When it comes to capture cards the brands that usually come to mind are Elgato and AverMedia. Both have been in the game for a long time and both have their pros and cons. Most of the popular streamers these days have dedicated computers with capture cards in their PCI-E slots for capturing everything from their gaming rig to the multitude of consoles they own. But what about when the streamers go on the road? When they find themselves in hotel rooms at conventions? What about streamers that can’t afford $200+ capture cards? That’s where AverMedia comes in to make a dent with their Live Gamer Mini - a portable capture card with 1080p60 pass-through, allowing capturing and recording/streaming of consoles with nothing more than the laptop you have available, and all with an entry-level price.
- MSRP: $119.99 (Amazon)
- Interface: USB 2.0 (Micro)
- Video Output (Pass-Through): HDMI
- Audio Input: HDMI
- Audio Output (Pass-Through): HDMI
- Max Pass-Through Resolution: 1080p60
- Max Record Resolution: 1080p60
- Supported Resolutions (Video Input): 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 576p, 480p, 480i
- Record Format: MPEG 4 (H.264+AAC) / Supports hardware encoding
- Dimensions: 100 x 57 x 18.8 mm (3.93 x 2.24 x 0.74 in)
- Weight: 74.5g (2.63oz)
- Zero-lag pass-through video
- Plug-and-play functionality
- Supports RECentral streaming
When AverMedia calls this capture card a “mini” they aren’t joking around; it’s literally smaller than a 2.5” drive you’d plop in a laptop (though a little thicker). It’d be easy to fit this in luggage if you’re on the go or even find a decent place to hide it in a permanent set up if you’re just looking for a good entry level capture card. When it comes to ports you have two HDMI ports, one input, and one output as well as the micro-USB port for connecting the device to your computer. Any microphones or webcams will be plugged into the computer, however, as this device is just for video.
The LGM (Live Gamer Mini) itself has a nice look, with embossed diagonal lines on the top, a subdued color scheme and single blue light strip to signal the device is powered up and properly connected to your computer. Set up was incredibly easy and straight forward with my Xbox One X - I simply plugged the HDMI from the Xbox into the LGM Input and ran another HDMI cable from the LGM output to my TV. After that, it was a simple matter of downloading the RECentral Software (or your preferred software like OBS) and plugging the USB into my laptop. One thing I was disappointed to find is that the Live Gamer Mini only comes with the micro-USB cable and no additional HDMI cables. I’m lucky that I’ve collected a revolting amount of them over the years but someone just getting set up may not have the extra cables lying around and will have to go purchase an additional one. My guess is it’s something to keep the cost down to a reasonable level on the device itself but, it would still be nice to see included.
While you can use whatever software you prefer (pretty much everyone uses OBS or a derivative of it like SLOBS), I chose to try out AverMedia’s RECentral 4 Software. Designed for use with AverMedia’s capture devices, RECentral is capable of streaming and recording, adding multiple sources like webcams and overlays, chroma key transparencies, as well as scenes like you’d find in OBS. The nice thing about RECentral is that it automatically detects and uses the signal from the capture device so if you’re always going to be using it you’d never have to worry about setting up different main capture sources.
The software itself is straight forward and easy to use. Options are easy to find and readily available from setting the recording save path to your resolution and fps preferences. It’s also incredibly hard to miss the giant record/stream button to get the party started. Once recording or streaming the lag from Xbox to screen is non-existent (as promised) but I was surprised to see that the delay from the Xbox to the computer was almost non-existent as well. The speed for a USB 2.0 connection was actually impressive and makes me wonder if a lag-free console to computer connection could have been achieved with USB 3.0.
Video wise the Live Gamer Mini worked beautifully, capturing Dauntless off my Xbox One X with no hiccups to report at all. The video was recorded in MP4 format with 15 minutes of recording coming in at around 5GB of space. Something to keep in mind if you’ll be using the LGM for recording Let’s Plays or other YouTube-like content is how quickly you can fill up space in longer play sessions, so make sure you have room to spare on the drive you’ll be saving your unedited gameplay.
Coming in at $119, the AverMedia Live Gamer Mini is an excellent option for gamers looking to up their streaming game. With lag-free pass-through and 1080p60 capturing, it’s easily the best device to grab in the price bracket with the added benefit of being super portable - making it a fit for even established streamers that find themselves on the go more often than not. The bottom line up front is the Live Gamer Mini is a breath of fresh air in a market of premium prices.
- Lag-free pass-through at 1080p60
- Small and light makes it very portable
- RECentral Software is actually quite comprehensive
- Doesn’t include HDMI cable
- USB 2.0 is antiquated
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.