If there’s one barrier to entry video game players struggle with the most when getting into content creation, it’s the capture card technology. You can buy a decently priced microphone and a good HD webcam combined for still less than what you would spend on a single capture card. There’s a wide variety of devices to get, from those who are more into recording older games (although they are becoming increasingly more scarce) to those looking for the highest tech, 4K HDR capabilities. Most modern devices start at around $150 and range up to $400, but AVerMedia is looking to make things a little bit easier to chew. By introducing the AVerMedia Live Gamer Mini, it has never been easier to break into the streaming and content creation community, but with it comes some drawbacks that may turn some away.
I had my issues with the Live Gamer Extreme when it launched close to four years ago. Throughout the years, AVerMedia has made incredible strides to make not only that capture card a fantastic piece in any content creator’s setup, but also their future installments, such as the Live Gamer 4K, my most recommended pieces of hardware. Unfortunately, with the Mini, things may have taken a step back. First thing’s first: this is a tiny piece of hardware. It’s amazing what we are able to put into such a small device when it comes to video and audio capabilities, as this is only 100 x 57 x 18.8 mm and a measly 74.5 grams.
The system requirements are very reasonable, as well, although it might still be a bit much for laptop users:
- OS: Windows 10
- CPU: Intel i5-3330 (Desktop) / Intel i7-4810MQ (Laptop)
- GPU: NVIDIA GTX 650 or AMD R7 250X (Desktop) / NVIDIA GTX 870M (Laptop)
- RAM: 4GB (8GB Recommended)
Unfortunately, because of its size and price, there are some setbacks. It does what it sets out to do, namely record and stream content very easily, but the capture device’s compression technology leaves much to be desired. As you can see in the images below, compared to the Live Gamer Extreme, the video quality takes a significant hit. There were points where I plugged in a console and thought the Mini dropped the resolution from 1080p to 720p. It got to the point where I could be comparing this to high and low textures on a PC game. The detail just isn’t there anymore, which can be a crucial factor to some. But this isn’t necessarily targeted to professionals or enthusiasts, but the more casual crowd who are just looking to get started. So as long as you’re not doing comparison videos or screenshots articles, and simply focused on streaming, then this is a solid value that utilizes AVerMedia’s software, such as RECentral and StreamEngine plugin. Regardless, take a look at the comparisons below to a four-year old capture device you probably can get on the cheap now:
This device also only has a USB 2.0 connection, meaning that you won’t be getting a low latency experience; you’ll without doubt be wanting to bypass it to a monitor or television to actually play. We’re not going to sit here and tell you it was the worst we’ve run into, as their Live Gamer Portable still has a longer latency than most we’ve tested out, but just don’t go into this thinking you’ll only need a single HDMI cable. We also ran into a number of issues regarding both audio and video stuttering on a computer that’s more than capable of handling the hardware. These seemed to occur right when the recording starts and persists until unknown factors are resolved (which we couldn’t figure out as the CPU, GPU and RAM usages were nowhere near maxing out). It’s something I hope AVerMedia smooths out as it wasn’t anything we ran into with their various other capture devices.
- Interface: USB 2.0 (USB Micro)
- AV Input: HDMI
- AV Output (Pass-Through): HDMI
- Max Pass-Through Resolution: 1080p60
- Max Record Resolutions: 1080p60
- Supported Resolutions (Video input): 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 576p, 480p, 480i
- Recording Format: MPEG 4 (H.264+AAC) / Supports hardware encoding
So in the end, if you’re desperate to break into the content creation scene, be it through streaming or YouTube videos, then the Mini isn’t the worst option you can find out there. It does the job of being an easily accessible device that you can immediately go into streaming your favorite games to multiple platforms at an affordable price point. Unfortunately, if you’re looking to put more effort into being a creator, I would recommend spending a little bit more cash and get one of AVerMedia’s other devices, one that might have lower latency and better compression capabilities. At the $129.99 price point, it’s a workable entry point for a younger crowd of players who aren’t looking to break their bank on starting out.