Here at Lagserv Industries, we end up recording quite a bit of video footage. I personally have used the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD and the Diamond VC 500 to record both HDMI and component/s-video respectively. One thing I was curious about, though, was the possibility of having a capture card that can record both HD and non-HD sources. I also have ambitions of owning a low profile HTPC at some point. With these requirements in mind, I set out to find a find a capture card that would work.
One card I came across was the AVerMedia AVerTV HD, but I also found an obscure Chinese company called Oupree who actually had several different cards that met my requirements. To be honest, I’m not sure why, but instead of sticking to a tried an true company, I decided to take a chance and try out the HD881 from Oupree.
I may as well start with the specs. The complete specs are available on their website, so I’ll just list the possible inputs here.
- HDMI input at a maximum of 1080i, 60 FPS (including audio capture)
- Component input (only tested up to 480p, but it may go higher)
- S-video, Composite input
- Stereo audio input
In the Box
The box comes with the card, a manual (in somewhat alright English), a low profile bracket, and an adapter which fits into one of the HDMI-shaped ports to provide all of the other inputs. I didn’t receive a CD, but the drivers are available on the Oupree website inside of a password protected RAR file.
This is a PCI express capture card, so obviously you have to stick it into a PCI express slot on your motherboard. I initially tried using an extra PCI-e 16x slot, since my 1x slot would block airflow to my video card, but that didn’t work for me. I ended up having to switch to the 1x slot to get the card working. This may have been a fluke, I’m not sure.
After installing the drivers, I immediately tried viewing a composite device. No luck. Then I tried the Wii through component (@480p) and it worked! One thing about this card is that it appears as two separate capture devices. The s-video and composite inputs are labelled “PCIe SD Capture Card” while the HDMI and component inputs are labelled “PCIe HD Capture Card.” So in theory you can capture an HD signal and SD signal simultaneously if you wanted. I did get all of the different input types working in the end, but more on that later.
I expect that there a lot of different reasons you may want a capture card. For me, I wanted to have the ability to capture footage to stream via Twitch. To me, this means streaming at 720p @ 60 FPS as a maximum. The card goes up to 1080i @ 60 FPS, but I hate interlacing, so I’m actually quite happy to both play the game at 720p and stream to Twich at 720p using Open Broadcaster Software (OBS).
One thing that I really don’t like about the Diamond VC500 is that I’ve never been able to get the audio input to work consistently with OBS (I end up using the audio input on the sound card). So I was hopeful that the audio input would work properly when capturing either component, s-video, or composite.
If you refer to the video, you can see all of the different inputs in action, as well as their quality. Unfortunately I don’t have a device to test component at a higher resolution than 480p, but I trust that it’ll work fine — at the very least — up to 720p.
One thing that I really enjoy about having a capture card with so many inputs is having the ability to test out how the quality changes when using different outputs on the same console. For example, here is Super Smash Brothers Melee on the GameCube using three different inputs:
I was pleased to find out that when viewing the captured video with OBS and selecting “output audio to desktop” that I was able to both listen to and view the device through my computer. I prefer this to using the sound card’s input because I can leave the console on and I don’t need to hear it all the time or manually mute it. One thing I’m not particularly impressed with, though, is that I can occasionally hear static as I’m playing a game. It seems to be far worse at the beginning and then slowly get better. Eventually it becomes infrequent enough that it doesn’t bother me.
One thing that seems like an oversight is that there’s only one pair of left and right audio inputs. Considering that there are three inputs that could have audio associated with them (component, s-video, and composite), this could end up getting really irritating. I expect that I’ll end up using my sound card’s audio input at some point when I want to quickly switch between, say, s-video and component devices.
During my testing, I ended up trying 1080i on the Wii U (I also tried 1080p, which definitely does not work). You can do 60 FPS, but what I found is that the interlacing is so bad that it drove me crazy. I tried using a de-interlacing filter, but that only did so much. When you view the video on YouTube, it only looks acceptable because the conversion to 30 FPS did helpful things. Given that I’m only going to be streaming at 720p anyway, I personally don’t mind playing at 720p as well. An upside to that is that there’s a bit less of a delay when playing.
I thought that if this capture card was going to have any major downside, it would be in the form of massive delays which would make playing the game on the same screen as you’re capturing impossible. I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong. While there is a bit of a delay, especially at higher resolutions, it’s low enough that you can still play most games fairly comfortably. I wouldn’t want to play a fast-paced FPS game this way, however.
To measure the delay, I set up a situation where I could see the captured video and regular video at once. I then recorded a video at 60FPS (using an external camera) and performed an action with an obvious result on screen. Then I stepped through the video frame by frame and compared how many frames it took for the captured video to catch up.
|Component||720×480||60Hz||(will measure later)|
Since I have experience with the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD, I can say that these delays more or less line up with what I have experienced using that card (though 1080i might be a bit slower with the HD881).
The one thing that the Live Gamer HD has though is an HDMI pass-through, which will ensure that there’s no additional lag. Realistically, I can’t fault Oupree for not having the same, when you consider the lack of space available for a third HDMI port on the panel of the card. I suppose they could have worked around it, but you’d have to sacrifice either the low-profile size or have a double-wide panel.
I had an issue with the card where I was having trouble viewing the inputs for both S-video and composite. Since I had purchased the card through eBay, I contacted them through there, and eventually had an email exchange with a fellow handling support. Emailing him during his business hours, he was always prompt to respond and offered to use TeamViewer to check that I had my settings correct. I was concerned that I may end up having to send back the card, but in the end, the card randomly started working. I still don’t know why it wasn’t working previously, or if it might randomly stop working again, but right now I’m happy.
My experience with capture cards has taught me that your experience with your card will be very luck-driven. You may have some unforeseen compatibility issue, or you may have trouble with the drivers (it’s happened a lot with the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD). The HD881 from Oupree is no different. When it works, it works fairly well, assuming your needs fall into a specific range. When it doesn’t work, it’s basically a brick.
So it’s really up to you to decide whether or not you want to take the risk. If $100 is a lot of money to you, you may want to find a card that is available from a local supplier so you can easily return or exchange it. Considering how bad my experience could have been, I’m actually quite pleased with the result.