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MEGATech Reviews: AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme GC550
Pros
  • Full 1080p HD uncompressed video
  • Personalized cover image
  • Robust software is easy to use
Cons
  • HDMI passthrough requires USB power
  • Still requires decent PC hardware
  • Issues with audio mix-in feature
7Overall Score

Video games used to be an exclusively offline affair, especially since the Internet wasn’t really a commercially-available reality until several years later. Then, we were introduced to online gaming, providing us with the opportunity to play with other people without having to leave our mother’s basements. Today, we’ve gone several steps further with the rising popularity of live game streaming and you need to have the right hardware to do that.

When you are gaming on your console of choice, you might want to look into the recently launched AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme. The external game capture card connects to your PC via USB 3.0 to provide uncompressed full HD 1080p video at 60 frames per second, all with “almost no latency” as it passes through to your monitor or TV. Does this take game recording and streaming to the extreme? Let’s dig in and find out.

Live Gaming to the Extreme?

MEGATech Reviews: AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme GC550

AVerMedia is certainly no stranger to the game capture industry, having released several capture cards over the years for gamers of all budgets and skill levels to enjoy. While standalone products like the AVerMedia Game Capture HD II (C285) can be very convenient, they’re only useful for game recording. The Live Gamer Extreme (also known as the LGX or by model number GC550) can handle both recording and live streaming to networks like Twitch and YouTube.

What this means, however, is that you will need to connect the LGX to your laptop (or desktop) to be able to do anything with it. Indeed, while the Live Gamer Extremes features an HDMI pass-through, it does need to be connected to a PC in order to do this. It cannot operate on a more passive manner. In addition to HDMI, you can also connect input devices via component video using the provided adapter. There’s also a custom cover creator to swap out the card on top of the device for further personalization.

Connections and Setup

MEGATech Reviews: AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme GC550

As I noted in my brief unboxing video, getting setup with the Live Gamer Extreme is a fairly straightforward affair. You will need to download and install the drivers, which you can grab from the AVerMedia website. This is also where you’ll get the included RECentral 2 software, though you can just as easily use the LGX with other software like XSplit or OBS. It’s really up to you.

The easiest way to use the LGX is with a couple of HDMI cables. You have one running from your source into the LGX and then you have another HDMI cable running to your TV or monitor. Aside from that, you’ve got the USB 3.0 connection to your PC and you’re all set. Of course, due to the copy protection on some HDMI sources, you may need to use the provided adapter for component video instead. These connections are all found on the back of the LGX.

MEGATech Reviews: AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme GC550

Around the front, you’ll find two additional ports: aux and mic. These allow you to access the built-in audio mixer function in the Live Gamer Extreme. Let’s say that you want to have some background music playing with your game; you can use the aux-in port to connect an MP3 player, for example. Let’s say that you want to provide some live commentary; you can connect a microphone to the mic port to do that. Yes, it’s true that you can do this from your PC as well, but this can simplify the process and reduce the resource load on your computer.

The RECentral 2 Software

MEGATech Reviews: AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme GC550

The provided RECentral 2 software from AVerMedia is what you’ll use by default when you want to capture or stream some of your game footage using the Live Gamer Extreme. There are three main modes: record, playback, and settings. These are represented by the three wedges of the circle in the top-left corner. With the record mode, you can switch between local recording and online streaming. Naturally, you’ll need to enter your online credentials for the latter.

AVerMedia has kept this software reasonably simple in its approach, while simultaneously offering the commonly used features. You can use this to adjust the balance in the audio mixer, for example, pushing the slider between game audio and the mic audio. You can adjust the effective output resolution and quality of the video. There are also several default scene modes you can use, including picture-in-picture for your webcam or the ability to insert your logo. And yes, you can design your own scenes too, just like in XSplit.

The software does almost anything you’d want it to do in theory. The challenge, at least for me running the LGX on my not-terribly-powerful Ultrabook, is that RECentral 2 runs more slowly than a lightweight utility like OBS. I also encountered challenges with the audio mixer, even when switching to the different modes. Your mileage may vary, as I haven’t encountered other users complaining of the same problem.

MEGATech Reviews: AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme GC550

Separate from the RECentral 2 software is a separate tool for creating your custom covers. You simply choose the image you’d like to use and position it accordingly, printing out your end result and placing it under the cover on the Live Gamer Extreme. The cover opens up by simply removing the screw; it’s really easy. This is a nice touch for those of you who like to stream at community events and tournaments.

Live Gamer Extreme Recording and Streaming Performance

MEGATech Reviews: AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme GC550

How well the Live Gamer Extreme performs for you will depend heavily on the computer you’re using with it. At its most basic level, this game capture card does exactly what it sets out to do with the ability to record or stream uncompressed video at resolutions up to full HD 1080p at 30 frames per second. However, in order to achieve this, you will need to meet some minimum requirements. You’ll want at least a GTX660 (desktop) or GT870M (laptop) for graphics, as well as 4GB of RAM. In the context of a laptop, they recommend at least a Intel Core i7-4810MQ processor.

Given this, it’s not all that surprising that my Ultrabook, which is almost three years old, wasn’t really up to snuff. I suffered from significant lag and frame drops when trying to record at 1080p. Even when I dropped the resolution down to 720p, both in terms of source and output, performance wasn’t perfect. Have a look at these two clips, both recorded from an Xbox 360.

The first clip was recorded using the provided RECentral 2 software, while the second clip was record with Open Broadcaster Software. In both cases, there are noticeable pauses and stutters. If my Ultrabook had better hardware, I’m sure the resulting videos would have been smoother. You will want to keep this in mind if you plan on using the Live Gamer Extreme with an older or less powerful PC.

MEGATechie Stream Monster or MEGATechie Hardware Hack?

MEGATech Reviews: AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme GC550

As far as external game capture cards are concerned, AVerMedia continues to be an industry leader and the Live Gamer Extreme further solidifies the company’s position in this space. The audio mixer is a nice feature to have and the support for uncompressed full HD video is huge, considering the graphically intense gaming you can enjoy on the Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

The RECentral 2 software comes with some nifty features, like the live video editing, time-shifting, and picture-in-picture, but it can feel a little slow. The importance of having adequate PC hardware to accompany the Live Gamer Extreme also cannot be understated. My Ultrabook was not up to the task and the fault lies with me.

The LGX has an MSRP of $179.99 and is available now.


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