Image: Zion Grassl / Time Extension

Update [Wed 31st Jan, 2024 09:00 GMT]: Those most excellent dudes over at My Life In Gaming have created a video which shows off the SNES Edge-Enhancer and 2CHIP RGB Bypass Mods – check out to see the amazing results!

Original Story [Mon 22nd May, 2023 13:30 BST]: Like almost any piece of consumer technology that goes on to become a best-seller, the SNES underwent a series of changes during its production cycle, the most obvious of which was the console's video chip setup. Launch variants of the Super Famicom and SNES featured two video chips, and for some reason, these systems output a somewhat blurry signal. Nintendo revised the console with a single video chip in 1995, hence the birth of '1CHIP' and '2CHIP' designations.

While some 2CHIP systems are better than others, they all pale in comparison to the image clarity you find in a 1CHIP console, which had led to those particular models becoming more desirable (there's a fantastic rundown and comparison of the different models on Retro RGB, which we'd recommend you take a look at).

So, if you're stuck with a 2CHIP model and don't fancy paying through the nose for a 1CHIP, what options do you have? Well, pretty soon, you're going to be able to massively improve that picture quality thanks to the efforts of talented engineer Voultar (the same guy who is saving bricked Wii U consoles), who has created a new mod which goes a long way to solving the issue.

SNES 2CHIP Edge Enhancer
The SNES 2CHIP Edge Enhancer in-situ — Image: Voultar

Dubbed the SNES 2CHIP Edge Enhancer, the mod is the result of many hours of tireless research. "It's not based off of any forum post or esoteric website dedicated to any kind of video fixes," explains Voultar. "I broke SNES' DAC down internally via die shots to determine how the DAC was constructed and most importantly, WHY it has the problems that it does with video sharpness."

The mod does require some soldering, but it's a relatively simple 5-wire install and can be done fairly quickly if you're confident with a soldering iron. It will support all variants of the 2CHIP console, too. "I could absolutely design versions of this that are 'console' specific that will just fit in," adds Voultar. "But the way I see it, it's five measly wires, and in order to satisfy the broad spectrum of SNES revisions, I'm willing to accept this as the installation is incredibly simple."

Unlike a lot of other options on the market, the SNES Edge Enhancer doesn't use any sort of video amplifier. "This isn't a boosted low-pass filter that will 'sharpen' the video," explains its creator. "I don't like that, and let me explain why. For starters, it's bandwidth limited and the sharpening performance is predicated on the type of video content that the SNES' PPU is rendering. I decided not to make something that was going to perform badly or even oscillate depending on what sort of game's played. I've taken an entirely different approach, and I'll be discussing it at a later time. But the long and the short of it is that I wanted to design a video appliance for the SNES that will work for ALL video content, evenly. The video output will be sharpened for all outputs. That means RGB, S-Video and Composite Video will all three benefit from this design."

SNES 2CHIP Edge Enhancer
A SNES using Voultar's mod running via a RetroTink — Image: Voultar
SNES 2CHIP Edge Enhancer
Image: Voultar

However, Voultar is keen to point out that this mod isn't a 'silver bullet' for your SNES image noise woes. "There are a plethora of reasons why the SNES can be noisy. Part of the reason why I've waited so long to release this is I'm also in the process of working out some complimentary mods that will help clean up/improve the picture quality of the SNES. Remember, these are analog video signals!"

Finally, Voultar states that he's about 90% of the way there and that he's been able to keep manufacturing costs low, so this mod won't cost you an arm and a leg. "I hope you guys enjoy this," he concludes. "It's my love letter and farewell to the SNES." The mod is expected to cost around $100.