N64 won’t connect to your HD TV? Try these potential fixes

by Martin Watts, 14 May 2017

F-Zero X running on an N64 connected to an LG HDTV

Dug your N64 out of the cupboard and set it up only to find it won’t connect to your TV?

Don’t panic! Chances are it still works — it’s just not compatible with your newer TV.

That’s why I’ve come up with a guide to help get your N64 working with your HDTV. While I can’t guarantee these potential fixes will work, they’re at least worth giving a go.

After all, N64 emulation on a PC is notorious for being inconsistent and often poor in terms of quality. So you should stick to the real deal if you can!

Nintendo 64 console, power cable, video cable and RCA-to-SCART adapter

Connecting your N64 to a modern TV guide

Before getting started, make sure you have the following:

  • N64 console
  • N64 power supply lead
  • N64 RCA connector cable (preferred) or N64 RF adaptor cable
  • an N64 game – the N64 doesn’t have an operating system, so it won’t show a picture without a game cartridge inserted.

Find your TV’s RCA composite/SCART ports

Ideally, you want to connect your N64 to your HDTV via RCA composite connectors (AV IN 2 in photo) or a SCART port (AV IN 1 in photo).

You will need an RCA-to-SCART plug to do this.

AV connections on the back of a TV to connect an N64

Alternatively, you can use the TV’s antenna socket. However, you will need to tune the N64 into one of the TV’s channels if you do this.

My TV doesn’t have an RCA composite or SCART port

Many newer TVs no longer have composite RCA or SCART connections. If this is the case then try the three following options:

1. Use the component port if you have one

Check to see if your TV has a component input. This connection has 5 ports: green, blue, red, and red and white ports for audio.

Put the yellow video plug into either the green or blue port. But be warned: it may not work correctly or at all with either of these.

2. Use the “antenna in” port (using the RF adapter)

You may be able to connect your N64 to your TV via the antenna port using the N64 RF adapter.

If you have a PAL N64 then chances are that your system came with this out of the box.

Hooking it up this way means you have to tune the N64 into one of the TV channels. This may not work if your TV only has a digital TV tuner.

3. My TV only has HDMI ports or none of the other connections work

You will need to consider using either a converter or upscaler.

NEET composite to HDMI video converter

NEET composite to HDMI video converter (Image credit: James Doughty)

There are a couple of things you need to bear in mind when it comes to converters and upscalers:

  1. The N64 typically outputs at 240p resolution. The converter or upscaler must be able to support this input resolution.
  2. Using a converter or upscaler may introduce input lag, because they process the video signal.

You can get converters and upscalers at an affordable price. But you may find that lower-end models introduce a lot of lag.

The Open Source Scan Converter provides a high-quality picture with virtually no input lag. However, only an RGB-modded N64 will work with this.

There’s also the RetroTINK, which doesn’t require a hardware mod.

Alternatively, you could consider the UltraHDMI N64 mod – but it’s very expensive.

My TV has an RCA composite/SCART/component port, but doesn’t display the N64’s video output

Some newer TVs can’t process the signal that the N64 console outputs, despite having the correct ports.

In this instance, you will need to consider getting a converter or upscaler.

NEET composite to HDMI converter

NEET composite to HDMI converter (Image credit: James Doughty)

There are a couple of things you need to bear in mind when it comes to converters and upscalers:

  1. The N64 typically outputs at 240p resolution. The converter or upscaler must be able to support this input resolution.
  2. Using a converter or upscaler may introduce input lag, because they process the video signal.

You can get converters and upscalers at an affordable price. But you may find that lower-end models introduce a lot of lag.

The Open Source Scan Converter provides a high-quality picture with virtually no input lag. However, only an RGB-modded N64 will work with this.

There’s also the RetroTINK, which doesn’t require a hardware mod.

Alternatively, you could consider the UltraHDMI N64 mod – but it’s very expensive.

My N64 connects to the TV, but is very laggy (and I’m not using a converter)

It’s worth checking to see if your TV has a “game mode” option.

Many modern HDTVs have built-in upscaling to present the best possible picture.

While this is fine for standard video, it will introduce noticeable lag when it comes to video game consoles.

Browse your TV’s picture options in the menu screen to see if it has this mode.

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