Tuesday, 21 October 2014

HDMI Capture Card PCI-E (Trident 7160 HD/ Timeleak HD72A)

So, this review was a planned one from a night of eBay browsing and even one trip into Plymouth and then finding out there are HDMI capture cards that are under £100 and are not USB based. Then it came to finding a company named Timeleak which has made some entry level Capture cards.

Named the HD72A (there is a /B version but that includes a HDMI out to a tv as well as a HDMI in), it can be able to show HDCP content as well as have confirmed compatibility with OBS.

OBS is also known as Open Broadcaster Software and its one of the best FREEWARE screen recorders I've ever used and perfect for getting started on twitch.


Now, after searching, it turns out Timeleak sell them Directly via their website. Which that is around £42 and then another £15 to £20 with postage via DHL. They do sell the card through eBay. its confusing to use the website since the totals were different and it even thought i had ordered it (but didn't pay even with a paypal option, well i don't need it haha)


Enjoy the video review below, which covers most of the content here, but this post goes into more geeky details.

The Packaging and contents

So, its a small but colourful packaging with blue, black and red on the front and back and Black and white on the sides. 
The Top of the Card. Note it says HDCP ready and also a picture of optimus prime, well an autobot anyway

This was the left side of the box

The rear end of the box

The right hand side of the box

The bottom of the box, with what it can support, a fake alienware pc, the card and a screen with bumblebee on it
Now as we get inside the box, it have not much in terms of documentation other than a folder A4 piece of paper with what the thing can do, a vauge translation of how to install drivers and also a mention on what Intel C-State is and why turning it off is a good thing (makes the computer go faster by not limiting voltages neither overclocking the CPU), there is mention of how turn C States off with a AMD CPU too. 

The only paperwork with the item
Then there is a Driver CD in the usual tiny cd format. It looks like there is no bundles software with the thing, which is sort of good since its either pirated or rubbish, ULEAD with the EasyCap was an example from some forum posts. From looking on the CD there was something called HD PVR but i will go into this later

The tiny driver CD thats is with it. 
Then you have the item, in a anti static bag, it did come with a low profile bracket as well, this might be a useful card for making a small PVR for either Youview or any other HDMI device for a home theater. 
The HDMI Capture card itself, with the LP bracket above it

The installation and setting it up.

Just as a note here, i'll list my PC spec below, this might not be vital to a perfect setup but i'm a budget but not on jobseekers kind of guy. 

  • Intel Core2Quad Q8300
  • Artic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro Rev 2
  • Gigabyte G31m-ES2L Rev 2.4
  • Corsair XMS2 2 x 2GB DDR2 800MHz
  • ASUS Radeon HD 6570 1GB DDR3
  • Basic Case
  • 500W CoolerMaster Non Modular PSU
  • Asus P7131 TV Tuner
  • 2x Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm 500GB (one for 8.1 x86, the other for Yosemite 10.10)
So it was a simple install since i only had a free PCI-E x1 slot left. This wasn't as tricky as i thought it would be, well maybe having big hands doesn't help. Since the G31m has a PCI-E x1 above the main PCI-E x16 (Graphics Card Slot), i had to take the GPU out (the video shows more trouble than what it was meant to be). But the card didn't feel firmly in at first, after i realised the metal contacts were in the slot, i was fine, its a bugger to see them in there.

The Card inside my PC, yes my wires are a tied up mess and there is a fan failing to stick with blu-tack but i am thing on a new case and even a new pc soon anyway. 

*upside down* the hdmi card as well as my hd 6570 GPU next to it

Now once i had it installed and booted up to Windows (since i was facing really annoying issues with Yosemite recently after upgrading then formatting then apple HDA being a pain), it picked up the card but didn't appear with "installing device software" at start up, which had me worried, since i thought i didn't plug it in, but low and behold, it was there but no driver installed. Since i was unsure on if the driver with the disc would work (it happens with the EasyCap drivers a fair bit). I posted the Driver info below.
The card but with no device driver
The compatible Hardware IDs

The Actual Hardware IDs

The events, best used to check what happens, 

 Now once i put the CD in it was very mimimal in terms of contents, with no autoplay and only 2 folders and 2 files on the root, it was going to be a sort of simple installation for anyone that knows how to install drivers without using installers. Now if you want a copy or have lost the disc, you are in luck (well except if you want to use the DVR25HDR since i didn't attach a key for obvious reasons and obs is much better).

The root of the CD drive. 

The 32bit drivers

The 64 Bit drivers

 Once i followed the simple way of using device manager to install the drivers, as shown in the video review, it was installed and all setup, no having to worry about sound drivers etc. However a point i need to make is that the drivers ARE NOT SIGNED. This will annoy people with 7 x64 and 8.x 64 since of turning driver signing enforcement off. It turns out its also named a "Trident HD 7160". A odd name and no sign of the HD72A the product was even advertised as. But at least there was no driver software to go with it, like Roxio and Happauge usually snowball in.

The driver once installed

The info on the driver and also the fact it is not signed

More info on the details

The history of when drivers were installed
Technically that was all set-up and OBS was the last part. Basically you needed to open it as a "video capture device" Then select it and the setting were the usual and OBS picked up the audio without having to configure it manually.


Now, after a trial and error experiment. I checked if the Timeleak HD72A drivers (Which is actually the HD75A drivers v1.06) would work, and low and behold they did and told me something new. 

The capture card is actually a HD75A
The details and notice its SIGNED. 

Notice the same device ID

 I installed it, after rebooting the PC, i saw no difference, Maybe less lines when testing OBS was exactly the same config as below.

The settings for the Card. There is support for Custom resolutions but there was no need to set that up, also you might need to raise the volume, i thought it was too loud if i used it, it was actually the opposite

Showing the Vita TV and the sound working while the mic was working (through a USB adapter and Poundland quality headset) 

 The Digital Manual

Now although there was a small a4 sheet with some details, there was a slightly easier to understand manual in a word document, i'll be honest and just show you below, i can't say much in terms of what it mention, since it is quite clear.
Page 1,2,3 

Page 4,5,6

Page 7

I also hid out the key in the screenshot in the manual, just in case but it was a simple guide and there was an installer on how to use the software, but to be honest, there is no need to use it. Other programs like OBS, Nero, Cyberlink can use it. 

The Testing

Now, you might of seen on the video i mentioned tearing, which isn't too bad its more thin lines flashing which i'm not sure but it wasn't too distorting,  But there is no delay on mine at the least. Maybe it helped due to the "ultrafast" setting with x264 on OBS which is the least CPU heavy profile for recording videos.

Recoding at 60fps at 10mbits on OBS, that was the quality from the capture card and it was nice, i've not tested it on a PS3 or even my laptop yet, but that is for another time. 

The Conclusion. 

The card is a good entry level start into getting good quality for game streaming or even making let's plays with HDMI. Now since this is a hard to find item, some places might be not as nice than others and some come from china with the customs might be hassling. So i might suggest being careful. Now if you don't have a deidicated PCI-E x1 slot, don't worry as other sized PCI-E slots work fine but you might need to have a spare slot for a GPU or any other dedicated card that needs a bigger slot. 

But the value is amazing for what i've seen so far. With HDCP ready it makes it more compatible and no splitters required, which even some of the usb capture cards have some hassle with that. Then if it works like any other capture card and even webcams work, getting it working with software should be reasonably good. Which with OBS, i saw no hassle at all. 

With this in mind

omracer's Rating: 6/10

The Good points
  • Good Value.
  • A modern-ish slot for most PCs. If your board doesn't have PCI-express x1 or x16 then consider a new motherboard. 
  • Works with most video capture software and doesn't need its own to do so.
  • HDCP ready for most consoles and even other devices. 
  • Easy to install with the HD75A/HD72A Drivers
The Bad Points
  • The drivers are NOT Digitally signed, this might make installation more complex for 7 and 8.1 x64 users. Scrap that. using the Timeleak drivers fix that.
  • The Audio is not a separate driver for some older software. But can be solved by using OBS.
  • Not easy to get the card (except from ebay/chinese suppliers)

I hope this review helps a bit more in terms of what it can do and if you are having driver issues, you might be able to solve it using this post as a guidelines. 

Hopefully i'll try to review some more Chinavasion products, maybe some Xmas stuff too. But for now, i need to enjoy a meal out with Glass tonight :D