[Try] When we released our RGB 200 series
episode on the Nintendo GameCube in early
2016, HDMI and other video output alternatives
were just barely starting to become a reality
for the console.
Since then, the GameCube landscape has changed
a fair bit, and we now have a variety of products
that have the potential to beat Nintendo’s
official component cables in both price and
So, let’s take a look at a handful of the
newest options for getting the most out of
[Music: Matt McCheskey]
[Coury] As was standard for the time, the
Nintendo GameCube shipped with a set of standard
yellow, red, and white RCA cables – composite
video and stereo sound – a basic, but commonly
The system’s Analog AV Out port is capable
of S-video in NTSC regions and RGB in PAL
However, this port only supports video in
the 15kHz range – for NTSC regions that’s
mostly just 480i.
If you want to ditch interlaced video for
progressive output, then you’re gonna need
As luck would have it, the GameCube launched
with a “Digital AV” port on the rear of
This was originally envisioned to allow for
hardware such as some sort of 3D glasses or
Alas, the full potential of this port was
never realized during its day.
Instead, Nintendo released a set of component
cables – along with the equivalent D-Terminal
version in Japan – which uses special hardware
hidden inside the connector to convert the
port’s digital video to analog YPbPr – more
commonly referred to as component video.
Component video wasn’t yet a widely adopted
Due to these cables being sold only through
Nintendo, and the Digital Out port being removed
from later GameCube systems, the component
cables are relatively rare and have since
become a highly desired and valuable commodity.
Since no other device ever used the GameCube’s
custom Digital Out port, producing a suitably
molded third party connector would be a considerable
But more crucially, someone had to be the
first to make sense of the GameCube’s digital
This work was done a few years back by someone
going by the name of “Unseen.”
This was the beginning of the open source
GC Video project, opening the way for anyone
to create and sell their own GameCube digital
out mods, alternatives to the official component
cables, and HDMI adapters.
Today a number of options exist and we’ve
got our hands on a few of the best-designed
third party options for enhancing your GameCube
While none of these are exactly inexpensive,
they do support useful functionality over
the official component cables, and are also
vastly more affordable.
In this episode we’ll be looking at the
GCHD and the GCHD Mark II by EON Gaming, the
Carby by Insurrection Industries, and the
GC Dual by Dan Kunz… along with how they
compare to regular GameCube and Wii output
through upscalers like the Open Source Scan
Converter and the Framemeister.
The GCHD and Carby products were provided
to us for review, while the GC Dual was a
purchased kit installed by Jason of Game-Tech
For European customers, GC Dual is available
for installation through Video Game Perfection,
where the Open Source Scan Converter is also
It’s important to know that all of these
products are built on the same open source
codebase originally produced by Unseen, and
for the most part have virtually the same
features and picture quality.
However, GC Video devices may have firmware
tweaks implemented by the manufacturer, and
we’ll point out the differences when we
First, a quick overview of each…
The $150 GCHD
by EON Gaming was not the first mod-free plug
n’ play HDMI device for the GameCube, but
it was the first to be generally praised by
the retro tech community for its safe and
Not to mention, it was widely available through
online retailers such as Amazon as a mass-produced
The GCHD features a two-prong design to occupy
both the analog and digital ports for maximum
However it is a rather tight fit that requires
extra pressure to click into place, and we
wouldn’t want to plug it in and out too
But we do like the side placement of the HDMI
output, which helps minimize stress on the
This GCHD design is now discontinued in favor
of the Mark II model, which we’ll get to
in just a moment.
The Carby by Insurrection Industries is an
attractive smaller HDMI plug ‘n play that
features an astounding reproduction of the
official Nintendo digital connector plug.
It looks so good and clicks in just right.
The Carby has an attractive price too, costing
While this unit is clear plastic and runs
on firmware 2.4a, Insurrection is currently
transitioning over to selling units with 2.4b,
along with some additional shell options.
Anyone interested in updating the firmware
may do so via the internal JTAG connector,
or by sending the unit to Insurrection for
Since the Carby only occupies the Digital
Out port, it’s possible to simultaneously
use HDMI alongside S-video on NTSC consoles,
or RGB on PAL consoles, as long the progressive
scan mode is not engaged.
While this does limit you to interlaced output,
it could be useful if say, you wanted to play
on a CRT while sending a digital signal to
an HDMI capture card for a stream.
Insurrection also let us borrow their component
cable development prototype.
While this product is hopefully not too far
off, production prototypes with molded strain
relief were not ready in time for this video.
Insurrection’s plan is to use 75 ohm coaxial
cable with BNC connectors for those with professional
equipment, but these can be easily and cheaply
adapted to RCA for standard component connections.
Insurrection is selling their GameCube Digital
connector parts so that others may use them
in their own custom GC Video projects.
[Dan Kunz] I got a GameCube and I was kinda
wanting to mod it.
I was like, kinda looking for a good HDMI
solution, and just was not really happy with
the current method.
So I kind of set out and started designing
my own board and then that’s where it kind
of went from there.
[Coury] Dan Kunz is one of the current superstars
of the retro modding and open source hardware
Known online as Citrus3000psi, Dan has put
considerable time into creating hardware based
around GC Video.
His flagship design is the GCDual, an internal
mod that retains stock functionality of the
Digital Out port while adding HDMI output
as well as component and RGB to the Analog
Out – both being fully capable of 480p.
A separate adapter can be used for connecting
Wii component or SCART cables to tap into
these higher quality analog signals.
Digital and analog output work simultaneously,
which we’ve found very handy for playing
on a CRT while capturing HDMI video for a
[Dan Kunz] GCDual is now open source, so anybody
can make one, if they know how.
[Coury] Much more recently, EON Gaming has
announced a partnership with Dan Kunz to produce
what is essentially a plug n’ play version
of the GCDual with additional features.
The GCHD Mark II features a similar design
to its predecessor, with an easier, but still
The second prong is not simply a dummy port
– it now taps into the analog stereo signal
for additional output options.
The most obvious addition is a Wii-style A/V
This port supports Wii component cables and
Wii RGB SCART cables, both of which can handle
480p video if your connected device can accept
480p over component or RGB.
A new 3.5mm jack serves as a dual-purpose
stereo output and mini-TOSLINK output for
flexible analog or digital audio independent
of the video output.
Dan Kunz has developed his own branch of the
GC Video firmware to account for the additional
functionality and a few other features.
EON tells us that they’re positioning the
GCHD Mark II as the ultimate GameCube output
solution that they’ll never have to top
– all features and all connections in one
device, costing the same price as the original
If the firmware is ever desired to be updated,
the Mark II is much easier to open compared
to its predecessor.
We do have some concerns regarding the build
quality, and the plastic in general feels
much less robust compared to the first GCHD.
Nonetheless, we’ve been happy with the device’s
performance, especially for analog video,
which we’ll go over in detail a bit later.
Because the Mark-II is expected to replace
most of the demand for the GC Dual mod, Dan
Kunz is not planning to continue to offer
kits or installation for GC Dual, but do-it-yourselfers
can always create their own GCDual by purchasing
PCBs through OSH Park.
We really love what all this means for the
While the GCHD Mark II covers virtually all
possible needs for the GameCube power user
in a single device, Insurrection’s separate
HDMI and component solutions allow consumers
to pick and choose.
From our point of view, there’s no wrong
[Try] While the gist of GC Video operation
is the same as what we saw with early mods
in our RGB 207 episode, let’s spend a little
time looking at some of the features and functionality
common to all GC Video products when using
Specifically we’re looking at the system
menu on the Carby here, which can be operated
by an included infrared remote, or trained
to work with universal remotes.
GC Video is designed to be inherently free
of input lag.
While digital TVs and monitors will have varying
degrees of lag that will impact your experience
to some extent, GC Video provides the lowest
possible baseline of latency from the HDMI
Always research input lag when shopping for
a new TV – many are quite fast.
RGB Limited Range should match the settings
on your display.
This is the scale that the display uses as
a reference point for how all colors should
Limited Range is the preferred standard in
the TV world, while computer monitors are
likely to favor Full Range.
Neither is tangibly superior to the other,
and should look identical as long as your
display or capture card settings match.
If the black levels in the graphics look washed
out, or dark details are crushed to black,
then either your GC Video device or your display
has a mismatched range setting.
Note that digital GC Video technically operates
in a modified DVI mode that can send audio
and additional information over an HDMI output.
“Enhanced DVI Mode” must be selected in
the menu to use digital audio.
Most displays should accept this mode, but
if not, you’ll need to fall back on an external
audio solution instead.
For example, with the Carby, you can use standard
GameCube AV cables for audio, which is also
what you have to do with the official component
This is not possible with the first edition
of GCHD, but with the Mark II you can simply
use audio from Wii cables or the built-in
analog stereo and mini-TOSLINK output.
If for any reason you wish to tweak the picture,
controls for brightness, contrast, and saturation
Unlike advanced video processors like the
OSSC and Framemeister, we’re pretty much
looking at 480p output, not 720p or 960p or
1080p or 1200p.
But 480p tends to be handled reasonably well
by modern TVs if the source video is high
480p is after all the highest native resolution
supported by the GameCube’s games, so you
just have to keep realistic expectations and
remember that these games can never look like
HD remasters or the Dolphin emulator when
played on original hardware.
Your preferences for linedoubler and scanline
settings are stored on a per resolution basis…
all modes that the GameCube natively uses:
240p, 480i, 480p, and their PAL equivalents.
For 480p, the linedoubler is disabled, meaning
you cannot double 480p to 960p as you can
with the OSSC.
Scanlines might be neat in 480p mode if you
use the official Game Boy Player software
– although you can do much better for Game
Boy games, and we’ll get to that in just
When it comes to 480i, line doubling means
that each alternating field of 240 lines is
doubled, creating a flickering effect – often
called “bob” deinterlacing – that approximates
the look of interlacing on a CRT television.
If you hate the flicker, then turning on scanlines
could make a 480i game look approximately
like 240p, or you could go even further on
the interlacing simulation with alternating
The look of bob deinterlacing isn’t for
everyone, but the reason for it is simple
– it’s fast.
This implementation of bob deinterlacing allows
GC Video devices to maintain lag-free operation
with interlaced input, but if you just can’t
tolerate it, you can turn off the line doubler
This will send a digital 480i signal to your
TV instead, which will then perform its own
motion adaptive deinterlace – the sort of
deinterlacing you’re probably more used
to, but it can have visual errors and will
be a bit laggier.
240p is not particularly common in GameCube
games, but some compilations of older games
do use it, and it can be forced through the
use of homebrew software.
Keeping the line doubler on to output these
games as 480p probably looks better than your
TV’s own handling of 240p over HDMI… if
your TV accepts that signal at all.
The scanline option is pretty much made for
240p, since its purpose is to approximate
the look of scanline separation that occurs
with 240p on CRT displays.
The popular Framemeister upscaler has two
HDMI inputs which can be interesting when
paired with GameCube HDMI output.
While I’ve not had much luck getting 240p
to work directly through HDMI this way, if
you leave the line doubler on to send 480p
to the Framemeister, you might be able to
do some interesting scaling with a little
Native 480p content is not likely to be improved
much by the Framemeister, but you could get
some benefit by passing digital 480i through
to the Framemeister to let it handle the deinterlacing.
I don’t fully trust the Framemeister’s
color handling with the HDMI inputs, but this
is certainly worth experimenting with.
A very minor “chroma shift” error that
manifests with digital and RGB output was
corrected with GCVideo firmware 2.4b.
While it can be seen along test pattern edges,
we found it to be virtually invisible when
looking for it in an actual game scenario.
With the Carby, you might have to crank your
volume up just a bit higher than expected
– a bug in the current base firmware is reducing
digital audio levels, but a temporary fix
is implemented in the custom Mk-II branch.
The changelog can be viewed in the NEWS file
contained in the GCVideo Github, but most
of the recent tweaks have minimal tangible
impact on features or picture quality, so
we feel that the average user shouldn’t
worry too much about updating unless some
truly transformative revisions are released.
Homebrew software on Wii U is a popular alternative
method for playing GameCube games via HDMI,
although sadly you cannot use real game discs
This is archive footage from our GameCube
RGB 207 episode provided by Alex from Pause
However, the Wii U is not considered to scale
480p to 1080p all that well, so you might
want to experiment with setting the system
itself to 480p output, but keep in mind that
we have not yet tested Wii U homebrew for
ourselves, so our information is limited.
If you’re unsatisfied with how digital 480p
looks when coming directly from GCVideo HDMI
output, then you might consider pairing one
of the analog GC Video solutions with an all-purpose
gaming video processor such as the Open Source
The OSSC can do pretty much everything that
GC Video HDMI can do, and more.
Most notably, for 480p, the input can be doubled
to 960p output if your TV can accept the signal.
We really love this crisp look for 480p content,
but others may prefer a softer scale.
In addition, the OSSC can perform 4x output
on 480i content, and up to 5x on 240p.
The Framemeister is also excellent at handling
240p, and does a superb motion adaptive deinterlace
The Framemeister is considered less good at
handling 480p, so in that case you’re probably
better off just sending HDMI directly to your
TV from your GC Video device rather than routing
through a Framemeister.
Do note that the linedoubler settings apply
to analog as well as HDMI output, so the linedoubler
must be disabled if you’re connected to
a 15kHz device, such as a standard definition
Of course, there’s also the age-old question:
why not just play GameCube games with component
cables on a Wii?
This is certainly a decent and affordable
way to get better picture quality from GameCube
games and it still pretty much counts as original
hardware (although you’re missing out on
the Game Boy Player).
That said, Wii video output is generally considered
to not be as good as GameCube.
Certain later Wii hardware revisions do feature
better video output than early models, but
eventually GameCube support was removed from
Wii consoles altogether, and even the better
Wii systems are not quite as crisp as GameCube
when held up under a magnifying glass.
Since the OSSC’s 480p 2X mode lets us do
some real pixel peeping here, the most interesting
thing we’re seeing is that both the later
Wii and the GCHD Mk-II analog output appear
to turn in cleaner image quality along certain
contrasting color edges, although the later
Wii is indeed still not as sharp as GameCube.
Take a look at the differences in artifacts
along the contour of Mario’s hat, which
is messiest with official component cables.
Advanced users could probably hide this with
per-system OSSC sampler settings, but as it
stands here, the the official GameCube cable
fares less well.
Honestly it’s pretty hard to see this from
a normal viewing distance and is probably
mostly only relevant if you have a particular
need to capture the best possible image from
And furthermore, these issues with official
component could very well be masked depending
on your connection method – when hooked up
directly to my older 1080p HDTV, these 480p
sources are sampled and upscaled in a fairly
It’s pretty much a wash here compared to
what we saw with the OSSC.
Likewise, if you’re a CRT user, expect similar
results among analog options.
But what is surprising is that all available
GCVideo HDMI solutions appear to give us similar
color edge artifacts to the official component
Not that the HDMI output is bad, we’re way
over-analyzing here, but it does seem to mean
that the newest analog methods earn a narrow
overall win here, at least for OSSC users.
And while we’ve mostly been looking at component
– Coury’ll explain why in just a bit – the
Mk-II’s 480p analog RGB output is also excellent
and looks virtually indistinguishable from
its component… good news if your retro setup
revolves around RGB.
For the GCHD Mark II, you might be able to
use Wii component or RGB cables that you already
own, or you might have to buy an extra set.
We didn’t see any particularly tangible
differences between official component, Monster
brand component, and a few other brands we
had on hand.
We’re also aware of HD Retrovision Wii component
cables in the works, which contain no fancy
circuitry, but are simply a new high quality
option designed to their meticulous standards.
The Mark-II is plug & play with RGB cables
built to the proper PAL Wii cable specifications,
with no attenuation required.
Which of course this is a perfectly valid
option for NTSC, the cable itself has nothing
to do with PAL, it’s just that normally
NTSC region Wii and GameCube systems don’t
In practice, minimal analog video noise appeared
visible with any Wii cable we had on hand
to try, component or RGB.
At this early stage of development, we observed
that the prototype Insurrection cable is slightly
clipping highlight details and crushing shadows.
In fact, we ran into a very similar issue
with an early production sample of the GCHD
Mk-II, which just goes to show that making
this stuff isn’t magic and that analog video
takes extra work to get right.
Insurrection tells us that they refuse to
release their cables until they’ve dialed
in the correct video levels, and we expect
that they can achieve that goal, since we’ve
already seen this problem resolved with the
EON’s retail units that we’ve tested have
the complete range of detail that GameCube
games are expected to display.
It’s possible that there could still be
errors in the open source code contributing
to these challenges, and if so, we would like
to see these fixes make their way back into
the GC Video project.
We greatly appreciate both EON and Insurrection
for allowing us to examine and give feedback
on these products before release.
I mean, you know, we want this stuff to be
good too – so thank you to all who have contributed
to these devices, and to GC Video, because
we’ve seen that it CAN be better than official
component cables – something we frankly did
So it’s worth it to do it right.
Of course, playing Game Boy, Game Boy Color,
and Game Boy Advance games through the GameCube’s
Game Boy Player is a huge feature of the console
for a lot of people.
For the past several years, a homebrew project
called Game Boy Interface has been considered
to be a vastly superior option for running
the Game Boy Player hardware compared to Nintendo’s
official boot disc software.
A few options for using homebrew software
with GameCube include using a special boot
disc such as an Action Replay along with an
SD card media launcher that goes in Memory
Card Slot B, or exploits using certain games
that can allow for the loading of homebrew
software that has been directly installed
on a GameCube memory card.
Game Boy Interface comes in a variety of flavors,
currently named by its creator Extrems as
“Standard,” “Speedrunning,” and “High-Fidelity.”
Each is a balance of compatibility, latency,
and resolution to suit the priorities of each
While “Standard” is the high compatibility
mode, other versions may be unsuitable for
We were able to get the Speedrunning version,
which is 240p, to work via the digital output
of GC Video devices output to the Framemeister’s
HDMI input, but only if the GCVideo linedoubler
was turned on for 480p output.
However, due to the way GC Video normally
works, these various modes may cause incompatibilities
even with the analog output options, in a
way that would not affect the official component
To work around this, a feature developed by
Chriz2600 called “Direct Mode” or “Direct
Component” has been implemented by Dan Kunz
in the GCDual and GCHD Mark II firmware.
Labeled in the menu as “DYUV,” this restores
the picture output pipeline to its most basic
state, allowing component to work with oddball
video modes such as those used in some versions
of the Game Boy Interface.
In particular if you use the High Fidelity
version that’s been tailored for the OSSC,
and have the OSSC’s most recent firmware
with optimized modes that are designed just
for it, you’ll get just about the danged
crispest Game Boy pixels you could hope for,
and for GBA games, they very nearly fill the
screen with a 720p output from the OSSC.
But since this is an optimized mode, you may
have to bump your OSSC sampler settings a
notch or two if you notice any flickering
[Coury] By now you should have gotten a pretty
good idea of what to expect from GCVideo.
Whether you choose one of these recent options
or the official component cables, there’sfew
things you might want to know regarding GameCube
video output before deciding to dive into
an advanced solution.
This is something you might prefer to go through
life not knowing, so turn back now if you’re
afraid it might ruin GameCube games for you…
So OK, are you in?
Well, here’s the thing…
First, while the GCDual and GCHD Mark-II both
support analog RGB output, be aware that GameCube
and Wii video is natively generated in a digital
YCbCr color space rather than RGB.
Specifically, a compressed 4:2:2 format.
Without getting too technical, the real-world
result is that blue and red appear to be rendered
at half horizontal resolution.
While this is not necessarily obvious overall,
it does mean that certain color edges may
appear just a touch messy.
For compatibility reasons, GCVideo does include
a process to convert 422 to uncompressed 444.
However, since detail that does not exist
cannot be restored, we’re uncertain as to
whether the conversion technique used has
anything to do with the improved clarity along
Regardless, the fact that the video is natively
422 puts a bit of a ceiling on the overall
image fidelity possible on GameCube hardware.
However, a key takeaway from this is that
in the case of GameCube and Wii, RGB doesn’t
necessarily have an accuracy advantage over
component, since YPbPr is simply an analog
representation of YCbCr.
Secondly, while 480p is a standard feature
in Nintendo-published titles, when it comes
to third-party games, support is common but
certainly not guaranteed.
When available, 480p is activated by holding
B while booting a supported game.
Sadly, no PAL region games support the format
at all, with an optional 60Hz mode being offered
on certain titles instead.
However, through the use of a homebrew utility
called Swiss, 480p output can in theory be
forced for any title on any region of console
– although in some cases it may cause compatibility
And lastly, do know that a lot of GameCube
games appear to run at a lower color depth
that results in dithering.
While many key titles like Metroid Prime and
Smash don’t seem to be affected, others
like Wind Waker can be hit pretty hard.
It’s especially noticeable as the setting
sun shifts the colors in the sky.
In games like Prince of Persia or PN 03, heavy
dithering is prominent in both interlaced
and progressive modes.
Interlaced mode tends to reduce the intensity
of the dither, but often some dithering can
still be seen if you look really closely.
So hey, we just thought you might like to
know, since sometimes people ask what’s
wrong when they upgrade cables and suddenly
they can see patterns like these on their
PS1 or other systems that tend to be prone
While dithering has never been a deal-breaker
for us, it might drive some people crazy.
If dithering is one of your pet peeves, then
you might consider just sticking with S-video
for NTSC systems, or RGB for PAL systems,
instead of spending so much money on component
cables or an HDMI solution.
But that’s a choice only you can make.
GameCube video output is finally in a good
Between Insurrection Industries’ pick-what-you-need
approach and the all-the-features-you-could-ever-possibly-want
GCHD Mark-II, your bases are pretty well covered.
Mods are no longer needed, and while we’re
curious to see if any further developments
may arise in the coming years, we’re already
to the point where the official GameCube component
cables seem to no longer offer any unique
benefits beyond being a collector’s item.
It’s hard to find many negatives with the
current situation, other than that yes, even
the less expensive solutions are still quite
an investment for output from just one particular
But if playing real GameCube hardware is important
to you, we think you can’t go wrong with
any of the solutions that we’ve had a chance
to look at.