Feature comparison table for the world's best VGA and DVI frame grabbers

The niche market for VGA and DVI frame grabbers is full of different products, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Since there are no defined standards in the field of high-resolution frame grabbers, it is often very difficult to choose among the various offerings. Analyzing each frame grabber and then comparing it to others in the industry can be a very tedious task, which is why we’ve compiled a side-by-side comparison table to ease the selection process, making it easy to compare these cutting edge products side by side.

This table was made using specifications supplied via each manufacturer’s website and data sheets. Some manufacturers do not provide complete specifications for their products, in which case “Not specified” is written in the table cell. For actual real-life tests and results, consult the “Reviews” section of this website.

Please note that all specifications supplied by the manufacturer are included in this table, making this the most comprehensive frame grabber comparison on the internet. After the table you will find short descriptions for what each specification means and how it impacts the capture process.


Brand/Product
EMS Imaging Xtreme RGB

Epiphan Systems
VGA2Ethernet

Epiphan Systems DVI2USB Duo Epiphan Systems VGA2USB Pro Foresight Imaging I-RGB 200 Ncast DCC 3.1
Product Image

Interface PCI (internal) Gigabit Ethernet
(external)
USB 2.0 (external) USB 1.1 and 2.0 (external) PCI (internal) PCI (internal)
Board Format 3/4 Size PCI Card, 105mm x 170mm; PCI Bus Master with scatter/gather DMA providing up to 1GB/sec peak, 500MB/sec sustained

External device, 7.95″×4.13″×1.38″, 202×105×35 mm;
Gigabit Ethernet Bus

External device, 5″ x 3.2″ x 1.2″; 126 mm x 81 mm x 30 mm; USB Bus providing with up to 480 Mbit/s External device, 80 mm x 54 mm x 23 mm; 3.15″ x 2.125″ x 0.91″; USB Bus providing with up to 480 Mbit/s 3/4 Size PCI Card; 120+ MB/sec sustained to system memory via PCI bus master; Real-time transfer to VGA memory Full size PCI card; PCI 33MhZ, 32Bit BUS
Connectors 2 DVI-I Type connectors Two VGA D type connectors
Two Ethernet RJ45 connectors
One USB type A connector
One 5V DC power supply connector or Power-Over-Ethernet
DVI dual-link; USB mini B type connetor VGA D type connector; USB mini B type connector; 5V DC 1.3mm power supply connector 15 pin D-shell connector (VGA type) RGB on DB15; DVI-D; S-Video; Composite
Input VGA, DVI (single link) VGA DVI (single link and dual link) VGA VGA, DVI-A (analog only) VGA, DVI (single link), composite, S-Video
Input Mode Detection Automatic Automatic Automatic Automatic Automatic Automatic
EDID Support Programmable EDID Programmable EDID Programmable EDID Programmable EDID Not specified Not specified
Video Format R,G,B plus separate HSYNC and VSYNC signals; R,G,B plus CSYNC signal; R,G,B with Sync-on-Green synchronization. TDMS Single Link R,G,B plus separate HSYNC and VSYNC signals; R,G,B plus CSYNC signal; R,G,B with Sync-on-Green synchronization. TMDS Dual Link; HDCP ready R,G,B plus separate HSYNC and VSYNC signals; R,G,B plus CSYNC signal; R,G,B with Sync-on-Green synchronization. R,G,B plus separate HSYNC and VSYNC signals R, G, B plus separate HSYNC and VSYNC signals; TDMS Single Link
Maximum Resolution 2048 x 1536 (VGA) 1920 x 1080 (DVI) 2048 x 2048
2560 x 1600 (wide)
2048 x 2048 2560 x 1600 (wide) 2048 x 2048 1600 x 1200 1920 x 1200
Update Rate User defined, typically up to 60 frames per second, limited by available PCI bandwidth. Multi-buffered to eliminate tearing artifacts Up to 120 frames per second, depending on resolution and amount of change in frames Up to 52 frames per second, depending on amount of change in frames Up to 62 frames per second, depending on amount of change in frames Not specified YUV mode: 24 60 fps RGB mode: 15 30 fps
Capture Rate at 1280 x 1024 60 fps 20-100 fps 10.0-52 fps 10.0-62 fps Not specified 28-56 fps
Color Resolution 16 bits per pixel, 5:6:5 format; 24 bits per pixel, 8:8:8 format. 16 bits per pixel, YUV(422) Chroma packed YUYV format. 24 bits per pixel, RGB 8:8:8 format; 16 bits per pixel, RGB 5:6:5 format ; 8 bits per pixel, RGB 3:3:2, 3:2:3, 2:3:3; 8 bits per pixel, 256-grey scale format ; 16 bits per pixel, YUY2(422), UYVY; 24 bits per pixel, RGB 8:8:8 format; 16 bits per pixel, RGB 5:6:5 format ; 8 bits per pixel, RGB 3:3:2, 3:2:3, 2:3:3; 8 bits per pixel, 256-grey scale format ; 16 bits per pixel, YUY2(422), UYVY; 24 bits per pixel, RGB 8:8:8 format; 16 bits per pixel, RGB 5:6:5 format ; 8 bits per pixel, RGB 3:3:2, 3:2:3, 2:3:3; 8 bits per pixel, 256-grey scale format ; 16 bits per pixel, YUY2(422), UYVY; 24 bits per pixel, RGB 8:8:8 format; RGB 8:8:8; RGB 5:5:5, YUV 4:2:2, Y-only RGB 8:8:8 format; YUV 4:2:0 format
Transfer Rate 330 Megapixels per second 270 MPixel/s and 532MPixel/s for two consequent frame interlaced grab 330 Megapixels per second 270 Megapixels per second 200 Megapixels per second 165 Megapixels per second
On-board memory 32MB 32MB 32MB 32MB 12MB
Multiple devices supported Up to 32 Yes, limited by network bandwidth Limited by number of USB ports present on computer Limited by number of USB ports present on computer Not specified Not specified
Operating System Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista Linux (x86, amd64), Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista (x86, amd64), Mac OS X 10.3.x and up. Linux (x86, amd64), Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista (x86, amd64), Mac OS X 10.3.x and up. Linux (x86, amd64), Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista (x86, amd64), Mac OS X 10.3.x and up. Windows XP Professional Windows 2000, Windows XP, Linux
SDK, API Windows: EMS SDK included. WDM streaming drivers included. Windows: DirectShow API, Proprietary API (C/C++, VB 6, C#, Delphi) Linux: Video4Linux API, Proprietary API (C/C++) Mac OS X: Quicktime API, Proprietary API (C/C++) Windows: DirectShow API, Proprietary API (C/C++, VB 6, C#, Delphi) Linux: Video4Linux API, Proprietary API (C/C++) Mac OS X: Quicktime API, Proprietary API (C/C++) Windows: DirectShow API, Proprietary API (C/C++, VB 6, C#, Delphi) Linux: Video4Linux API, Proprietary API (C/C++) Mac OS X: Quicktime API, Proprietary API (C/C++) Auto-SYNC automatic configuration software; Example application programs (source code included); Real-time video streaming with AVI file creation; IDEA software development kit; ActiveX controls; Common Vision Blox, Image-Pro Plus, and TWAIN drivers SDK available: Ncast Screen capture software application, Ncast Control Program for settings
Power Requirements Max current at +3.3V – 1A Max current at +5V – 1A Max power – 8 Watts 5V DC external adapter or Power-Over-Ethernet 5V DC external adapter 5V DC external adapter Not specified Input RGB analog 1600×1200 (capture set to 18fps): 3.3V @ 1.20A = 3.96W; 5V @ 0.55A = 2.75W; Total= 6.71W typical
Operating Temperature 0 to 35 ?C Not specified Not specified Not specified Not specified 0 to 35 ?C
Storage Temperature -20 to 70 ?C Not specified Not specified Not specified Not specified Not Specified
Relative Humidity 5% to 90% non-condensing Not specified Not specified Not specified Not specified 5% to 90% non-condensing
Other Features / Specifications Update rates when used with the EMS Vigilant-X graphics card are: 1 channel at 1280 x 1024 = 75Hz. 1 channel at 1024 x 768 = 75Hz. LEDs to indicate operational status (power, source, capturing) LEDs to indicate operational status (power, source, capturing) LEDs to indicate operational status (power, source, capturing) Pixel jitter: 0.5 ns S/N ratio: 47 dB Dedicated trigger input Camera power: +12 V DC @ 1.0 A Camera integration Dedicated high current digital output Simultaneous capture of two synchronized input streams; Picture-in-Picture capability
Common Applications Capturing VGA and DVI signals using a stationary source Capturing a VGA signal over a distance; Capturing high-resolution imagery from dual-link DVI signals. High speed and high precision military, medical, and industrial applications. Capturing ultrasound, radar and other industrial diagnostic-quality images. Broadcasting VGA output to web. Capturing VGA and DVI signals using a stationary source. Monitor, display testing. Supports camera integration. Capturing camera output, archiving HD video.
Price Not specified $1 600.00 $2 000.00 $2 000.00 Not specified $ 1 995.00


This table was made using specifications supplied via each manufacturer’s website and data sheets. Some manufacturers do not provide complete specifications for their products, in which case “Not specified” is written in the table cell. For actual real-life tests and results, consult the “Reviews” section of this website.


Brand/Product PixelSmart VGA-Master Unigraf UFG-03A Hidef
Product Image

Interface PCI (internal) PCI (internal)
Board Format Full size PCI card; 32 bit 33 MHZ 5 Volt BUS 3/4 Size PCI card; 175mm length; PCI bus master; bursts up to 133 MBytes/sec; Compatible with both 5 V and 3.3 V bus logic voltages
Connectors DB15 VGA RGB on DB15; DVI-D; optional composite video
Input VGA VGA, DVI (single-link)
Input Mode Detection Not specified Automatic
EDID Support Not specified Not specified
Video Format R, G, B plus separate HSYNC and VSYNC signals R,G,B plus separate HSYNC and VSYNC signals; R,G,B plus CSYNC signal; R,G,B with Sync-on-Green synchronization.
Maximum Resolution 1280 x 1024 1600 x 1200
Update Rate Not specified Not specified; Progressive and interlaced scan modes.
Capture Rate at 1280 x 1024 Not specified Not specified
Color Resolution Not specified 16, 24, 32 bits per pixel
Transfer Rate Not specified 133 Megabytes per second (~300 MP/s)
On-board memory Not Specified
Multiple devices supported Up to 4 Up to 10
Operating System DOS, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows XP Windows 2000, Windows XP, Linux
SDK, API Victor SDK by Catenary Systems; ImageJ processing software. Video for Windows, UFG-03 Extended Driver Interface, SDK with examples, DLL library, C++, Visual Basic, LabView code included
Power Requirements Not specified 7.5 watts maximum
Operating Temperature Not specified Not specified
Storage Temperature Not specified Not specified
Relative Humidity Not specified Not specified
Other Features / Specifications None Picture-in-Picture mode allows for up to 10 capture images displayed on one screen; Hardware image scaling from half of imput image size to 1600 x 1200
Common Applications Presentation recording, low-quality image capture Webcasting, testing and measurement (LabView)
Price $349.00 Not specified

*Manufacturers specification sheets were used to compose the table above. In cases where the manufacturer did not indicate a specification, not specified is written in the table cell.

Analysis

Interface

All manufacturers except for Epiphan Systems, which makes external USB-based devices, produce internal PCI cards.

Input

Frame grabbers from Epiphan Systems and PixelSmart only have one input for a single VGA or DVI stream. However, Epiphan Systems DVI2USB Duo is the only frame grabber on the market that is able to capture dual link DVI signals with a maximum resolution of 2048×2048. Ncasts DCC 3.1 gives the user the most choice in terms of signal inputs as it has on-board VGA, DVI, composite, and S-Video inputs.

Capture Rate

Out of the two manufacturers that specified capture rates in their specification tables, Epiphan Systems has the highest possible capture rate at 62 frames per second, while Ncast has a higher lowest frame rate at 1280 x 1024. Capture rate depends highly on the nature of the image that is being captured. The user will notice lower capture rates in applications where there is a lot of movement in the VGA or DVI source.

Color Resolution

Compared to other manufacturers, Epiphan Systems VGA2USB and DVI2USB have the widest range of support for different video formats, whereas Unigrafs UFG-03A is the only frame grabber with support for a color resolution of 32 bits per pixel.

Transfer Rate

The maximum transfer rate determines how much data can be moved between the frame grabber and the computer. While it doesnt directly affect the picture quality, a higher transfer rate means that the frame grabber can handle more pixel changes from frame to frame.

Multiple Devices Supported

Many times, the user needs to record output from multiple sources onto one device simultaneously. Basically, this number indicates the maximum number of devices all functioning at the same time, while connected to a single computer.

Operating System

All manufacturers have Windows XP support. Epiphan Systems is the only manufacturer to support MAC OS X while PixelSmart is the only company to have support for the ancient command line-based DOS and Windows 98 operating systems. Epiphan Systems, Ncast, and Unigraf are the only companies to support Linux.

SDK/API

All manufacturers provide the user with an SDK and sample code. Epiphan Systems and Unigraf are the only two companies which produce Video for Windows capable frame grabbers which have the capability to appear as high-resolution cameras in Windows.

Price

All high-resolution and high quality frame grabbers are generally priced around $2 000 USD. PixelSmarts VGA-Master is priced at only $349 because it is not capable of grabbing high resolution signals, meaning that the picture quality will be poor compared to the other frame grabbers in this review.

*Note

Be wary of manufacturers that omit important specifications such as capture rate in their specification sheets. Specifications are usually not included if the product is unable to achieve steady performance.

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2 Comments → “Feature comparison table for the world’s best VGA and DVI frame grabbers”

  1. Morteza Karyar 4 years ago   Reply

    Hi, Thank you for your article. We are looking for a frame grabber/software package with an API that would allow setting a percentage of change for the saved frames. We would like to save frames only if they are different enough from the last one saved. Do you know of such a package? Thanks.

  2. Victor 4 years ago   Reply

    Yes. Epiphan Systems VGA2USB LR, HR, Pro, and DVI2USB Solo and Duo can do it.

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