Rating: 8/10 ?
  • 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: $250
AVerMedia PW515 on counter
Chazz Mair / How-To Geek

With the PW515 4K Ultra HD Webcam, AVerMedia ships what claims to be the “World’s Most Intelligent 4K Webcam.” However, with quality comes expense. Here, we’ll break down the PW515 so you can tell it apart from the competition.

Here's What We Like

  • Wide field of view
  • Realistic colors
  • AI Image Optimization

And What We Don't

  • Unimpressive design
  • Some functionality locked behind AVerMedia Account

While visually unassuming, the PW515 is a swiss army knife of a webcam. It packs a middle-of-the-road microphone and stellar 4K Sony STARVIS CMOS sensor into a sleek grey and black exterior. If your office setup is lacking a webcam, this is a great place to start.

Out Of the Box

  • Weight: 6.7oz (190g)
  • Width: 5.12in (130mm)
  • Depth: 2.29in (58.1mm)
  • Height: 2.23in (56.75mm)
  • Mounting: Monitor Clip, Desktop Stand, Tripod Thread

The PW515 comes in a small cardboard box about as tall and wide as the webcam. Included inside, you’ll also find a 2m (6.56ft) USB-A to USB-C cable. On the underside of the box’s lid is a handy little quickstart guide. Setting up the PW515 is pretty self-explanatory—the rear of the camera has a clear slot for the USB-C cable to connect to your computer.

For mounting, you can either use the built-in universal mounting clip or a quarter-inch threaded stand. Both the screw and clip mounts have protective rubbery pads to prevent scratching. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a desktop stand, so you’ll need to buy a quarter-inch stand separately to fit your needs.

The AVerMedia PW515 doesn’t feel particularly extravagant; the camera itself is encased in a rectangular, plastic exterior that looks and feels well enough and seems decently durable. However, for $249, I expected more. It comes with an attached view blocker when not in use, but that’s as far as the bells and whistles go.

Overall, I’d say that the build is perfectly serviceable. It’s not too impressive but doesn’t look like the sort of budget webcam you’d find on electronic store shelves, either. At a little over 5-inches wide, 2-inches deep, and 2-inches high, it’s wider than it is tall. Unfortunately, the camera’s low height makes it a bit irksome to use freestanding, so you’ll want to clip it to your monitor or stand.

A Competitive Camera

Image taken with AVerMedia PW515 of Chazz Mair
Chazz Mair / How-To Geek

  • Maximum Frame Rate/Resolution: 3840×2160/30fps, 1920×1080/60fps
  • Format: MJPEG, YUY2, NV12 of UVC 1.0
  • Field of View: 100 degrees (D),  92 degrees (H), 60 degrees (V)
  • Image Processing: High Dynamic Range, Gesture Recognition, Auto Framing, 3D Noise Reduction

The PW515 packs a mighty 4K Ultra HD camera that utilizes a 4K Sony STARVIS CMOS sensor, which automatically brightens and filters noise to produce an astoundingly accurate image. This webcam has a wide field of view at 100-degrees and, when tested on a Windows 10 PC, produced crisp, clear images even in low light.

The colors feel natural, and even when the PW515 captures in a dark room, it keeps things surprisingly clean. It definitely features some impressive 3D noise reduction; I had to deliberately clutter the image with different light levels and reflections to get the quality to dip. The PW515 tries to find and focus on your face, so if you’re sitting front and center as you would in a conference call, you shouldn’t see any issues. But if you’re in a larger, dimly lit space, things start to get muddier—even then it’s not by a lot.

Especially impressive is how it does this without needing to open up extra software. The PW515 does come with AVerMedia’s CamEngine, but you’ll only have to work with it if you want to customize your experience. I found the default settings to work well, but more options are always nice to have.

AVerMedia’s CamEngine

  • Minimum Operating System Requirements: Windows 10 or newer, macOS 10.14 or newer, Chrome OS 85.0.4183.131 or newer
  • Minimum CPU/GPU Requirements: Intel Core i5 6th or better, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or better
  • NVIDIA Virtual Background requirements: Intel Core i5 6th or better, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or better
  • Intel Virtual Green Screen Requirements: Intel 11th Gen Core CPU, Intel graphics
  • Minimum Display: 1024 x 768 or higher
  • RAM: 8GB or more

AVerMedia’s CamEngine (available on Windows and Mac) provides a basic host of options with some wiggle room for more experienced users. Notably, the program is linked to AVerMedia’s free membership service, so some options, namely Virtual Backgrounds and ePTZ (Electronic Pan Tilt Zoom), are blocked off.

While the membership doesn’t cost anything, these options should be accessible to anyone who purchased the product in the first place—especially ePTZ. Without an account, you can’t adjust your shot in any way. The PW515 can digitally pan, zoom, and tilt, but you won’t be able to do that without giving Avermedia more of your information.

Aside from that, you have everything you’d expect to find: fine control over the focus, brightness, and layout of your webcam’s capture, along with a smattering of filters and backgrounds—the sort of stuff you’d find on Snapchat or any number of video services.

While CamEngine is perfectly serviceable, services like Zoom already provide a lot of the background options you’ll find here. If you need to create a two-screen layout in a pinch, CamEmgine is great. But, as mentioned before, a lot of the functionality here is also found in the video chat services you’re going to be using. So there is some redundancy.

A Middling Microphone

AVerMedia PW515 on counter
Chazz Mair / How-To Geek

  • Microphone: Dual Omnidirectional Stereo
  • Microphone Distance: 9.8-feet/3m

The PW515 has a built-in microphone with acoustic noise reduction, but it’s not impressive. This model uses dual omnidirectional stereo microphones, which means it’ll pick up noise from all around it as opposed to the space directly in front of it as a cardioid mic would. These speakers are found on top of the webcam.

For a webcam, a unidirectional microphone is preferred because you will likely be sitting directly in front of it. With the omnidirectional microphone, your webcam will pick up any random noise outside your window.

The actual audio quality is similarly unimpressive. Voices come through compressed and somewhat crunchy. It doesn’t feel like a massive jump over the average microphone, though even having one is a major benefit to those who need it.

AVerMedia PW515 4K Ultra HD Webcam: A Solid, Multipurpose Purchase

If you’re in the market for a high-quality web camera, the PW515 is a solid choice. The quality of the camera alone adds a lot to its value, but it is arguable that the addition of a microphone pushes its price a bit too high for people who don’t need one. Compatibility with both monitors and camera stands is a massive benefit that goes a long way to ensuring it fits in your office.

It’s also absurdly low-hassle; just connect it to your computer and it works. The built-in firmware manages the image well enough, but if you’re upset with the picture for any reason, you can adjust it yourself through CamEngine 4.

With regards to negatives, the PW515’s clip isn’t the strongest. It would fall off of my monitor every so often, and having to give AVerMedia your information to unlock camera functions is frustrating but isn’t that big of an issue.

Altogether, the AVerMedia PW515 is a high-quality web camera that will not only produce professional, high-quality images but also serves as a decent microphone. If you need a 4K webcam and don’t already have a microphone, you’d do well to pick this up.

Rating: 8/10
Price: $250

Here’s What We Like

  • Wide field of view
  • Realistic colors
  • AI Image Optimization

And What We Don't

  • Unimpressive design
  • Some functionality locked behind AVerMedia Account
Profile Photo for Chazz Mair Chazz Mair
Chazz Mair is a freelance writer with three years of experience providing guides, news, and reviews of the newest tech for publications like Wired, Screenrant, and TechRadar. When he's not writing, Mair spends most of his time creating music, visiting arcades, and finding out about the ways new tech has changed old media.
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