When it comes to capture cards, they tend to get a little expensive. That’s where the Avermedia GC311 Live Gamer Mini comes in. This little device is meant for the budget streamer who just wants a simple solution to capturing game footage off of their PS4/Xbox One. The Avermedia GC311 comes in at just under Rs.15000, and packs all the features you need to set up your live streaming career.
Build Quality – A Sturdy Capture Card
The Avermedia GC311 Live Gamer Mini is a small external device you can use without all the hassle that comes with PCIe cards. Since it’s primarily targeted towards console gamers, the build quality complements its intent. Weighing in just under 75g, it’s a compact device, with its outer casing made entirely out of plastic. As expected, it does give it a cheaper look, especially when compared to something like an Elgato HD60S. But don’t let that fool you! As far as function goes, it does its job just as expected.
The capture card has 2 HDMI ports and 1 micro-USB 2.0 port. Setting up is fairly easy – You plug in the HDMI cord from the console into the HDMI IN port, then connect the Monitor to the HDMI OUT. Finally, plug in the included USB 2.0 cable into your PC to power the device. Do note that you’ll need to have another monitor if you want to play the game in lossless full quality.
As the official product description notes, you’ll need to have a decently competent PC in order to make use of the capture card. Minimum requirements include an Intel i5-3330 and NVIDIA GTX 650, with 4GB RAM. I used it on my personal PC which has a Ryzen 7 3700X along with the NVIDIA RTX 2060 Super, and I didn’t see my PC itself coming in the way of recording. I do want to point the use of the USB 2.0 platform, which may feel like a step back, considering how USB 3.0 has advanced speeds. Perhaps that’s one place where they had to cut down costs, but even then it’s a higher price in India stings quite a bit.
Avermedia RECentral Experience
The capture card can be used in conjunction with its own recording software – Avermedia RECentral. I used both it and OBS to record a bunch of footage from my standard PS4 and compared it with the console’s native recording feature. For starters, the PS4 can only record at 720p, that too in only limited time intervals. The GC311 card can record at full HD (1080p) and in theory, can record for over 8 hours.
So let’s start with the interface itself. You can set up the bitrate and resolution at which to record in RECentral. The built-in presets are decent enough, but if you want you can customize them to your liking. You can change the audio bitrate as well. I recorded both at 30fps and 60fps, at different bitrates to experiment. From what I could gather, a bitrate of anywhere between 40mbps to 60mbps will do just fine in capturing the native look of the game on your monitor.
One thing to note, however, is that the video codecs offered are stuck at either H.264 or HEVC (H.265). These aren’t edit-friendly formats, so you might have to use proxies/transcode if you’re into heavy video editing of your gameplay. If you just want to record a session and upload it on YouTube directly, then leave it at H.264.
The Avermedia Live Gamer Mini also has certain streaming settings present in its software, like the Multi and Single screen mode. You can set up your webcam and mic parameters and sync your YouTube/Twitch account, so you can directly stream with the software. You don’t have to bother with setting up something like OBS if you don’t want to. If you do however want more control over your broadcast, make sure to read our guide on how to live stream with your gaming PC here.
For all the great features in the software, there are some bugs that I would like to address. At certain times the video feed would cut out, without me ever touching the capture card itself. One moment I’d be recording gameplay, and suddenly I’d find the software unresponsive. This is what led me to turn on OBS, where I’d have to reset a lot of parameters. You also can’t plug your headphones into the Dualshock 4 while recording, as both software (OBS/RECentral) won’t record the HDMI audio passthrough.
There were also moments when the capture card wasn’t even detected in the software and showed the “Low FPS detected” error which is quite common with these products. Other than that though, the card performed as expected.
The Avermedia GC311 Live Gamer Mini is an excellent value option for gamers and live streamers on a budget. The capture card is fairly easy to set up and use, and the built-in software works as well as advertised. For seasoned live streamers though, I suggest using OBS/X-Split Gamecaster to have more control over your recording/streaming format. Its recording capabilities far exceed the in-built solutions present in current-gen consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One. If you’re in the market for a capture card which records at 1080p 60 fps, then I can heartily recommend the Live Gamer Mini. Also, if you’re planning on using the capture card for recording gameplay from your PC, then I’ll suggest you use NVIDIA Shadowplay or AMD ReLive. Both of those options have little-to-no effect on gameplay performance, and there’s less set up to do.
We’ll also have a review of the Avermedia Live Streamer 311 ‘YouTube starter pack’ kit in a short while. Alongside the GC311 Mini, the kit includes the live streamer cam 313 (webcam) & the AM310 USB Mic. To read that review, check back at this space.
[Update: Avermedia Youtube Starter Pack review here].