Wii:Buying Guide

From ConsoleMods Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Wii was a very successful console for Nintendo, and following their usual pattern, it had a few redesigns and models over the years. All Wii models follow the model name convention of RVL-X01. RVL stand for Revolution, which was the internal name for the Wii during development, while the X is a number in order of release, either 0, 1, or 2.

The original Wii launched in 2006, and wouldn’t have a true external facelift until 2011. However, there were some under the hood changes with many motherboard revisions made between 2006 and 2011.

In 2011, Nintendo debuted the Wii Family Edition, model number RVL-101. This model was not too different from late revisions of the RVL-001, but with one main exception; the GameCube ports were removed from the board with a cheaper DVD drive that didn't support playback of GameCube discs.

In late 2012, Nintendo released the last revision of the Wii, the Wii Mini, model number RVL-201. It was essentially a heavily stripped down version of the Wii Family Edition. It lacked GameCube compatibility like its immediate predecessor, along with a lack of an SD slot, Wi-Fi support, component video support, only one USB port instead of two, and it ditched the slot loading drive of the two previous revisions in favor of a top loading drive.

Each model has its pros and cons. However, all of the versions can be softmodded with varying degrees of difficulty.

Launch Model - RVL-001

RVL-001 Wii model in white

This model was the first to launch. It was designed to stand up on the included stand, with all the buttons being labelled to be read when the console was vertical. On the top side, there were flaps that covered four GameCube controller ports and two GameCube memory card slots. This model was capable of playing GameCube games natively using all compatible accessories that could fit into the included slots.

Each console has two USB ports in the back, as well as a 12V AC in, sensor bar power port, and an AV out port. On the front side, there are three buttons visible: the power button, reset button, and disc eject button. There is also a flap on the front side of the console. Opening this reveals a controller sync button and an SD card slot, with support for up to 32 GB officially (although larger sizes formatted as FAT32 have been unofficially confirmed to work as well) on later versions of the system software. This side also has the disc drive, which uses a slot-loading mechanism.

Three colors were made of this model; white, black, and red. The white model was the only one available at launch, with the black and red models releasing later. All black and red original Wiis have the revised 4 layer motherboards, and most of the white ones have the older 6 layer boards.

The first few revisions of the RVL-001 motherboards (RVL-CPU-01, RVL-CPU-10, RVL-CPU-20, and RVL-CPU-30) had six layer PCBs and had 90 nm Hollywood GPUs, with all but the RVL-CPU-30 also having 90 nm Broadway CPUs. They were plagued by GPU failures in standby mode if WiiConnect24 was active, and they also consumed more power compared to the later revisions. This was due to the 90 nm GPUs actually having the same bumpgate issue as the early Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 GPUs! Since the Wii was much lower power than both of those consoles, the issue wasn't easily noticed during gaming. However, since WiiConnect24 uses the "Starlet" ARM CPU inside the GPU to handle its functions in standby mode where the fan isn't running, it causes the GPU to get hot and thus damages the solder bumps between the die and substrate overtime, causing the GPU to fail.

Later on with the RVL-CPU-40, Nintendo redesigned the board and added a revised 65 nm Hollywood-1 (aka Bollywood) GPU, meaning they ran cooler and consumed less power while not being effected by Bumpgate. The PCBs were cheapend to be four layers instead of six. These new chips are not capable of running Wii software older than System Menu 3.2. Lastly, all these boards had boot1 patched to be incompatible with BootMii as boot2. All future boards continued to use this four layer PCB design.

To identify a Wii's board revision, unscrew the Wii’s clock battery on the bottom, and look inside for “01”, “20”, "30", "40", or "60".

Motherboard Revisions

“RVL-CPU-01” (2006-2007)

The original launch model board revisions of the RVL-001. Taking up the most space (six layer), consuming the most power, and outputting slightly worse video than later revisions in two different ways, these are not really worth getting. Their only positive is that they’ll always have an optical drive with DVD support, which isn’t very relevant nowadays. All of these motherboards also have an exploitable boot2, which BootMii can be installed to.

“RVL-CPU-20/30” (2007-2009)

While retaining the reduced video output and six layer PCB of the 01, these revisions have moderately lower power consumption due to a shrunken 65 nm Broadway B CPU. These boards also all shipped with 90 nm Hollywood GPUs (now revised as Hollywood AA) and are capable of running all versions of Wii software like the launch motherboards. All of the RVL-CPU-20/30 consoles will also come with D3 optical drives, which still support standard DVDs.

A small amount of the CPU-30 boards also have the patched version of boot1 that doesn’t allow the installation of BootMii as boot2, meaning it could no longer be used early in the boot process for better brick protection. Otherwise, these are an okay midpoint between the worst (01) and best (40/60) RVL-001 revisions.

RVL-CPU-20 is essentially the same as RVL-CPU-30, which is why they are grouped togeather. The only notable difference is that the CPU on the RVL-CPU-30 came with a new CPU revision called the Broadway-1, which shrunk the interposer and package of the chip.

“RVL-CPU-40/60” (2009-2011)

The PCBs of these motherboards were reduced to 4 layers, and have even lower power consumption due to a new 65 nm Hollywood-1 GPU without any bumpgate issues. The video chip has been improved in an unknown way, which causes the component output itself to become noticeably clearer on an unmodified console. Almost none of these have standard DVD support (unless you swap the DVD drive for an older D3 model) or a modifiable boot2.

Alongside this, ALL RVL-001 consoles in red or black are guaranteed to be of these revisions, as they were made after Q4 2009/Q1 2010(?). White RVL-001 systems can also be a 40 or 60, but one must unscrew the clock battery or open the console to find this out, unlike the colored RVL-001 systems.

RVL-CPU-60 is essentially the same as RVL-CPU-40, which is why they are grouped togeather. The only notable difference is that the RVL-CPU-60 swapped the linear voltage regulator for the "always on" 3.3v line to being a switching regulator, which increased power efficiency slightly more than the CPU-40.

Family Edition - RVL-101

RVL-101 Wii in blue, laid horizontally

The second model to launch, around 2011. This model was designed to be placed horizontally, with the button labels reflecting this change. It has almost all of the same input and output ports, including USB and SD. However, the difference is that this model entirely removed all GameCube controller and memory card ports, as well as the ability to play GameCube discs. Doing so caused either full or partial incompatibility with certain Wii games that utilized the GameCube controller ports. However, the software on the RVL-101 is still capable of playing GameCube games, allowing homebrew GameCube loaders such as Nintendont to still work on these Wiis. Additionally, the solder pads for the GameCube controller and memory card ports are still present on the board, meaning the ports can be soldered back on and used normally.

This model was produced in three colors: white, black, and blue. Each had a corresponding Wii Remote and Nunchuck of the same color.

The original Wii Family Edition motherboard had the model number of RVK-CPU-01. There was a later revision, the RVK-CPU-02, released later on. Both of the Family Edition's motherboard revisions are nearly identical to the RVL-CPU-60 that was used in late models of the RVL-001, but without the aformentioned ports for GameCube peripherals, with the two RVK boards being identical to each other with no known differences.

List pulled from Nintendo's Wii model differences list

RVL-101 Incompatible Games
Game Name Full or partial
Active Life: Explorer Full
Active Life: Extreme Challenge Full
Active Life: Magical Carnival Full
Active Life: Outdoor Challenge Full
Dance Dance Revolution Partial
DanceDanceRevolution II Partial
Dance Dance Revolution: Disney Grooves Partial
DanceDanceRevolution Hottest Party Partial
DanceDanceRevolution Hottest Party 2 Partial
DanceDanceRevolution Hottest Party 3 Partial
Ultimate Party Challenge Full
Walk It Out Partial

Wii Mini - RVL-201

RVL-201 Wii Mini console with bundled red controller

The last revision of the Wii, initially released exclusively in Canada in 2012, and later releasing in the United States and Europe. This console featured a top loader disc drive as opposed to the slot loader of the previous 2 revisions, as well as power and eject buttons next to the drive, more similar to those of the GameCube than to its previous versions. It also only had one USB slot, and removed the SD card slot featured in previous models. The reset button was also removed.

The ports on the back of the console remained largely the same besides the removal of one USB port, with one exception: while previous models were capable of outputting composite video up to 480i or component video up to 480p, the latter was removed from the Wii Mini, meaning only composite cables can be used, and the Wii Mini will only output a maximum resolution of 480i.

This model officially cannot connect to the internet, lacking both Wi-Fi and Ethernet-over-USB support. This means that any game with an online component would be partially incompatible with this console, typically removing things such as online multiplayer. Because of the lack of online access, the console cannot be updated. Even if a disc update is attempted, the software version numbers of the Wii Mini have been made higher than all existing official Wii software, meaning no updates will be found.

This version of the console is also incompatible with all the games listed in the RVL-101 model portion, due to a lack of GameCube ports.

Although none of the homebrew exploits that existed for previous revisions are compatible with the Wii Mini due to the removal of the features they relied on, the Bluebomb exploit is compatible with the Wii Mini, and it is the only way to softmod a stock Wii Mini.

Through homebrew (specifically the Ethernet Enabler app), it is possible to use a USB LAN adapter to connect the Wii Mini to the internet.

While the Wii Mini is heavily stripped down compared to the RVL-001 and RVL-101 models, its RVO-CPU-01 motherboard still contains the test points for the SD card slot, GameCube ports, and the reset button. The board is also capable of all the other features that were stripped from this revision. With some soldering work (both easy and difficult) and some slight software changes, it is possible to restore all of the missing features, including component video, Wi-Fi, the SD card slot, and more.

480p fix

The 480p fix can be enabled on softmodded Wiis for the menu in Priiloader and for games in USB Loader GX. This significantly improves image quality and makes launch model Wiis the best to use with high quality scalers like the Retrotink 5X Pro.

It corrects a low-pass filter (LPF) setting in the Wii signal chain with a cut-off frequency that is slightly too low. Extrems found a way to switch off that LPF for RVL-CPU-01 revision Wiis, according to reports it was assumed this fixes video output for RVL-CPU-01 to RVL-CPU-30 models and later models (RVL-CPU-40 to RVL-CPU-60, RVK-CPU-01 and RVK-CPU-02) got fixed by Nintendo. But it turns out this is not the case and only video output of RVL-CPU-01 models are affected by this fix. This issue is no problem for HDMI mods like the AVE-HDMI Kit from Electron Shepherd, they source their signals earlier in the chain and the 480p fix isn't necessary.

As of 4/04/2024 - of the RVL-CPU-01 Wii's (motherboard displaying 01), only a subset of these are compatible with the 480p fix. Even then, a softmod is required to activate the fix at runtime. Without activating the software fix, the Wii's analog 480p output will look just like any other Wii revision. One way of determining if the 480p fix applies is to load up the software 240p Test Suite version 1.17 (at minimum) then select "Video [240p]" -> "480p mixed 480p/240p assets (1:1)". Then go to "Video Tests" and select "Checkerboard" to check whether the pattern is sharp without LPF applied. There are ways to boot up the 240p Test Suite app without permanently softmodding a Wii, basically begin the softmod exploit process for any Wii, but replace the default elf with 240p Test Suite.

Comparison images Wii RVL-CPU-01 vs. RVK-CPU-02

These images show the difference in image clarity between a launch model and the last regular Wii, both have 480p fix and deflicker enabled. First image is RVK-CPU-02, click image for direct comparison


https://bitbuilt.net/forums/index.php?threads/shanks-wii-super-thread.66/ (hardware tips)

https://shmups.system11.org/viewtopic.php?p=1235894#p1235894 (summery of the revisions in the Bitbuilt super thread)




https://gbatemp.net/threads/wii-480p-video-bug-discovered.536599/ (480p software bug tips)