Upscalers

Upscalers

If you prefer to play your classic consoles on a modern flat-screen TV, you can route your game system through a device that “upscales” the original resolution of your console into modern resolutions.  For more info on resolutions, please see the 240p page.

Quick Overview / Best Choices:
After years of bad or mediocre choices, retro gamers finally have zero lag, fairly priced scaling solutions!  Here’s the best out there today:

Open Source Scan Converter

The OSSC is currently the best scaler for pre-HDMI consoles.  It has loads of options and provides the sharpest signal possible, but can be a bit tricky for beginners to set up.

RAD2x Cables

The RAD2x cables are basic, plug-and-play HDMI cables for classic consoles.  At the moment, they are the only plug & play cables that are even worth considering.  Check out the link for details as to why, but they’re an excellent choice for both beginners, or people that need a second solution.  They’re based off RetroTINK technology, which is explained below:

RetroTINK2x

The RetroTINK2x is a reasonably-priced 480p “linedoubler” that ads zero lag, is compatible with all TV’s and capture equipment and accepts composite, S-Video and Component Video (YPbPr).  To get the best signal, you’ll need to use component video cables, or an RGB to component converter.  Either way, it’s a “plug and play” solution that requires no tweaking – It just works!

XRGB Mini Framemeister (purchase links to the right –>)

The Framemeister was a revolutionary scaler that completely changed the way we play games on flat-screen TV’s.  Upon it’s release, there was nothing else like it, however production of the Framemeister has stopped.  The timing is good, as there are much cheaper and better options available, but there’s still one excellent use for the Framemeister:  Streaming!  If you game on a CRT and stream via the Framemeister, you can have a flawless-looking image…especially if you use the FBX profiles below.

*as a note, if you already own a Framemeister, use it and enjoy it!  My advice is simply for people looking to buy a scaler now.

Fudoh’s review:  http://retrogaming.hazard-city.de/framemeister.html
FirebrandX’s custom profiles (a must-have for all FM users): http://www.firebrandx.com/framemeisterprofiles.html
Wiki Page: http://junkerhq.net/xrgb/index.php/XRGB-mini_FRAMEMEISTER

More Details / Other Choices / Lag / Alternatives:

The above info is a good summary of what your average retro-gamer would need to know, however I wanted to provide a bit more explanation and some alternatives.

Details:
You might wonder why you’d need an upscaler at all, since all Flat-screen TV’s automatically convert the signal it receives to the native resolution of the panel.  In short, it’s because your TV’s built-in upscaler (in most cases) is just a cheap, basic scaler that doesn’t account for lag, or processing of the 240p signal that most retro consoles produce.  Using a device that was specifically designed for a low-lag, gaming experience will result in an much better look and feel, with options tailored right to the retro-gaming enthusiast.  Also, some TV’s process 240p as 480i and most won’t accept RGB at all, requiring some kind of conversion anyway.

Other Choices:
There are other good upscalers available besides the ones listed above, but some are a bit less user-friendly. If you’d like more information on which might fit your needs, I strongly recommend checking out Fudoh’s site, as he has all the information you’d ever need: http://retrogaming.hazard-city.de/

Streaming / Game Capturing:
You’ll often see cheap SCART to HDMI scalers (links to the right –>) that display terrible picture quality and add a ton of lag.  While I would never recommend them for gaming, they do have one good use:  Streaming.  I’ve received many emails over the years from people who only play retro games on their RGB monitor, but also want to capture game footage and stream their playing; A situation where higher resolution video is a big help, but perfect quality doesn’t matter as much.  One really cheap solution would be to play on your RGB monitor as always, but use a BNC to SCART cable to connect the outputs of your RGB monitor to the input of one of those scalers (or just use a gscartsw which has dual outputs), then send the 720p HDMI-out into your capture card.  The lag won’t matter, since you’re actually playing on a CRT and while it doesn’t look as good as many other upscalers, it should be good enough for streaming.

Alternatives to upscalers:
Depending on your needs, purchasing old games on newer systems might be a far cheaper way to play them in high definition. If you already own a newer console, you should seriously consider what’s discussed in the Emulators / Virtual Console section as a cheaper alternative.  If the games you’d like to play are already available, you’ll save a ton of money.  Depending on the situation, you might even be able to get an adapter to use the original controllers on newer devices.


Conclusion:

At the moment, the easiest way to play classic consoles on flat-screen TV’s is with the RAD2x cables.  If you already own a lot of consoles and want an easy solution, it could be more cost effective to get a RetroTINK2x and use the cables you own.  Lastly, the OSSC is a bit of work to set up, but will provide the sharpest picture with the most available options possible.

 

Please head to the Display RGB page for more info on how to get an RGB signal on your display. If you’re here as part of the RGB Guide, please either move onto the next section: Emulators / Virtual Console, or move along to getting your SCART RGB cable into your display.