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DVR vs NVR – How to Choose and Buy DVR/NVR security camera system

A DVR or NVR security system is a choice you have to make before setting up a video surveillance system. It matters a lot since it decides the cost, the installation, the best video quality you could expect.

Now scroll down to find all you need to know about the DVR and NVR, including what does the NVR or DVR stand for, the differences between NVR and DVR, the top digital or network video recorders, and the DVR or NVR system that works best for you.


What’s NVR, DVR, HVR

The NVR full form is a network video recorder. As the name suggests, NVR recorders record videos from the network directly 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: The PoE NVRs, generally with Ethernet ports to connect PoE cameras, and the WiFi NVRs with NO camera ports because it connects WiFi IP cameras wirelessly.

  1. RJ45 port to connect PoE cameras
  2. eSATA port to connect external disk drives
  3. VGA & HDMI port to connect the monitor
  4. LAN port to connect the router

DVR stands for the digital video recorder. DVR recorders process uncompressed videos with coaxial cables and compress the video to a digital signal before sending it out. The DVR system works with analog cameras.

  1. Coaxial port to connect analog cameras
  2. eSATA port to connect external disk drives
  3. VGA & HDMI port to connect the monitor
  4. LAN port to connect the router

Heard about HVR? What is HVR exactly? Simply put, an HVR (hybrid video recorder) is a combination of the DVR and NVR, which could work with both analog cameras and the IP cameras. The HVR system is usually priced much higher (over $1000) and beyond the consumer-grade.

Note: Generally, you will see NVR and DVR systems with 4 channels, 8 channels, and 16 channels. The channel indicates how many cameras can be used within the DVR or NVR system. For example, a 16 channel DVR enables you to have up to 16 cameras connected to the system.

How Does the NVR/DVR Work?

The network video recorder (NVR) saves the encoded videos from IP cameras from the network. That’s to say, an NVR system needs no dedicated video processing hardware.

By contrast, the digital video recorder (DVR) has a small chip inside to encode and process the analog videos into digital format first so that you can view and playback the recordings.

Both NVRs and DVRs are used for video recording and storage. After connected with a monitor, the NVR and DVR cameras can be easily accessed, viewed, and configured.

NVR vs DVR, What’s the Difference

NVR vs DVR sum-up: The biggest difference between NVR and DVR is the cameras and cabling they use. A network video recorder (NVR) records IP cameras wirelessly (WiFi NVR) or via Ethernet cables (PoE NVR), while a digital video recorder (DVR) records analog cameras via coaxial cables.

That’s to say, the NVR is for IP camera recording and the DVR is for analog or coax-based camera recording.

Differences Between NVR and DVR Security System
Comparison Full-Form NVR/DVR Cameras Transmission Cables
NVR Network Video Recorder IP (Internet Protocol) Cameras Ethernet Cables
DVR Digital Video Recorder Analog & Coax Based Cameras Coax Cables

A video shows you the differences between NVR and DVR vividly. Check it out for more insights on the DVR vs NVR issue, before you read on to gather other detailed and useful information. (Video information update: Note that nowadays some high-end DVR systems can do 4K recording to compete for the NVR systems, but the pricing could be steep.

Digital & Network Video Recorders Without Internet

Before we dig further into the difference between DVR and NVR, it could be good to know that both NVR and DVR security systems can work without the Internet connection!

If you want the NVR or DVR systems to record to a hard drive so you can look back when needed, the NVR or DVR CCTVs don’t need to hook up with the Internet (no need to connect to your router). The DVR and NVR cameras will work on their own proprietary network once powered up.

The Internet is only needed if you want to view the DVR/NVR camera systems live off-site or push alerts.

Related: 2 Solutions for Wireless Security Cameras Without Internet

DVR vs NVR, Which One to Choose

After learning what the NVR and DVR system is and their differences, let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of NVR and DVR, and you will then know which one suits you better.

Check the table below for a quick comparison between the NVR recorder and DVR recorder:

Comparison NVR (Network Video Recorder) DVR (Digital Video Recorder)
NVR/DVR cameras IP cameras Analog or coax based cameras
Recording quality Higher Lower
NVR/DVR system setup Easier Tougher
NVR/DVR camera cost Higher Lower

NVR Systems

The network video recorders have already become the mainstream at this age of the Internet, with more and more camera manufacturers and homeowners swap from producing and using DVRs to NVRS.

And all this happened for big reasons. Check the following advantages of NVR systems:

#1. NVR CCTV records higher quality videos

The network video recorders or NVRs are paired up with IP cameras, with a resolution starting from 2MP to 8MP (or higher), which is out of the question for analog cameras in a DVR security system.

And that’s why so many users and tech experts suggest that the NVR systems should be a clear winner, considering that you need enough resolution to identify the intruders’ face and plate number.

Difference Between DVR and NVR in Resolution
NVR System 2MP, 4MP, 5MP, and 8MP (4K) systems are commonly seen
DVR System 720p, 2MP (1080p) are most popular

* Some security brands have produced 4K DVR security camera systems. However, with improved clarity, the DVR system will lose its price edge, since they need highly-priced video processor chips to produce high-quality images.

#2. NVR security system is easy to wire

The cabling work is definitely a headache in setting up an NVR or DVR system. Good news is that the NVR security system makes the cable work easy enough even for a beginner:

The WiFi NVR visits cameras through the network wirelessly, so you don’t need to worry about how to run wires to the network video recorder. The PoE (Power over Ethernet) NVR provides both power and network to the cameras via a single Ethernet cable. You may also use a PoE switch to make long-distance wiring even easier.

Compared with NVR systems, the DVR system needs an exact point-to-point connection between the cameras and the digital network recorder, and the analog cameras require both wires for power and data transmission.

Difference Between DVR and NVR in Wiring
NVR System Wireless or via single Ethernet cable for power & data
DVR System Both power cable and audio/video cable needed

#3. NVR recorder is flexible in placement

As mentioned before, the NVR uses IP network cameras. That’s to say, you can place the NVR virtually anywhere as long as the network is available. By contrast, the DVR CCTVs are rather limited by the coax cable, with a max transmission distance of about 300 ft.

So you are free to place the network video recorder to record anywhere you want, like the front door, backyard, garage, or even the remote shed. And it’s easier to hide the NVR in some hard-to-access spots like the attic, ceiling, inside walls, closet, or even crawlspace if you worry about your NVR gets stolen.

Difference Between DVR and NVR in Placement
NVR Cameras Anywhere with network access
DVR Cameras Limited by the coax cables

#4. NVR systems are easy to use and configure

NVR systems may give you the impression that it involves lots of network configurations.

But that’s WRONG.

Thanks to the P2P NVR security cameras, you may set up the NVR system with literally ZERO configuration.

You only need to download the network video recorder software, ZOSI APP, for example, the IP cameras will automatically show up in the LAN network device list. Just add the cameras to the client with your password, the setup is done!

No complex port forwarding and configuration.

Here is how to set up NVR with IP cameras, using the network video recorder system.

To access the camera via phone, just enter the UID (unique ID number) of the network video recorder and its password in the NVR camera app.

Editor’s Note: You can see the camera live and recordings without a network! Just follow this guide to connect your NVR camera system to a monitor (TV or PC), you can then see the live view and recordings right away, without connecting it to a router.

Other Things You Need to Know About NVR Systems

Here are more notes for you to make the best purchase of NVR CCTV systems.

#1. NVR surveillance systems do NOT use more bandwidth than the DVR system.

Note that NVR camera systems do NOT need the Internet to record and save footage.

The security systems will consume bandwidth only when you access it remotely via phone or PC software, which makes no difference between the DVR and NVR systems.

And some network-friendly brands like ZOSI offers choices of fluent and clear video streams to save your bandwidth.

#2. Buy the NVR and cameras from the same manufacturer to avoid compatibility issues.

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

#3. If you are keen on WiFi NVR camera systems, choose the one with the dual-band WiFi signal.

Due to the dependency on the Internet, the wireless NVR may suffer a signal loss when you use other wireless electronic devices (like phones) at the same time. So choose a high-quality WiFi NVR system that features a dual-band boosted WiFi signal is the best option.

DVR Security Systems:

Admittedly, the DVR (digital video recorder) has its price advantage, it seems to be less competitive these days with some obvious inconveniences.

#1. Running cable is challenging for DVR systems.

Hard-wiring is the biggest disadvantage of DVR security cameras.

First off, each camera will have two cables to deal with, one for power and one for audio and video. And it could be more difficult if your monitoring places are out of reach of the coax cable.

#2. DVR CCTV systems deliver lower-quality videos.

Even though emerging technology has greatly improved the recording quality of analog cameras, it still can not catch up with the NVR cameras.

Some MPX (megapixel over coax) cameras could handle higher resolution, but they will cost you considerably, even more than NVR cameras.

#3. The equipment needs to be closer to DVR security systems.

The DVR IP cameras could be placed no more than 300 feet away from the DVR for the decaying signal over the coax cable.

#4. DVR camera systems have a higher maintenance cost.

As I mentioned, the DVR system transmits the signal via coax cable, which is much more vulnerable to the environments like the rain or strong wind with the pass of time. If they are exposed outside, you’ll much likely to pay an extra bill in fixing the cable issues.

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

The DVR system, not to say it is outdated but it is definitely not something futuristic, gains decreasing market share every year.

And that will lead to many potential problems you might have never thought of. For example, some new house owners will find that there is no coax cable prewired to support the DVR system, and you may even find it difficult to get a local DVR system repair man in the future when it becomes truly outdated.

The Verdict: NVR vs. DVR System, What You Need to Consider

To make the choice easy enough for you, the prominent thing to consider is actually the wiring task.

If you are new to security cameras, and by no means, a tech guy, then an NVR security camera system will make the whole installation and configuration easier for you. Well, if you have some analog cameras or coax cable installed, a DVR camera system may be a handy solution.

Actually, I’ll recommend NVR systems to anyone who wants to have a higher level of security in-home or business, since you’ll have so much more to gain with just a little more cost these days.

DVR/NVR Security System Recommendation

Have an idea of whether DVR or NVR video recorder will suit you best? There is only one last step to get your best pick: choose a trustworthy and reputable brand with great reviews.

If you don’t want to get contracted into the monthly fees and subscriptions for video storage, which will be a huge cost, in the long run, you may want to take a look at ZOSI NVR and DVR security systems.

Except for all the advantages of NVR security systems, the RN-261W8 could record for weeks’ long at 2MP or 5MP super clear resolution with built-in 2TB HDD. It’s easy to set up and view via ZOSI customized software.

Also, check out the video footage of the NVR camera:

Basically, a 4 camera system could build up comprehensive protection: one installed at the front door looking down the driveway and porches; one for the backyard; one for securing the off-street windows; and one for indoor use or other critical positions you may have. (For more suggestions about where to place security cameras, click here.)

Have even more places to cover? You may purchase additional ZOSI PoE cameras to work with this NVR system – Yes, it can support up to 8 cameras.

Hot Questions & Quick Answers for NVR/DVR Systems

Here we also collected some frequently asked questions about DVR and NVR IP camera systems.

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

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

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

DVR and NVR security systems don’t provide battery backup, but you can add a UPS to your digital or network recorder system to prevent these incidents. A battery-powered security camera is also a good idea to act as a backup when the power is out.

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

Still hesitant about going the IP camera route and getting an NVR due to the network lag? You don’t need to worry too much about it. A properly configured network will have no such problems at all.

For example, you can view the 8ch NVR IP camera system RN-261 at 2MP full resolution without any network lag with a stable 6-8Mbps upstream of bandwidth.

#4. How far can I go with the NVR and DVR camera systems?

There is a major difference between the NVR and DVR camera systems concerning their transmission distance. For an NVR IP camera system, you are actually not limited by the wires. Well, for the DVR camera system, it can typically receive signals within the range of 1000ft.

Bonus Tips About NVR/DVR Security Systems

  • What if someone breaks in and steals your DVR/NVR? What’s the safest place around the house to place or hide the little box?

Read these expert tips to prevent your NVR/DVR from being stolen.

  • Yes, it’s easy to run wires of NVR systems, yet how to do it in specific steps? And what’s the best NVR/DVR wires solution?

Get detailed ideas to run NVR/DVR wires here (explained in steps).

  • Have you searched around and still can’t find quality as well as affordable ones? Or want to save more money for your perfect DVR/NVR security solution?

Grasp the chance to save big on the upcoming ZOSI Christmas sales – the NVR systems always get the most dollars off, you know? And you can always try these bonus tips to save money when buying an NVR/DVR system.

  • Want to have a quick decision to get a cost-effective NVR/DVR system for home with under $150 or $400?

Here is a top NVR system list at an affordable price. You’ll definitely find your best match here in 1 minute without regret!

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