Hook Up Your Old NES to Your HDTV’s HDMI With This Adapter

composite to hdmi adapter nes console

One of the hottest trends in gaming right now is retro gaming. Everyone is getting back into the consoles that they had when they were kids, and even the console makers are trying to cash in on the craze. But with technology advancing, and retro consoles stuck in the past, it can be difficult to figure out how to hook up those old systems to new HDTV’s using HDMI.

A lot of the newer tv’s these days don’t even provide composite connections (red/white/yellow AV cable), or even S-Video, so how are you supposed to hook these consoles up to your new tv’s when you want to play a round of Super Mario Bros. or Contra?

Don’t sweat though, it’s actually pretty easy to get those old retro consoles, like the NES, hooked up to your HDTV using HDMI, and you won’t have to do any modding or difficult installations… unless of course you want to.

Playing NES Games on an HDTV with HDMI

There are actually a few different options out there for getting your original NES console to play games on your HDTV via HDMI, so we’re going to look at a couple that are super easy, and one that’s way more technical than you should ever have to worry about. But I know there are a lot of people out there that like to tinker with things and mod things, so I’m going to include it anyways.

Keep in mind though, playing these consoles on an HDTV isn’t going to improve the look of the games, they may actually look worse than you remember due to the fact that the NES console only has a resolution of 256×240, and your HDTV (if it’s 1080) will have a resolution of 1920×1080… that’s a huge difference. Just wanted to give you a heads up so you’re not disappointed.

The first method we’re going to look at isn’t really a method at all, but more of a way to sidestep the actual act of hooking up your original NES console at all, but stil being able to play all those original NES games just as you remember them.

Quick overview of Composite to HDMI Adapters

 AV ConversionColorPriceBuy
composite rca to hdmi convertorComposite (RCA) to HDMIWhite$$
Buy Now
composite rca to hdmi convertorComposite (RCA) to HDMIBlack$$$
Buy Now

Full Rundown of NES Console HDMI Options

Buy an NES Classic

If you are into retro gaming at all, or gaming period, then you probably know that a couple years ago Nintendo released an NES Classic system that comes pre-loaded with 30 games that you can play on your HDTV, via HDMI, using an original NES controller (albeit a USB version), without having to buy any other adapters or do anything else. You just plug in and go.

The NES Classic also has some cool options like save states, an easy to use menu to select different games, and of course support for 2 players just like the original NES console.

But what if I want to play more than just the 30 games that come loaded on the NES Classic? Well, if you can follow instructions and are comfortable around computers and technology, you can always hack your NES Classic to add more games to it, but that’s up to you. Legally we can’t tell you where to find the games to download, but we can give you a guide to hacking your NES Classic if you choose to do so.

We know that buying an NES Classic isn’t the answer that everyone was looking for. We know that a lot of people still love the nostalgia of blowing in that old Nintendo cartridge (which you’re not supposed to do), and placing it in the console and powering it up… I’m the same way. But for those that just want to play the old games, and don’t collect or care about the actual console itself, the NES Classic is absolutely the way to go.

Composite (RCA) to HDMI Converter for NES Console

If you have the old NES Console and you’re looking for an actual way to hook it up to an HDMI HDTV, and don’t want to buy an NES Classic, this is the best option.

This convertor takes the analog signal coming from the NES composite cables and coverts them to an HDMI signal that you can then hook up to your HDTV. This is exactly the same way we suggest hooking up an N64 using HDMI.

It’s not going to change the resolution, or make anything look better like the HDMI mod below might do, but it will get you up and running with your original NES console on your HDTV.

Where to Buy the RCA to HDMI Adapter for the NES Console

The best answer I can give you on where to buy one of these convertor adapters is Amazon… which is basically the answer for everything these days.

Amazon offers a variety of different convertors if you go there and search for RCA to HDMI adapters, but which one do you buy?

Most of them are actually the same product just rebranded for different sellers, so as long as you ensure that you’re getting one that takes Composite IN and HDMI OUT then you should be ok.

I definitely made the mistake of ordering the wrong one the first time and was pretty disappointed when I couldn’t get it to work. Turns out I bought a convertor that would take HDMI and output it to RCA, which is definitely not what you want. So be sure that you’re going from RCA Composite to HDMI OUT.

So rather than making you guess which one to buy, I’ve made it easy for you and included a quick look at the ones I recommend below. I personally bought the white one, just because it was a little bit cheaper, and the exact same product as the black one, but whichever one of those below you choose to buy, they will both work for what you’re trying to do here.

AV Composite to HDMI Converters

 AV ConversionColorPriceBuy
composite rca to hdmi convertorComposite (RCA) to HDMIWhite$$
Buy Now
composite rca to hdmi convertorComposite (RCA) to HDMIBlack$$$
Buy Now

Hi-Def NES HDMI Mod

If you’re looking to make your NES console put out an HDMI signal natively, and you have solid experience with modding consoles and soldering, then the Hi-Def NES HDMI mod kit is your best option, by far.

Personally though, I can’t recommend this unless you absolutely know what you’re doing and are truly looking for this type of solution. It’s not easy to install and it’s not cheap, coming in at around $140 at the time of this posting.

You can take a look at what’s involved with the Hi-Def NES mod, but I think you’re going to have better luck with one of the other two options I mentioned above. I just don’t see any reason to spend that much money on a mod when you can get one of the other options above for far less.

And there you have it, the three best options for hooking up your original NES Console to your fancy new HDTV using HDMI.

Oh, one more quick thing. If you’re sick of having your NES games not work when you put them in the console, we highly recommend replacing the 72 pin connector in the console itself. You’ll be amazed at how much time you wasted trying to get an old game to play, when you could have just spent a few bucks and 20 minutes of your time replacing the connector.

 

About the author

Tom

35 years old, married with children (1). My gaming is done exclusively on the Xbox One these days, but my gaming history goes all the way back to the Atari 2600. FPS and racing games mostly, but I dive into other genres on occasion.

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