PC Engine / TurboGrafx 16

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Specifications

  • CPU/Audio/controller input: Hu6280
  • GPU: Hu6270
  • DAC: Hu6260
  • Audio amp: C358C
  • Main RAM: HSRM2264LM10
  • VRAM: HSRM20256LM12
  • Power regulator: 7805

Revisions

There are many revisions of the hardware, but the two biggest subsets are between the PC Engine (PCE), available in Japan and later imported to France, and the TurboGrafx-16 (TG16), which was available in the US and parts of Europe (as the TurboGrafx). Aside from form factor, the biggest difference between the PCE and TG16 is that the TG16 uses a larger controller plug than every other system (including the Turbo Duo). HuCards are region-locked, but there are adapters and mods available to bypass region detection.

PC Engine line

PC Engine

PC Engine
The very first model of PC Engine is easily identified by its white case. It as a HuCard slot, extension port on the back, and only outputs video and audio over RF. CD games can be played by connecting the system to the CD-ROM² System. It was released in Japan on October 30, 1987.

PC Engine Shuttle

PC Engine Shuttle
The PC Engine Shuttle is internally very similar to the original PC Engine, though it swapped the RF output for a 5-pin DIN jack with composite video and stereo sound. The expansion port was also slimmed down, making it incompatible with most add-ons. The more obvious difference is that the case was made to look like a spaceship. It was released in Japan on November 22, 1989.

CoreGrafx

CoreGrafx
Unlike the Shuttle, the CoreGrafx looks overall very similar to the original PC Engine, but the color was changed to dark grey. The RF output was replaced with a 5-pin DIN connector that provides composite video and stereo sound. This also replaced the CPU with a minor revision, the HU6280a, which supposedly fixes some minor audio issues. It is otherwise functionally identical to the original system. It was released in Japan on December 8, 1989.

SuperGrafx

SuperGrafx
The SuperGrafx was the first major revision of the console. Aside from the obvious physical differences, it features the same HU6280a used in the CoreGrafx as well as an additional HUC6270 graphics chip for more available VRAM. It also has nearly four times the available working RAM for the CPU as the standard consoles. However, only six games were created to take advantage of the additional power (one of which can still be played on a standard system), but it is fully backward compatible. It also requires an adapter to work with the CD-ROM attachment because of its larger size. It was released in Japan on December 8, 1989.

PC Engine GT

PC Engine GT
The PC Engine GT is a handheld version of the PC Engine. It has a backlit LCD screen, plays all standard HuCard games, and can be connected to a TV tuner adapter for use as a portable TV. It is identical to the US TurboExpress aside from the branding. It was released in Japan on December 1, 1990.

CoreGrafx II

CoreGrafx II
Not much was changed from the original CoreGrafx for this revision. The biggest difference between this and the original CoreGrafx is that the CPU was changed back to the HU6280. It is also a lighter grey with an orange font. It was released in Japan on June 21, 1991.

PC Engine LT

PC Engine LT
The PC Engine LT is basically a portable PC Engine, though it requires a power adapter rather than batteries. It has a built-in LCD screen and headphone output. Although it does not have an AV output jack, it does have the same expansion port as other PC Engines, so it can be connected to the CD-ROM attachment for output to a TV. The screen can also be used as a monitor for external sources. It was released in Japan on December 13, 1991.

CD-ROM² System

CD-ROM System
The first CD-ROM peripheral for any home console, the CD-ROM² System (pronounced CD-ROM-ROM) is a two-part system featuring a CD-ROM drive and a dock (the Interface unit or IFU) that both the drive and the PC Engine connect to. Discs require the use of a System Card, with many titles requiring a Super System Card 3.0. The system is often referred to as "the briefcase" since it came with a lid that allows the setup to be carried around. The IFU has its own RCA jacks for composite video and stereo sound, giving the original PC Engine another output option. The audio output on the IFU must be used to hear Redbook audio from CD-ROM games. It was released in Japan on December 4, 1988.

Super CD-ROM²

Super CD-ROM
The Super CD-ROM² consolidated the CD-Rom drive and IFU into one unit and also incorporated the Super System Card 3.0 into the hardware. The Arcade Card is still required for Arcade disc titles. It was released in Japan on December 13, 1991.

PC Engine Duo

PC Engine Duo
The PC Engine Duo combines the PC Engine and Super CD-ROM² into one unit, enabling users to play all HuCard and CD-ROM games (though an Arcade Card is still required for Arcade disc titles). Aside from the name, it is virtually identical to the TurboDuo. It was released in Japan on September 21, 1991.

PC Engine Duo R

PC Engine Duo R
The Duo R changed to a more rounded shape with a lighter color. The internals were revamped slightly as well. In particular, the capacitors are higher quality and less prone to failure than the original Duo. Like the Duo before it, the Arcade Card is required for Arcade disc titles. It was released in Japan on March 25, 1993.

PC Engine Duo RX

PC Engine Duo RX
The last revision of the PC Engine, the Duo RX is largely the same as the Duo R, but it came with a new 6-button controller. The Arcade Card is still required for Arcade disc titles. It was released in Japan on June 25, 1994.

TurboGrafx-16 line

TurboGrafx-16

TurboGrafx-16
Although the internals are basically the same as the original PC Engine, the case looks significantly different in an effort to appeal to the North American market. The North American console only has RF output, though the Turbo Booster add-on can be attached to the back to add composite video and stereo sound. It was released in the US in late August of 1989.


The European version (named TurboGrafx) is a lighter gray and removed the RF modulator in favor of a 5-pin DIN output for composite video and stereo sound. However, there are no PAL HuCards. The system produces NTSC video, but has an additional chip on board to slow it down to 50 Hz per PAL standards. The official release was cancelled, but distributor Telegames released the limited quantities they had in the UK in 1990. It was also made available in Spain and Portugal.

TurboGrafx-CD

TurboGrafx-CD
Basically just a repackaging of the CD-ROM² System, the TurboGrafx-CD has a base that the TG16 and CD-ROM drive are attached to. Unlike the CD-ROM² System, the drive connects to the back of the console. It also provides composite video and stereo sound output. It does not integrate any System Cards, so users will need to purchase one separately for use with disc-based games. It was released in the United States on August 1, 1990.

TurboDuo

TurboDuo
Aside from the logo, the TurboDuo is virtually identical to the PC Engine Duo. Like that console, it has a Super System Card 3.0 built in, but requires the Arcade Card for Arcade titles. Unlike the TG16, it uses the same controller port as the PC Engine. It was released in North America in October of 1992.

TurboExpress

TurboExpress
The TurboExpress is identical to the PC Engine GT except for the branding. It was released in North America in December of 1990.

System cards

The system card is a HuCard that enables CD-ROM games to be played with non-Duo systems. Several versions were released over the system's life time.

System Card version 1.0

The 1.0 card was included with the original Interface Unit and is required to play standard CD-ROM games with the briefcase setup. Exclusive to this version is a hidden debug mode that allows users to modify save data stored inside the System Card's memory backup. The debug mode is accessed by holding Up-Right + I + II on the controller and pressing Select.

System Card version 2.0

Version 2.0 of the System Card was included with the Interface Unit/CD-ROM² bundle released in 1989. It added support for CD+G discs.

System Card version 2.1

Version 2.1 was released exclusively in Japan in 1990 and was the first card available as a standalone purchase. It added the ability to auto-detect disc changes.

System Card version 3.0

This is the same BIOS version built in to all Duo systems and the Super CD-ROM² add-on. It quadrupled the amount of buffer RAM and is required for any Super CD-ROM titles.

Arcade Card

The Arcade Card was only released in Japan and is required for all Arcade titles. It is available in two versions: the Arcade Card Duo for Duo or Super CD-ROM² owners and the Arcade Card Pro for owners of the original IFU or TurboGrafx-CD. However, since it was only released in Japan, US consoles need a region mod to use any of the Arcade cards.

Best Possible Connection

Stock

RGB with an adapter such as the dbGrafx Booster. This is the recommended option for RF-only systems like the TG16 and original PC Engine.

Modded

RGB

Known issues and quirks

  • Most consoles exhibit some degree of jailbars, but there is a simple mod to fix this.
  • Earlier models of PC Engine, TurboGrafx-16, and Duo systems are prone to capacitor failures. It is recommended to replace the electrolytic capacitors (particularly surface mount ones) on any Duo system.
  • A lot of the earlier consoles seem to be prone to noise/interference on the video lines. For RF-based systems like the TurboGrafx-16 and PC Engine, it may be better to stick with an external option like the dbGrafx Booster for video output. If you want to use a CD add-on, you could modify the IFU/dock using one of the simpler mods since audio is already amplified. Systems that come with AV ports can use the simple mods as well and seem to exhibit less interference.

Mods

Schematics