Today’s camera systems are available in variety of camera configurations and options such DVR and NVR. So what are some of the differences in a DVR vs NVR camera system?

DVR vs NVR - Which Recorder Will Suit Your Needs Most

DVRs or Digital Video Recorders, have been used with coax-based security cameras ever since they replaced their predecessor, VHS tape recorders, a number of years ago. Now today, we have NVRs or Network Video Recorders utilizing IP-based security cameras starting to replace DVR or coax-based systems in some cases.

DVR vs NVR Systems – Common Features

DVRs and NVRs perform the same basic function of recording video from cameras to hard disk drives rather than VHS tapes. Both offer live real-time viewing and playback via a monitor or remote access via mobile phone apps. Most DVR and NVR systems also offer:

  • High-resolution video (but NVRs are capable of higher)
  • Night-vision (again NVRs are capable of higher)
  • Indoor and outdoor options with water-proof and vandal-proof casing

Beyond these basic functions there are many technical differences that can be confusing and make system selection difficult depending on your environment, intended use or other requirements.

DVR vs NVR Systems – Differences

The 3 biggest differences between DVR and NVR systems most consumers face are available camera types or capabilities such as total resolution, cable type used and cost.


There are more technical details involved explaining the two technologies differences but for the purpose of this article we will keep it as simple as possible. They both record video from camera feeds and offer similar options but they record via different transmission methods.

System Type:

Cabling Used




1MP to 8MP



Less than 1MP to 5MP

DVR Systems

A Digital Video Recorder (DVR) records analog or coax based cameras that send signal over coax cable. These cameras must connect directly to the DVR and the cable’s signal cannot be split. So in short, a DVR records coax analog-based cameras must be connected directly to the DVR. Most DVRs max out at 5MP resolution, 16-channels for cameras and are limited in available options.

Wired DVR Camera System Connection Diagram

Recommended Uses: Homes and Businesses on a tighter budget requiring 8 cameras or less, 24/7 or motion-based recording

NVR Systems

A Network Video Recorder (NVR) records IP camera data that is digitally transmitted via a video codec over CAT5e/CAT6 cables. These cameras can connect to an NVR either by way of a network switch or router and in some cases directly to a PoE switch in the recorder itself or even via a wireless radio. This allows for greater flexibility and installation of cameras in remote locations.

Our NVRs and IP cameras support the highest resolution available from 720p (1MP) all the way up to 4K (8MP) and are available with limitless configurations such as smart tracking Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ), built-in microphones, wireless-capabilities and much, much, more!

NVR Camera Systems require more time and knowledge to setup and configure than DVR Camera Systems. Analog DVR Camera Systems are as simple as plugging it in and turning it on. NVR Camera Systems require additional configuration before they will connect and record. The NVR must first be setup with each camera’s IP address, correct username/password credentials, protocols, ports and configured to record the streams from each camera. The camera’s resolution, frame-rate, codec and other camera specific options must be set appropriately for the given requirements or job.

None of this is necessarily “hard” – it is basic, fundamentals of networking and camera systems but does require skills that many traditional CCTV installers are unable to work with due to a lack of IT or computer networking background.

IP cameras are essentially mini-computers that have web-based administration interfaces that can be programmed and accessed without an NVR. Unlike analog coax-based cameras, IP cameras do not require an NVR unit to function. This is possible because IP cameras process video on the camera rather than on the DVR like analog camera systems do.

Most of our IP cameras also have an on-board SD-Card slot for recording directly on the camera in addition to or instead of an NVR! Some of our IP and PTZ cameras also have on-board microphones or I/O ports for recording audio or connecting speakers for two-way audio!

Remote or multi-site cameras can now be setup to record to an off-site NVR recorder. Simply put, there are a vast amount of options with IP cameras that you simply cannot get with typical analog camera technology.

DVR vs NVR Systems – Conclusion

Overall, DVR and NVR technologies offer a similar end-user experience when basic viewing and playback of cameras is done directly on the unit or remotely. Both units are considered more reliable than a wireless battery operated system, cloud-based recording or Wi-Fi system.

As far as picture quality and recording, a 2mp analog camera will produce will produce similar results when compared to a 2mp IP camera.

For smaller home owners and some smaller businesses, NVR systems of this complexity are not needed and a good high-quality CITS DVR Camera System will fit the bill at an affordable cost. However, larger homes and businesses will benefit from the flexibility and advanced features only available on a Clear IT Security NVR IP Camera System.

All Clear IT Security Security Camera systems offer large capacity recording options as well as similar menu layout, functions, recording capabilities and remote apps for viewing. For many, it will boil down to what your budget, expectations and requirements are.