Friday, 9 January 2015

StarTech USB3HDCAP Review

Update for April 2015: Thanks to charliecharlo on the shmups forum who discovered you can actually use the Micomsoft drivers with this device. It should fix all the issues I described in this review and I'd highly recommend this capture card if you don't need the passthrough or can't get an internal card.

Update for May 2015: I've compiled a modified driver for this device that uses the latest Micomsoft drivers. I thought it was silly making everyone do the same thing by just having a tutorial.

Download is here from Google Drive.

It includes a readme.txt but I'll copy/paste it here also.

Release and readme by: TheThrillness
Credit for figuring this out: charliecharlo

What is this?
This is a preconfigured driver that will allow you to use the Micomsoft drivers with the USB3HDCAP.

What changed?
I copied the [ENTRY] and [ENTRY.NTamd64] sections of CY3014.INF from the Startech drivers to the Micomsoft drivers (charliecharlo's idea).
I did this for both 32 bit and 64 bit operating systems but most likely you only want the 64 bit folder.

Do I just install these?
There is more steps depending on your situation.

1. Uninstall any existing USB3HDCAP drivers using Device Manager. (It's under 'Sound, video, and game controllers') - Obviously only do this if you have ones lying around.
2. Restart your computer and allow it to install unsigned drivers.

Windows 8.1 guide:
Windows 7 guide:

3. Use DPInst.exe in the Micomsoft drivers and allow installation when Windows warns you.

Why do I want this over the StarTech one?
Many bugs were fixed. Ones I have identified:

1. 0-255 and 16-235 levels switching actually works.
2. The NTSC_M_J video filter (and others) now work. This gets you correct black level for retro consoles when capturing over Composite/S-Video.
3. The 100% CPU bug is now officially fixed in these drivers (only for Windows 8). Yuan originally fixed this in the 2013/11/8 drivers but only for one power plan.
More info here:

Original review below:

The joys of getting and reviewing new capture hardware... hooray!

Let's go over the package contents:

1. The device itself
2. A very short USB3 cable
3. Composite/S-Video breakout cable
4. Component breakout cable
5. VGA to DVI adapter
6. Software/driver CD
7. Instruction booklet

Installation is as easy as it gets. Install the driver and connect the USB3 cable. You will be greeted with what I would say is a slightly too bright LED to confirm the device is powered on and working. The driver confirms that it was written by Yuan.

The first thing I wanted to check was the claim of 1080p60 as this is the primary selling point of the unit. Let's connect the 360 up via HDMI and open AmaRecTV.

Click to enlarge
I played for about 20 minutes and recorded multiple videos. I encountered 0 dropped frames. Click here for a 1080p60 4:2:2 encoded file using Yua.

Click to enlarge
I was really skeptical of this working. I've had really bad issues with the Intensity Shuttle dropping frames even with 480i content. I guess this just shows how bad the USB3 controller inside the Shuttle is. That thing couldn't even do 1080p60. This device takes 1080p60 and eats it for breakfast. The only small issue I noticed was that the display frame rate will sometimes dip below 58 fps. This is probably a slight data transfer issue with USB3. I've never encountered this with internal cards. They usually hit 59.88, 59.94 or 60.00.

One thing I was really curious about was if the device was a remodeled XCAPTURE-1 as it shares the same USB3 controller (CY3014) and driver window. In video quality I can confirm it matches the other Micomsoft products but weirdly, the Micomsoft drivers for the XCAPTURE-1 will not work with this device.

I then went on to capture my SNES via SCART RGB/VGA and it functions exactly like the other products. I wanted to confirm it was properly handling 240p over Composite/S-Video (which it does) but I ran into an issue. I'll need this video to help me explain.

Basically, the NTSC_M setting has the wrong black level for older consoles. Setting it to NTSC_M_J is the correct option. However, this particular driver is not properly storing the change and it reverts back to NTSC_M. You're stuck with NTSC_M for everything.

Another issue I've found is that the color range option (0-255 and 16-235) in the driver does absolutely nothing regardless of connection. It's only really a problem for HDMI but it does mean the device is only currently capable of accepting and processing 16-235 source material. 0-255 will get crushed. The actual Micomsoft drivers do not have this issue so I wish they worked here.

The last thing I want to talk about is input delay/preview window lag since the device lacks pass through. I connected the device to my graphics card and opened it up in AmaRecTV. I've put one timer (WSplit) on the capture card feed and the other (LiveSplit) on my main desktop. I've configured both programs to respond to a global hotkey of pressing space to start each timer. Just a quick way I thought of to test it. Click to enlarge each picture.

1080p60 YUY2:

I wanted to see if changing the color space made a difference:

It sort of did. What about setting the capture card to 720p?

Setting the capture card to 720p gave a seemingly perfect lagless result but I wouldn't trust my crude tests. The message here is that it's fine for casual gaming but if you are speedrunning, you definitely do not want to play from the preview window which means investing in splitters and the such.

That about wraps everything up. Would I recommend this? Probably not. The only target audience I see for this is people who already have all the different splitters or just want lossless 1080p60 without having to import other products from Japan. Even then the bugs I mentioned means this product has very few practical applications and if you just want 1080p60, the AVerMedia C710 is maybe a better alternative (also cheaper).

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I can't install the driver on Windows 10 though. It fails and says Cannot complete the device driver installation wizard. Any isea? Appreciate it.