As display technology improves, so too must the capture devices we use for recording and streaming gameplay. The new AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus is a sophisticated capture device that supports 4K video pass-through and PC-free recording. It's not cheap at about $200, but those are some serious features.
AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus at a glance
The AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus (GC513) is an external capture device. Its purpose is to facilitate the live streaming of video games or capturing of footage for the creation of videos. The GC513 can be used with or without a PC or Mac.
- AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus (GC513).
- Braided black USB 3.0 cable, five feet long.
- Black HDMI cable, 16 inches long.
- 3.5mm audio cable (male on both ends).
- Printed quick guide manual.
Yes, that HDMI cable is incredibly short. But hey, you probably own several long cables already.
- OS: Windows 10 / 8.1 / 7 / macOS X.
- Intel Core i5 CPU i5-3330 or comparable (i7 recommended).
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 / AMD Radeon R7 250X or above are recommended.
- 4GB RAM.
- Powered USB 2.0 port.
- microSD Class 10 card for PC-free recording.
The GC513 is a black and orange unit measuring approximately six inches by two inches by two inches. The triangular shape of the top of the unit is distinctive especially compared to the smaller, more rectangular Elgato and Razer Ripsaw devices. That said, the GC513 has a smaller footprint than the Ripsaw.
The front of the GC513 features a triangular button with a swirl-shaped blue LED that lights up whenever the unit is powered on. It also has two 3.5mm audio jacks that allow users to record headset audio during gameplay. Simply plug the headset into the input jack and use the included 3.5mm cable to connect to the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 controller. Volume buttons adjust headset audio levels, and a slider toggles between the GC513's three different modes.
On the back of the unit, you'll find an HDMI input jack, an HDMI output jack, a micro-USB port for power and data connection to a PC or Mac, and a microSD card slot. The labels for the jacks are much easier to read than the Elgato's and Razer Ripsaw's labels. Other than that slight advantage, the GC513 is just as easy to connect to your console and PC as any other capture device.
Modes and PC-free recording
The GC513 is primarily aimed at gamers who have a 4K TV or monitor but do not own the incredibly beefy hardware needed to stream or record 4K content. To accomplish this, the unit has an integrated hardware downscaler that inputs and displays 4K video while only capturing at 1080p60. 4K recording and streaming require much more powerful computer hardware, so this downscaler and passthrough solution allows gamers to enjoy 4K content with much lower system requirements.
AVerMedia's latest capture device features three different modes:
- PC mode: Capture or stream video via PC or Mac.
- PC-free mode: Record video to a microSD card without the use of a PC. The unit still requires power from a USB source. The blue whirlwind button on the front of the unit starts and stops recording.
- Storage mode: After recording video to a microSD card, switch to storage mode and connect to your PC or Mac. This lets you transfer video files without removing and potentially losing the microSD card.
The PC-free mode is a standout feature and one of the main reasons to choose the GC513 over the $180 Elgato Game Capture HD60 S. When traveling to a convention, tournament, or friend's place, you can simply bring the GC513 for recording – without having to bring along a computer. And you still have access to proper capture and streaming software when using the unit with a computer.
To use the GC513 for recording video and screenshots with a PC, you'll need to download the free RECentral 4 software. Software quality plays a huge role in a capture device's user experience. Elgato's software leads the industry in that respect, but RECentral 4 is very close in features and usability.
The main portion of the RECentral 4 window displays gameplay footage. Below it, users can select from several quality presets or customize their own, toggle between QSV or H.264 video codecs, toggle between recording and streaming modes, and record gameplay or capture screenshots on-the-fly. It also features a unique live-editing feature that allows recorded videos to be trimmed before saving them to the hard drive.
As for streaming, you can switch between a single source (pure gameplay) or multisource display. Multisource lets users add webcam, chat, and other visual elements on top of the gameplay window. If you're streaming directly from the RECentral 4 software, jazzing up the stream with those elements is essential.
RECentral 4 supports several streaming formats such as Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook. Oddly, the integrated Mixer support listed on the product's Amazon storage page is nowhere to be found at present. You can still stream to Mixer by adding it as a custom RTMP source, but it really should be included as one of the default options.
The GC513 is also compatible with XSplit Broadcaster and OBS streaming software.
Performance and overall impression
You won't find many faults with the AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus, but there is one: its connection speed.
The GC513 uses a micro-USB 2.0 cable to connect to computers instead of the superior USB 3.0 Type-C cable employed by the Elgato Game HD60 S. As a result of the slower connection method, the capture software's video lags ever so slightly compared to the video that outputs to your TV or monitor. The same is true of many capture devices, but since the Type-C standard exists already, AVerMedia really should've sprung for it.
Other than that minor issue (which also applies to many other popular capture devices), the GC513 is an exceptional option. 4K pass-through feature and the ability to use it with or without a PC will make this unit an essential purchase for some users. If you're not ready to future-proof for 4K and don't need the PC-free feature, you might consider saving a little bit by grabbing an Elgato HD60 S instead.
- A portable capture device that can be used with or without a computer.
- 4K video pass-through lets you enjoy 4K content while capturing at 1080p60.
- RECentral 4 software is good for capturing video, screenshots, and streaming.
- Uses slow micro-USB 2.0 standard rather than USB 3.0 Type-C, resulting in capture lag.
- Advertised Mixer support isn't included at launch.
- Included 16-inch HDMI cable is really short.
The AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus retails for $209.99 and is currently available for $199 on Amazon.
Our AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus review unit was provided by the manufacturer.
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