NVR vs DVR: The Difference between NVR and DVR

The main difference between NVR and DVR systems is how they process video data. DVR systems process the video data at the recorder, whereas NVR systems encode and process the video data at the camera. NVR systems are for IP camera recording, while DVR systems are for recording analog or coax-based cameras. If you’re wondering which is better between DVR and NVR, keep reading as we discuss the pros and cons of each system.

In this article, we will help you to find the best outdoor wireless security camera that works with either DVR or NVR systems.

In this comparison, we will focus on the following parameters for both DVR and NVR systems.

Signal Network Signal / Analog Signal
Ports RJ45 ports / Coaxial ports
Audio Two-way / external RCA connector
Distance Unlimited / Max 300ft

What’s the Meaning of NVR and DVR

NVR Full Form and Meaning

NVR stands for Network Video Recorder, which records videos directly from the network using Cat5 or Cat6 Ethernet cables with RJ45 plugs. The NVR system is used with IP (Internet Protocol) cameras.

There are two types of network video recorders: PoE NVRs, which generally have Ethernet ports to connect PoE cameras, and WiFi NVRs, which have no camera ports because they connect to WiFi cameras wirelessly.

DVR Full Form and Meaning

DVR stands for Digital Video Recorder, which means that DVR recorders process uncompressed videos with coaxial cables and compress the videos to digital signals before sending them out. The DVR system works with analog cameras.

What is HVR?
HVR (Hybrid Video Recorder) is a combination of DVR and NVR systems, which can work with both analog cameras and IP cameras. The HVR system is often priced much higher than the DVR or NVR systems, usually over $1000, which may be beyond many consumers’ budgets.
DVR and NVR systems typically come in 4-channel, 8-channel, and 16-channel options. The channel count indicates how many cameras can be connected to the DVR or NVR system. For instance, a 16 channel DVR would enable you to have up to 16 cameras connected to the system.

What Are the Differences between DVR and NVR

The main difference between NVR and DVR is how they process video data.

To provide a comprehensive understanding of how NVR and DVR systems work differently, we have listed the differences between them in the chart below.

Differences Between DVR and NVR:

The primary difference between NVR and DVR is that DVR systems process the video data at the recorder, whereas NVR systems encode and process the video data at the camera.

Process the video data at the camera Process the video data at the recorder
IP camera Analog camera
Ethernet cables or wireless Coaxial cables
High FPS and high resolution like 5MP or 4K Low FPS and low resolution
Newer & more advanced technology Traditional CCTV systems
RJ45 ports for IP cameras Coaxial ports for analog cameras
Video footage with audio natively Mostly work without audio (RCA connection is required)
Cloud-based servers supported Local hard disk storage only
More expensive (but affordable) Cheaper

Working with Camera:

NVR can work with IP cameras, including PoE and WiFi cameras, which convert raw video data format to digital signals and transmit it to the NVR for storage. DVRs can only work with analog cameras, which generate raw analog format signals.


NVR accepts data as a digital signal that has already been processed in IP cameras and does not require additional encoding. DVRs accept analog signals from cameras and transcode the original analog signal into a digital signal for storage.

Port and Cable:

NVRs usually connect to IP cameras via RJ45 ports provided Ethernet cables or in a wireless way, while DVRs typically have coaxial ports for analog cameras, which transmit analog signals via coaxial cables.

Image Quality:

NVRs are paired up with IP cameras with resolutions starting from 2MP to 12MP (or higher), which is not achievable with analog cameras in a DVR security system. Some security brands have produced 4K DVR security camera systems, but with improved clarity, the DVR system loses its price edge.


NVRs are integrated with IP cameras with natively recorded video footage, including audio. DVRs require additional installation of an audio RCA connector to record sound.


NVRs place no limits on the system location, but DVRs are limited by the transmission distance of the coax cables, which is around 300ft.

Cloud-Based Server:

Most NVRs can use cloud storage for surveillance video information storage, which is not available for DVRs.

User Experience:

NVR security cameras offer a simple setup process with the P2P function, which allows automatic camera detection in the LAN network device list and provides easy installation. DVRs require time to familiarize users with the system interface and offer basic and simple features.

The Pros and Cons of DVR and NVR

DVR vs. NVR, which is better?

Here’s our professional advice: If you’re starting to build your CCTV system from scratch, it’s best to choose an NVR system. The pros of an NVR system include the use of newer and more advanced technology, higher FPS, and higher resolutions like 5MP or 4K. The cons include being typically more expensive and requiring a little more time to become familiar with all of its new features.

NVR CCTV System: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
High image quality 5MP or 4K Typically, more expensive
Single cable for power & data or work wirelessly Need time to get familiar with the software and all new features
Cloud storage supported
Flexible placement
Advanced feature: AI/motion detect/auto track
Video with audio natively/two-way speak
Long distance coverage

DVR CCTV System: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Simpler software features Lower image quality and lower FPS
Cheaper Need additional power supply cables
Distance limited within 100ft due to coaxial cables
Can’t record audio or need more cables
Less coverage

DVR vs NVR, Which One to Choose

Now that we’ve learned about NVR and DVR systems and their differences, let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of each to help you determine which one is best suited for you.

Network video recorders (NVRs) are now mainstream with more camera manufacturers and homeowners choosing them over digital video recorders (DVRs). Here are some reasons why:

1. NVR CCTV records higher quality videos

NVRs pair with IP cameras, with resolutions ranging from 2MP to 12MP or higher. This resolution is far superior to that of analog cameras in a DVR security system. Advanced resolution capabilities make NVRs a clear winner for identifying intruders’ faces and license plate numbers.

While some security brands have produced 4K DVR security camera systems to improve clarity, the DVR system loses its price edge due to the expensive video processor chips required for high-quality images.

2. NVR security systems are easy to wire

NVR cabling work is simplified. WiFi NVR wirelessly visits cameras through the network, removing the need to run wires to the network video recorder. Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) NVRs provide both power and network to cameras over a single Ethernet cable. Long-distance wiring can be done with a PoE switch.

In contrast, DVR systems require exact point-to-point connections between the cameras and digital network recorder, and analog cameras necessitate wires for both power and data transmission.

3. NVR recorders are flexible in placement

Because NVRs use IP-network cameras, they can be placed virtually anywhere with network availability. In contrast, DVR CCTVs are limited by coax cables with a maximum 300ft transmission distance.

4. NVR systems are easy to use and configure

NVR systems may seem complex, but P2P NVR security cameras make configuration a breeze.

With Zosi Smart App, for example, IP cameras automatically show up on the LAN network device list. Add cameras to the client with your password, and the setup is complete. Complex port forwarding and configuration are not required. You can access cameras via phone by entering the unique ID number (UID) of the network video recorder and its password in the NVR camera app.

Editor’s Note: You can view a live stream and recording of cameras without a network by following this guide to connect your NVR camera system to a monitor. You can view and replay recordings immediately without connecting to a router.

What is the Best outdoor wireless security camera system with DVR or NVR?

Editor’s Choice: Based on our professional experience in the field of security cameras, we recommend the best outdoor wireless security camera with DVR/NVR product model: Zosi C182.

When choosing an outdoor wireless surveillance system, consider the outdoor environment, wiring difficulty of installation and camera coverage area, compatibility, and later upgrade space.

We recommend a package of NVR and camera to provide comprehensive protection. The NVR is the better choice due to advanced technology and increasing adoption by home surveillance camera manufacturers. NVR-compatible systems are also more future-proof. Although the price of an NVR system is slightly higher than a DVR system, the price remains affordable.

If you have a tight budget, we recommend purchasing an outdoor wireless security camera system with DVR from trusted platforms like Zosi Official, considering waterproofing, price range, monitoring coverage area, compatibility, and your budget to make an informed decision.

C182 - 4K POE Surveillance Cameras Security Monitor Systems

  • 4K Ultra HD
  • Smart Person/Vehicle Detection
  • Customize Detection Zone
  • Starlight Night Vision
  • 24/7 Video & Audio Recording
  • Access Remotely & Flexibly
  • Two Way Audio

Why Zosi C182?

It provides budget-friendly protection, compatibility with wireless cameras, high image quality, cloud services, and reliable storage with a built-in 2TB HDD. Zosi is a reputable brand, and our products are featured in notable tech media like Tech-ET and LifeHackster.

Can DVR or NVR work without an internet connection?

Both NVR and DVR security systems will work without an internet connection. If you want the NVR or DVR system to record videos to a hard drive so that you can look back when needed, the system doesn’t need to connect to the internet. Once powered up, the cameras and NVR/DVR work on their proprietary network. An internet connection is only required for offsite live view and push alerts.

More Notes About NVR CCTV Systems

NVR Security Systems:

1. NVR surveillance systems do not use more bandwidth than DVR systems.

Note that NVR camera systems do not require the internet to record or save footage.

These systems only consume bandwidth when accessed remotely via phone or PC software.

Some network-friendly brands like Reolink offer choices of fluent and clear video streams to save on bandwidth.

2. When purchasing an NVR and cameras, buy from the same manufacturer to avoid compatibility issues.

Not all IP cameras will work with the network video recorder (NVR) from a specific brand. If you want to add more cameras or find a recorder for your cameras, purchase from the same manufacturer to avoid compatibility issues.

3. If interested in WiFi NVR camera systems, select one with dual-band WiFi signal.

Due to dependency on the internet, wireless NVRs may suffer a signal loss when other wireless electronic devices (i.e., phones) are used simultaneously. It’s best to choose a high-quality WiFi NVR system with a dual-band boosted WiFi signal.

DVR Security Systems:

Admittedly, the digital video recorder (DVR) has a price advantage, though it is less competitive today due to some obvious inconveniences.

1. Running cable is challenging for DVR systems.

The hard wiring necessary for DVR cameras is their biggest disadvantage. Each camera requires two cables — one for power and one for audio and video — and this could become even more difficult if monitoring places are out of reach of the coax cable.

2. DVR CCTV systems deliver lower-quality videos.

Although new technology has improved the recording quality of analog cameras, it still can’t match NVR cameras. Some MPX cameras have higher resolution capabilities, but they can be more expensive than NVR cameras.

3. Equipment needs to be closer in DVR security systems.

DVR IP cameras must be placed no more than 300 feet away from the DVR to prevent a decaying signal over the coax cable.

4. DVR camera systems have a higher maintenance cost.

The DVR system transmits the signal via coax cables, which are more vulnerable to the elements like rain and wind, leading to expensive fixes.

5. Digital video recorders have lots of potential issues to deal with.

Although the DVR system isn’t outdated, it’s becoming less popular every year, leading to potential problems homeowners might not have considered. For example, new homeowners might find no coax cable prewired to support the DVR system.

The verdict: NVR vs. DVR system, What you need to consider
The choice between NVR and DVR systems should be largely based on the wiring task.

Tips about NVR or DVR CCTV Systems

Worried about theft of your NVR/DVR system? Here are some expert tips to help keep it safe.

Consider placing the NVR/DVR system in an inconspicuous location and hiding it somewhere not immediately visible to intruders or guests.

Safes or lockboxes provide additional security. If keeping the system outside, consider investing in a weatherproof enclosure with a lock.

While NVR systems are generally easy to wire, specific step-by-step instructions may still be necessary. For detailed advice on running NVR/DVR wires, click here.

FAQs about NVR/DVR System

1. How can I determine if I’m able to get full 1080p on each channel, given that it’s an 8ch or 16ch NVR?

You can check the video resolution for each channel on the resolution page of your NVR camera system.

2. Is there a battery backup for the video recorder if the power is tripped or there is a blackout?

DVR and NVR security systems do not provide battery backups. However, you can add a UPS to your digital or network recorder system to prevent these incidents. A battery-powered security camera can also act as a backup when the power is out.

3. Is there any network lag with NVR camera systems?

If you’re hesitant about going the IP camera route and getting an NVR due to network lag, don’t worry. A properly configured network will not have such problems. For instance, the 8CH NVR IP camera system C182 streams at 4K full resolution without any network lag with a stable 6-8Mbps upstream bandwidth.

4. How far can the NVR and DVR camera systems work?

There is a significant difference between the transmission distance of NVR and DVR camera systems. NVR IP camera systems are not limited by wires, whereas DVR camera systems typically receive signals within a 1000ft range.


If you are new to security cameras or lack technical expertise, an NVR security camera system will make installation and configuration more manageable. If you already have analog cameras or coax cables installed, a DVR camera system may suffice. However, I recommend NVR systems for anyone who wants a higher level of home or business security, as you’ll gain much more with only a slightly higher cost these days.