AverMedia PW315 webcam review: Great value, awkward price

score:
6/10
?

  • 1 – Absolutely hot garbage
  • 2 – Sort lukewarm trash
  • 3 – Seriously flawed design
  • 4 – Some pros, many cons
  • 5 – Acceptable Imperfection
  • 6 – Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 – Great, but not top-notch
  • 8 – great, with some footnotes
  • 9 – Shut up and take my money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

price: 100 dollars

Andrew Heinzman

Avermedia is best known for its capture cards, which are popular among gamers. So when the company introduced us to its PW315 webcam, I was very excited. At just $120, this is one of the cheapest webcams that offers 1080p 60FPS video, and I think it’s a great value for streamers and remote workers alike.

this is what we like

  • Smooth 60FPS video
  • 95 degree wide field of view
  • Decent software
  • Stable performance and works well in low light

and what we don’t do

  • grainy compressed images
  • Fixed focus, no autofocus
  • bad microphone
  • Non-removable USB cable
  • Good value for money but there are cheaper options

Yes, I was right; the PW315 is an excellent value for money. It captures butter-smooth video, works in low light, and can be mounted to a monitor or tripod. But the $120 price tag is a bit awkward, and unless you’re on a tight budget, you might find yourself skipping the PW315 for something cheaper or more expensive.

Glasses

  • Resolution: 1080p 60FPS
  • vision: 95 degrees
  • focus: Fixed focus (no auto focus)
  • video format: MJPEG
  • microphone: Dual microphone
  • connectivity: USB-A
  • Install: Clip mount, optional tripod screw
  • turn around: 360 degrees
  • software: CamEngine software
  • privacy: Built-in shutter, power indicator

Silky 60FPS at the cost of quality

Most webcams shoot video at 30FPS, which makes sense since high frame rates aren’t all that important in video calls. But hey, the Avermedia PW315 shoots at 60FPS, and it’s pretty smooth. Smoother and more consistent, just like other webcams offer at a higher price.

Now, I don’t think 60FPS is a serious selling point for someone who just wants to make video calls, and I’m not entirely sure why Avermedia included it in this device. But if you need a budget webcam for game streaming, the high frame rate is a plus, especially when paired with the Avermedia PW315’s 1080p resolution.

I was also impressed by the PW315’s performance in low light conditions. Images and colors rarely get out of hand, even if the lights are too bright or too dim (but ultra-dark rooms require some adjustments to brightness and exposure). Clearly, Avermedia understands that the average home office resident just wants a working webcam.

Oh, and the 90-degree field of view is great. This webcam captures fairly wide video. Remember, a wider FOV makes it easier for others to see your room during a live broadcast or video call. (Obviously, I didn’t think about that before writing this review.)

Here’s the problem; the video quality itself is poor. It’s a 1080p webcam, but all those pixels are working together to produce a grainy image with lots of flowery whites. And I think aggressive video compression is the culprit – the Avermedia PW315 uses a USB 2.0 cable and encodes all video to inefficient MJPEG. With such bandwidth constraints, heavy compression is necessary.

To its credit, the PW315 seems to take full advantage of the poor bandwidth. Video doesn’t skip or stutter, and low-light performance is impressive. It’s a solid plug-and-play webcam, and that’s more than Logitech’s cheaper options. Oh, and that prime lens.

I don’t think fixed focus is necessarily a bad thing. Basically, everything more than 15 inches from the camera is sharp and you don’t need to worry about focusing in and out. But prime cameras tend to have a “sweet spot” where you can’t get too close without getting blurry. Autofocus lenses will eliminate these problems.

If you want to know, you were able Set the frame rate of this webcam to 30FPS. But doing so doesn’t improve the video quality. At least, not in any obvious way.

Do not use the webcam microphone

The Avermedia PW315 webcam has the privacy shutter closed.
Andrew Heinzman

The Avermedia PW315’s mic sounds terrible.They’re small, they lack clarity, and unsurprisingly, they pick up a ridiculous The amount of room echo. But I don’t blame Avermedia as this is a problem with all webcams.

You should avoid using the webcam microphone as much as possible. They sound terrible, especially at this price. I get it; sometimes you get stuck – I had to use the webcam mic multiple times! But your co-workers, or anyone you talk to online, will really appreciate a microphone that doesn’t suck.

By the way, I’m not going off track. That’s totally off topic, because if you don’t have a mic or headphones, then you need to factor in the cost of this webcam — $50 more if you buy something decent.

Decent design and build quality

Tripod screw holes for the Avermedia PW315 webcam.
Andrew Heinzman

Unsurprisingly, the Avermedia PW315 feels a little light and malleable. The integrated privacy shutter feels cheap and difficult to adjust with one hand, and while the USB 2.0 cable is long (under 5 feet), it’s not removable, which is annoying.

But the overall build quality is decent and I believe its price is right. The hinge on the webcam clip feels nice and secure, and I’m sure the PW315 can survive the messiest of travel bags.

Plus, the design makes up for any build-quality quirks. The Avermedia PW315’s camera swivels 360 degrees and tilts up and down enough to compensate for awkward setups.What’s more, there is also a monitoring clip and An integrated tripod mount. You shouldn’t have any problems installing this webcam on your desk.

I also appreciate that there is a privacy shutter and an LED indicator on the PW315. These features should be standard on every webcam, but for whatever reason, they aren’t.

surprisingly tolerant software

There’s nothing worse than dealing with webcam software. But Avermedia’s CamEngine program is surprisingly bearable. It’s simple, it lets you adjust settings that actually matter, and it has some special features for advanced users.

At a glance, CamEngine lets you adjust webcam brightness, gamma, zoom and other basic controls. All changes you make are processed and saved to the webcam, so you don’t need to keep the software open after making adjustments.

You can also set keyboard shortcuts to trigger webcam functions, such as muting the microphone. This is an interesting feature and I think it will be very handy during live streaming. Unfortunately, these hotkeys are only available in the CamEngine software, so I doubt people will use them in video calls.

For whatever reason, the PW315 has some AI capabilities. There are some lovely face filters, and there’s an AI auto-framing tool that automatically pans and zooms to follow you. None of these AI features are great to use, but hey, no one is forcing you to use them!

Takeaway: Great value for money, awkward price

Avermedia PW315 webcam on Joby tripod.
Andrew Heinzman

you will never find Astonishing A webcam in this price range. There’s always something to complain about, especially when you’re trying to shoot high-quality video for a live broadcast, professional conference, or YouTube vlog.

But normal people don’t need crazy webcams. They just need something that looks better than a laptop webcam and doesn’t require much attention. Avermedia’s PW315 fits the bill – it’s a simple plug-and-play webcam that works in low light and runs at a smooth 60FPS, making it a cheaper option than you can tell (and some more expensive) options) are more.

Unfortunately, the pricing is a bit awkward. I really can’t tell if Avermedia is trying to target streamers or remote workers. At $120, the PW315 is one of the most affordable 60FPS webcams, but you can get even higher video quality with the $200 Razer Kiyo Pro. If I were a streamer looking to gain followers, I would save for more expensive equipment.

If you just want to buy a decent webcam for video calling, there are far cheaper options than the PW315. For example, the Logitech C920x offers 1080p video for $68 — I think Avermedia is selling better webcams, but if you’re just in a Zoom meeting, the quality difference is negligible.

this is what we like

  • Smooth 60FPS video
  • 95 degree wide field of view
  • Decent software
  • Stable performance and works well in low light

and what we don’t do

  • grainy compressed images
  • Fixed focus, no autofocus
  • bad microphone
  • Non-removable USB cable
  • Good value for money but there are cheaper options

technology.

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