How to Play Older Game Consoles on HDMI-Only TVs

The nostalgia effect is powerful. If you’re still clinging to your old school Nintendo entertainment system (no matter how you pronounce it ), there’s no reason to let it collect dust in a closet or forgotten corner of your home entertainment system. Your old game consoles will still work with your fancy new TV or even some new TV; they just need a little grooming.

We’ve already covered how to physically connect old devices to your TV if it supports component connections (red, blue, green), composite connections (red, white, yellow), or direct coaxial (spiked).

Problem? If your modern TV only supports HDMI and coaxial connections, you should avoid the latter at all costs. Of course, this can work – if your TV can even display the lower resolution of an older console – but coax is more susceptible to interference and tends to look bad :

Instead, consider choosing a simple adapter that converts your device’s analog connections – component, composite, or S-Video – to HDMI. This is the cheapest option, but it won’t necessarily give you the best picture quality if you’re a gamer.

Each of these three connection types will give you a different picture, depending on which one you are connecting to the converter. But let’s be honest: for example, if you’re trying to play a legacy gaming system on a 4K TV, your TV’s built-in upscaler can only do so much.

You also need to be picky about any HDMI converters you are going to buy. While you can certainly find a cheap converter that will make your old console work on your modern TV, it can make your gaming sessions terrible.

It is best to use a proven converter with a built-in upscaler . (And in the case of an older console that outputs video at a resolution too low for your TV, such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, an upscaler is required.)

You can probably get by witha simpler converter / upscaler if you want the thrill of retro gaming without a gaping hole in your wallet:

An expensive upscaler like the XRGB Mini Framemeister, which is no longer in production but something you can still find on eBay can make your retro consoles look great on your new TV, but sensible alternatives like a scan converter with open source, balances cost and quality. … (Also, the Framemeister only supports composite connections by default , not component connections . You might want to buy an adapter that just adds to the overall cost.)

Even so, be prepared for a lot of customization if you go the Framemeister route. But find joy in that too. There is something nice about using old TV equipment decades later.

Of course, you can wave a white flag and buy the NES or SNES Classic , download a software emulator for just about any retro system you can think of, or head to Craigslist to shop for an old CRT TV that works perfectly with your old game console. (s). … It’s not quite as enjoyable as coming up with a crazy DIY setup that finally – after a little investment and a couple of weekends – just works . I mean, just look how happy this guy is with his crazy collection of retro gaming consoles. Be like him:


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