GameCube Output Comparison

Getting the best quality output from a GameCube can be complicated, depending on your display.  This page touches upon all of those options, but in short, the best possible output from a GameCube can only come from the official component video cables, which are very expensive.  These cables require GameCube's with the digital-out port: Toward the end of the GameCube's life, Nintendo stopped producing consoles with the digital-out port, presumably to save money.  If you'd like to use the component video cables, you need a GameCube with the following port on the back:

The reason the GameCube's output options are complicated is because the GameCube primarily outputted in 480i (which is interlaced).  There were a few games that outputted in 240p (such as the Zelda and Mega Man X collections) and many that outputted in 480p, but sadly, some only supported 480i output.  If you're not familiar with these terms, I highly recommend you read the 240p page before continuing, otherwise the rest of this page might not make any sense.

Here are the different ways to get a good quality output from your GameCube:

If your display supports 480p, you can get the best output from your GameCube, with a few options:
- If your display supports component video, you can simply use the component cables.
- If your display only supports VGA, you can use a component-to-VGA converter, or mod the cables for VGA:
http://www.geocities.co.jp/Technopolis-Mars/9984/disas_e.htm
- Expert option:  If you mod the component cables for VGA, you can also use them in an RGB mode for 240p and 480i games!  Some displays will accept the signal through the VGA cable as-is, with no further conversion.  For other displays, you can use a sync combiner to convert RGBHV to RGBs.  I use an Extron 203rxi, which converts sync any way you need it.  Either way, make sure not to run the GC in progressive mode for RGB output.  This worked perfect in 240p and 480i modes, on my Sony PVM, which doesn't accept any 480p or VGA signal!

If your display only supports 240p and 480i (such as many RGB monitors), then you have a few choices:
- For the best quality, do the expert option listed above (component cables modded for VGA) and run the VGA cable in RGB mode (with the sync cables combined).
- Even without a VGA mod, you can use the component cables on monitor's that support component-in, just don't enable progressive scan mode.
- If you have a PAL GC, you can simply buy an RGB cable that gets sync from composite video (not csync).
- If you have an NTSC GC, you can buy a cheap S-Video cable.  It won't be as good as RGB, but it's better than composite!
- Expert option for 240p:  You can buy the component cables, mod them for VGA (or buy a component-to-VGA converter), use them in progressive mode and route it though an Extron Emotia (or similar) to force a 240p mode.
- Expert option for 240p / 480p:  You can use Swiss (using either a SD booter, or a modded GC) to force a 240p or 480p mode.  Forcing 480i to 240p will work regardless of what cable method you choose, making it a great option for NTSC GC's with S-Video output.

I was curious if there would be a difference between RGB output from the modified component cables and "official" RGB out from a PAL GameCube.  It appears the answer is yes:  The modified digital out cable produced a slightly sharper picture than the analog PAL RGB output.  I believe this is because of the special digital-to-analog chip that's used inside the component cables, which is known to be extremely high quality.  I used a 480i picture instead of 240p to demonstrate the difference, since it's more relevant; There are barely any 240p games for the GC.  See for yourself (click on all pictures for full-sized versions):


I also wanted to include a 480i vs 480p comparison, as even in a still picture, you can see a quality difference.  Pictures don't do it justice though: With 480p, there is no flicker and the clarity of the images was much more noticeable:

 

I haven't done a component vs VGA picture comparison yet, but I can confirm that the output quality is extremely close.  I'd only do the VGA mod if your display can't accept a component signal, if you want both RGB and VGA from one cable, or if you're a die-hard GC fan that wants the absolute best possible output, regardless of how small a difference.

As an FYI, there's a guide out there that shows how to modify the component cables for RGB, however I don't recommend this:  The cables are very expensive and I wouldn't personally want to risk damaging them for RGB, when for the same amount of work, you can have both RGB and VGA.  Still, if you're curious, here's the link:
http://www.mmmonkey.co.uk/ntsc-gamecube-rgb-cable/

(and once again, the link to the VGA mod):
http://www.geocities.co.jp/Technopolis-Mars/9984/disas_e.htm

 

Please click here to go back to the main GameCube Page.  If you'd like info on mods for other systems, head to the Getting RGB From Each System page or check out the main page for more retro-awesomeness.