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HDMI 2.1 Capture Cards: Everything You Need to Know

HDMI 2.1 Capture Cards: Everything You Need to Know

“I’ve been waiting three years to make this video. When I was expecting these capture cards to start releasing, my kid was just being born and now he’s walking and talking and doing his own thing. HDMI 2.1 capture cards are finally coming. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, that means 4K 120 and 144Hz pass-through from the next generation of consoles, the PlayStation 5, the Xbox Series X, and multiple generations of graphics cards. Now it means capturing it in 4K 60 over USB for the first time, pretty much ever. This is a big deal, even though it doesn’t seem like it, and I’m kind of a little disappointed. Here’s everything you need to know.

HDMI 2.1 Capture Card Announcements

Now, let’s talk about HDMI 2.1 capture cards. This past week was Computex, a big tech showcase event, kind of like CES, that takes place in Taiwan. I never go to this because ditching my wife and kids to spend a week in Taiwan getting the same news that I could just get over the internet or have review samples in hand that I’ll get a couple weeks later is never really worth it. But we did get some announcements and a couple of videos of hands-on with some new capture cards.

First and foremost was AVerMedia, out the gate with their announcements. Now, we did have a leak a little bit before this, which actually featured three capture cards, and we’ve only had announcements for two. But the first two that they announced are the AVerMedia Live Gamer 4K 2.1 and the Live Gamer Ultra 2.1. These are updates to their PCIe and USB cards, respectively, that add HDMI 2.1 pass-through support. So, that’s 4K 120 and 144Hz pass-through for the next generation of consoles over HDMI. We have been desperately waiting for capture cards to support the spec since the new consoles’ releases in Fall of 2020.

Everyone with their new fancy 4K 120Hz OLED monitors and their new consoles have been wanting a way to keep their TVs’ format while streaming. And in terms of capture card support, this has not existed. We were given very sparse details, and in fact, we didn’t find out until the Short Circuit video on AVerMedia’s Twitter page when they responded to a comment, saying that it’s actually HDMI 2.1 over USB 3.0, not PCIe. I’m guessing it’s because it was a whole lot easier to engineer this than to come up with a new PCIe capture card. It sounds like you’ll be able to pass HDMI 2.1 over USB 3.0 with a Thunderbolt 3 to PCIe 3.0 adapter, which is kind of wild.”

Features and Expectations

As for the features that we can expect from these cards, we don’t have a whole lot of information. AVerMedia hasn’t released detailed spec sheets for these cards yet. We’re kind of relying on the YouTube videos that AVerMedia has released and also some other random footage that people have found. The AVerMedia Live Gamer 4K 2.1, the PCIe card, has two HDMI inputs and one HDMI output, and it has a small form factor, which is nice. The Live Gamer Ultra 2.1, the USB card, has one HDMI input and one HDMI output. It also has a small form factor, which is kind of cool. But it’s interesting because if you look at the capture cards, the HDMI ports are very close to each other, and it’s unclear if you’ll be able to fit two full-size HDMI connectors in there at the same time, especially if you have like a locking HDMI cable or something like that.

There were also some comments in the AVerMedia YouTube videos that mentioned that the Ultra 2.1 will only be able to capture at 1440p 60 and 1080p 60. But again, these are just comments, and it’s unclear if that is actual confirmed information. It’s possible that this information could be incorrect or outdated, so we’ll have to wait for more official details from AVerMedia to know for sure.

One interesting thing that was mentioned in the YouTube videos is that the AVerMedia capture cards will work with the AVerMedia Gaming app instead of the RECentral app. The Gaming app is their newer app that’s available on iOS and Android, and it allows you to do things like streaming and recording directly from your smartphone or tablet. The Gaming app also has a built-in streaming service called GameNow, which allows you to stream your gameplay to an audience. So, it seems like AVerMedia is trying to promote the use of their Gaming app with these new capture cards.

Expectations and Concerns

As for the expectations and concerns regarding these new capture cards, there are a few things that the creator raises. One is the lack of detailed information about the cards. AVerMedia has not provided spec sheets or comprehensive details about these cards, which leaves users with limited knowledge about their capabilities and features. It’s important to have clarity on factors like HDR support and the HDMI 2.1 input’s ability to handle 4K 60, even if the capture is done at 1440p 60. The creator expresses optimism but also mentions previous issues with AVerMedia’s quality control, such as driver problems, build quality, card failures, and overheating. However, they acknowledge that their experience with the original Live Gamer 4K has been positive, giving them hope for these new cards.

In conclusion, the HDMI 2.1 capture cards represent a significant development for capturing and streaming content from next-gen consoles and high-refresh-rate displays. The availability of 4K 120 and 144Hz pass-through is highly anticipated by gamers and content creators alike. However, the lack of comprehensive information and concerns about potential issues raise some cautionary notes. It remains to be seen how well these capture cards will perform and if they will meet the expectations of users.

That wraps up the discussion on HDMI 2.1 capture cards. Stay tuned for more updates and details as they become available!

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