If you are anything like me then you have an affinity towards retro consoles and are probably wondering the best way to connect these to your modern television. In this guide we’ll be comparing the OSSC vs RetroTINK 2x Pro because If you have tried plugging in any non-HD connection to a modern television, you’ll probably be surprised as just how bad they look. Let’s touch on ways to make your old retro games look great on current televisions.
Why do older video games look bad on newer TVs?
Older consoles do not output HDMI, which in the last decade has become pretty much the standard for all televisions. Many older consoles output to either Component, Composite, S-video, RGB Scart and some of the even older ones to RF. These types of cables do not support HD output and more importantly, the consoles themselves do not output HD resolutions. When scaled up to modern Televisions, which tend to be much larger than the old 21” CRT TVs, the older non-HD resolutions become blurry, stretch with some noticeable noise in the picture. Some newer TV’s do not even support older resolutions such as 240p which consoles like the NES, Sega Master System, MegaDrive and SNES all output their image.
In case you are wondering 240p is related to the number of individual pixels displayed on screen, so the NES for examples outputs 256×240 pixels (240p). More Modern consoles output in HD, which is anything from 720p, 1080p, 2160p (4K) or even as large as 4320p (8K). The more pixels on screen, the sharper the picture will look.
How can we display older consoles on HD televisions?
The best way is to use a line-doubler or an upscaler, or perhaps even both! An upscaler does exactly what you imagine it does, it takes your current image and scales it up to match the resolution of your television. Scalers give you a deal of control over the type of image you can output and allow for fine-tuning of most settings.
The other option, Line doublers, are what I am going to focus on this guide as they are cheaper and easier setup and use. A line doubler takes the current image and doubles the lines of pixels of the screen thus making the image bigger while retaining the same uniformity of pixels. For example, a Super Nintendo which outputs 240p can be line doubled to make a 480p image, not only is this a sharper resolution, 480p is classed as the standard for older non-HD signals and thus is pretty much guaranteed to be supported by most television due to needing to accommodate legacy products and peripherals.
So, what are the options for line doubling older signals? We shall be looking at two devices, the Open Source Scan Converter OSSC vs RetroTINK 2x Pro. First, let’s have a look at what the OSSC has to offer:
OSSC vs RetroTINK 2x Pro
The OSSC is a great piece of equipment and one I use often. It allows component, RGB Scart and VGA input. The OSSC offers 2x,3x,4x and even 5x line multiplying, this means there’s a lot of output resolutions so if one is not detected you have the others to fall back on. This means you can get some crisp-looking images out of your old consoles and can choose the right resolution which looks good to you.
The OSSC doesn’t use a frame buffer like a lot of upscalers do, and this means it’s virtually lag-free, no postprocessing is being done to your image, it’s literally the same image blown up which makes playing your games feel incredibly snappy.
The OSSC Supports NES, MasterSystem, SNES, MegaDrive (Genesis), PS1, Saturn, PS2 & GameCube + many more I’ve probably forgotten and has fantastic results, especially with the 16-bit and lower console generations.
The OSSC has a nifty little LCD screen, which is backlit and helps you dial in your settings as well as an on-screen display menu. The LCD screen can be especially helpful when your TV is losing signal due to unsupported resolutions and once you know what you are doing, is quite easy to navigate and set up.
Within the Menu, you can apply Scanlines to your image making it look like an old CRT. Some people are not big fans of this feature but I think it makes the output look great, especially on the much older consoles and there are even options to set the intensity of the scanlines, I usually leave mine quite low.
Some of the Drawbacks of the OSSC are to do with some of the odd resolutions it outputs. For example, my Samsung TV downstairs for instance does not like 5x scale of 240p content (1200p) but displays 4x scaling very well (960p). This is a problem with the TV and not the OSSC itself but it’s worth checking online to see if others have had any issues with your make and model of TV before purchasing.
Also, the handling of 480i signals may put off some people. This may be an issue for people who want to play PS2 & GameCube games. The ‘i’ in 480i stands for interlaced, this is essentially a trick used consoles etc to display a full ‘480’ on-screen while using only 240 lines of resolution. The screen displays two separate fields, one with 240 odd lines and one with 240 even lines, these flash on and off very quickly giving you the illusion that there’s a full solid image. Check out this example from medium.com
Now, the OSSC will attempt to deinterlace this image for you, however, uses a method called Bob deinterlacing, which can make your 480i image look a little wobbly in motion. Some people will be fine with this, but I find it quite off-putting personally. 480i is used in a lot of PS2 games and GameCube games, luckily, the OSSC also allows for passthrough which will let your TV deinterlace the image for you. This will have varying results depending on your television.
Now let’s take a look at the RetroTINK2x Pro
RetroTINK 2x Pro
As the name suggests, the RetroTINK2x now has a ‘PRO’ version with the older model being phased out from what I can tell. So, what does the RetroTINK2x do that the OSSC doesn’t? Well, the first thing to mention is the RetroTINK2x PRO is very easy to use with little to no setup needed, as Todd Howard once said: “It just works!”, however, unlike Mr Howard’s remarks, the RetroTINK2x PRO really does just work.
The RetroTINK2x Pro will accept Composite, Component and S-Video but does not support Scart. The Addition of S-Video is something that is sorely missed on the OSSC and makes the TINK2x Pro one of the best ways to N64 on your modern display without adding an expensive HDMI modification to your console.
The RetroTINK2x PRO will double the resolution of its input making for a nice clean image with minimal frills. The TINK2x Pro seems to be built with ease of use and high compatibility in mind and I applaud it for that.
The TINK2x Pro has three different filter modes being standard, Smooth and Scanline. Blocky is the TINK’s default look offering great accuracy and nice, clear, chunky pixels which I highly recommend for 2D games in particular. Smooth filtering is almost like turning Anti-aliasing on and can disguise some of the jagged edges that appear in some 3D games, personally, I prefer this to be turned off. Scanline filter is pretty self-explanatory, it adds scanlines which look great, the only downside I would say to this filter is it can look a little dark, but that would be the same with any scanline generator.
It’s worth noting that theTINK2X Pro does not support 480p input, so for consoles such as the Wii or Xbox or the handful of 480p PS2 and GameCube, the output will need to be set to 480i.
Retro Game Capture
When it comes to the OSSC vs RetroTINK 2x PRO both can be a little touchy with capture devices. This is especially true if you use any Elgato capture devices, in particular, I have had a few issues with the HD60 S & the HD60 S+. For some reason, Elgato doesn’t seem to allow off-spec resolutions, even though the device can see them. I have gotten them both to work using OBS instead of Elgato Game capture software.
I found the Elgato Cam-link seems to work pretty well, probably due to the number of different resolution inputs it’s designed to receive. Another great option is the AVerMedia Live Gamer 4K which even likes 1200p!
This is just something to be aware of if you plan on streaming or capturing your gameplay.
This may seem obvious but the quality of you cable matters a LOT. If your using some cheap, junky cable from eBay or Aliexpress don’t expect the best quality image. Of course, there are exceptions to this and sometimes they work fine but if you come this far, don’t cheap out on this.
Remember, composite will provide you with arguably the worst image, besides RF. S-video will offer a much better image with Component and RGB Scart offering the top end in my opinion. Be sure to check out HD Retrovision cables (when in stock!), Insurrection Industries and retrogamingcables.co.uk to make sure you get some good quality cables.
I hope this has helped outline some of the features between the OSSC vs RetroTINK 2x PRO. There’s a lot of options available when it comes to outputting your retro gaming consoles on HD televisions and these two are probably the most affordable with their range of features. Another option I did not mention above is the XRGB mini aka the Framemeister, this was discontinued some time ago so I decided not to include it which is a shame as it’s a great device and gives you even more control over your image output. As it’s discontinued prices for one have skyrocketed but it’s worth looking for if you come across one that’s not too expensive.
Both the OSSC and RetroTINK 2x Pro offer a great way to experience your older games in the modern-day. If you’re the kind of person who likes to have more control over your image quality, then I would recommend going with the OSSC, however, if you want something easy to use and is basically plug and play go with the RetroTINK 2x Pro.
I hope this helped!