Saturn Model Comparison

There are two main models of the Saturn available and many versions of each.  Unfortunately, I didn't have enough resources to test them all, but hopefully what I have can point you in the right direction. 

First and foremost, all the Saturn consoles I tried looked great.  Unlike SNES systems, there wasn't one that outputted "bad" video quality.  That being said, some consoles looked better than others and determining which is best isn't as easy as saying "buy the black one":  Each model has different motherboard revisions and different regions (PAL or NTSC).  As of now, I haven't found one specific site that has information on output quality, but as soon as I do, I'll update this page.


I wanted to post the results of my Saturn testing.  Please keep in mind, I only had a handful of systems to test, so this isn't a perfect comparison.  Also, please make sure you understand what "sync" is before reading further.  I have an entire page dedicated to it.

In my testing, I found that the handful of Model 2 units I had produced weird horizontal lines on the screen when using a cable that gets sync from the composite sync pin (instead of composite video). I made sure to test it on a few different consoles to make sure it wasn't my cables.  This was very strange to me, as I'd heard many people actually say that their Model 2 Saturns looked much better when using csync instead of composite video.  I guess that's just proof that there really are many versions of the system!  Here's what I saw happen with csync cables on the Model 2's I tested:

As a result, I skipped the csync testing on my Model 2's, but tried to do a comparison of the Model 1 (with both csync and composite-video-as-sync) and the Model 2.  All of the Model 1's I tried looked identical to each other (same with the Model 2's), so I didn't bother posting pictures to compare each individually.  Check out the pictures below and see what you think.  You can click on each of the main pictures for full-size versions:

I try very hard on this website to only post "the facts", but this is one of the few times I have to give you my "best guess":

Based on the consoles I tested, the Model 1 generally produced a better picture than the Model 2.  Maybe the issues I ran into were regional (I only tested NTSC US consoles)?  Maybe the issue was motherboard revisions?  The only thing I can say for sure is all the Model 1's I tested looked awesome and I've never heard of anyone having one that looked bad (that wasn't broken). 

As a result, if you don't already own a Saturn I'd have to recommend getting a Model 1.  The difference isn't as drastic as other systems, but when I played one right after the other, you could easily tell the difference between the two.  That being said, if you own a Model 2, definitely don't run out and buy a Model 1, as the output quality is still excellent.  Also, there's a chance you have a better motherboard revision than the Model 2's I tested.

Even though I had trouble using csync on some consoles, I still recommend trying that first, as it has the potential for the best possible signal quality and the least interference:

Sega Saturn NTSC RGB SCART cable csync  /  Upgrade to shielded coax cable

Sega Saturn PAL RGB SCART cable csync  /  Upgrade to shielded coax cable

If you're done, click here to go back to the main Saturn 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.