A DVR or NVR security system is a choice you have to make before setting up a camera surveillance system. And this choice matters a lot since it can greatly affect your using experience, say the time you will have to spend on installation as well as the ultimate video quality you could expect.

In this post, you will find everything you need to know concerning the DVR and NVR to help you pick out the best DVR/NVR system.


What Is the Difference Between NVR and DVR

Get really confused by the difference between a NVR and DVR? To work out the puzzle, the first thing is to understand what is the NVR/DVR and how does the NVR/DVR work.

#1. What’s the NVR/DVR?

NVR stands for network video recorder, and DVR stands for digital video recorder. As you may have already noticed, both of them are responsible for video record and storage.

#2. How does NVR/DVR work?

The DVR, as an electronic device, inputs information directly from cameras, and the video is then encoded and processed within the DVR. That’s to say, the DVR would play a central role in DVR security systems and the cameras couldn’t work alone.

Well, how does NVR work? The NVR, on the other hand, is a more like a software program which simply inputs the videos from the network. That’s to say, the video on NVRs has already been encoded and processed within the camera.

#3. What’s the difference between NVR and DVR?

With different ways to process the videos, the NVR and DVR have to use different type of cameras, which shows their biggest difference:

A DVR uses analog CCTV cameras that are connected via a coax cable, while an NVR uses IP cameras (standalone network devices) that transmit information via a network cable.

In a nutshell, a NVR recorder is a network video recorder for IP cameras, which helps to expand storage and manipulate multiple cameras. By contrast, the DVR is not only a storage media for analog CCTV cameras but also a video processor that analog cameras must live with.

Bump: Heard about HVR? What is HVR exactly? To put it simple, a HVR is a combination of the DVR and NVR, which could work well with both analog cameras like DVRs and the IP cameras like NVRs. Actually, it is not a mainstream and considered as a form of the NVR by some.

DVR VS NVR, Which One to Choose

With the background knowledge of what the NVR/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 NVRs and DVRs, and I’ll explain later in details with pictures and videos.

A Comparison Table Between the NVR and DVR

Comparison NVR DVR
Cameras type IP cameras Analog cameras
Cameras supported Flexible Fixed
Recording quality Higher Lower
Signal stability Less stable More Stable
Set up process Easier Tougher
Bandwidth consumption More Less
Cost Higher Lower

Pros and Cons of NVR Security Systems:

The NVR system has already become the mainstream in this age of Internet. You may also have seen security manufactures expanded their production line with more and more NVR systems. All of these happened for a reason:

Advantages of the NVR camera system:

1. Flexible placement. As mentioned before, the NVR inputs videos from the network. That’s to say, you can place the NVR virtually anywhere as long as it is on the same LAN network as the IP cameras, including the front door, back yard, driveway, kitchens and other crucial places.

2. Simple cable connections. The cabling work is definitely a headache when considering a large build as the NVR or DVR system. Well, the 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, and the PoE NVR connects with all cameras with one single cable via a PoE switch. Both are impossible for DVRs which will need exactly point-to-point connection.

For a complete guide to run NVR/DVR security system wires in detailed steps, click here.

3. Higher recording quality. NVRs are paired up with IP cameras. Because of this nature of the NVR, you can enjoy higher quality images with 4MP even 5MP IP cameras, which is out of the question for analog cameras in a DVR security system.

4. Flexible cameras supported. This is a little tricky actually, since both NVR and DVR have fixed channel – the cameras you will see on the NVR/DVR. Yet, you can select the ones to be displayed on your NVR if you have more cameras than the NVR channels can handle, which makes the cameras supported flexible in a way.

5. Easy to use. You may use the point-to-point connection for zero configurations with NVR system (just as the DVR system could and advertised, which makes this no privilege for DVRs). And some NVR systems, including Reolink NVR systems, could recognize IP cameras in the same LAN and set in their address automatically which saves you trouble in configuration.

Disadvantages of the NVR camera system:

1. Less stable signals. Due to the dependency on the Internet, the NVR may suffer a signal loss and the recording quality may thereby be damaged when you use other wireless electronic devices (like phones) at the same time.

Yet, there are many ways you can try to minimize the influence. The most easy and effective one is to get a dual band WiFi NVR system, like the Reolink RLK4-210WB4, which enables a much less crowded WiFi channel and reduces greatly the WiFi interferences.

2. Potential compatibility issues. Not all IP cameras will work with a certain type of NVR. Generally speaking, get a NVR surveillance system directly could be a safe practice.

3. Bandwidth consumption. Due to the nature of IP network cameras, NVR systems do consumes more bandwidth than the DVR kit. However, it is not as much as you think, and it is far from being called a problem or disadvantage actually.

Some NVR/DVR systems from reputable brands like Reolink will offer choices of fluent and clear video streams to work with your network conditions. And the DVR systems will also consume network bandwidth, just as the NVR system does in fact, if you want to remotely access it or get a WiFi DVR.

Pros and Cons of the DVR Security Systems:

The DVR seems to be an old fashioned technology compared with the NVR. However it still gains its own advantages and keeps a large portion of dedicated users in market.

Advantages of the DVR System:

1. Money-saving. Price is always an important factor, especially on camera systems. Generally, the DVR security systems are priced less than the NVR ones since the analog cameras are much easier to manufacture with less functions and therefore cheaper than the IP cameras.

2. More stable signal. The biggest advantage of a DVR security system is that it works on its own. That’s to say, the DVR system will work with no breaks whatever your network condition is.

Disadvantages of the DVR System:

1. Lots of cabling work needed. First off, each camera will have a separate cable to deal with. And to run back all the wires from different positions, you will very likely run into some embarrassing situations like drilling holes in the wall or the monitoring places are just out of the cable reach of your cameras.

2. Lower quality videos. Even though the emerging technology has greatly improved the recording quality of analog cameras (the highest resolution is 1080p so far), it still can not to catch up with the NVR cameras.

3. The equipment needs to be closer. The cameras could be placed no more than 1000 feet away from the DVR for the decaying signal over the coax cable.

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

5. 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, Which One to Choose

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 – as long as you choose the right brand.

NVR systems have proven to be the best security solution by numerous users with its advantages of clearer videos & images, super easy wiring & configuration, flexible placement of cameras even in long distance, and more bonus features coming with IP cameras. The only thing left is to how to get the one that is really worth your investment.

DVR/NVR Security System Recommendations

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, which will be a huge cost in the long run, you may want to take a look at Reolink NVR and DVR security systems first.

The Best PoE NVR Security System: Reolink RLK8-410B4

Except for all the advantages of NVR security systems, the RLK8-410B4, with pre-installed and external HDD option for larger storage, could record for weeks’ long at 4MP super clear resolution.

And you may record longer and save the bandwidth, if the busy network is what you worry about, by switching from clear to fluent recording mode.

Check out the super image quality of the NVR camera RLC-410 this system carries, from a NVR security system Youtube review:

Basically a 4 camera system could build up a relatively comprehensive protection against burglars, break-ins or other dangers: one installed at 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? In that case, you may get additional Reolink PoE cameras with this RLK8-410B4 NVR system – Yes, it can support up to 8 cameras, or get a 16 channel NVR kit RLK16-410B8 with 8 cameras directly.

The Best WiFi NVR Security System: Reolink RLK4-210WB4

WiFi NVR system saves the trouble for running cables back to the NVR or any switches, and it could be super easy to configure all the settings if they are in the same LAN – even a first-hand could finish it in minutes of time.

Another thing worth mentioning is that even the WiFi NVR system could work without Internet, as long as you don’t need remote viewing via your smartphone, tablet or PC. Check two solutions to realize that easily.

The above two NVR systems, either the WiFi or the PoE one, could cover all your security needs in any situation you may have. There is a simple way to decide which one to go with no mistake:

If there is no problem with WiFi in the monitoring areas (use your smarphone to test the WiFi signal first), the wireless NVR security system is your best match.

If the monitoring area is too far-away, and you also want the remote view, the above PoE NVR system might serve you better since the signal could be extended with the PoE switch.PoE NVR System Cable Connection

Bonus Tips About NVR/DVR Security Systems for Those Having More Worries

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

Grasp the chance to save big on the upcoming Reolink Christmas sales – the NVR systems always get the most dollars off, you know? (Subscribe to us to be the first one to know when any NVR deal is available.) And you can always try these bonus tips to save money when buying a NVR/DVR system.

  • Want to have a quick decision to get a cost-effective NVR/DVR system for home with under $500 or $1000?

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

  • C.h. Cobb

    One thing I don’t recall seeing in your article is the bandwidth impact of NVR. An installation with 8 or 16 NVR cameras would seem to bring a non-fiber LAN to its knees. Am I wrong?

    • Rey Davila

      What if the NVR had its own subnet? Or on its own wired network.

      • Hello Rey Davila. Yes, the NVR has its own subnet. The NVR and IP cameras will create a private LAN.

    • Hello, C.h. Cobb. Yes, the NVR system will consume network bandwidth. NVR is the network recorder for IP cameras. And the bandwidth it consumes is determined by the number of IP cameras and the code stream. Reolink cameras offer you options for the different code streams. That’s to say you can change between clear and fluent modes to save the bandwidth.