It’s finally here! A mainstream capture card that will allow content creators and streamers to leverage HDMI 2.1 for both high-quality capture and pass-through. With the Live Gamer ULTRA 2.1, AVerMedia is here to fulfill the needs of gamers looking for the simplest way to capture and enjoy high resolutions and frame rates across PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and other consoles. How does it fare? Find out in my AVerMedia Live Gamer ULTRA 2.1 review.
Set up and go
AVerMedia provides everything you need in the box. There’s the unit itself, a short HDMI cable, a 3.5mm to 3.5mm wire, and a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C cable. With so many cables out there with confusing and widely different specs, it’s good to see AVerMedia going the extra mile here.
The Live Gamer ULTRA 2.1 itself looks great, with an angular aesthetic that I really like. It’s impressively small and lightweight, too, which is a great combination for portability. While users may associate heft with feeling like quality, I like my capture cards easy to move around and mount, so the 115g weight is appreciated.
Check your PC’s ports
Upon plugging the device into a supported USB-C port, preferably with 10Gbps support for optimal compatibility for full 4K 60 FPS capture, the Live Gamer ULTRA 2.1 comes alive and lights up with a bright rainbow wave pattern. For fans of RGB, this is surely going to excite you, but, for everyone else, you’ll need to download AVerMedia’s software to customize the lighting and lower the brightness.
The AVerMedia software is well worth installing anyway for full customization and a handy capture tool for easy capture, especially when it comes to HDR. Alternatively, OBS is an option, and what I primarily use for game capture and streaming.
Pairing the AVerMedia Live Gamer ULTRA 2.1 with a system is simple enough, as the HDMI 2.1 In accepts PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and older systems. The 3.5mm input and output are there for easy game chat capture, though users of USB headsets will have to find a workaround.
From there, you’ll need an HDMI 2.1-supported monitor to truly leverage the power of this capture card and benefit from the maximum output resolution and frame rates while also recording at that glorious 4K 60 FPS.
- Interface USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (10Gbps)
- Input & Output (Pass-through) HDMI 2.1
- Max Pass-Through Resolution: 2160p144 HDR/VRR, 1440p144 HDR/VRR, 1080p240 HDR/VRR (1440p240 pass-through and additional resolutions will be available via firmware upgrade)
- Max Recording Resolution 2160p60
- Supported Resolution: 2160p, 1440p, 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 576p, 576i, 480p, 480i
- Video Format YUY2, NV12, RGB24, P010(HDR)
- Audio Input & Output (Headset and Gamepad) 4-Pole 3.5mm Jack
- Dimension (W x D x H) 120 x 70 x 27.6 mm (4.72 x 2.76 x 1.09 in.)
- Weight 115 g (4.06 oz.)
Previously, I had used the AVerMedia Live Gamer BOLT to enable high-resolution and high-frame-rate capture on an external device. While that was good, the Thunderbolt connection required is rather rare, certainly when compared to USB-C.
With specs like this, the Live Gamer ULTRA 2.1 could very well be the final capture card that you need. It fulfills everything that I need to capture without compromising my experience. Before getting this card, I would have had to sacrifice either resolution, frame rate, HDR, or VRR, but that isn’t an issue anymore. No longer do I have to suffer a disadvantage when streaming competitive first-person shooters, as the gameplay feels just as responsive whether I’m capturing or not.
As is now expected from high-end capture cards targeted at gamers, the Live Gamer ULTRA 2.1 is capable of high bit rate capture for hitting even the high limits of YouTube with its 85 Mbps recommendation for 4K 60 FPS HDR uploads. Rest assured that you will have the best-looking capture available, all while enjoying the unhindered pass-through.
What could be next? Well, an additional HDMI 2.1 input would be nice for a camera, and I would love to see PC-free capture supported with an SD card slot (though I realize the difficulties with implementing this without the price skyrocketing). As for an internal solution for inside PCs, well AVerMedia has already confirmed that the Live Gamer 4K 2.1 is on the way!
At $299, the AVerMedia Live Gamer ULTRA 2.1 enters the market at a compelling price point, one that many creators are no doubt going to jump on. And rightly so, as this unit is a game-changer when it comes to capturing without compromise. Though there are some niche scenarios that could limit ultrawide users, for the other 99% of creators, the Live Gamer ULTRA 2.1 could be all you need for the foreseeable future.
Disclosure: Live Gamer ULTRA 2.1 review sample provided by AVerMedia.