Which is better NVR or DVR?

Are you in the market for a new video surveillance system? If you are, then you are likely to have one question on your mind. Which is better, NVR or DVR?


Both video surveillance systems are popularly used for business and residential premises. Your choice usually depends on your needs, costs, footage retention, and video quality.

This post will attempt to answer the question of which is better, NVR or DVR, by discussing their different components, pros, and cons. Without further ado, let’s dive straight in.


Which is Better NVR or DVR – Key Differences Between NVR and DVR

NVR stands for Network Video Recorder and DVR stands for Digital Video Recorder. Both surveillance systems are very common worldwide as they serve practically similar purposes. The idea behind both systems is to capture video footage through cameras and store them for future reference.

What are the differences between NVR and DVR if they perform similar functions? Their chief differences lie in their connections, cameras, and how they handle video data. The table below summarizes the differences between both video surveillance systems.

 Network Video Recorder (NVR)Digital Video Recorder (DVR)
Camera typeIP camerasAnalog cameras
Video processingIn the cameraIn the recorder
TransmissionWi-Fi or Ethernet cablesCoaxial cables
RecordsVideo and audioVideo alone
Flexibility Highly flexibleNot too flexible

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Now that we have a summary of the differences between NVR and DVR, let’s take our discussion further. Videos in an NVR system are captured using an IP camera that processes the videos before sending them to the recorder.


The camera communicates with the recorder via Wi-Fi or Ethernet cables. Because of this, you have so many cameras as long as they are connected to the same network.

DVRs seem to operate in a completely different manner. They make use of analog cameras that record videos and send them to the recorder.

It is at the recorder that the DVR system works on the raw video data and converts it into digital format. Since it uses coaxial cables, the DVR system can only record video footage. The only way to get audio data is to augment the connection with RCA cables.

One of the major differences between NVRs and DVRs is in their video quality. IP cameras record videos of better quality than Analog cameras.


Also, NVRs transmit data via Ethernet cables or Wi-Fi, unlike their DVR counterparts that use coaxial cables. The challenge with coaxial cables is that they reduce video quality after 90 meters. As such, video quality in DVRs is a lot poorer than what is obtainable from NVRs.

Which is better NVR or DVR – How They Work

To further help us differentiate between NVRs and DVRs, we will look at how both systems operate. We will also consider their components in this section.

NVR Components and How it Works

NVR video surveillance systems are more recent inventions. They are also fast becoming the more popular option because of their advanced technology and convenience.

As we described earlier, NVR systems use IP cameras to collect video data and convert it before transmitting it to the recorder.

The system uses either Ethernet cables or a wireless network to transmit converted data footage to the recorder. In the case of Ethernet cables, you connect the cable to the camera and recorder directly.

On the other hand, you connect the cameras to the recorder through a Wi-Fi network. The benefit of this is that you can connect as many cameras as you like to the recorder as long as they share the same network.

Below are the key components of the NVR system:

IP cameras

IP cameras are also known as Internet Protocol cameras. There are two types, wireless IP cameras and Power over Ethernet cameras. These cameras encode video data and process it before transmitting it to the recorder.

The benefit of IP cameras is that they can record audio data as well. Several cameras in this category support local recording so you can record directly to microSD cards. They also feature noise reduction, facial recognition, and video analytics.

You should note that not every IP camera is compatible with the NVR system. This is why you must check the specifications before purchasing.


The recorder in the NVR system serves one major purpose, store footage. Remember that it doesn’t need to convert raw videos since the camera does this job already. You can view converted data from the recorder.

Ethernet cables

These cables connect PoE IP cameras to the NVR. They help to transmit audio, video, and power via a single connection. The recommended cable standards are CAT6 and CAT5e. While the recommendation is that you don’t run the cables more than 100 meters, you can always make use of PoE switches or extenders.

DVR Components and How it Works

DVR surveillance systems are older inventions and are more affordable. You have to connect them to analog cameras using coaxial cables.

Since these cables don’t supply power like their Ethernet counterparts, you need a Siamese cable or power outlet to power the camera.

This is one of the major cons of the DVR system. The system converts raw video data into digital format through a chip inside the recorder.

Below are the key components of the DVR system:

Analog cameras

These cameras are more commonly known as CCTV cameras and they are more flexible than their IP counterparts. The main reason behind their flexibility is that they have very few restrictions in matching to DVR systems. They transmit low-quality videos and have fewer features.

Coaxial BNC Cables

You connect the camera to the DVR using a coaxial BNC cable. These cables cannot transmit power or audio. This is why you may need RCA connections if you need to transmit audio data.

Where the challenge lies is that DVR systems only have a few audio input ports. As such, just a few cameras will be able to record audio. Coaxial cables are also more rigid and considerably larger than Ethernet cables making them difficult to install.

Recorder and AD encoder

Every DVR recorder has a hardware chipset called an AD encoder. AD stands for “Analog to Digital” and it converts the raw data from the camera into digital signals. This is the only way the recorder can store the data for viewing in the future.

Which is Better NVR or DVR – Pros and Cons

To conclude our discussion on which is better, NVR or DVR, we will look at the pros and cons of each. The tables below compare the pros and cons of each of these systems.

Audio is included.More affordable.
High-quality video.Works with mix-and-match analog cameras.
Easier to install and maintain.Can work with existing coaxial cables.
Wider coverage with fewer cameras. 
Cameras can be connected over Wi-Fi. 
Ethernet cables solve the problem of data transmission and power. 



More expensive option.No wireless option.
Limited network security.Maximum transmission distance of 90 meters.
Possible signal loss when the Wi-Fi is overloaded.Low video quality.
Not every IP camera is compatible with NVR systems.Limited audio capability.
 No network connectivity.
 Installation and maintenance of coaxial cables are difficult.

Which is better NVR or DVR?-Wrapping Up

Which is better, NVR or DVR? In the end, both systems are worth it depending on what you prefer. We have outlined how they work and their pros and cons in this post.

Weigh your options to find out which one best suits you. If you have any questions, you can drop them in the comments section below.


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