RGB and HDMI mods for NES / Famicom Consoles

Up until late 2013, there were only a few limited and expensive ways to play original NES & Famicom games in RGB.  Luckily, there are currently many different options available and more to come.

NES RGB mods:

These are different options that require you to de-solder the PPU of your original NES system.  Each of these mods are complicated and de-soldering the PPU requires special equipment (such as the Hakko 808 -->), which can be tricky and expensive.  Unless you've done something like this before, I suggest using the recommended modding services linked below.


NESRGB:

This kit uses the NES' own PPU to get true RGB output. You can select between the original, PC-10 and another "improved" color palette. As it uses the NES' original hardware, there should be no glitches (other than glitches you'd have found without the mod). At the moment, this is the best choice for people who want to mod their existing NES for RGB. Also, there's a detailed topic on Shmups if anyone needs installation assistance.

Retrofixes NESRGB Modding service (Front and Top-loaders)

Volutlar's NESRGB service -
FRONT LOADER MOD  /  TOP LOADER (or A/V Famicom) MOD

 

- Affordable

- Multiple color palettes

- Includes mono audio amp, for enhanced audio.

 

Hi-Def NES:

This is an HDMI-out kit, designed by Game-tech & Kevtris. Much like the NESRGB, it uses the original PPU and CPU, so it's not a "clone" solution. It offers HDMI output at all standard HD resolutions, up to 1080p.

Voultar's Hi-Def NES Installation Service

Game-tech

- Tons of features, including color palettes, scanlines, anf scaling filters.

- Won't fit in an original Famicom.

Playchoice-10 RGB Mod

This is the original NES RGB mod.  The output quality is excellent, however there are a few shortcomings, such as color differences on some games and minor glitches on others.  Also, people get different results with different chips.  I've seen some installations that looked flawless and others that have terrible jailbars.

 

- Expensive

- Single color palette

- The only solution using Nintendo's official RGB chip.


Pre-made NES systems:

There are a few options for people that want to buy a system that outputs RGB (or HDMI) with no modification required.

RetroUSB's AVS

This is a NES system built from the ground-up that outputs 720p via HDMI.  It seems like a really good solution and at under $200, it's the most inexpensive choice!

- Supports NES & Famicom, 4 controllers, Famicom expansion audio, Famicom expansion port

- HDMI 720p only output choice

- Uses FPGA instead of actual Nintendo chips.

Super 8

This is available as either a complete, working system, or a kit which requires the CPU & PPU from an original NES.  For RGB-out, you'll either need the PPU from a PC-10, or the NESRGB board. 

- The kit requires chips from an original NES and either the NESRGB or PC-10 chip for RGB-out.

- Many options included.


Analogue Nt

This is a NES that's built around a brand new, custom motherboard, but utilizes the CPU and PPU from original NES / Famicom systems.  It's expensive, so most DIY's won't be interested, but it looks pretty cool. I'll try to get one in for review as soon as it's available.

- EXPENSIVE, often not available.

- Supports NES & Famicom, 4 controllers, Famicom expansion audio, stereo sound, Famicom expansion port

- HDMI adapter optional

Retrospects Famiclone

I haven't had a chance to personally test this, but the specs look good:  It uses the original CPU and a custom PPU to output S-Video, RGB and VGA.  Here's a forum with more info:  http://forums.nesdev.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=12578

- Motherboard-only

- Tons of options including scanlines


Famicom Titler RGB Mod

The Titler is a NES/Famicom that is made by Sharp and was officially licensed from Nintendo. It has a different video chip in it that can produce RGB natively with a minimal modification (I included it in this section, since the mod is much easier than the ones described above). I’ve seen Titlers sell for around a thousand dollars on eBay, so this option is for serious collectors only!

- Modification required for RGB

- Expensive

- Requires an adapter for NES games.



Other:
Here's a few other things worth mentioning:

UniversalPPU

This is a custom PPU board that replaces the original.  It was a project originally scheduled for release in 2014, but the developer discontinued working on it and released the source files to the public.

- Multiple color palettes in both RGB & VGA

- Replaces the original PPU

- Open source


Nintendo-Style Output Connector

This is simply an output connector, but I thought I'd list it, as it's directly relevant to the mods above:  This connector allows you to use a SNES RGB cable with any system.  It's available as just a connector, or an entire replacement for top-loading NES systems (A/V Famicom style).

- "generic" and top-loader versions available.

- Looks like a real Nintendo multi-out port.

 



My Life In Gaming recently did a great video explaining most of the options above, as well as picture comparisons:


Just an FYI:  The RGB quality of the system's I've tested (NESRGB & PC-10) are identical - so identical that it's not even worth posting comparison pics.  Unless otherwise noted, you can assume all RGB-output of the methods listed above have the same video quality.


Feel free to go back to the main NES page, or go here for picture comparisons.