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 decides the cost, the installation, and the ultimate video quality you could expect.

In this post, you will find everything you need to know about the DVR and NVR, which helps you to understand all the major differences between NVR and DVR, find the best recorder for your cameras, and pick out a future-proof modernized solution for higher level security.



What’s NVR, DVR, HVR

NVR stands for network video recorder, and an NVR recorder stores videos in a digital format to a hard disk drive, so that you can view, playback, and download recordings when needed. Usually, an NVR system is used with IP (Internet Protocol) cameras to provide digital signals.

And there are two types of NVRs: PoE NVR with RJ45 ports to connect PoE cameras, and WiFi NVR without camera input ports because it connects WiFi IP cameras wirelessly.

WiFi & PoE NVR

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 digital video recorder, and a DVR recorder saves analog videos in NTSC or PAL standard to its built-in hard disk drive. And typically, a DVR system works with analog security cameras.


1. Coaxial 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

Heard about HVR? What is HVR exactly? Simply put, a HVR (hybrid video recorder) is a combination of the DVR and NVR, which could work with both analog cameras like DVRs and the IP cameras like NVRs. The HVR system is usually priced much higher (over $1000) and is not a mainstream in the market.

Note: Generally, you will see NVR and DVR systems with 4 channels, 8 channels and 16 channels. These channels are an indicator of how many cameras may be installed into the system at a set time. For example, a 16 channel DVR means you can have up to 16 cameras running on the system.

How Does the NVR/DVR Work?

NVR (network video recorder) simply saves the processed videos from IP cameras. That’s to say, an NVR system needs no dedicated video processing hardware. By contrast, the DVR (digital video recorder) has a small chip inside to encode and process the analog videos into digital format before you can view and playback the recordings.

Both NVR and DVR are responsible for video recording and storage. After connected with a monitor, the NVR and DVR cameras can be easily accessed, manipulated, and configured.

NVR Settings

(NVR surveillance system Reolink RLK8-410B4 control panel)

And the NVR or DVR security system does NOT require Internet connection to work!

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

Only when you need to view the DVR/NVR camera systems off site, you need to connect it to a router.

NVR vs DVR, What’s the Difference

The difference between DVR and NVR is mostly reflected by the way they work. An NVR (network video recorder) stores videos from Ethernet or WiFi based IP cameras. And a DVR (digital video recorder) encodes, compress and stores videos through BNC connections from analog or coax based cameras.


A comparison chart shows the major differences between the NVR and DVR security systems:

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

DVR vs NVR, Which One to Choose

With the knowledge of 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, and I’ll explain later in details with pictures and videos.

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

The NVR system has already become the mainstream in this age of Internet. Many security camera manufactures have expanded their production line with more and more NVR systems. Many homeowners swap from DVR recorders to NVRs. And all these happened for big reasons.

NVR Systems

Check the following advantages of NVR systems:

#1. NVR CCTV records higher quality videos

NVR recorders are paired up with IP cameras, with a resolution starting from 2MP to 12MP (or higher). And this is out of the question for analog cameras in a DVR security system.

If the image quality is superior in NVR then the NVR system should be a clear winner, regarding you need it to identify the intruders’ face and plate number, which is impossible without 1080p resolution.

NVR System 2MP, 4MP, 5MP, and 12MP (4K)
DVR System 2MP (1080p) at best

#2. NVR security system is easy to wire

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 all cameras via the Ethernet cable. If you don’t want to connect all cameras directly to the NVR recorder, a PoE switch can make it easier.

Here is an NVR setup diagram.

IP Camera Cable Connection

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

#3. NVR recorder is flexible in placement

As mentioned before, the NVR inputs videos from the Ethernet cable. That’s to say, you can place the NVR virtually anywhere as long as the network cable can reach. And that is easy to extend with a PoE switch or injector. By contrast, the DVR CCTVs are rather limited by coax cable, with a max transmission distance of about 1000ft.

So you are free to place the security cameras 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 NVR stealers.

#4. NVR systems are easy to use and configure

NVR systems, both wireless and wired ones, can work without Internet. There’s no need for you to mess up with network configurations if you only want to record. Just connect your cameras with the NVR recorder and that’s it. NVR systems will add IP cameras on the same LAN automatically.

If you want to live view via your smartphone, add a router to the NVR setup diagram. And it’s super easy to set up security camera remote viewing with P2P enabled cameras. Find step-to-step instructions here.

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.

Once again, the NVR camera system does NOT need Internet to record and save footages.

And if you want to remotely access it, good news is that some NVR/DVR systems from reputable brands like Reolink will offer choices of fluent and clear video streams to work with your network conditions. So the NVR system will never eat up your home network bandwidth.

In fact, the DVR systems will also consume network bandwidth, just as the NVR system does.

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

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

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

Or you may just opt for the wired NVR system which will have no signal and WiFi issues.

DVR Security Systems:

The DVR (digital video recorder) seems to be an old fashioned technology compared with the NVR, with some obvious inconveniences to consider, although they gain the price advantage (which is not as competitive these days).

#1. Running cable is challenging for DVR systems.

The hard wiring is the biggest disadvantages of DVR security cameras.

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. DVR CCTV systems deliver 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 catch up with the NVR cameras.

4K vs 1440p vs 1080p vs 720p

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

The DVR IP cameras could be placed no more than 1000 feet away from the DVR for the decaying signal over the coax cable.

#4. DVR camera systems have higher maintenance cost.

As I mentioned, the DVR system transmits 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.


There are vendors saying that DVR (digital video recorder) is just as good as NVR (network video recorder) but it’s cheaper. That doesn’t sound convincing, right? You may argue that there are DVR CCTVs with high megapixels. But those DVR cameras will lose the price edge, since they need highly priced video processor chips to produce high quality images.

Instead, the NVR systems are becoming affordable over time as the technology matures.

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 not by any 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 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 for video storage, 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.

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.

Camera Resolution

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

Neither DVR surveillance systems nor NVR security systems provide battery backup. Yet, you can simply add a UPS to your digital or network recorder system to prevent it. 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?

You are still hesitant about going the IP camera route and getting a NVR, due to the network lag? You don’t need 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 RLK8-410B4 at 4MP 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 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 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.

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  • Josh Bensadon

    You missed some pro’s and con’s and imho, got one wrong. Camera’s supported, you said NVR-Flexible, DVR-Fixed. It’s the other way around. DVR uses standard NTSC (or PAL) camera signals, any analog camera will work. NVR’s on the other hand may not talk to all IP camera’s, check the list of supported cameras by that NVR. DVR’s require home run cables, right, and that also makes them harder to “hide”, while NVR’s just require a single network cable (or even a wireless bridge). One thing that was not discussed was the use of encoders, these would covert Analog cameras to work as IP cameras (You don’t magically get more pixels, just network connectibility). ie, if you already have analog cameras, you don’t have to buy a DVR if you really prefer to modernize with an NVR. Just buy the NVR, add an encoder for the exiting cameras, then go with IP cameras moving forward. Otherwise, the rest of this article is a great read and good advice! Well done!

    • Flora

      Hi Josh, thanks for your input and share! I’m with you on the point that DVR’s flexible in supporting different types of cameras. Well, the DVR need exactly point-to-point connection, which makes it kind of fixed and limited in placement. Thanks again for sharing all these good points. Please let me know if you have any further insights or questions.