DVR vs. NVR: What’s the Difference? Pros & Cons

Nowadays, the market for technology has expanded. There are various brands and companies out there. So let’s go over the difference between DVR and NVR.

Though they are only a letter away from each other, they are vastly different. DVR stands for Digital Video Recorder. In contrast, NVR means Network Video Recorder.

For instance, the process in which the video data is rendered differs between an NVR and a DVR.

This is one of many variations that can be found between the both of them. In this particular example, NVR encodes and processes all the needed data through the camera. While the DVR needs to retrieve the data and can then process the video in the recorder.

Furthermore, DVRs focus on using coaxial or analog types of cameras compared to the IP cameras used by NVRs. Clearly, there is more than one difference between DVR and NVR.

This tends to raise essential questions to users. Which is better? What works for my needs? Below we will answer all your questions, showing you the difference between the two, including the advantages and disadvantages of both.

Take a quick look at the picture below that shows a DVR vs NVR. The back part shows the basic differente between them.


Difference between DVR and NVR

Let’s dive deeper into the differences, specifically the one letter that changes a DVR to an NVR.

DVR- What does it mean?

Previously, we mentioned that DVR stands for Digital Video Recorder, but let’s understand what that entails. Keep in mind that DVRs only work with analog cameras.

A DVR will be responsible for receiving uncompressed data through coaxial cables and then processing them. That is done prior to sending them to the user as a digital signal.

NVR– What does it mean?

As mentioned above, NVR is short for Network Video Recorder. These recorders utilize Cat5/Cat6 Ethernet cables that have RJ45 plugs. Unlike DVRs, this recorder is used alongside Internet Protocol (IP) cameras.

Furthermore, we can expand on the two kinds of NVRs you can find in the market today, Wi-Fi and PoE NVRs. Wi-Fi NVRs consists of connecting with the cameras wirelessly and therefore have no camera port. 

While on the other side of the spectrum, PoE NVRs utilize cables, specifically PoE ones. They connect via Ethernet to your cameras.

HVR– What does it mean?

Short for Hybrid Video Recorder, HVRs are a mix of DVRs and NVRs.

Thus, it is the hybrid solution to using both analog and IP cameras as you wish. Guess you could say you get the best of both worlds?

However, getting the best, especially from both worlds, can cost you. Usually, HVRs tend to be above a consumer’s budget and are more affordable for businesses with so many cameras.

These systems are known to be priced at around $1000 or more. Thus, HVRs are considered unaffordable for the average consumer looking to install analog and IP cameras. It might be best to choose just one.

Do recorders (DVR/NVR) work without Wi-Fi?

What a crucial question! Before we discuss their advantages and disadvantages, we should mention that both NVR and DVR security systems can function completely without a connection to the Internet. 

The systems don’t need to connect to your router through any cables and should work fine after being powered up. This entails that videos will be recorded to a hard drive and can be accessed if so needed. In fact, if you need to learn how to install hard drives In DVRs and NVRs, check out our step-by-step article!

The only reason you would need to connect your new recorder to the Internet is to access the live footage from a remote location or receive incoming alerts and notifications. Otherwise, there is no need to connect your device.

Advantages and Disadvantages.

The difference between DVR and NVR lies in their advantages and disadvantages. In some aspects, you might consider the DVR to be superior; the same can be said for an NVR.

Further, in the article, we will discuss which should be your first choice. But for now, let’s cover their advantages and disadvantages separately. 

DVR System

DVRs can be easier to use as they have simpler software and tend to be on the lower end of the cost spectrum. Nevertheless, they usually require additional power supply cables to function properly. Let’s break down their pros and cons below.


DVRs are the more affordable option for consumers. They include more straightforward and simple software features. Its reliability on coaxial cables can be a pro for some, but it does limit the distance it can reach to more than 100 feet.


There is usually less coverage when using a DVR, and there isn’t a way to record audio. As mentioned previously, you might need additional power supply cables. And lastly, there will be a lower FPS and image quality found on DVRs.

NVR System

NVR systems are a newer addition to the market. They contain advanced technology that DVRs might not have. Nevertheless, they tend to be more expensive and full of features to get used to.


A notable advantage of using NVRs is the quality of the image produced, usually 4K or 5MP. There is also the support of cloud storage, which takes away from the hard drive era. 

In addition, with NVRs, you can have flexible placement and long-distance coverage. Furthermore, you will only need one cable to connect power and data simultaneously, but you can also choose to use your NVR wirelessly.

Thanks to the NVRs’ more advanced technology, you can also have motion detection, AI, and auto-track features. There are also videos with two-way audio. Lastly, you’ll get higher FPS than you’ll ever see with a DVR.


With an advance in technology comes an increase in price. And NVRs tend to be more expensive in the market compared to DVRs. Additionally, with the difference between DVR and NVR, the software and features present can take some time to get used to. 

Remember that you will need to learn and familiarize yourself with all the included features and software when purchasing an NVR. And that may take some time and a trying period to figure it out.

Difference between DVR and NVR

The most notable difference between DVR and NVR is how they process video data. In short, DVRs process the data inside the recorder, while NVRs do it through the camera itself.

Below, we will touch base on how they both operate and how they compare and contrast.


The traditional CCTV security systems use the well-known DVR recorder. This kind of recorder brings the data from the camera inside the recorder before processing the video data through the use of coaxial cables (analog cable). 

Take a look at the picture below that shows the front part oa a DVR

DVR Front Part

Do you see DVR have buttons to control every single channel ? Yes, they are there so you can control what is shown in the screen.

Now, take a look at the back part of the DVR, you can see the analog conector (for the coaxial cables).

DVR Back Part

These analog (coaxial) connectors allow you to connect the analog cameras to the DVR.

DVRs are usually only equipped for local storage through hard disks. DVRs only work with analog cameras; thus, you can find coaxial ports on the recorder. 

The majority of them work without audio and need an RCA connection if the audio can be established. DVRs have lower resolution and FPS as compared to other newer recorders. Lastly, They tend to be the more affordable choice in the market.


With newer, advanced technology in NVRs, you will be blown away by its software. The video data is processed directly at the camera instead of in the recorder. Since NVRs work with IP cameras, you will see RJ45 ports around the recorder.

The picture belows shows the front part of a NVR, you can see the IP camera and the network cable we use for this type of device.

NVR Front Part

Did you notice a NVR has fewer controls buttons ? Yes, because most of the time the control is done remotely via PC.

Now take a look at the back part of a NVR, you can see the network ports where you can connect the Network (UTP) cables.

NVR Back part

By the way, the network cables are also known as UTP (Unshield Twisted Pair Cables) and they are the same used for computers.

You will also see high resolution, such as 4K and higher FPS (frames per second). You will also find other benefits, such as native audio and support to save your footage in the cloud. With all of these things in mind, one can understand why an NVR can be more expensive yet affordable to customers.


Difference One: The Cloud

We have touch based on the NVR function that allows users to store their footage in the cloud. This can be a critical difference between choosing a DVR and an NVR. 

Primarily, this will enhance your safety as it will save your footage somewhere inaccessible to thieves. Furthermore, hard drives can become damaged, stolen, or stop working. Having a backup saved in a cloud will give you peace of mind. 

Additionally, there is no need to worry about your storage capacity, as many of these cloud storage services allow you to upgrade your plans as needed. Now keep in mind this is not available when using a DVR and might play an important role in your choice.

Difference Two: Distance

Another vital thing to note when making your decision is that DVRs are tied down to a certain distance. Using coaxial cables means you will have around 300 feet before connections and transmissions don’t work. 

While with NVRs, as long as the network is available, you can place your recorder anywhere you wish. Being tied down to a certain distance might not be an issue for some, but it might be a dealbreaker for others.

Difference Three: Type of Camera

As you’ve seen mentioned above, DVRs only work with analog cameras that generate raw analog data for the recorder to convert to digital. 

While on the other hand, NVRs work with IP cameras, both Wi-Fi and PoE. This means that the camera converts the raw video data to a digital format before reaching the recorder itself.

Due to this difference, NVRs will have RJ45 ports that are compatible with IP cameras. Keep in mind the NVRs can also be connected wirelessly. And coaxial ports can be found in DVRs because they are compatible with analog cameras. 

These ports allow the recorder and camera to connect and transmit data. DVRs must use coaxial cables to connect with analog cameras and be able to transmit their signals. While NVRs do not rely on cables.

Difference Four: Audio

Since DVRs are only compatible with analog cameras, recording sound can be complex. Analog video signals do not include nor support voice transmission to and from the camera. Therefore, you will need to add an individual audio RCA connector to your DVR to allow your video to have sound. 

In comparison, NVRs are equipped to record video footage with sound. Because you will be using IP cameras, you can integrate a voice into your footage if you want it. Lastly, in live video mode, you can even use the speaker of your camera to talk to someone on the other side.

Difference Five: Image Resolution

With newer technology, NVRs connect to IP cameras and therefore have a starting resolution of around 2MP, reaching 12 MP and higher. Compared to DVRs, this is out of the question.

The right choice

Now that we have broken down the main difference between DVR and NVR, it is time to choose one. Below, we will give you our honest opinion of which one you should invest in.

It has become clear that throughout the years, DVRs have not been able to keep up with NVRs. With more and more IP cameras reaching the market, you might find more advantages to investing in an NVR recorder.

At this time and age, NVR is more common and widely used. DVRs are also slowly stopping production as NVRs continues to grow with more software and technological advances.

Though NVRs might take some time to get used to because of all the different software, their advantages surpass DVRs by far. With its high resolution, processor chips, and ability to be wireless, it already wins by a landslide.

There is also the use of Ethernet cables, which allows data and power to be transmitted from one single cable and the ability to save footage in the cloud.

NVRs are also flexible in their placement and do not have a limit on distance. Are easy to set up and use and allows you to playback live video and utilize two-way audio through the camera.

Final Thoughts

Whether this is your first time buying a recorder or you are an old-timer trying to learn the differences, you don’t need to be a camera pro to see that an NVR has more advantages. 

Though it might come with a heftier price tag, it might just be worth all the benefits it brings along with it. Yes, a DVR works fine, but it is outdated for today’s time and age. 

More IP cameras are being launched in today’s market that cannot be used if you rely on a DVR recorder. If you are looking to have a high level of security in your home or your business, it is worth your time to invest in an NVR system.