480p vs 480i


In this article, we will be discussing the differences between 480p and 480i resolutions in gaming consoles. This information is especially relevant for those who want to play games on older consoles on modern TVs or for those who want to stream footage of their gameplay online. We will explore the pros and cons of each resolution, and ultimately, which one is the best option for gamers. So, whether you’re a retro gaming enthusiast or just want to ensure the best streaming experience, this article is for you.

Which consoles used these resolutions?

480p (enhanced definition) and 480i (standard definition) resolutions were used in several older gaming consoles, specifically sixth generation consoles including:

  • PlayStation 2
  • Xbox
  • Nintendo GameCube
  • Sega Dreamcast
  • Nintendo 64

On rare occasions the PS1 and SNES could output 480p, but their standard was 240p. Many of the listed consoles capable of doing BOTH.

In reality, 480i was most common, with the exception of the Dreamcast and one of the reasons many still cling on to the myth that the Dreamcast was more powerful than the PS2.

It’s worth noting that some of these consoles also supported other resolutions such as 720p, 1080i or even 1080p. It also depends on the television used or the way the console was set up. These resolutions were the standard for the time but nowdays most games and TVs support higher resolutions.

What is the difference between 480i and 480p

Both 480p and 480i have a resolution of 640×480 pixels. The resolution refers to the number of pixels that make up the entire image, with the first number (640) representing the number of pixels in a row and the second number (480) representing the number of rows of pixels.

These numbers seem tiny now considering HD is 1920×1080.

However, the main difference between 480p and 480i is in the way the image is displayed on screen as I previously mentioned. 480p displays all the lines of the image at once, creating a clear and sharp picture while 480i displays the image in a process known as interlaced scan, which can result in a less sharp and less clear picture.

The difference between 480p and 480i lies in the way the image is displayed on screen.

480p, also known as progressive scan, displays all the lines of the image at once, creating a clear and sharp picture. This resolution is considered “enhanced definition (ED) and is suitable for playing games on modern TVs. The clue is in the name.

480i, on the other hand, displays the image in a process known as interlaced scan. In this process, the image is displayed in alternating lines, which can result in a less sharp and less clear picture. This resolution is considered “standard definition” and is typically used in older gaming consoles and CRT televisions.

In summary, 480p offers a better image quality, while 480i is more suited for older technology. 480i is 240p doubled, whereas 480p is double the resolution of 480i.

Which is better? 480i or 480p?

When it comes to the question of which resolution is better, 480p is generally considered superior to 480i. This is because 480p, also known as progressive scan, displays all the lines of the image at once, creating a clear and sharp picture. This resolution is considered “high definition” and is suitable for playing games on modern TVs. It also has greater texture details and better image quality.

On the other hand, 480i displays the image in a process known as interlaced scan, which can result in a less sharp and less clear picture, and can produce jerky images. This resolution is considered “standard definition” and was typically used in older gaming consoles and CRT televisions.

480i is also notorious for making a picture darker with jagged edges. This results in a picture which many would describe as muddy.

It’s worth noting that back in the day, some TVs were not able to handle 480p resolution and the cables needed to achieve it were not standard int he box, but now most modern TVs support it and awareness of the impact of decent cables more out there.

480p offers a better image quality and the difference can really be seen on modern TVs when compared to 480i. On CRTs, the difference can be negligible. I repeat, you will notice the difference between these two the most on modern TVs and when you are hoping to stream footage to Twitch.

So, while 480i was the standard for its time, and was made to be used on 15khz TVs, if the option is available, 480p is the better choice for a better gaming or streaming experience on modern TVs. As the 480p resolution provides a smoother, sharper and more detailed image, which is more pleasing to the eyes.

What do you need to get a 480p signal from an old console?

Changing or upgrading the cables will not automatically give you a 480p signal, it depends on the game you play itself. Most Dreamcast games were natively 480p, and it was ahead of its time in my opinion for this reason. Most PS2 games were 480i with some 480p 60hz mode. But, you will still need the cables if they have the support.

PS2 Component Cables
These are my own PS2 component cables

SCART TVs can’t go up to 31KHz (480p) regardless if the game and console can perform it if it goes directly into the TV, but using equipment such as the OSSC can make it possible into a modern TV.

To get a 480p signal from an old console, you will need a specific type of cable. The two most commonly used cables for this purpose are component cables and VGA cables.

Component cables are a type of video cable that separates the video signal into three separate components (red, green, and blue) before transmitting it to the TV. This allows for a higher quality signal and a better overall image.

VGA cables are another option for getting a 480p signal from an old console. VGA stands for Video Graphics Array and is a video connector that is commonly used for connecting computers to monitors or projectors. VGA cables are capable of transmitting a high-quality video signal, and are most common on the Dreamcast.

Both component cables and VGA cables are capable of transmitting a 480p signal, but component cables are generally considered to be the better option because they separate the video signal into three separate components (red, green, and blue) which allows for a higher quality signal and a better overall image. VGA cables are also a good option if the console supports it.

It’s worth noting that some old consoles may not support 480p resolution, in that case, you need to check the manual or the technical specifications of the console.

480i vs 480p Comparison Screenshots

Credit – Wobbling Pixels

A clear difference in Gran Turismo 4, especially in the background.

Credit – Nexxls

So obvious that you can see the interlaced lines.

Notice the clarity of the text in 480p.

Is 480 or 480i best to stream with?

Remember that the canvas you use can be higher than these, this section explains the video capture source resolution within the canvas.

When it comes to streaming on Twitch, the best resolution to use is 480p. As we discussed earlier, 480p offers a better image quality, greater texture details and higher frame rate than 480i. This resolution is considered “enhanced definition” and is suitable for playing games on modern TVs.

Additionally, 480p fits better within the canvas of popular streaming software such as OBS and SLOBS, which makes it easier to stream and allows for more flexibility with overlays and other visual elements.

It’s also worth noting that viewers will appreciate the additional clarity and increased frame rate that 480p offers, making the overall streaming experience more enjoyable.

Just make sure your capture card can handle it. Capture cards won’t accept component in most cases so you’ll need a HDMI converter.

In summary, while 480i was the standard for its time, and was made to be used on 15khz TVs, if the option is available, 480p is the better choice for streaming on Twitch. With its better image quality, greater texture details, increased frame rate and the advantage of fitting better in streaming software canvas. This will provide a better experience to the viewers and make the stream more enjoyable.

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