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Gaming/Connecting XBOX to computer monitor


Dear Expert

I would like to set up my old Xbox (the one before the 360) with a computer monitor. The output from the Xbox is in the form of an RCA cable (the yellow red and white one)and the input for the monitor is VGA or HDMI.

I was wondering if a simple cable converter (RCA female to HDMI or VGA male) would suffice, or do I require other hardware to convert the video to a compatible format?

Also, since the monitor has no audio equipment, I was hoping to find a female RCA audio (red and white) to audio 3.5mm socket. Do you think that would work?

Thank you


The audio conversion is really as simple as plug and play - you'll just have to get an adapter that takes the RCA connection to 3.5mm TRS; you can find all manner of different gender, size, etc of such connectors. For example here is Monoprice's category for such adapters:

You can also find these kinds of adapters at stores like RadioShack or Best Buy. Pick whichever gender/style works for your needs (based on what it needs to connect to between; from the Xbox audio cable you are correct in needing a female connector, and then whatever is appropriate for your receiving device). Note that you cannot (and should not) connect headphones directly to this adapter - the Xbox is presenting a line-level signal which is neither appropriate for directly driving headphones, nor is it a pre-amplifier/volume control output. It should only be connected to devices designed for line level signals (like the inputs on a TV, AV receiver, etc).

Now, regarding the video connection - no, no such adapter exists or could work as envisioned. HDMI is a digital video signal so it cannot be passively converted from any analog signal (e.g. CVBS ("RCA video") or VGA), and VGA uses considerably different signaling and connection protocol than CVBS. You will require an active adapter to make this conversion happen - something like this device:

Keep in mind as well that there is a considerable difference in resolution and image quality between CVBS and HDMI, so scaling/conversion must take place and the resulting image on your display may not be the absolute best quality. If you want a higher quality picture my suggestion would be to upgrade the Xbox's connectivity with the Xbox Component Video cables, with a cable like this:

And then convert *that* signal to HDMI, using an adapter like this:

As far as "why" - component (YPbPr) will provide considerably better picture quality, mainly in terms of color depth and separation, as well as producing a more stable/crisp image which will hold-up better to scaling/conversion. It will also enable you to set the Xbox for progressive-scan output, which may yield better quality (I would try "both" options - the Xbox's de-interlacing may or may not be better than the de-interlacing in the converter device or your display).

Similar converters exist for VGA:

However in general I would stick to working with HDMI, because it will probably be easier to set-up (the video signal between the converter and the monitor will be consistent, whereas with a VGA converter you may have to monkey around with screen position, size, phase, etc to get a good picture).



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I have nearly two decades of experience in IT, computer repair, and related fields and will attempt to provide the most solid, brand-agnostic advice when it comes time to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing machine. I can answer anything from the seemingly basic to the downright complicated - and will do my best to provide this information in a clear and concise manner. I have a personal interest in PC gaming, and can apply my experience to such an end. Questions related to 3D games on OS X or other platforms are less likely to get answered.


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