How to connect your N64 to a TV
Now, there are many methods to connect a Nintendo 64 to a TV, all the way from old-school style RF cables to HDMI. Each method has its own difficulty, cost and picture quality involved.
Composite cables (Yellow, Red and White) are the most common way of connecting your Nintendo 64 to a television or capture card. They’ve been the standard input/output for video games, VCRs and DVD players since the 1980’s up until the mid 2000’s where HDMI became the go-to method of choice. Most televisions still have one or two of these connectors.
Radio Frequency (RF)
This is a more antiquated connection and is considered a more expensive downscale so it is not recommended unless absolutely necessary. This requires an adapter that wasn’t included with the Nintendo 64, and is fed into your TV’s analogue TV input. Depending on your region and TV model, you may need to tune your TV to the correct frequency to get the N64’s output.
This is where things start to get complicated. From this point on, you’ll have to get some expensive custom parts and be comfortable opening up your N64 and soldering pieces together.
The RGB mod is the most common of mods done to the Nintendo 64. It allows it to output RGB SCART video which is better quality than the normal composite output. Before proceeding, make sure that you have a specific version of N64 that is the “VDC-NUS” or “VDC-NUS A” version on the video encoder chip next to the Reality Co-Processor in the middle. You can find the full instructions and necessary tools on the RetroRGB N64 mod page.
If the chip is one that isn’t the VDC-NUS chip, you’re going to have to do a harder modification involving a more expensive mod board by Tim Worthington.
The Nintendo 64 can connect to a TV with full HDMI output using another very intrusive mod that hasn’t been fully developed and released to the public so I can’t comment on it too much.
If all you want to do is upscale and stretch the video so it is viewable on a modem TV, you can use a composite/SCART -> component/RGB/HDMI converter. These are easy to use, but have disadvantages:
- Are bulky and add more cables to the mess
- Don’t improve video quality or might even make it worse
- Decent ones are expensive
- Increase latency/lag
So how should I connect my N64?
It all really depends on your situation. For most cases the standard composite cables are the best option because they’re cheap and they work in pretty much every situation. However, if you really want to be on the cutting edge, you’re going to want to go mod your console with RGB or HDMI.