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:
There are many upscalers available, but two seem to be the perfect choice for retro-gamers. There are already excellent reviews / reference pages of each, so I'll link to those, then show my overall impressions and lag testing:

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

Open Source Scan Converter (Available soon, sign up for pre-order info)
Fudoh's Review: http://retrogaming.hazard-city.de/ossc.html
Blizz' Review: https://blz.la/rgb/ossc.html
Wiki Page: http://junkerhq.net/xrgb/index.php/OSSC
North American PSU (it doesn't come with one):  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GUO5WUI/

Upscaler Comparison
Here's my overall impressions of the above scalers that concentrate on lag, as well as overall usability.  I tried to explain scenarios that would cover almost everyone's setup, so hopefully this will have all the general info you'd need.  I strongly recommend anyone who's thinking about buying an upscaler read this section first.

 

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/ 

 

Lag:
While I appreciate the sharp look of a high-quality upscaler, there's one factor that's much more important to me: Lag!  Basically, lag is the time it takes from when the button on your controller is pressed, to when there's movement on the screen.  CRT's had zero lag, but all modern TV's have at least a small amount.  On top of that, any video processor will add a bit of lag as well and some do a much worse job then others. Phonedork did a great video comparing a Framemeister (low-lag solution) to a cheap upscaler and it really shows why you'd prefer it over the cheap alternatives (lag test around 4:20):


Streaming / Game Capturing:
You'll often see cheap SCART to HDMI scalers (links to the right -->), like the one mentioned in Phonedork's review above.  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 (June 2016), there's only one easy (but expensive) way to play your classic consoles on flat-screen TV's: The Framemeister.  The OSSC is quickly catching up and by the time it becomes readily available, it might be a better choice, depending on your situation.  I'll always keep this page current, so please follow me on Facebook and Twitter for updates!

 

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.