If you were lucky enough to grow up playing a Nintendo 64, you probably have fond memories of enjoying party games with your friends, long nights spent with single-player adventures, and the mind-blowing introduction of 3D graphics. While many of the Nintendo 64’s greatest games still hold up today, the retro 3D visuals can be a bit harsh on the eyes. The system’s graphics looked great on old-school CRT television sets, but can be sharp and abrasive on modern HD displays. In an effort to properly display the Nintendo 64’s visuals, a company called PixelFX has released the N64Digital kit, a system mod that adds the option for a crisp, all-digital video output. Let’s see just how well it fares as we take a look at the mod, the installation process, and its overall strengths and weaknesses.
The PixelFX N64 HDMI Mod Overview & How to Install
The N64Digital HDMI mod by PixelFX is an all-digital solution for your Nintendo 64, offering crystal clear 1080p resolution for your original console. While PixelFX is a newer company, the minds behind the project have a long-standing reputation within the retro modding community. Having covered previous mods from these creators, we have high hopes going in. The kit includes a custom printed circuit board, an RCP flex cable, an optional RGB flex cable, along with foam and plastic spacers for installation.
Installing the N64Digital mod kit can be a bit daunting, so we won’t go into too much detail here. You will need some experience with soldering, so this kit might be too complicated for modding newcomers. Luckily, the kit supports every official model of the Nintendo 64 hardware, and you can find step-by-step instructions for installing the N64Digital mod for all console revisions on their official website. The only model that is not supported is the special Pikachu edition, so Pokemon fans might be a bit bummed. If you’re looking to go for a no-cut installation process, you’ll need to buy a 3D printed spacer and panel from LaserBear Industries.
"We recommend using no solder on your iron for initial placement, then using a very conservative amount of solder on the ribbon cable pads."
To get started with the installation, remove the N64 expansion pack from the front of the console, then open the console by removing the screws and top shell. After removing even more screws to detach the heat sink and RF shield, you should have access to the motherboard. Depending on your console model, you may need to remove some resistors and capacitors on your board. From this point, you can attach the RGB flex cable if you desire. The RCB flex cable will need to be attached to the CPU, with the ribbon cable precisely aligned on the sixth pin of the CPU. We recommend using no solder on your iron for initial placement, then using a very conservative amount of solder on the ribbon cable pads. You will also need to solder connecting wires from the PIF chip to the RCB flex cable, as well as solder the narrow flex arm of the ribbon cable to the 5-volt leg of a specific component. If you’re going for a no-cut solution, use the foam spacer to cover the pins where you attached the optional RGB flex cable, and add the LaserBear spacer to the bottom shell of the console. Place the custom PCB on top of the spacer, then feel free to attach the RGB and RCB flex cables from the motherboard to their respective connectors on the PCB. You are now ready to reassemble the console after doing sufficient testing.
"Generally speaking, the N64Digital HDMI kit is a great mod that makes playing your retro console on modern displays a delight."
The Pros and Cons of the PixelFX N64 HDMI Kit
The N64Digital has some great features that can be accessed by opening the on-screen display. To do so, hold down the left and right triggers, as well as the right d-pad input and the right c-button. From here, you can adjust a wide variety of display options, including scaling, output resolution, post-processing features, the Wi-Fi firmware updater, and a debug menu to double-check that your mod is properly installed.
Generally speaking, the N64Digital HDMI kit is a great mod that makes playing your retro console on modern displays a delight. The visuals are clean and attractive, the on-screen display features are useful and numerous, and the option for a no-cut installation is a nice touch. That said, installing this kit can be notably challenging, which might intimidate modders without exemplary soldering skills and a steady hand. It’s also a pretty expensive kit, coming in at roughly $170. However, if you have the wallet and skill-set needed to get it installed, we highly recommend the N64Digital HDMI kit from PixelFX!