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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 (43,409 Views)
andyk2003
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RetroRGB
Mar 1 2014, 09:07 AM
Otaku's Store now offers an RGB board that's supposedly compatible with almost all versions of the N64, including PAL. Has anyone here installed it on a "funtastic" console? I'm very curious if those N64's offer sharper RGB output, as well as sharper S-Video & Composite.

I'll soon do a full comparison of Otaku's RGB board vs. the "regular" way that taps the VDC-NUS chip. I don't think the picture quality will be much different, but I'll definitely test and see.

Otaku's Store N64 RGB mod
Now this would be the real test - I always thought this topic was debatable when the comparisons have only been using S-video at best. RGB scart has a significant jump in quality compared to S-video. I suspect that if you put an RGB modded funtastic N64 next to a standard grey RGB modded N64, the standard one would look nicer.

I say this because after viewing the comparison shots, I suspect that Nintendo removed or used cheaper anti aliasing hardware for the funtastic consoles. Companies often do this on the later runs to save money. Losing just one or 2 components can have significant savings when you consider the volume of consoles being sold.

S-video has a undesirable 'smearing effect' that blurs the image (the colour bandwidth is actually only the same as composite) which in this case may be covering up a compatitively pixellated (less anti-aliased) image. I have a feeling that using RGB on these funtastic consoles would expose the image to the point of it being too pixellated due to the inferior anti aliasing - whereas an RGB mod on a standard console exposes the picture in the 'right' way, giving the 'softening' anti aliasing effect Nintendo originally intended combined with a sharper, RGB image (rather than a more pixellated image softened in the 'wrong' way by a poorer signal quality).

This is all speculation of course, I'd be really interested to hear/see your findings, RetroRGB.
Edited by andyk2003, Aug 7 2014, 07:29 AM.
My CRT thread:
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andyk2003
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Hey Z890 :)

I think you misunderstood my comments - I'm comparing s-video to a pure RGB signal which is a significant jump up from s-video if you have a decent display.

Also I didn't say that s-video is the same as composite - far from it, I said that it has the same colour bandwidth. S-video is an improvement from composite because it separates the luma (Y) signal from the chroma (C) signal. This means that it still doesn't separate the red, green and blue components of the signal like RGB does and results in the 'smearing' effect (compared to RGB) I was referring to.

It's so worth doing the upgrade to RGB if you can find a compatible display (most CRT TVs in Europe had RGB scart). In fact, for those looking for the highest possible N64 image quality, if you combine RGB with a high class monitor like a Sony BVM (or even a PVM) you won't believe the image you can get out of an N64, honestly. This combination is so much sharper, bolder and more colourful on my BVM-20E1E than on a TV it's unreal. The BVM is a step above even a PVM in quality and is probably the best 15Khz (retro) CRT ever made. They cost over $12,000 when new but can now be picked up for $150-$250. Some info on this monitor: http://shmups.system11.org/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=43256


EDIT:


Reading through the posts on this thread, I realised that the comparison shots in the first post were almost definitely not based on a comparison of RGB signals.

This clarifies the whole subject:

It's best to avoid composite or s-video if you're looking for the highest possible image quality for your N64. This applies to any retro console regardless, including the funtastic N64. This is because of the inherent nature of the composite/s-video signals vs RGB. Any kind of composite or s-video output is never going to compare to a pure RGB signal.

Saying that, if you're using a lower quality display or an old TV that has a soft image due to being at the end of it's life, the differences between s-video & RGB will be less apparent.

So anyone who is looking for the perfect image quality, has a decent TV or monitor & spends a significant amount of time playing their N64 would be doing themselves a huge favour in modding their console for RGB. It's a cheap and easy mod - and put it next to a funtastic (or any) N64 on composite or s-video and there will be no comparison. It should only cost about 30-40 to have the mod done by an expert.

Admittedly this is a slightly more complex process for those that live in countries where RGB scart wasn't prevalent (i.e. the US), but retro game enthusiasts there tend to use professional CRT monitors that are RGB compatible - i.e. the Sony PVM/BVMs etc. - which can now be bought cheaply on eBay and tend to give a much better image than the average TV anyway (especially when combined with the RGB mod). The other option is to buy a transcoder to convert RGB to component.

As you say, Z890, It's likely that there will be no difference between the RGB outputs of the standard and funtastic N64s.


P.S. - One caveat to all this though, is that this approach won't necessarily be relevant to that many N64 players. Most people aren't obsessed with achieving the highest possible image quality for their games and I don't think that's a bad thing at all. I personally love to see my N64 running RGB modded & on a really exceptional quality screen and have put a lot of time into researching this - but for the majority of people, an N64, a decent TV and an s-video cable are all that's needed to have a great N64 experience - It's the games that are the most important thing here after all :)
Edited by andyk2003, Sep 14 2014, 03:20 AM.
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andyk2003
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Nice one & great comparison test:) I also had a bit of an in-depth look at the N64's image characteristics with various displays here:

http://s9.zetaboards.com/Nintendo_64_Forever/topic/7412752/1/
Edited by andyk2003, Sep 28 2014, 07:19 AM.
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andyk2003
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Has anyone tried an RGB modded funtastic NTSC console against an RGB modded older revision standard grey? I'm still curious as to whether there could be a difference there. The RGB mods would have to be decent (not the darker type), i.e. RGBforAll, THS7314 amp or Viletim's DAC.

I might have to buy a NTSC funtastic model & get it modded to test against my existing RGB N64s.

Does anyone have any info as to which of the NTSC funtastic consoles (US or Japanese) other than green has the 'better' revisions?

I'm guessing a safe bet would be just to stick to revision 8 consoles.
Edited by andyk2003, Mar 15 2015, 09:20 PM.
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andyk2003
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So after quite a bit of research & talking to some very switched on people, I've finally managed to get to the bottom of the 'best possible output from the N64' question.

I've found this thread so interesting because getting the best PQ from the '64 has been a real passion for me as I love this console so much. I also have a thread on this forum about my mission to find the best N64 display.

For clearing up some important tecnical aspects, huge thanks go to Marshallh (creator of the upcoming HDMI mod for the N64), Viletim (creator of the N64 DAC and NESRGB) and Link83.

It's always been common knowledge among the retro gaming scene that a decent RGB mod will always give a better image than any s-video or composite signal. For me, that's not the question - my personal question after reading this thread is:

Does an RGB modded funtastic N64 have a better output than an RGB modded standard N64?

The fact that this thread is based on - i.e. that at least some of the funtastic consoles have a sharper output - is well established, but has been based on composite and s-video signals only. I haven't seen a direct comparison of their RGB outputs. If the funtastic N64 were to produce a better RGB output than the others, then we would then have the overall best quality image that any N64 is able to produce.

This has turned out not to be the case.

An RGB modded funtastic console will look the same as any other RGB modded N64 console. This means that any revision N64 with a decent RGB mod will give the highest quality image possible from an N64.

This is useful because if we're willing to use RGB, we can discount the funtastics & just concentrate on getting the best RGB mod installation possible. Obviously, the RGB image from any N64 will always be significantly better than even the sharper funtastic N64's s-video or composite signal, thus the money spent sourcing a funtastic console for it's sharper image would be much better spent on upgrading one's existing N64 for RGB.

This is all based on using an N64 with CRT. RGB will still be better than s-video or composite on any TV type, but if a flat panel is being used then Marshallh's HDMI mod will the best route. For me, though, CRT will always be my choice as I love the qualities of a decent CRT's image, particularly for the N64.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Here's the reasoning & some facts I discovered:

For the purposes of this, I'm making the assumption that a decent RGB mod will be used which includes RGB amplification. The best RGB mods at the moment are the THS7314 amp (NTSC Revisions 1-4 or rare French PAL revision only), Viletim's DAC (any N64) and the 'RGB for all' DAC from Otaku (any N64). Both the PAL and NTSC funtastics are only moddable with Viletim's or Otaku's mods, not the THS7314 as they are later revisions.

So the sharper N64s aren't just limited to the funtastic N64s - they're actually a revision of N64 which includes some standard grey N64s as well. For NTSC, the funtastics are revision 8 (NUS-CPU-08) so any other revision 8 will do, possibly some earlier revisions as well. Actually, it's better to go by console revision than whether the console is a funtastic or not. We already know that the ice blue PAL funtastic doesn't follow the 'funtastics are sharper' rule and there's not enough information on the NTSC funtastics yet. You can find the motherboard revision of an N64 from looking up it's serial number online. (check out Link83's research).

As Link83 mentioned, Nintendo started to consolidate the video output chips after certain console revisions. For NTSC, it was revision 5. Before, the N64s had this video circuitry:
RCP > DAC > ENCODER > OUTPUT
and for the newer revisions:
RPC > DAC+ENCODER > OUTPUT
This meant that for the later revisions (including the funtastics), the access to analogue RGB needed for the THS7314 mod was no longer there - which means you need to replace the entire DAC to get RGB from these. The mods that can do that (i.e. Viletim's etc.) look the same as the early-revision THS7314 RGB mod image-wise (I have N64s with both mod types), hence there being no difference in RGB output across all revisions - thus image-wise, the RGB funtastic = any other RGB N64.

I agree with Link83 when he says:
'pictures on the right dont actually look better to me'
'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. '
'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'

In conclusion:

To get the best image on a CRT, RGB modding is the best way - regardless of console revision or whether it's the funtastic model.
To get the best image from a flat panel, wait for Marshall's excellent HDMI mod - http://retroactive.be/tech_n64_hdmi.php

For me? RGB & CRT all the way :)



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Edited by andyk2003, Mar 17 2015, 05:25 PM.
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andyk2003
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Just to further clarify that the N64's modded RGB output is the same across all console revisions, including funtastics:

From Marshall (creator of the UltraHDMI):

"The RCP / VI output that goes into any DAC will always be the same, regardless of the motherboard. All N64s have the same RCP silicon. So you will get the same result no matter what N64 you install eviltim's dac onto.

The difference in video output comes from the DAC, which you are bypassing/installing your own with the mod."
My CRT thread:
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