HDMI to VGA DAC Analysis

A member of the retro gaming community has been performing deep-dive analysis on some Digital To Analog HDMI converters that are commonly used in the MiSTer FPGA project.  This is an excellent read for anyone looking for technical details as to why some adapters are better than others.  While there doesn’t seem to be one solution that’s both affordable and consistent, at least people trying to hunt down the best now have a starting point.  More info after the links:

Cheap Recommended DAC*:
Cheap Recommended DAC*:
HDFury 4:
Full Technical Document:
Test Results:

So, I have to start with the bad news (the “*” in the links):  Consistency.  When it comes to cheap DAC’s, you never know if the one you bought last week that works perfectly will be the same as the one you bought today.  Is it using a different DAC chip, just in the same enclosure?  Is it the same chip, but a different firmware, or circuit?  This is obviously not a complaint at Kuro’s paper, but a complaint at the state of DAC’s at the moment.

Now, of course, you can buy one of the expensive DAC’s that should provide consistent results.  But it seems counter-productive:  Why buy a DAC that’s the price of a scaler, when you can probably buy a few cheap ones for a fraction of the price that work good enough?

The good news is, there’s a few members of the retro gaming community looking to make our own HDMI to VGA converters.  While these certainly won’t be $8 adapters with free shipping like you’ll get from Amazon, they also won’t be crazy high prices.  I think that is the true solution to all of this, but for now I’m going to keep recommending any adapter I’ve found with zero lag and good consistency – Maybe they’re not as good as the others, but at least you know it’ll work with zero lag when it arrives.

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