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Do Funtastic consoles have better video display?; MegaMania has pics to prove it!
Topic Started: Dec 4 2012, 10:26 PM (43,406 Views)
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Hello everyone!
Thanks for the couple of PM's and kind comments about my research on N64 motherboards :wub: I will do my best to answer any questions anyone has :)

I tend to keep the N64 motherboard thread at Benheck updated more often than the ModRetro thread, so you may want to take a look there:-
(Which reminds me I need to update that thread, been busy with other things lately :( )

I have just read through this topic, and there are some interesting findings. However I hate to put down the observations but there are a few too many variables at play here which will affect the picture quality.


Firstly, I would just like to say that I actually agree with 'brown duckz' comments on the first page in that the pictures on the right dont actually look better to me (Although this is obviously subjective) To me it looks like the equivalent of turning up the sharpness control on your TV, which adds image data which shouldnt really be there. This video may help explain why adding sharpness isnt actually better:-

Also, the N64 deliberately blurs its graphics using 'trilinear filtering', this was considered a feature by Nintendo:-
So attempting to make textures/pixels sharper is actually going against what Nintendo intended (Getting the best video output possible by RGB modding the console is different, since RGB gives the cleanest possible video signal but doesnt actually change the source picture/graphics in any way)

Anyway, the above is just my opinion and obviously everyone will have different thoughts on this.


With that out of the way heres why there are currently too many variables...

All N64's use the same RCP (Reality Co Processor) 'Graphics' Chip, so thats not that cause of any differences you can see.

The RCP sends digital video data to the DAC (Digital to Analog Convertor) chip, which in most N64's also combines the Video Encoder chip. This chip was custom made for Nintendo by ROHM, and turns the digital video data into an analog video signal (Composite, S-Video) so that you can connect your N64 to your TV.

During the lifetime of the N64 this DAC/Video Encoder chip was changed a number times depending on your consoles region and your motherboard revision:-

Motherboard Revision and DAC/Video Encoder Chip List
NTSC N64's

PAL N64's

The N64 serial list at benheck linked earlier should help you work out which motherboard you have, and so which DAC/Video Encoder chip is inside your N64.

Early NTSC and PAL N64s use different video chips (And different resolutions) so its hard to directly compare them. Later models of N64 all use the MAV-NUS DAC/Video Encoder chip, so in theory you would think you could compare them.

However, heres where it gets confusing - Nintendo for some reason decided to try and 'region lock' the N64's video cables >_< In other words the video cables have different components inside the plugs depending on the region you bought it from! So there are:-
- NTSC N64 Composite Video cables
- NTSC N64 S-Video cables
- PAL N64 Composite Video cables
There isnt any PAL N64 S-Video cables, and lets forget about RF cables since I doubt many people will be using them nowadays! In addition PAL GameCube cables have different components again, so even though they fit the N64 (Same connector) the picture may be different.

Now if people always used the video cables that came in the box with their N64 there wouldnt be a problem, but thats not what happens. In reality people buy cheap third party video cables from ebay, or try and use NTSC S-Video cables on PAL N64's, and this creates all sorts of picture quality issues.

I posted some info about the cable region differences here:-
and you can see why NTSC S-Video cables need to be modified to work with PAL N64's here:-

The different N64 DAC/Video Encoder chips will respond differently to these missing components - so even if you use the exact same video cable with two N64 consoles, if the cable is not for the correct region and of good quality (ie, official Nintendo/well shielded) it likely wont produce the same picture.

On top of the above issues, modern LCD TV's may try and compensate for an incorrect signal in unusual ways, since they have to process and scale the image. If you want to test the image quality of an N64 you really need to use a good old CRT TV, at least for testing purposes.

So, once you combine all these factors (N64 consoles region, video encoder chip, video cable type, video cable quality, TV type, etc) its not really possible to just say 'later N64's have better video display'.

Anyway, I think I have gone on for long enough now! I hope that helps explain a few things and if anyone has any questions just let me know ;)
Edited by Link83, Dec 16 2012, 02:26 PM.
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