Cougar Gaming Outs A 4K Capture Box With AMD FreeSync Support For Smooth Streaming

cougar envision
Most folks don't know this, but gamers often have to sacrifice features and performance to be a livestreamer. Besides the time you spend fooling around with the hardware and software to make it all work, you also usually have to sacrifice playing in high resolutions, high refresh rates, and with a variable refresh rate. Cougar may be able to rescue game streamers from that reality with its new Envision game capture device, however.

High-refresh-rate QHD monitors in 2560×1440 resolution are the fastest-growing segment of the display market, and the Envision supports 1440p at 144Hz pass-through. Uncommonly, it can also pass-through AMD's FreeSync variable-refresh-rate technology, which should presumably mean it will work for NVIDIA users with "G-SYNC Compatible" displays as well.

cougar envision streaming box with cables

Thanks to that, game streamers won't have to suffer with poor frame pacing, vsync lag, or torn frames while gaming. Unfortunately, the capture device's capture abilities don't match its pass-through capabilities. Capture is limited to 30 FPS at 4K, 60 FPS in 1440p, or 120 FPS in 1080p. While that might seem disappointing on the face of things, the reality is that the overwhelming majority of game streamers don't have the ability to stream in anything better than 1440p60 regardless, whether due to upload bandwidth or platform (i.e. Twitch) limitations.

cougar envision streaming box back view

On the back of the device, you get your HDMI source input as well as the passthrough output, and then there's a USB Type-C port for connection to the PC doing the streaming or recording. On the other end, there's a pair of 3.5mm audio jacks—one for microphone input, and one for headphone output. Cougar notes that the headhone jack is exclusively for audio coming from the connected PC (USB), not from the HDMI device, so you'll have to enable audio pass-through on the PC if you want to hear your game through that port.

cougar envision streaming box front view

It may be difficult to imagine a PC gamer using a device like this when low-latency software solutions like OBS exists, particularly now that GPU video encoding is both efficient and high-quality, but remember that the latest generation of game consoles now supports 1440p resolution and VRR output. That includes both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, thanks to recent updates from Sony. A device like this could allow console gamers an easy way to keep the highest visual quality while livestreaming their gameplay.

Cougar just announced the device, and hasn't mentioned pricing. Looking at the prices for similar devices, we'd be surprised if it comes in under $200 US.