Webcams that can capture images on 1080p and 60 frames per second can be expensive, like the $170 Logitech StreamCam or $200 Razer Kiyo Pro† There’s a good reason for this, as 60fps is a niche feature that’s best paired with video game visuals. Unless you’re a game streamer, you probably don’t need it. But game streaming is also becoming more accessible than ever from a technical point of viewthat’s why budget 60fps cameras like AverMedia’s new PW315 webcam are so appealing.
At $119, the AverMedia is still more expensive than 30fps alternatives, but it’s much closer to casual-use cameras like the Logitech C920 than other more professional-focused 60fps options. It also works well in a variety of lighting scenarios and comes with some nice, but somewhat useful, post-processing software. However, the camera’s image quality seems to have taken a dent, along with the price.
Well lit room
Razer Kiyo Pro
AverMedia PW315 Webcam
I tested the AverMedia PW315 in a well-lit room next to both the $79 Logitech C920 and the $200 Razer Kiyo Pro, and in this scenario, the camera disappointed me the most. While the 95-degree lens captured more of my background than its competitors (and without the fish-eye effect present on the wide-angle options of the Kiyo Pro), the AverMedia was the only camera to show graininess in the standard, most optimal lighting conditions of my room. While photos taken with it look good scaled down or from a distance, zooming in shows heavy pixelation, to such an extent that I’d forgive you for thinking you’re looking at a 720p photo.
That’s a shame, because the AverMedia webcam is also one of the few webcams I’ve tested that has near-perfect color accuracy out of the box. Unlike the C920, my skin doesn’t look cooler than usual, and unlike the Kiyo Pro, it doesn’t look warmer either. But again, a lower image quality makes everyone look better.
Low light room
Razer Kiyo Pro
AverMedia PW315 Webcam
I also tested the AverMedia PW315 in the afternoon with my curtains drawn, my door closed, and all artificial light sources turned off except my monitor. The result? It looked better! Unlike the Logitech C920, which introduces some blur and saps low-light image quality somewhat, the AverMedia’s image quality looks relatively unchanged. But in addition, despite fewer light sources, my face looks brighter and colors look even more beautiful than before.
In contrast, the Razer Kiyo Pro gives a more lifelike image that is more like what the light in my room looked like with my naked eyes when shooting photos. Picture quality is still way ahead of both competitors, but if you want your dark rooms to look better lit than they actually are, the AverMedia seems to do the trick.
It is a pity that the grain continued to exist here as well.
Logitech C920 Webcam
Razer Kiyo Pro Webcam
AverMedia PW315 Webcam
Finally, I tested the AverMedia PW315 in an overexposed room, pointing my camera directly at my window. I wouldn’t normally expect accurate shots of this situation, but instead use it to see how well each camera responds to highly lit situations. For example, you can see some of the Kiyo Pro’s light sensor technology at work in the overexposed shot, as it shows more of the world outside my window than any other camera here, albeit at the cost of seeing my face. †
However, the AverMedia shocked me by being the only one of the three cameras that accurately shows my face in overexposed conditions. As with my low-light shots, I probably look better here. In contrast, I have so much shadow covering my face in the Logitech and Razer photos that I almost seem demonic.
Yes, the grain of AverMedia is still present in these shots, but it doesn’t matter. It was the only camera that gave me anything useful in such bright light.
The AverMedia PW315 has a thin, cylindrical design that feels lightweight and cheap, but offers plenty of adjustability when it comes to camera placement. The camera can tilt up and down and rotate 360 degrees. There is a hole on the bottom of the monitor mount for mounting it on a tripod, and it fits snugly whether you place it on a monitor or a tripod. The USB Type-A cord is 56.5 inches long, which also gave me plenty of room to attach it to a front or back port on my desktop.
The AverMedia PW315 also had a built-in sliding privacy shutter, plus dual microphones that tend to produce loud but tinny and echo-filled sound.
As with most webcams, there is also an LED that lights up on the AverMedia PW315 while recording.
The AverMedia PW315 webcam is a color-accurate webcam that can withstand both high and low-light environments, but suffers in quality more than I’d expect from the $119 price. But special features are where this webcam makes its best argument for itself. makes. makes. Unlike most 60fps webcams, which cost between $50 and 80 more than the AverMedia PW315, this camera can capture high frame rate footage on a budget.
And to the PW315’s credit, those claims held up through my testing. When I navigated to OBS, turned on 60fps recording and took a video, I could easily see the obvious increase in frame rate without even trying. The video also took up only 20MB more MB on my hard drive than a normal 30fps video, and the extra frames helped make up for the lack of image quality, as the camera’s footage looked best in motion.
The other special feature of the AverMedia PW315 is its compatibility with AverMedia’s CamEngine software. You can use CamEngine to adjust the brightness, gamma, and other settings of your photos, although most of these features are available in other software like OBS and produce similar results there as well.
But one facet of CamEngine unique to the AverMedia PW315 is the ability to enable AI framing, which attempts to track you as you move, similar to the autoframe feature in Nvidia broadcast† It’s an impressive utility, but I found it too slow and bulky for regular use. A little more convenient is the ability to adjust the frame and zoom in manually, although it’s possible to easily get negative space in your photos if you’re not careful.
CamEngine also has some cute, Snapchat-esque virtual masks that you can place over your face. Face tracking works surprisingly well here, even if you turn your head to the side, although there’s no real reason to use it over Snapchat’s free and more versatile software.
AverMedia is known for its capture cards, and with products like the AverMedia PW315, it’s clear that the company has ambitions to go beyond components and peripherals, albeit in a much busier space. It will have to ramp up image quality if it wants to compete with the best webcamsI
There are some unique benefits to the AverMedia PW315. It is one of the cheaper [email protected] webcams from a well-known manufacturer on the market, and it can withstand both low-light and over-exposed environments. The software also gives it a bit more customizability than your typical webcam, although much of its usability is perfunctory.
But the images are also grainy and very grainy. It’s a problem for a $119 camera to have such drastically lower quality than a $79 competitor, especially when the 60fps selling point is so niche. If you are looking for a good webcam for casual use and you are confident about the lighting in your room, you can do better for a lower price. Meanwhile, if you’re looking to stream at 60fps, it might be worth spending the extra $80 on something like the Razer Kiyo Pro or Logitech Brio 4K to give your audience a more enjoyable viewing experience.