There are some pieces of technology that are neither flashy, groundbreaking, or special for any particular reason. They’re more like bread and butter: reliable performers that get the job done.
Capture cards fall into this bucket quite a lot. They’re an essential piece of equipment for streamers, pro gamers, esports events, content creators and people on my side of the gaming fence. Sometimes, however, they’re more fiddly than you’d expect. Which is why it’s nice when you get one that does the job with precisely zero fuss.
Made by Avermedia, the Live Gamer Extreme 2 (starting from $250) is a small, portable USB 3.1 box that offers 1080p/60fps recording while supporting passthrough for 4Kp60 content. It’s a fairly minimalist package, coming with a small how-to guide, a single HDMI cable, a small cover for the top, and a retail key for the PowerDirector video editing software.
Anyone buying a capture card likely already has Premiere or Sony Vegas, so PowerDirector isn’t really a major factor. The main appeal is just the raw bits of what the LGX 2 can do. The back of the LGX 2 has three ports: one for the USB-C cable, HDMI in and HDMI out. That’s it. There’s no messing around with multiple audio inputs (which you would manage through your recording or streaming PC anyway), and no component inputs. That makes the LGX 2 less suitable for retro consoles, but the amount of people who want to record or stream those are few, and there’s other capture cards or component-to-HDMI adapters if you really want to go down that road.
The recording software is pretty lightweight and straightforward as well. Recentral, Avermedia’s proprietary software, will record in H.264, HEVC or the codec of your graphics card (the Nvidia NVENC encoder, in my case).
Here’s some footage of the Avermedia pumping out H.264 footage at 1080p/60fps using the NVENC encoder at 120Mbps:
Here’s some footage using NVENC/HEVC with a 80Mbps bitrate at 1080p/60fps with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate:
You don’t have to use the Avermedia software, however. OBS, the open-source streaming and recording software that has been a staple for streamers (along with XSplit) works just fine.
Using the x264 encoder and the Indistinguishable Quality (in the simple settings), here’s some more Smash. I was playing with split JoyCons, and bees are arseholes, but you get the idea. (The OBS footage used less CPU and maintained a stable frame rate, which is handy if you prefer the accuracy of the CPU-based x264 encoder, which streamers often do.)
Also, since I got sick of those bloody bees, here’s 20 seconds of me cheesing the living shit out of Pikachu.
All of these videos suffer from extra compression that various hosting services place on top: if it’s not Streamable, it’s YouTube, Vimeo, Twitch, or whatever else you’re outputting to.
The kicker with the LGX 2 is that it’s an external device, and not at all suited for doing 4K60 footage in the future. The Elgato internal 4K60 Pro or Avermedia’s own Live Gamer 4K (the latter of which also does HDR capture, something most capture cards don’t do).
But most Australians don’t want to record at that high quality, if only because uploading that content afterwards is so prohibitive. More people have fibre connections and reliable NBN than in years past, but there’s very few local streamers that will want to stream in 4K60 – especially if you’re not partnered.
So something that does 4K60 passthrough, which is what you’d want for the Xbox One X or the PS4 Pro, as well as reliable 1080p/60fps recording, is ideal. Couple that with lightweight software that has useful functionality, but isn’t necessary if you want to use another streaming/recording suite, and you’ve got a good little piece of tech.