How To Get The Sharpest Images Possible Out Of Your Old Consoles

How To Get The Sharpest Images Possible Out Of Your Old Consoles

If you've tried playing a retro console on a modern HDTV, you may not have liked what you saw — smeary, stretched images that are a far cry from the sharp chunky blocks of yesteryear. Luckily, there's a better way for purists to get a crystal clear image that doesn't involve buying an old CRT TV.

The guys at My Life In Gaming did an amazing in-depth technical breakdown of how to get the cleanest picture out of your physical retro consoles. They not only explain the various resolutions, terminologies and cords, but also break down why they matter (and why you shouldn't trust the upscaler in your HDTV if your source is 240p).

You might not want to make the effort, but it's hard to argue with the results:

How To Get The Sharpest Images Possible Out Of Your Old Consoles

Here's a very brief overview of a few of their points:

-Start by avoiding the hell out of composite. Even S-video is a step in the right direction.

- Most consoles before the Dreamcast outputted to 240p, a lower resolution than the standard 480i. The scalers in most HDTVs are not correctly optimised for 240p signals, which end up reading the signal as interlaced. This creates a smeary, ugly image. Many HDTVs are even phasing out those old inputs altogether.

- They recommend using an external scaler, specifically a high-end Japanese scaler called the XRGB-mini FRAMEMEISTER, which correctly upscales your signal and outputs the image in HD over HDMI with virtually no lag.

- Going beyond Composite and S-Video, RGB is the cleanest source you're going to get out of many old consoles. A lot of those old consoles are hardwired for RGB if you have the correct cable. They prefer using SCART cables, and recommend an eBay seller called retro_console_accessories.

-Some consoles, like the NES have to be modified output RGB. They personally recommend the NESRGB board, though warn that they sell out fast.

via My Life In Gaming


Comments

    Chris, thanks for the write up. Much appreciated.

    Awesome. So far about the best I've managed is setting my older inputs to 4:3 to remove the stretch.

    Wonder how the latency is on an upscaler like that.

    I'd rather stick with CRT though. Gotta keep the light gun alive :P

      My thoughts exactly!

      I'll have to keep my CRT around for my Saturn and DC light guns, for now.

      If they ever solve this dilemma - I'll be happy to get rid of the old large space occupying CRT.

      latency is fine, these things are stupidly quick at what they do, i'd be shocked if you can notice it... but yes... lightguns are still a reason to keep a CRT around ;)

        Even on something like Guitar Hero?

        That's where it throws me the most. Although playing Super Mario Kart on an LCD screen directly plugged in was a complete and total nightmare, and I don't mean because of the blurry picture.

          You can at least tune guitar hero video audio lag.
          I've got a xrgb mini and its awesome (once updated and setup correctly), the lag is like 12ms or less (iirc) the bigger problem will be what your tv's inherit lag is and making sure to to feed it at its native res for lowest possibe lag.

            Tuning for lag is only a kind-of solution though. Especially when in GHIII you only have the one setting, not separate ones for audio and video. Even when it is set up correctly, I still often get thrown off by the delay between when I do things and when the notes "fire" off in reaction to being hit, since that's something impossible to tune for.

          not sure why you'd want to run a game like guitar hero through a device like this in the first place? whats the oldest console that has guitar hero? ps2? get some component cables and hook it up to your tv...

          i'm looking at hooking one of my ps3's and one of my 360's to it, but purely for playing older games like mega man and stuff that i think looks awesome with scanlines... for normal games i'll still be running 1080p and enable the hdmi passthrough option so its just like having them connected to the tv directly as no processing is done

            Well the oldest one for me is Wii. But component cables don't help much, there's still a delay introduced. Mainly though I just mentioned it as I'd lost the whole connection to upscaling 240p games when my mind went to GH as the go-to test of latency, so that makes sense :P

              It's probably the best example for picturing the impact of latency even if it's not a great example for this conversation. You can say 'well, in Mega Man III you have to dodge these bullets, or time these jumps, or avoid the beams while free falling' but it makes it sound like a problem with your reflexes rather than the games response being slow.

    Hmmm, i wonder how games on the PS1 or PS2 would look using the XRGB-mini FRAMEMEISTER.

    I bought a component cable for my PS2 years ago. Play all my PSX games on it and it works a treat.

    Pc + Zsnes + super nes usb controller = magic.

    How do I plug SCART into my newer LED tvs though? SCART ports don't come standard do they?

      My Philips LCD has them, but sadly they pulled out of Australia - they make amazing LCDS

      you don't, you buy an xrgb OR there are a couple SCART to HDMI or Component adapters/converters out there that aren't horrible... look up Adam Koralik on youtube... he goes over this in a vid or two

        Good advice KRiSX - Adam Koralik going off about people saying you need a CRT for old games to look good is great.

    I saw this yesterday on retrowaretv. I bought a Philips LCD just before they pulled out of Australia years ago - it has HDMIx3 but also RGB scart (RGB leads for a GameCube are much cheaper than the component ones for the US/JP GCN).

    I am amazed how many people connect consoles with composite. The worst connexion I have in my set up is a PAL S-Video cable from consolegoods UK for my N64 as the N64 has no RGB... even that is a marked improvement from composite.

    I shall have to start saving my pennies for one of these Framemeisters - my Samsung only takes HDMI & this looks like a great way to do it

    I've always used rgb and even have a modified master system that can use rgb; but these days I just use emulators. Especially when the master system controller cable is only 1 meter long and the pause button is on the console.

    Last edited 27/08/14 3:33 pm

    Would love to be able to use my Naomi and Dreamcast on a HDTV via HDMI with no lag, but $365+ is far, far, far too much.

      why aren't you using a Hanzo VGA box with that DC? If you're not sure what that is, google it, I've got one on order. DC is one of the few consoles I'm not running through the XRGB because I don't believe its worth running RGB SCART over VGA with it, especially with the amazing Hanzo

        Thank you, this sounds like it might be great for the DC, I appreciate it. =)

        I haven't played my DC in ages... it was mainly for MvC2(with friends, who have mainly moved on to UMvC3). Same with the Naomi, though I have to make a voltage regulator or something and haven't finished it.

          no probs :) dc is a pretty great console, certainly up there in my top 5 list hehe

    emulators (if you own the game) usually support AA and higher res textures - dolphin does amazing things for gamecube and wii games for example.

      The problem I find is that while they can come out looking amazing it's never quite right. I played Pokemon Snap on an emulator a while back and after getting pretty far through it I found out it's unbeatable without codes when emulated because of the way it processes what you take photos of. Granted my N64 has been in the garage for a decade so it's probably not going to work either. =P

    http://nfgworld.com/mb/thread/660

    This nice article disagrees that a sharper image is better for retro games.

    i have one, i swear by it, i love it, it's amazing... IF you're using RGB SCART that is... component is also "ok", s-video slightly less ok but still fine on it...

    to anyone saying emulators... you don't get it... this product isn't for you ;)

    (oh and don't take this as an insult, i'm just stating that this product isn't targeted at you)

    I'm currently in the process of setting up my gaming room, approx 18 consoles... LCD w/ XRGB mini for day to day use and a CRT for light gun games as unfortunately there isn't any way around this and i have too many guns for too many consoles not to use them... its an expensive hobby but I absolutely love it!

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