Building The Ultimate Nintendo 64 3
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

Following the release of the phenomenally successful NES, Game Boy and SNES (we won't mention the Virtual Boy), there were high hopes that Nintendo's 64-bit console would become the platform of choice for the vast majority of players.

The arrival of the PlayStation ensured that didn't come to pass, but for many people, the N64 hosted the best experiences of the generation via titles like GoldenEye 007, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, F-Zero X and Super Mario 64.

Whatever your opinion is of the N64, there's never been a better time to revisit this iconic system, thanks mainly to the fact that it has been blessed with a wide range of after-market upgrades which make it better than ever.

From AV mods to improved controllers and memory cards, a fully kitted-out N64 is a thing of beauty – and we're here to show you how to do it.

AV Upgrades

Let's be honest here: the N64's video output was pretty terrible. Most of us had to make do with a composite connection, resulting in fuzzy, ill-defined visuals which didn't do the console's software justice.

Thankfully, there are several options available to solve this issue – and get your N64 up and running on modern-day TVs.


Building The Ultimate Nintendo 64 3
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

N64 RGB mods have been around for a while, and allow you to get a superior picture out of the machine – ideal for those of you who are lucky enough to still have a decent CRT in the house.

The RGB mod can also be used in conjunction with an upscaler like the RetroTINK 5X Pro to produce a crisp 1080p picture, perfect for modern-day flatscreen TVs. You can also use the console's S-Video output to achieve very much the same effect, if you'd rather not spend money on the RGB mod.

There are several modders online who offer this service, including Old Skool Consoles, who serviced our system.


However, if you've got plenty of cash, then getting your system modded with HDMI output is perhaps the best option. These modifications require complex installation and include the UltraHDMI, 64HD HDMI and PixelFX Retro Gem.

With one of these fitted, you can output a HD image directly from your N64 console to your TV – and the results are pretty amazing. The downside is that this mod is quite expensive, so, if you have access to an upscaler, you might want to think long and hard about whether or not it's worth the additional cost.

As is the case with the RGB mod, you can find installers online who will fit this for you, but you may have to source the parts beforehand.

EON Super 64

If you don't fancy spending all of that money getting someone to open up your N64 and perform some delicate surgery, you can still get HDMI output using a bolt-on adapter, like the EON Super 64.

This plugs into the console's AV port and allows you to hook it up to a TV via HDMI. The image is certainly a step up from the standard SD image quality you'd normally get, but it's not in the same league as an internal HDMI mod – so if you're keen to get the best possible picture, it might not go far enough.

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RetroTINK 5X Pro

Upscalers like the RetroTINK 5X Pro allow you to take N64's standard definition analogue signal and turn it into something your modern-day flatscreen TV can use more effectively.

This particular model will accept N64's RGB or S-Video signals and transform them into pin-sharp 1080p – you can even add scanlines for additional authenticity. If you're looking for something even more special (and expensive), you can check out the RetroTINK 4K.

It's also worth noting that the RetroTINK 5X Pro can be used with other retro systems, so while it seems like a big investment, all of your retro hardware will benefit.

Controller Upgrades

Building The Ultimate Nintendo 64 3
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

We love the original N64 controller, but, like any input, it won't last forever. If you're looking for a modern-day replacement, then we have good news – there are several options out there already.

Retro-Bit, for example, offers the Tribute64 controller in both wired and wireless varieties. It's based on the iconic Hori Pad Mini, which is no bad thing as it is one of the best third-party N64 controllers. Retro-Bit has also teamed up with 8BitDo a few years ago to create a more authentic N64 controller, but these are harder to come by today.

Keeping with Retro-Bit, it's worth noting that the company also produces a drop-in replacement analogue stick for the original N64 controller. 8BitDo offers a similar kit.

There's also the Hyperkin Admiral controller, which is a wireless option that has a similar design to the Tribute64.

Forever Pak 64

Building The Ultimate Nintendo 64 3
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

While most N64 titles keep their save data on the cartridge, some make use of the optional Controller Pak – Nintendo's take on the memory card. The big issue with this pak is that the 256kb of SRAM is kept alive by a CR2032 battery – and once this dies, your data is lost forever.

You can, of course, change the battery and give yourself another couple of decades of use, but a far more convenient solution is the Forever Pak 64. It uses modern nonvolatile memory which doesn't require power to retain data, meaning that it can, in the words of 4Layer, last "indefinitely".

Flash Cart

Building The Ultimate Nintendo 64 3
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

When Nintendo decided to use cartridges rather than compact discs, it upset a lot of people – but, decades later, that decision has proven to be a pretty solid one for us retro gamers. That's because we can use flash cartridges to gain access to the console's entire library of games.

The Everdrive 64 X7 is the latest and greatest option from the legendary krikzz, and allows you to carry around every N64 game on a single SD card – as well as use GameShark cheats and play patched games. There's also the Everdrive 64 X5, which you can pick up for less if you're shopping on a budget.