Consoles are capable of recording and streaming their own footage, but if you want to have any control over the process, you’ll need a capture card. In the past, some capture cards have been finicky, complicated and difficult for first-timers.
AVerMedia’s GC513 Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus, on the other hand, is a breeze to use.
On the surface, capture cards are a simple piece of hardware. They hijack a HDMI source to record or stream, freeing up additional computing power and giving you, the gamer, more control over the end output. Over time, capture cards have gradually evolved to support better bandwidth standards, higher resolutions and better software support. But the base function is the same, taking that HDMI signal and outputting it to your computer.
AVerMedia’s GC513 Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus is a 4K passthrough device that works with any HDMI input. And if you’re looking for your first capture card, the AVerMedia GC513 is a solid and worthy option.
These are the only instructions the AVerMedia GC513 comes with — a simple diagram. It’s great.
My gaming set-up is currently a mess of crossed HDMI wires, too many power plugs and a whole lot of charging cables. I worried initially the GC513 wouldn’t integrate well into my set-up, but it was seriously simple, to the point where it made me feel stupid for fretting over it.
I primarily used the GC513 to record footage from my Switch, so it was a simple matter of plugging the device into a power source (via USB) and looping an extra HDMI cable into the chain.
It took 2 minutes from opening the box to setting the CG513 up for recording.
Hooking up a PlayStation 4 Pro was a bit more complicated. Initially, I tried to loop the device through my PSVR headset but since it doesn’t allow HDR passthrough, I wasn’t able to record footage that way. Instead, I had to reloop my set-up and take the PSVR out of the chain.
One additional complication is all footage came through as copyright protected on the PlayStation. To remove this, it was a simple matter of switching HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) settings off in the main menu. After this, the connection worked just as simply as on the Switch.
The GC513 has three separate modes available — MicroSD, PC and Transfer. The MicroSD setting is one of the most useful, and what makes the GC513 so handy. In this mode, the GC513 can record footage directly onto a MicroSD card without the use of a laptop or PC. It means you can plug the device into your console, hit the central button and get recording right away.
You will need a larger MicroSD card to take advantage of this, however. One hour of recorded footage on the PS4 Pro gave me a 24.8GB file — and I was only using a 32GB card.
In PC mode, this is less of a problem. PC users can access the RECentral 4 recording software, which exclusively supports AVerMedia products, and stream or record as much footage as you like. Similar to programs like OBS, RECentral 4 offers a range of streaming and recording options like the ability to build out scenes and hook directly into Twitch. You can also use the GC513 directly through your preferred streaming or recording program by adding it as a video capture device, although that’s not as simplified
The final mode, Transfer mode, allows you to easily take footage off your MicroSD via USB cable.
RECentral 4 is the AVerMedia-exclusive streaming and recording platform. It functions similarly to OBS and lets you create scenes to build out a stream or record gameplay according to your needs. While the MicroSD mode has its own default recording settings, RECentral 4 allows users to modify capture quality, frame rate, bitrate and other video elements for the best capture quality.
It’s simple and not very flashy, but it gets the job done. To record or stream video, users simply need to navigate to the mode tabs (located in the first column under the footage window and hit the big ‘REC’ or ‘STREAM’ video buttons on the right to get going. When hooked up with a streaming platform, it can send users live in one click.
As in OBS, multiple scenes can be set for a prettier looking stream. In the image above, you’ll see me using the webcam integration to auto-impose myself in the world of Animal Crossing for a test stream.
It also comes with a helpful Chroma key feature which allows you to remove the background from your webcam during recording as long as it’s a flat colour (or close to it). This is a very handy feature, particularly if you don’t have a green screen. I tested it with a red beanbag as my backdrop and it did a fairly reasonable job at removing it — although it did take part of my nose with it.
Placing a brightly coloured cloth behind you (it doesn’t have to be green) will give you the best results here. It’s a minor feature but a very nifty one if you’re planning on using the software to stream.
You can monitor FPS in real-time in RECentral 4 as well as your RAM and CPU usage in the lower right corner. Helpfully, the program also provides an indicator as to how much content you can record based on file size and PC storage.
The GC513 records footage at 1080p and 60 frames per second. Video captured on the Nintendo Switch via the easy plug-and-play MicroSD mode had a default bitrate of 13.41 Mbit/s, while footage captured on the PlayStation 4 Pro via the PC connection recorded at a stronger 38.9 Mbit/s. The variability here is to be expected, and will depend on your PC or MicroSD performance.
The MicroSD I used was a 32GB SanDisk Ultra microSDHC you can purchase for $10 from Officeworks so the lower bitrate here is to be expected.
When connected to a PC for streaming or recording, the bitrate for recording can be set manually up to a maxiumum of 60Mbit/s. (I managed 56 Mbit/s on my Switch footage at RECentral 4’s highest settings.)
It is not a 4K capture device, but does support 4K passthrough. This means while you can view footage at 4K, it doesn’t record at that quality. It’s also not HDR compatible, so if you’re using it with a device like a PlayStation 4 Pro, you won’t be able to view HDR output.
If you’re just using it for the Switch, this won’t matter. But if you’re using it on next gen pro consoles like the Xbox One X or PlayStation 4 Pro, just keep that in mind as it’ll affect the colours in your final recording.
To record footage, all you need to do is press the glowing red button in the centre of the device (or equivalent button on the RECentral 4 software) and sit back — when the CG513 pulses, you know it’s working.
While YouTube has a tendency to butcher gaming footage, the video quality in my Animal Crossing: New Horizons adventure is relatively crisp, 1080p 60fps footage. The footage is raw and unedited — it’s uploaded directly from the MicroSD I was using to capture gameplay.
Recorded footage is consistently clear and crisp, with no noticeable frame rate issues. The device itself also has no trouble recording and doesn’t heat up at all. Even recording two hours of footage on the PlayStation 4 Pro only made the outer box lukewarm to the touch.
Thankfully, it produces extremely minimal sound, too. If you listen closely you can hear a light whisper from the GC513, but no uncanny wheezing or annoying whistling.
Trial streams with the GC513 went smoothly. As mentioned, AVerMedia capture cards come with their own custom-built streaming software, RECentral 4, and it was simple to set up the device and get streaming. Once your streaming account is set up with the program, you’re just a button click away from going live.
The GC513 is able to stream 1080p video at 60 frames per second as long as you have the internet and computer performance to match.
While streaming, I did notice a very slight input lag between the RECentral 4 video source and my Switch — but it was less than half a second and only noticeable because of a slight sound echo. It didn’t impact my playing of the game.
Besides some brief artifacting, the stream appeared clear and smooth for the most part (despite being a good 20 seconds behind the action).
i'm trying out this sick new capture card and i am very excited to be in the animal crossing pic.twitter.com/CdNAZ1r9lm
— Leah Williams (@legenette) April 2, 2020
The GC513 measures in at 14cm x 5cm x 4cm and is extremely light (it weights in at less than 200g). The set-up includes one USB power cable and one short HDMI cord. To set it up, all you’ll need to do is loop your console into the HDMI system.
Once that’s done, it’s a simple matter of packing three cords and the device away. It’s quick and easy, making it extremely portable. If you’re looking at recording from multiple sources or locations, its ability to record directly to a MicroSD card is invaluable — it means you don’t have to lug any expensive equipment with you if you’re just looking at recording footage.
Even if you need a larger set-up for streaming, the small and compact nature of the device means it won’t add to your load.
While design isn’t the most important point of contention when it comes to choosing the right capture card for you, the GC513 is a fancy little number. It sports a funky triangular design, red racing-style accents and a red glowing central console.
It’s cute, small enough to be convenient and features accessible ports and buttons for easy use. In short: it’s hot.
Should You Buy It?
The AVerMedia GC513 is a fantastic capture card. It easy to set up, records high quality footage and is very portable. It’s got a whole lot of functionality and features a hot, slimline design.
While its lack of HDR support will be a bugbear for some, it won’t be an issue for everyone and if you’re just looking at recording footage capped at 1080p (like on the Switch), it’s perfect.
At around $260, it’s also very competitive on the capture card market.
The GC513’s ability to record directly to a MicroSD card in lieu of a reliance on a nearby PC is a great feature, and gives the device much wider appeal. If you want to record from a diverse range of sources (or potentially travel with it), it’s simple to set up — and you won’t even need to bring your home PC along for the ride.