Something Cool for Skull (and Dawson) Canyon!

Hades Canyon is all the rage these days. Everyone seems to love it, and it’s stolen the spotlight from its slightly older sibling, Skull Canyon. Personally I love my Skull Canyon. It may not have the GPU muscle of its successor, but it’s still a very very fast i7. So it’s nice to see Gorite continuing to add new and interesting add-ons for it. After all, there are a lot of them out there, and all are most likely still getting some heavy use.

One of Gorite’s newest Skull Canyon offerings is its new extender ring with a built-in HDMI capture card.

Skull Capture Ring

The ring itself isn’t new for them; you may recall I reviewed the original ring when it first came out. What they’ve done is modified the ring to include an AverMedia ExtremeCap UVC BU110 HDMI card. So instead of dual USB 2.0 and dual USB 3.0 ports, this ring gives you dual USB 2.0 ports and ONE USB 3.0 port, plus an HDMI input.

The AverMedia card in the ring allows you to connect an HDMI input, from a digital camera for example. Then with the help of one of the several popular streaming apps out there, you can stream or record from that source.

Gorite was kind enough to loan me one so I could see what it’s all about.

Installation

In my review of the original ring, I commented on the fact that the ring had so much unused space. I’m happy to report Gorite is finding ways to fill it up now.

Skull Capture Ring inside

The ring installation is identical to the original ring. In this video, you can see me swap the old ring out for the new one.

Just as with the original ring, it’s important to adjust the internal cables so that they don’t interfere with the lid. After my first installation I realized the lid wasn’t seated properly because one of the cables wasn’t positioned right:

IMG_20190201_164531985
The slight hump is due to the internal cable pushing on the lid

I removed the lid, re-positioned the cable, and the lid went on properly:

IMG_20190202_064911451
Once the cable was re-positioned, the lid seated correctly

Incidentally, the old ring used dark hex screws to secure the USB headers. This version uses silver screws. I prefer the darker ones myself, as they blend better.

Update: I heard back from Gorite and they tell me they plan to switch to the darker screws for release.

Here’s a look at the board itself:

No Drivers?

Once installed, the AverMedia card works without the need for any drivers. You just start your streaming app, select the source, and you’re on your way. That was the claim, at least. I tested it with one of the suggested free streaming apps called XSplit. True to the claim, I started XSplit and simply selected the AverMedia card as the source. It worked immediately, no drivers required.

The card streams up to 1080P (uncompressed), and AverMedia advertises it as “professional quality”. I tried streaming video from one of my NUCs and it played back beautifully. I can’t verify whether it was professional quality, but I can say it looked great to me.

Any Complaints?

Actually, yes. Even if it is a minor complaint: the USB ports are upside-down. Compared to Skull Canyon’s on-board ports, front and back, the ring’s ports are oriented the other way. I have no idea why this is the case. Looking at how it’s put together, it seems fixing this is as simple as removing the mounting screws for the USB headers and flipping them over. Call me picky, but I prefer my ports to all be the same.

Update: I heard back from Gorite and they said they’re correcting this issue.

What About Dawson Canyon?

This card isn’t JUST for Skull Canyon either; Gorite offers the same card in a lid for Dawson Canyon as well! This makes sense, since both Skull Canyon and Dawson Canyon have a USB 3 header the card can take advantage of.

Here it is in lid form for Dawson Canyon:

gr-lid-bu110_1_

The Dawson Canyon lid houses the same capture card as the Skull Canyon ring, but doesn’t include the additional USB ports. Of course, if you needed the extra ports, you could always pair it with the USB add-on bracket to end up with an identical configuration.

There’s just no room for anything else

Conclusion

As someone who doesn’t stream, I can’t say I’d use this ring myself. But I can certainly see the value of it for someone who streams/records from other sources on a regular basis. If you have a need to record from digital cameras, other computers, presentations, etc. this is a nifty add-on to Skull Canyon. It gives you the functionality of the AverMedia card as a built-in device, and adds three more USB ports to boot. Appearance-wise, the ring looks great and blends right in with Skull Canyon. So, if you use a Skull Canyon (or a Dawson Canyon) and you’ve been looking for a capture card, this one is worth a look!

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I'm a self-described technology nut, as well as a writer. That means the only thing I love more than learning about and playing with new technology is writing about it! Techster means "one who techs", and that's me!

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