When it comes to capture cards, consumers don’t have much of a choice as every option appears to be largely the same. Providing you have a powerful enough computer, most cards these days can handle capturing 1080p-60FPS with relative ease. What if you don’t have a powerful computer but still want to capture footage from modern consoles? Well, your options become far more limited. Enter the AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus (LGP2 Plus), a capture box that can be used with and without the use of a PC.
There have been PC-free capture cards released over the last few years, but only recently have these cards been able to record both 1080p and 60FPS footage. The LGP2 Plus is not only capable of recording at 1080p-60FPS, the latest addition to this device includes 4K pass-through, allowing you to play at 4K-60 while recording the footage as usual. Just to clarify, this does not allow you to record at 4K, it simply means you can play your games as normal at 4K while capturing 1080p-60 footage.
We have been doing freelance games writing work for a few years now, and this entire time we’ve had to lug our laptops to every preview event we’ve been to. Providing you own a powerful laptop with a big battery, the only compromise you’d have to make with PC-required capture cards is that you have to carry around said laptop along with a charger. For trips out where you will be spending a long time on public transport, having to carry around this much equipment can be a real pain. With the LGP2 Plus, we should never encounter this problem ever again.
The LGP2 Plus comes with a USB cable to plug it into a computer, a 3.5mm audio cable to record a commentary track on top of the captured footage, and an HDMI 2.0 cable. In order to use the device without a computer, you need to ensure the LGP2 Plus is plugged into a USB port that will provide it with enough power. We’ve tried USBs on the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro and both worked without any issues. If you haven’t updated all of your HDMI 2.0 cables, you will want to be careful with this one. Setting up the LGP2 Plus without HDMI 2.0s will break the 4K signal, making it impossible to capture any footage. Should you start to encounter any issues during setup, guaranteeing that you are using the newer, fancy HDMI cables should be one of your first steps.
With regards to build quality, the LGP2 is very much what you would expect for a £140 capture device. It’s nicely weighted without feeling too bulky and has a non-slip surface on the bottom. The outer casing is made of black and red plastic with a matte finish to avoid showing too many greasy fingerprints. The button in the middle also features a light that will glow either red or blue to signify when the device is recording. It’s also very small, making it easy to transport in a small bag or backpack.
Just like every capture card, the LGP2 Plus features an HDMI In and HDMI Out port on the back. You’ve also got the MicroSD card slot and Micro USB port to power the device. By utilising the LGP2 Plus’ MicroSD card slot at the back of the device, users are able to capture gameplay directly to the capture box. It’s important to note that you will need a fast MicroSD card to do this (Class 10 and above) or else it will not be able to record anything. You can avoid this issue entirely by plugging the LGP2 Plus into a reasonably powerful computer (i5-3xxx CPU, recommended is an i7, 4GB RAM, GTX 650/AMD R7 250X).
The LGP2 Plus only took a few minutes to learn how to use before we had basically mastered it, though that’s only because there are two or three things you will ever do with it. Recording without a PC is simple: switch the LGP2 Plus to PC-Free mode at the front of the device, press the glowing blue button to see it change to a static red light, when you are finished press the button again and wait for it to switch blue. That’s literally all there is to it. Switching to PC mode is just as easy: move the slider over at the front of the device to PC mode and repeat the steps above.
There are a few variables to understand just in case you have to deal with HDCP or you’ve accidentally used HDMI 1.0 cables on your 4K setup, but these error messages are very easy to understand. We had some problems with HDCP on the Xbox One X, but this was solved with a restart of the console. In addition to this, the RECentral software allows you to customise these error messages if you dislike the default setup.
One of our initial concerns rested on whether the LGP2 Plus would be able to draw enough power from the USBs on modern consoles. Fortunately, all three powered the capture card without any hassle. Just in case the USBs are all in use, we would suggest carrying around a USB plug (the kind you get with any phone) in these rare instances. You should only need to use this in a worst case scenario, however, as even our TV’s USB ports were powerful enough to get the device up and running.
As for the quality of the game capture, I am very impressed by how good the footage turned out without using a PC compared to the HD60S we’ve been using. Side by side, it would be difficult to pick the two a part. In regards to the file size, about an hour of gameplay equated to around 9GB of space, leaving you with plenty of memory left after a recording session. Of course, this will vary depending on what you’re recording. We recommend picking up at least a 64GB MicroSD card, that way you shouldn’t find yourself having to format your card after every session.
AVerMedia’s bundled software, RECentral, has gotten a lot better over the years but it still isn’t perfect. We had a number of crashes occur during recording sessions, something that hasn’t happened at all while using the PC-free mode. Fortunately, AVerMedia allow users to pick any DirectShow compliant software they like for streaming and recording gameplay. As a result, we opted for the much more stable OBS which has removed the RECentral problems we mentioned earlier.
Unlike Elgato’s HD60S, the LGP2 Plus cannot display the gameplay on your computer in realtime as it only supports USB 2.0 speeds. You can still capture gameplay without any lag, you just need to have the HDMI Out cable connected to the device and into a monitor. With USB 3.0, Elgato are able to send and receive data a lot faster to the computer, enabling what they call ‘Instant Game View’. This is somewhat disappointing omission as Instant Game View is a handy feature on the HD60S. However, the main reason why a lot of people will be buying the LGP2 Plus is the PC-free capture anyway, making this feature redundant.
It’s also worth mentioning that the LGP2 records files in the .MOV format, which can cause some issues if you’re then planning on editing the capture using Adobe Premiere Pro. This format is no longer supported by Premiere Pro, so we recommend changing the file extension from .MOV to .MP4 before importing the capture into Premiere. While this only takes a few seconds, per clip, it’s still an extra step that wasn’t necessary with the HD60S.
As of right now, there are only two more upgrades AVerMedia could make to improve this product further. These include HDR pass-through and the ability to record 4K-60FPS. That said, these two changes alone would probably triple the price of the LGP2 Plus, putting it far beyond our price range. For the price (£140), there isn’t a better PC-free capture card on the market. If you need to regularly capture gameplay but hate having to take your laptop with you, there’s no better device available for the money. As game critics who have to go to events semi-regularly, this is the perfect device for our job.