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AverMedia PW315 Webcam Review: A Great Value at an Awkward Price

Rating: 6/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $96
The Avermedia PW315 webcam on top of a computer monitor
Andrew Heinzman

Avermedia is best known for its capture cards, which are popular among gamers. So, I was pretty excited when the company told us about its PW315 webcam. At just $120, this is one of the cheapest webcams to offer 1080p 60FPS video, and I figured that it’d be a great value for both livestreamers and remote workers.

Here's What We Like

  • Smooth 60FPS video
  • Wide 95 degree FOV
  • Decent Software
  • Stable performance, works in poor lighting

And What We Don't

  • Grainy, compressed image
  • Fixed focus, no autofocus
  • Poor mics
  • Non-detachable USB cable
  • Good value, but there are cheaper options

Yeah, I was right; the PW315 is a great value. It captures buttery smooth video, works in poor lighting, and can mount to a monitor or tripod. But the $120 price tag is a bit awkward, and unless you’re on a strict budget, you may find yourself skipping the PW315 for something cheaper or more expensive.

Specs

  • Resolution: 1080p 60FPS
  • Field of View: 95 degrees
  • Focus: Fixed focus (No autofocus)
  • Video Format: MJPEG
  • Microphones: Dual mics
  • Connectivity: USB-A
  • Mounting: Clip mount, optional tripod screw
  • Rotation: 360 degrees
  • Software: CamEngine software
  • Privacy: Built-in shutter, power indicator

Silky Smooth 60FPS at the Expense of Quality

Most webcams capture video at 30FPS, which makes sense, as high frame rates aren’t all that important when you’ve in a video call. But hey, the Avermedia PW315 captures at 60FPS, and its picture is buttery smooth. Like, smoother and more consistent than what other webcams offer at a higher price.

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

I’m also impressed by the PW315’s performance in low lighting. Images and colors rarely go out of whack, even when lights are excessively bright or dim (but super dark rooms require some adjustments to brightness and exposure). Clearly, Avermedia understands that the average home office dweller just wants a webcam that’ll work.

Oh, and the 90-degree field of view is great. This webcam captures a pretty wide video. Just bear in mind that a wider FOV makes it easier for other people to see your room in livestreams or video calls. (Clearly something I did not consider before writing this review.)

Here’s the problem; the video quality itself is quite bad. This is a 1080p webcam, but all of those pixels are working together to produce a grainy image with lots of bloomy whites. And I think that aggressive video compression is to blame—the Avermedia PW315 uses a USB 2.0 cable and encodes all video as inefficient MJPEGs. With such bandwidth limitations, heavy compression is a necessity.

To Avermedia’s credit, the PW315 seems to make the best of bad bandwidth. Video doesn’t skip or stutter, and again, the low-light performance is impressive. This is a solid plug-and-play webcam, which is more than I can say about cheaper options from Logitech. Oh, and there’s that fixed focus lens.

I don’t think that fixed focus is necessarily a bad thing. Basically, everything that’s further than 15 inches from the camera is sharp, and you don’t need to worry about the focus going in and out. But fixed focus cameras tend to have a “sweet spot,” and you can’t get too close without getting blurry. An autofocus lens would eliminate these problems.

And in case you’re wondering, you can set this webcam’s frame rate to 30FPS. But doing so doesn’t improve video quality. At least, not in any way that’s noticeable.

Don’t Use Webcam Microphones

Avermedia PW315 webcam with its privacy shutter closed.
Andrew Heinzman

The Avermedia PW315’s microphones sound awful. They’re tinny, they lack clarity, and unsurprisingly, they pick up a ridiculous amount of room echo. But I don’t blame Avermedia, because this is a problem with all webcams.

You should avoid using webcam microphones whenever possible. They just sound terrible, especially at this price. I get it; sometimes you’re in a pinch—I’ve had to use webcam microphones plenty of times! But your coworkers, or whoever you’re speaking to online, would really appreciate a microphone that doesn’t suck.

I’m not getting off track, by the way. This is totally on topic, because if you don’t own a microphone or headset, then you need to factor one into the cost of this webcam—that’s an extra $50 if you buy something decent.

Decent Design and Build Quality

Avermedia PW315 webcam's tripod screw hole.
Andrew Heinzman

Unsurprisingly, the Avermedia PW315 feels a bit lightweight and plasticy. The integrated privacy shutter feels cheap and is hard to adjust with one hand, and while the USB 2.0 cable is quite long (just under 5 feet), it’s non-detachable, which is annoying.

But the overall build quality is decent, and I believe that it’s appropriate for the price. The hinge on the webcam’s clip feels nice and secure, and I’m certain that the PW315 could survive in even the most chaotic travel bag.

Plus, the design makes up for any build quality quirks. The Avermedia PW315’s camera can rotate 360 degrees, and it can tilt up and down enough to compensate for awkward setups. More importantly, there’s both a monitor clip and an integrated tripod mount. You shouldn’t have any trouble fitting this webcam at a desk.

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

Surprisingly Tolerable Software

There’s nothing worse than dealing with webcam software. But Avermedia’s CamEngine program is surprisingly tolerable. It’s straightforward, it lets you adjust the settings that actually matter, and it has a handful of special features for power users.

At a glance, the CamEngine lets you adjust webcam brightness, gamma, zoom, and other basic controls. All changes you make are processed by 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, like muting the microphone. It’s an interesting feature, and I imagine that it’d be pretty handy during livestreams. Unfortunately, these hotkeys only work in the CamEngine software, so I doubt people will use them during video calls.

And for whatever reason, the PW315 has some AI features. There are a handful of cute face filters, plus an AI auto-framing tool that automatically pans and zooms to follow you around. None of these AI features work too well, but hey, nobody’s forcing you to use them!

The Gist: Good Value, Awkward Price

The Avermedia PW315 webcam on a Joby tripod.
Andrew Heinzman

You will never find an amazing webcam in this price range. There will always be something to complain about, especially if you’re trying to capture high-quality video for a livestream, a professional conference, or a YouTube vlog.

But the average person doesn’t need a crazy webcam. They just need something that looks better than a laptop webcam and doesn’t need a ton of attention. Avermedia’s PW315 fits the bill—it’s a simple plug-and-play webcam that works in poor lighting and runs at a smooth 60FPS, which is more than you can say for cheaper options (and some more expensive options).

Unfortunately, the pricing is a bit awkward. I genuinely can’t tell if Avermedia is trying to target livestreamers or remote workers. At $120, the PW315 is one of the most affordable 60FPS webcams, but you can get much higher video quality with the $200 Razer Kiyo Pro. If I were a livestreamer hoping to garner a following, I’d save up for the more expensive device.

And if you’re just trying to buy a decent webcam for video calls, there are much cheaper options than the PW315. The Logitech C920x, for example, offers 1080p video for $68—I think that Avermedia is selling a better webcam, but the quality difference is negligible if you’re just sitting in Zoom meetings.

Rating: 6/10
Price: $96

Here’s What We Like

  • Smooth 60FPS video
  • Wide 95 degree FOV
  • Decent Software
  • Stable performance, works in poor lighting

And What We Don't

  • Grainy, compressed image
  • Fixed focus, no autofocus
  • Poor mics
  • Non-detachable USB cable
  • Good value, but there are cheaper options

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is the News Editor for Review Geek, where he covers breaking stories and manages the news team. He joined Life Savvy Media as a freelance writer in 2018 and has experience in a number of topics, including mobile hardware, audio, and IoT. Read Full Bio »