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Budget HDMI Video Capture Card for OBS Studio

As part of the project “Live video streaming: low budget studio with OBS” I was looking for a cheap HDMI capture card to use video signals from cameras and laptops as a video source on a PC with OBS Studio. Common brands and types are often quite expensive, the cheapest budget HDMI capture cards go for 60 to 80 euros. Until recently on my favorite Chinese webshop, Banggood came across a number of new copies, the cheapest of which costs just 10 euros.

The HDMI video grabber for OBS Studio on Banggood
The HDMI video grabber for OBS Studio on Banggood

The device in question is an aluminum USB dongle (USB 2) with a full-size HDMI input. A USB-A to USB-C adapter is included, as well as a user manual. Drivers are not required, the dongle is automatically recognized and supported. There is no brand name on the packaging or in the manual, but sometimes the dongle is sold under brand names such as “GOODAN” or “BlueAVS”.

Budget HDMI Video Capture Card for OBS Studio: Unboxing
Budget HDMI Video Capture Card for OBS Studio: Unboxing

The specifications according to the different websites are as follows:

  • HD Resolution: Max input can support 3840×[email protected] / 4K
  • Video Output Resolution: Max output can be 1920×[email protected]
  • Video Input Format: 8 / 10 / 12-bit Deep Color
  • Video Output Mode: YUV / JPEG
  • Support Audio Format: L-PCM

And also the following comments:

  • Support most acquisition software, such as VLC, OBS, Amcap, etc .;
  • Support Windows, Android and Mac;
  • Comply with USB video UVC specifications;
  • Conforms to USB audio UAC specifications;

Whether this is all correct, we will see in this blog.

Rave reviews

These capture cards have not gone unnoticed in the live video streaming scene. EposVox, among others, has made a video about it in which he tests the device. In it, he also quotes Arsenio Dev, who opens the dongle to see what exactly is inside.

They (and many others on YouTube) come to the conclusion that this video capture adapter offers a lot of value for money, and is not inferior to more expensive comparable devices from famous brands.

Of course, to see if the dongle I received from Banggood is the same, I had to open it.

HDMI video grabber: PCB layout
HDMI video grabber: PCB layout

It not only looks the same on the outside but is also identical on the inside. It is even slightly newer, the PCB shows version 1.6 of 22-05-2020. Then quickly screw it back together and see how this device performs in practice.

Budget HDMI video capture card in practice

Installing in Windows 10 is easy. As soon as you connect the dongle, it is automatically recognized and is ready for use after a few seconds. In “device manager” you will see it under “Cameras” as “USB Video”.

Windows Device manager
Windows Device manager

When you open the Windows 10 Camera app, you should see the dongle’s color bars as long as nothing is plugged into the HDMI input.

Colorbars in Windows 10 camera app (no signal)
Colorbars in Windows 10 camera app (no signal)

In OBS Studio you can then add the dongle to a Scene as a “Video capture device”. Then choose the device “USB Video” and use the following settings:

  • Resolution/FPS type: Custom
  • Resolution: 1920×1080
  • FPS: 30
  • Video format: MJPEG
  • Color space: 709
  • Color range: Partial
  • Check “Use custom audio device
  • Audio device: USB Digital Audio
Budget HDMI Video Capture Card for OBS Studio: Windows Settings
Budget HDMI Video Capture Card for OBS Studio: Windows Settings

An alternative to webcams during COVID-19

A video capture card is a useful addition to any (streaming) video studio. Especially now that there is a scarcity of webcams because of Corona (COVID-19) and prices are often much higher than normal, it can also be an interesting alternative to a normal USB camera. With a capture card (or “frame grabber”) you can use other cameras with a video output as a webcam, for example, a DSLR, (GoPro) action cam, digital compact camera or handycam.