Best NVR System 2018 (Buyer’s Guide)

Jun 17, 2018 | nvrs

NVRs (Network Video Recorders) record videos from your security cameras. Unlike cloud storage, they do not cost you a monthly fee and can be configured for advanced motion control. We looked at what is NVR system, its main components and factors to consider when buying the best Network Video Recorder. We also reviewed and tested the available options on the market to tell you what best security camera NVR 2018 you should buy depending on your circumstances and use.

When selecting NVR security systems, we looked at nine main factors to select the NVRs and Amcrest NV4108E-HSis the best network video recorder that would work for the majority of users. It supports 4k video and up to 8MP cameras, has good storage capacity, but more importantly give much better value for money compared to any other models.

We also give you two alternative picks for best camera NVRs. Hikvision DS-7608NI, which is a slightly more expensive NVR sysem, but has some extra functionality like 2 HDDs. GW Security 8 Channel NVR is a beast of a machine and would work if you need advance motion detection or to connect to your alarm system. While we focused on an 8 channel models, we also giving you the reasons why we selected Reolink RLN16-410  as the best 16 channel NVR or Amcrest NV2104E  as the best 4 channel NVR around.

We also have a in-depth reviews of NVRs that you should have a look: 

But let’s go through it step by step…

Overall Best NVR

Amazon Reviews:

  • Supports resolution up to 4K
  • 8MP cameras and below can be installed
  • Install HDD with max storage of 6TB
  • USB backup
  • 8 PoE ports
  • Manuals
  • Guides
  • Android
  • iOS

What is NVR system?

Buying smart cameras alone might be enough for watching live video streams and getting notifications. But if you want to get more from your cameras you should use cloud or NVRs to record and store videos so you don’t miss a thing in your house or office. The benefits of NVRs are not only the ability to keep weeks and months of history for free, but also advanced motion detection and other flexible functionality.

NVR Hardware

The NVR (usually) a black color device with controls in front and ports at the rear. The main ports in the rear are:

  1. Audio in/out: to have an audio feed in and output to speakers
  2. USB ports: to connect a mouse or HDD (for backup)
  3. PoE ports: to connect to cameras and provide with power supply (more on PoE cameras)
  4. HDM Port: to connect a monitor or external TV
  5. LAN Port: to connect the NVR to your router

Inside the NVR would have slots for hard drives for storage of data.

NVR system Software

The software interface helps to configure the NVR for the first use, maintain the system and also access the video stream live or historical recordings. To do so Network Video Recorders come with built-in software (which you can use by connecting a monitor to the device), desktop client and mobile application.

NVR or Cloud?

Unsurprisingly, NVRs might not work with some smart security cameras like Nest or Arlo as those companies are keen to charge you for cloud storage, and they lock down the products to prevent local recording. While having one or two cameras with a cloud plan might be a good idea for smaller flats or houses, it will not work for larger setups. Also, if you’re like us and not keen to hand over your data to companies that do not have a great privacy protection history buying a camera NVR security is your best option.

7 Important Factors When Buying Best NVR Security System in 2018

In addition to testing network video recorders, we researched the manufacturers’ sites, professional forums and reviews on Amazon to understand what is important for customers. Based on that we have narrowed it down to 7 key factors:

  1. Number of channels: The more channels (the maximum number of cameras you can simultaneously connect and record) the NRV has, the more expensive it will be. To illustrate how it works, if your 8 Channel Network Video Recorder has 8 PoE ports but you have already connected 3 wifi cameras, it would only be able to handle 5 additional cameras. Our recommendation is to always buy more channels than you need right now to future-proof your setup. If you have plans for only 4 at the moment, buy an 8 channel camera NVR system, and if you are planning for 8, it makes sense to buy a 16 channel one.
  2. PoE or not PoE: PoE (Power over Ethernet) allows you to use a single cable for network connection and power supply. This simplifies the setup but requires a PoE compliant switch, injector or IP camera NVR system to inject electricity into Ethernet cables. PoE ports have become a standard for the majority of network video recorders now, but you can save money if you definitely do not need them. A PoE power supply can vary (for example by the voltage or protocols supported), so check out our guide on the best PoE Cameras.
  3. Amount of storage: Two important storage factors here – (a) How far back do you want to be able to store videos and (b) How secure you want your video feeds to be. The former is dependent on the number of cameras, their resolution and whether you want to record constantly, on a schedule or only if there is any movement. Check out Network Video Recorder Storage Calculators to determine how many terabytes you will likely need. As a crude example, for a single 2-megapixel (1080p) camera at 3 frames per second (analog cameras use 1 FPS) and at the highest video quality you will need 16GB of storage for 24 hours of continuous recording. The latter factor refers to what is called redundancy. This is a technical term for having multiple physical copies of the same video streams on different physical HDDs. This would cost you more money but avoids losing all of your history due to corruption (which happens often)
  4. Advanced motion detection: All modern NVRs are capable of motion detection, but simple algorithms might trigger too many false alarms when used with outside cameras or in crowded areas. Advanced motion detection functionality in the high-end Network Video Recorders we reviewed using line crossing, intrusion and dwell detection methods. Line crossing allows you to add a line or lines crossing which will trigger an alarm. This is ideal for monitoring fences, properties and parking areas that should not be entered. Intrusion detections alerts when somebody enters a certain area (not line). Dwell detection enhances it even more by specifying how long the subject is allowed to stay in the area before triggering the alert
  5. HD or Super HD: Are you planning to connect your massive TV to NVR and watch all your cameras in your living room? (that is fine, we are not judging) If so, you will need Super HD HDMI output do not to lose the quality of your cameras on the screen. Super HD usually supports up to 4k resolution. (our high-end pick of the best 8 Channel NVR GW Security 8 Channel NVR  would have that functionality)
  6. External alarm: Some NVRs will be able to connect to the external alarm which can trigger the recording of the video feed. This is a nice feature that can be seen in the top end models, but you will likely be ok with the properly configured motion detection. ( GW Security 8 Channel NVR  has 8 inputs from alarms )
  7. Quality of NVR application: NVRs come with an interface that you can use with the attached monitor and also mobile application. The quality of those applications varies across brands and is the additional factor you should look at. We also recommend using smart hubs to do more intelligent integration of cameras into your home eco-systems.

Other Factors:

  • Built-in Wi-fi: There is a misconception you need to have wi-fi built-in in your NVR to use wireless cameras. This is certainly one of the ways, but using your router works just fine. A router would normally have a better signal and is more reliable which is why wi-fi in the network video recorder is not a mandatory feature. What is important though, is to have a strong wifi router for your smart home. Consider changing your wifi router if you have a weak signal or are still using the stock router from your ISP. {Our top pick for mid-range wifi router is Netgear R7000 or Google Wifi system for full coverage of the big house}
  • NRV or NVR bundle: As with many other devices you can save money by buying IP NVRs in a bundle with cameras or just on its own. The bundle would usually be 5-10% cheaper and easier to set up as it comes with comprehensive instructions on the installation process which is good for less experienced users. This obviously would not work if you already have a number of cameras installed. (Our pick for the best NVR security system with 4 bullet cameras by Amcrest)

Top pick for Best NVR system 2018: Amcrest NV2108E

Amazon Reviews:

  • Supports resolution up to 4K
  • 8MP cameras and below can be installed
  • Install HDD with max storage of 6TB
  • 30fps real-time recording
  • USB backup
  • Real-time viewing at 80Mbps speed
  • 8 PoE ports
  • Manufacturer Page
  • Manuals
  • Guides
  • Android
  • iOS

 

We are in love with the PoE Amcrest cameras (see our top picks for the best PoE cameras) and Amcrest did a great job with NVR as well. Amcrest NV2108E is an 8-Channel NVR capable of supporting up to 6TB of hard drives. A HDD is not included and you need to buy it (out top pick is WD Blue 4TB disk for its reliability)
It comes with a black NVR box with standard ports and controls, USB mouse, Cat5E cable and power supply. For initial setup, you will need a monitor or TV with VGA/HDMI port.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Great value for money
  • Easy to setup
  • Good quality desktop and mobile apps
  • Plug and play detection – cameras pop up immediately
  • ONVIF compliant to connect with other models

WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE 

  • Streaming works only with Internet Explorer (like many similar devices)
  • Can playback only 4 cameras
  • The network port can only support 10/100mb speeds
  • The USB port can be connected to external hard drive but it’s only used for backup configurations/settings/ existing recordings.

Installation and Use

As we mentioned you will need a VGA/HDMI cable and TV/ Monitor for setup to start connecting the network cable, the power cable, and monitor. After booting up, NV4108 asks you to setup a new user and walks you through the initial settings such as reset password, set IP and time. Then you will setup existing IP cameras where most ONVIF cameras (Amcrest or Foscam) will appear automatically. To control the Network Video Recorder you can use the buttons on the device or the included mouse.

Vs Competition

  • There is some significant functionality missing from the device (like external alarm, or gigabit Ethernet. This is standard for the price range and that functionality is not needed for the majority of users
  • Consider our top high-end surveillance camera GW Security 8 Channel NVR  if you need any of the advanced features.
  • If you do not need PoE ports, consider the Amcrest NV2108 ($79), which is an identical Network Video Recorder in the rest of the functions.
  • If you are planning to playback more cameras simultaneously (and tell us why please) and do not need PoE, you can go for the Amcrest NV4108-HS ($99)

Alternative pick for the best NRV system: Hikvision DS-7608NI-E2/8P

Hikvision 8CH PoE DS-7608NI-E2/8P

Our alternative pick is the 8 channel video by Hikvision. Hikvision has an outstanding quality of cameras and this network video recorder continues the trend. The device supports H.264+ and H.264 formats which reduce the sizes of video files, synchronous HDMI and VGA Output at high resolution and recording up to 6 Megapixel Resolution at 80 Mbps incoming bandwidth
It is slightly more expensive than Amcrest but has additional features that are worth to paying for.

Reasons to buy

  • Up to 2 SATA Interfaces which can accommodate extra storage or extra redundancy to avoid risking data loss
  • Great support from Hikvision USA
  • Good PC and Mobile applications

Be mindful of

  • No external alarm connections
  • No Super HD HDMI

Best High-end 8 Channel NVR security system: GW Security 8 Channel NVR

Best 8 Channel NVR

GW Security 8 Channel NVR is a high-end 8 channel NVR which has almost all the premium features we spoke about earlier. GW did their best in making a powerful machine with the great quality it is known for. We recommend buying Network Video Recorder especially if you need high bandwidth, advanced motion detection features and also ability to connect wired alarm inputs from motion sensors.

Reasons to buy

  • Recoding of 8MP per camera
  • Support of up to 16TB HDD
  • 8 alarm input, 1 alarm output
  • 3 USB3.0 ports
  • Advanced controls and motion detection that other brands do not have
  • Easy to setup

Be mindful of

  • Documentation is subpar in some cases so you might revert to online forums
  • PC Remote access through Internet Explorer only
  • Loud fan

Best 16 Channel Security Camera NVR: Reolink RLN16-410

Hikvision 8CH PoE DS-7608NI-E2/8P

Our top pick is the RLN16-410 by Reolink. Reolink has become a go-to brand for home video surveillance thanks to the great and consistent quality of the products and superb customer support. RLN16-410 is a 16 channel IP Camera Network Video Recorder with 16 PoE ports and is capable of recording up to 4MP camera feeds. NVR can playback 4channels video at 120fps. It comes with all the standard functions like HDMI streaming (not 4k), motion detection (not advanced) and good quality applications for both PC and mobile (Android and iPhone).

Reasons to buy

  • Great value for money
  • Can attach external HDD through eSATA port
  • Easy to setup
  • Good quality desktop and mobile app

Be mindful of

  • Noisy fan, which might be an issue for quiet rooms. You can replace it with the alternative fan (like Noctua NF-A4x10 FLX) in under 3 minutes
  • Browser Streaming only in IE
  • Built-in HDMI interface is a bit slow and chunky

Best 4 Channel NVR: Amcrest NV2104E

This was an easy choice. This Amcrest device provides one of the best balances of quality and price. Similar to our 8-channel choice this surveillance camera NVR supports 4 camera feeds and has 8 PoE ports to connect to PoE cameras. It has the same benefits and weaknesses as Amcrest NV2108E, but we recommend spending just a little more and get 8 channel NVR if you ever plan to grow your IP camera population.

Reasons to buy

  • Great value for money and easy to setup
  • Plug and play detection
  • ONVIF compliant to connect with other models

Be mindful of

  • Can playback only 2 cameras simultaneously
  • The USB port can be connected to external hard drive but it’s only used for backup configurations/settings/existing recordings
  • Not significantly cheaper than 8 channel version