6.5

AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme 3 Review

A rock solid option for HD gamers but doesn't quite hit the mark for powerful 4K capture.

A familiar brand in the world of game capture, AverMedia are back with their latest plug and play capture card, the Live Gamer Extreme 3. A quick reply to the Elgato HD60 X released earlier this year, the Live Gamer Extreme 3 becomes the second in the market to offer gamers variable refresh rate support.

Headlined by 4K30 capture with 4K60 HDR passthrough, the spec sheet makes the Live Gamer Extreme 3 a pretty attractive option for console gamers. It’s an eye-catching price point too, launching at $169.99/£159.99 (check latest prices) it’s nearly 20% cheaper than the HD60 X (check latest prices) and could shape up to give Elgato a serious competitor.

simply put

The AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme 3 is a decent choice for an external capture card but starts to struggle when things get ramped up. As a plug-and-play option it does a great job for HD gamers and streamers.

the good bits

Convenient plug and play option
4K and variable refresh rate support
Passthrough performance is strong
Cheaper than other options

the not so good bits

Starts to struggle at high resolution
No HDR capture

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AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme 3 External Capture Card

design

It’s safe to say AverMedia have a bit of experience when it comes to making capture cards. The snappily named AverMedia GC551G2 Live Gamer Extreme 3 is the eighteenth capture card in their range, which probably explains the need for the lengthy product title. 

As you’d expect from a plug and play USB capture card it’s a relatively non-descript black plastic box. It’s not the most premium feeling device, it’s a little light and hollow and handling the Elgato HD60 X feels more like a near $200 purchase.

Across the back of the card you’ll find HDMI in, HDMI out passthrough, USB-C for outputting to PC and two 3.5mm connectors for feeding audio in and out. A capture card like this is likely to be pretty set and forget for most gamers so having all connections tucked away on the same side makes neat cable management achievable in a pretty small footprint. 

AverMedia have made one misstep though that I found incredibly annoying during testing. Along the top of the card is a status LED, it’s about an inch long and it’s simply obnoxious. When the Live Gamer Extreme 3 is powered and receiving an HDMI signal the LED sits as a stable blue beam which I’ll admit actually is in keeping with the little bit of design work on top of the card. Turn your console off though and that status light is going to angrily flash red at you until you yank out the USB cable to kill the power supply. It’s a redundant, annoying blemish that just doesn’t need to be there – there’s now a strip of black electrical tape over mine.

performance

I got off to a rocky start with the GC551G2. Plugging it in for the first time wreaked havoc with my other USB devices which all panicked and then reconnected with varying degrees of success. My troubles continued for around a week too with the Live Gamer Extreme 3 continually preventing Windows from booting if it was connected before powering on. It seemed to settle in and the issues faded in time, and of course this issue could be on my PC side rather than the card itself, but I had no similar blips when using the Elgato HD60 X.

Even when things were all playing nicely the Live Gamer Extreme 3 was a frustrating hit and miss experience.

At the lower end of intensity it performed reliably and admirably. Taking a 1080p signal from a Nintendo Switch the card was rock solid with no input lag and clean visuals. Even without using passthrough and playing via the OBS preview it replicated a normal TV experience well and I’ve got no complaints with what it output to stream.

Paired with an Xbox Series X however the Live Gamer Extreme 3 didn’t fare so well. At full 4K resolution the LGE3 refused to let me use HDMI passthrough and capture at the same time, greeting me with an awfully unhelpful ‘Not Supported’ message in RECentral and OBS. After some settings trial and error I found my options were no passthrough to capture in 4K or to drop the Xbox to 1440p to get passthrough and a capture signal simultaneously. That’s certainly not ideal. 

The passthrough signal looked great though, with zero noticeable latency I could comfortably game without considering there was an encoder in the middle. The headline variable refresh rate support works well and I noticed no artefacts or screen tearing while gaming. The same was true playing off the preview in RECentral and OBS, though trying to record 4K30fps via my Surface Laptop 3 caused massive input lag and AV sync problems. That likely says more about my machine than the card itself, but it’s a point to note for streamers looking for a solution without a gaming PC.

The Live Gamer Extreme 3 supports HDR in passthrough, unlike the Elgato HD60 X it can only capture in SDR and the tone mapping on offer was underwhelming. Colours became washed out and everything felt overly bright and lacking in detail, I resorted to turning off HDR in the Xbox system settings which did improve things.

summed up

The AverMedia Live Gamer Extreme 3 promises a lot at first but falls down in a few key areas that keep it behind the game. Ultimately whether the Live Gamer Extreme 3 is a better choice than other market leaders like the Elgato HD60 X will come down to intended use. 

While it’s a strong set and forget option for simpler sources like 1080p gaming from a Nintendo Switch, issues with higher resolutions make it hard to recommend for next gen gaming. 

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