Budgetgamer’s Guide to HD – Part 1

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by Milesh Bhana

In this generation of consoles, one of the biggest changes we’ve seen has been the improvement of graphical quality. Games like Gears of War, Uncharted:Drake’s Fortune, Metal Gear Solid 4 have shown us what the console’s are capable of graphically.

When seeing these games looking their best, we’re always shown the game, the “way it’s meant to be played” on a flat paneled widescreen High Definition (HD) TV.

As luck would have it, these are substantially more expensive that your standard television set, which natually, is where we come in. For many of you money, or simply not having enough space prevents you from getting an HD display.

A simple and cheap solution is to simply use a PC monitor. While these may not be HD in the strictest sense, the technology is similar enough for you to get the same benefit. The best part about using a PC monitor is that there’s a chance you may already have one.

A 22″ Widescreen LCD can be found for around R2500-R3000, and 19″ Widescreen LCDs start from as little as R1800.

To use a PC Monitor with your console, all you need is the correct cables. In this guide we tell you what you’ll need.

VGA vs DVI
There are two types of inputs on a PC monitor; DVI and VGA. Most new monitors use DVI (a digital signal) and the older ones use VGA (analogue) signal. Older (and sometimes budget) monitors will typically have just a VGA port, newer ones will either have a DVI port, or will have both types of inputs. While you can always get a converter to convert VGA to DVI or vice versa, it does help to know which inputs your monitor has.

The difference between the two is that VGA is an analogue signal and DVI is a digital signal.

A VGA input looks like this :

VGA input

VGA input

A DVI Input looks like this :

DVI-Input

DVI-Input

Playstation 3

The PS3 works with a digital signal, so you’re going to need a DVI compliant monitor. A PS3 needs an HDMI cable to connect to an HD-TV. Fortunately, HDMI is based on DVI, so converting from one to another is simply a matter of using a different cable.

HDMI-DVI Cable

HDMI-DVI Cable

These can be found for around R350.

[Edit : As it turns out, you cannot use any DVI-compliant monitor with a PS3, the monitor must also support HDCP. It’s a fairly new standard so older monitors will not have it. If you’re buying a monitor for use with a PS3, please take note of this.]

XBOX 360

The 360 supports both digital and analogue signals. The digital way is done the same way as with the PS3 (HDMI-DVI cable). However, the analogue solution works better with the 360 and the Official Microsoft 360 VGA AV Cable is a much better solution.

Microsoft XBOX 360 VGA AV Cable

Microsoft XBOX 360 VGA AV Cable

Wii

With the other two consoles, using a PC monitor gave you the benefit of having a cheap HD display. The Wii is not a HD console, so trying a cheap HD solution is a little bit of a waste when a bigger TV would do the job better and cheaper. Why spend R3000 on a 22” (55cm) LCD when you can spend less on a 74cm TV?

For those of you who still wish to use a PC monitor with a Wii, it can be done. Wii-VGA cables are available but rare. The Wii uses an analogue signal so you’ll need a monitor with a VGA input.

The cable can be obtained from VDigi Electonics. However, there is limited support when using the virtual console to play Gamecube games. You’ll have to import it for around $40. Including the postage, this should set you back around R400.

Wii VGA Cable

Wii VGA Cable

This solution is definitely not for everyone. 22″ is a pretty decent size for a PC monitor, but in a typical living room, it’s tiny. If you’re a college student living in a dorm, or perhaps you’ve got your own little gaming nest away from the living room, then using a PC monitor may be the solution you’re looking for.

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21 Responses to “Budgetgamer’s Guide to HD – Part 1”

  1. HD Budget Gaming | LazyGamer .:: South African Gaming News ::. Says:

    […] Source: Budgetgamer […]

  2. MadMoose Says:

    Excellent article, i am sure a lot of people will find it usefull.

    However alot of GameCube Games do support 480P via some key combination (usually holding B while the game is loading) , so they should work via the VGA cable. Unfortunatly all(as far as i am aware) VC games on PAL consoles do not support 480P(nes,snes,n64 etc) and thus will not work through the VGA part of this cable.

    They are supposedly working on a patch to resolve this , but i will not get excited about it until it’s released.

    Also GameCube games run natively through the Wii’s hardware (since it is just a pimped gamecube) so no VC emulation is neccessary.

    Thanks:)

  3. janrik Says:

    Hi

    On the PS3 on a PC LCD front: not all LCD screens (that have DVi in) will support PS3.

    I suggest googling the specs first, before spending the cash.

    My ‘new’ 22″ at home supports PS3 via hdmi/dvi, but the slightly older lcd monitors at work do not.

  4. Oddsock Says:

    If you’re having issues running PAL VC games in 480p, Nintendo has supplied a workaround in later firmwares.

    Run the game as normal, with the nunchuck attachment as opposed to the classic controller. you will be presented with a black screen

    Disable non-interlaced mode by pressing “A” and “2” buttons on the Player 1 Wii Remote, and the “Z” button on the Nunchuck at the same time. You should now be able to see the game normally.

    I have tested this, and it has allowed me to run my VC games in 480P mode.

  5. Oddsock Says:

    I forgot to mention it is limited support.
    A list of compatible VC titles can be found here :
    http://www.vc-forums.com/list-vc-titles-supporting-wii-component-cable-interlace-mode-t2102.html?t=2102

  6. milez_away@budgetgamer Says:

    Janrik, how would you know if a monitor is compatible with a PS3 ? Spoke to some peeps who tried it and it worked 100s for everyone.

    One guy had a problem but that’s because his nVidia driver locked the monitor on analogue so when he switched to digital it didn’t stay on that input long enough to pick up the PS3 signal.

  7. CattleBruiser Says:

    I think the main thing regarding the PS3 is that the monitor must support HDCP through the input you are planning to use.

  8. MadMoose Says:

    Thanks for the hint Oddsock, i will be trying that tonight!!!

  9. janrik Says:

    Hi, ja thats the thing, HDCP support is needed.
    Most decent screens support that, but the phillips LCD’s we have at work, do not.

  10. milez_away@budgetgamer Says:

    Thanks Janrik & Cattle, i’ve updated the article with that info.

  11. janrik Says:

    pleasure mate, keep up the good work, this site is a haven for newbies and pro’ s alike! 😉

  12. Badger Says:

    Is there anyway that a Ps3 and Xbox360 can be plugged into a monitor at the same time?

  13. milez_away@budgetgamer Says:

    yes you can. If you get a monitor that has both a DVI (with HDCP) port and a VGA port and it has a button to “Select source”. Then you use the XBOX VGA cable via VGA and connect the PS3 to the DVI port with a DVI to HDMI cable.

    Just check if the monitor supports input switching, because mine doesn’t and i have to unplug one of the two for it to switch. (But it’s a cheapie 17″ LCD)

  14. CattleBruiser Says:

    If you’re in Durban, check out PC Zone (www.zones.co.za), their cash prices are really good. You can pick up a 17″ widescreen LCD for as little as R1399, 19″ for R1499, and 22″ for R2099.

  15. Sam Says:

    If you have a PS3, you’d most likely have the HDMI cable, so you can you can just get the HDMI-DVI converter for less than R100.

  16. Jogie Says:

    Wich Screens are HDCP compliant?

  17. milez_away@budgetgamer Says:

    it usually says so on the box… (or on the advertised specs). If you see a monitor and the people in the shop are clueless just take down the model number and go look on-line it’ll usually say so there.

    The budget screens are usually not HDCP compliant. You do have to pay a little extra for that feature.

  18. cannis@budgetgamer.co.za Says:

    Actually the cheapest solution to have “high” definition gaming is a CRT Monitor, those babies can shoot all the way up to 2560×1650 or thereabouts.

  19. milez_away@budgetgamer Says:

    i will agree and disagree with you there.

    CRT screens at around 17″ are cheaper than their LCD equivalents. But the larger high-end ones (22″ and above) are now more expensive.

    The recent popularity of laptops has really driven down the price of LCD screens, but if you spot a 21″ CRT cheap, then it’s not a bad way to go. The constrast ratios on CRT still beat the current LCDs.

  20. joe Says:

    hi we are manufacturer of various cable,we do OEM,so if you need OEM contact us at poweretechltd at gmail dot com. thanks

  21. Video,HD Video,Video HD Says:

    Video,HD Video,Video HD…

    […]Budgetgamer’s Guide to HD – Part 1 « Budget Gamer[…]…

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