDR capture
  • 1080p at up to 240 FPS
  • Thoughtful design
  • Stunning quality footage
  • Virtually no impact on system resources

Cons

  • Can't be used without Thunderbolt 3
  • Expensive

Indistinguishable performance compared to the Live Gamer Bolt but significantly less expensive in part thanks to having been on the market for a couple of years now.

$230 at Newegg

Pros

  • 4K60 HDR capture
  • 1080p at up to 240 FPS
  • Heatsink to aid cooling
  • Stunning quality footage
  • Attractive price

Cons

  • Requires a desktop PC with a vacant PCIe slot

The Live Gamer 4K is two years old now, but that just shows how far ahead of its time it was. Only now has an external capture card caught up to offer identical performance, and that's the Live Gamer Bolt. But it's taken the inclusion of a Thunderbolt 3 interface to make it happen, which will be a barrier to entry for many, particularly AMD Ryzen users.

AVerMedia Live Gamer Bolt vs. Live Gamer 4K: Tech specs

Live Gamer BoltSource: Windows Central

Just how closely matched are these two capture cards? Comparing the specs tells most of the story.

Live Gamer Bolt Live Gamer 4K
Interface Thunderbolt 3 PCIe x4 Gen 2
Input HDMI 2.0 HDMI 2.0
Output HDMI 2.0 HDMI 2.0
Line in Yes No
Resolutions 4K @ 60 FPS
1440p @ 144 FPS
1080p @ 240 FPS
4K @ 60 FPS
1440p @ 144 FPS
1080p @ 240 FPS
HDR Yes Yes
Max bitrate 240mbps (system dependent) 240mbps (system dependent)
Format h.264
h.265
h.264
h.265

How to choose which you should buy

Live Streaming PCSource: Windows Central

If they're both so evenly matched, then how do you make a decision on which to get? There are some things to consider which will make the process easier.

If you have a desktop PC that you're using for capturing and streaming, then the easy recommendation is the Live Gamer 4K. For one, it's significantly cheaper now at about half the price. You just slot it into a vacant PCIe x4 slot on your motherboard, and you're good to go. It's neat, the RGB strip will add a little flair, and you will still get eyeshreddingly good looking captures.

The exceptions would be a mini ITX system where you simply won't have a spare PCIe slot or several pre-built, small-form PCs like the MSi Trident X where you also either don't have the slot or just don't have the space to install an internal capture card. But if you built your own system and you're using at least a micro ATX motherboard, then the Live Gamer 4K is the way to go.

Live Gamer BoltSource: Windows Central

The immediately obvious use case for the Live Gamer Bolt is with a gaming laptop, like our own top pick, the Razer Blade 15. Many of the top gaming laptops out there have a Thunderbolt 3 port and sufficiently powerful GPU and CPU combinations to drive the Live Gamer Bolt. If you need to be portable, this is the tool for you.

It may also be a good idea if your own Intel-based desktop PC already has a Thunderbolt 3 dock attached since you could —assuming you had a spare port— attach the Live Gamer Bolt to this.

Intel is the key, too, in either laptops or desktops. AMD platforms generally don't support Thunderbolt 3. There are a couple of exceptions if you're building a Ryzen or Threadripper PC, but for the most part, you're out of luck. AMD desktop users should go for the Live Gamer 4K if they can get it into their system, while AMD laptop users will have to look elsewhere entirely and consider something a little less powerful like the Live Gamer Ultra.

Thunder and lightning

Live Gamer Bolt

AVerMedia Live Gamer Bolt

Finally a true match for the best internal capture cards

Using the power of Thunderbolt 3, what the Live Gamer Bolt delivers is truly astonishing, with laptop gamers in particular now able to tap into serious quality captures.

Desktop champ

Live Gamer 4K

AVerMedia Live Gamer 4K

Still the one to get for desktop PCs

For most using a desktop PC for their captures, this makes the most sense still, with basically identical performance and a much more attractive price.

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.