As gamers we all know that capturing video game footage has steadily become one of the most popular endeavours going. With YouTube having risen to its grandest heights, everyone wants the chance to record their best GTA V stunts or C.O.D Kill Cams.
With so many capture devices on the market though, it’s a minefield of brands, models, connections and prices!
Thankfully we’re here to help and after spending some serious time with the AVerMedia ExtremeCap U3, putting it well and truly through its paces, that high end device you’re looking for which doesn't blow a hole in your wallet might well have arrived.
Before I dive right into the gory details, you’ll need to be aware that the U3 is a USB 3.0 compatible device only and requires some fairly serious processing power to get going so if you’re a YouTuber who likes to run things of a MacBook Air or something similar, then you’re sadly out of luck and better off looking elsewhere.
There is a handy tool on AverMedias website which will test your compatibility, something which I would urge you to do before diving in and buying the U3.
If you’re confident that your rig can handle the ExtremeCap U3, then you’ll find it an extremely easy device to get going. Simply hook a HDMI cable from the U3 into your console of choice and then connect the U3 to your PC and thats it. You’re ready to record!
The ExtremeCap U3 offers 1080p 60fps recording straight to your computer with live monitoring through RECentral, AverMedias in-house capture software, which is completely lag free. Something I was originally hesitant to read but has rung true in all my time with it.
Essentially this means you can use your PC rig as your main display and If you’ve spent hundreds on an amazing iMac or PC Monitor then its only logical you’d want to use it as your gaming screen too, so its great to see the U3 making this an affordable and extremely simple process.
Theres some serious downsides to be noted however.
Firstly, if you’re live streaming with a virtual camera or some means of displaying your pretty face on screen as you play, it’ll take up some of your game screen and block it from view. Not a huge deal but something that can become quite frustrating from time to time.
Another big issue which could be a deal breaker for some, is the lack of HDMI pass through, meaning if you're used to playing C.O.D on your 46” LED TV as it records to your computer, then once again you’ll be out of luck with the ExtremeCap U3.
Sure, you can work around this by purchasing a HDMI splitter, but I always find it difficult to sing the praises of a product that needs to be modified or have accessories purchased on top, in order for it to do what you need it to.
RECentral is free to download and while it’s light on features its simple enough to use and offers a smooth experience over all. Voice commentary can be captured at the same time while being saved as a separate file which is a nice touch. You’ll also be happy to find a TimeShift function that allows you to rewind and start recording from buffered footage.
Experienced streamers will find it hard to get used to, considering it’s lack of tools but you’ll find a few months of free membership to XSplit Broadcaster, a fairly impressive streaming suite that AVermedia are partnered with, which offers tweaks such as dynamic text and 3D backgrounds to spice up your next stream. For those just starting out though, you wont have any complaints with RECentral.
So how does this little black box stand up next to its contemporaries in the beauty pageant?
Well, the ExtremeCap U3 is a small, glossy black box with a single LED on the edge and 3 ports in the back (HDMI, USB 3.0 and Mini USB for the supplied component cable) . It’s somewhat larger than the Elgato HD60 and considerably weightier, coming in at 345g, but it looks nice and would sit happily next to any game console or PC rig.
Capture quality is of course the most important thing here and providing you’ve jumped all the hurdles of compatibility and lack of HDMI pass through, you’ll get some solid performance from the ExtremeCap U3 as it captures 108p at 60 frames per second with ease.
Compatible with almost all consoles, the U3 can handle non-HDCP-protected signals such as the Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PS4 (once the settings are tweaked) while protected devices such as the Playstation 3 will require the use of a component video adapter which comes supplied.
Capturing footage withe the ExtremeCap U3 was flawless and simple. Recording footage from the Xbox One, PS4, Wii U and PC was a smooth experience with streaming just as satisfying.
The problems here however aren't with the capture quality so much as the process itself. If you’re happy to use one monitor for capture and play and you have a robust computer set up, then the ExtremeCap U3 is a great little device at a decent price. If like many of us you need something to use on the go with your laptop and need HDMI pass through, then you simply need to look elsewhere.
Overall the ExtremeCap U3 is a good device that's unfortunately only suited to one group of players.