GameCube Component Cables and GC-HD HDMI

If you're of a certain age you'll understand the struggles we went through to get the absolute best picture quality out of our consoles back in the day. The GameCube was no different; in fact, we remember paying well over the odds for a modified Component-to-RGB Scart cable in order to get our NTSC GameCube running on a European TV, as the NTSC didn't offer native RGB connection. Those were the days. Or perhaps they weren't, to be honest. Thank goodness for the global standard of HDMI, eh?

The best official solution was, until recently, the Official Nintendo GameCube Component Cable that would have set you back around £60/$70 at launch. Whilst component provided the best quality image (480p baby), it wasn't the common cable of choice as it was only compatible with higher-end TVs, the result being that the cable wasn't made in huge numbers and is now particularly hard to come across for a sensible price – you're talking upwards of £200/$200 these days.

Fast forward to 2019, and there are a couple of nifty HDMI adaptors that give you a pure digital signal from the GameCube over HDMI. The cool thing about these adaptors is that they take advantage of the fact that the Official Component cable contained a processor that did all the grunt work converting the signal into a component image. These cables have then been reverse-engineered into a circuit board dubbed 'GC-Video' which allows for the HDMI signal to exist. Cool, right?

The latest product to hit the market in this arena is the Carby Component Cable from Insurrection Industries. This is, in fact, a reproduction Component cable that makes use of a custom version of the 'GC-Video' system to create a component image, and therefore shouldn't be considered a like-for-like replacement for the official cable – but, given the fact that it comes with the same connections, it's clearly aiming for the same sector of the market.

We've been really impressed with the HDMI adaptors and therefore wanted to give this new cable a spin and compare it to the other options available.

Official Nintendo GameCube Component Cable

Beautiful isn't it?
Beautiful isn't it?

The original, the benchmark. The official cable is wonderful and even comes with this box that you can put on your shelf, knowing that you have the best official cable on the market. If you want to run your system on an old-school TV and get the best possible picture, then this is the one to beat. The catch? It costs a bomb on the secondary market, hence the arrival of the more sensibly-priced Carby Component Cable.

Price: ~£200/$250+

Carby Component Cable (Insurrection Industries)

Phoar, those are some high-quality connectors right there, just look at them
Phoar, those are some high-quality connectors right there, just look at them

The new entry, the young pretender. Whilst this isn't the exact same processor as the official cable, it's got some cool features of its own, including a "custom, high-quality, metal-shielded digital video connector providing a secure and reliable connection to your GameCube", along with a "custom 1.9 meter (~6 foot), premium-quality, double shielded, 75Ω coaxial cable that is terminated with 75Ω BNC connectors for the highest quality and most secure connection to professional video equipment" and "includes 75Ω BNC-to-RCA converters for total compatibility with consumer component video devices". All sounds pretty swish to us, and, while it's still quite expensive, it's nowhere near as costly as the official option.

Price: $89.50

GCHD (EON)

I mean, the box it comes in... it's just genius
I mean, the box it comes in... it's just genius

For a large number of people, the preferred option is going to be HDMI; not only will it work best with your fancy 4K screen, it provides a digital signal that is good for upscaling. The unit isn't cheap though as we mentioned in our review, but it's probably the most practical choice for a lot of consumers. There is also a cheaper MK-I model available which costs even less but lacks some of the functions of the MK-II.

Price: ~£119.99 / $130

Comparisons

You'll have to forgive our crude comparison here. We hooked up each of the cables to a DOL-001 NTSC GameCube and our 42" 1080p Sony Bravia LED TV. Using picture mode "Standard" with the factory settings for the most simple/fair tests we can think of. We thought about doing capture of this test, but to be honest, it's all about how it looks on a TV.

Conclusions

On our test TV, the results were actually very similar between all three options; they all gave a pretty clear image that, with further picture settings tweaks, would be very nice indeed.

Unsurprisingly, we still feel that the Official Component Cable just edges it when it comes to the base image; there is just something slightly smoother and nicer about it. In conclusion, all three options have their place.

So, if you definitely want analogue component (say, on a heavier-than-the-moon CRT screen) then the Official Cable is still the best choice; however, if you care about your weary bank balance, the Carby cable is a very worthy alternative. If you want to use HDMI to a gigantic modern flat-panel, then the GCHD is probably the best option for you. Combine this with an mClassic upscaler, and you'll be the talk of the town.

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