Wii: 480p output problems are most likely a software issue hardware issue

Update2: I talked with Nintendo today. Very friendly customer support. The customer service dude asked if I had another TV to hook it up to. Uh, no, only one 1080p, component video capable, monitor in the house. He also asked if I had tried the regular video cables as it might be a scaling issue. Nope — but I have a number of other video sources that are scaled to the same or greater degree without problem. That was that — shipping label on the way. Clearly, this is not an uncommon problem. Nintendo will cross ship if you don’t have data on the box. If you do, it needs to be shipped in to have the data transferred from the old machine to the new, presumably so that Nintendo can activate the data & games on the new box.

Update: Consensus indicates that this is a hardware issue with my Wii. Furthermore, it seems to be a not terribly uncommon failure mode. I’ll get in touch with Nintendo and update this post when I get a response. For now, Paper Mario has my attention– what an awesome game!

I ran across a post on Engdaget discusses numerous reports of problems with component video output from the Nintendo Wii.

Our Wii is connected to a 46″ Sony Bravia XBR-B2 TV (which, btw, runs Linux internally). We picked up this particular TV because it makes an absolutely gorgeous monitor for a Mac Mini (which does a decent job of scaling– not up-converting or re-sampling or whatever, as far as I know — DVDs) and, in theory, for the Wii. That, and it has a zillion inputs, including a couple of S-Video, a composite video (remember those?), and an HDMI with separate audio input.

Wii UI Dot Trash

While I haven’t [yet] experienced the black outs during Zelda or the Wii Console interface, I do see a lot of noise in the image. It is almost like the textures aren’t quite connected correctly and a handful of pixels here and there are all washed out. In Zelda, nothing is sharp and the colors are all washed out.

In the screenshot to the left, you can see a vertical column of dots in between the YES and NO buttons. This is pervasive throughout most of the standard UI presentations on the Wii.

But I think it is a software issue. Why? Because game cube games are so frighteningly bright, sharp and flawlessly displayed at 480p that I’m tempted to wear sunglasses (actually, turn down the brightness on the display). Seriously. Game cube games are just flat out gorgeous. I’m sure I could have the same experience with the game cube itself if I were to grab a set of component cables for it. After all, the Wii is just a souped up game cube with a lot of networking and wireless features tacked on.

Also, the newer games look better. Wii Play, for example, is rendered in the same style as the launch title Wii Sports. But Wii Play is sharper and has less aliasing at the edges of stuff.

Zelda ScreenCap with Render Trash

I hope that Nintendo will eventually release a software update to fix the blown pixels in the main console UI. It is unfortunate that Zelda will never be updated, but the game is so great that the visual artifacts are more annoying that a total joy killer. To the right is a screenshot of general game play (opening credits, in this case). Here is a closeup of some dot trash in part of a castle wall.

Actually, it appears that one of the most recent software updates has made the problem less prevalent in standard UI components. It may also simply be because it added a channel to the main display, thus causing a slightly layout change. Zelda isn’t any better, which isn’t terribly surprising. I do wonder if Nintendo has a mechanism for providing patches for games on disc?

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72 Responses to “Wii: 480p output problems are most likely a software issue hardware issue”

  1. Jacopo__ITALY says:

    Yeah….stopping now the WC24 will not solve the problem…it’s mean that the only way to fix the artifacts is necessary to swap the Wii with another brand new…

    Only i guess if i could use the WC24 with the new console…i’m afraid for the overheating…

    Sorry for my bad English.. 🙁

  2. DDD'SSCEPTILE says:

    Man…… I got a Launch Wii, and just today I popped Strikers in to try and beat Diddy Kong (I got the game when it was released in USA) and then I noticed it. Tiny white specks and black dots. It’s the absolute worst on The Vice. I tried PBR, and although it’s not as bad, it’s still there.

    So, mine survived up until now. I guess I’ll have to send in my Wii, but what about my Wii Points and games? I read that my account will remain, but I’ll have to re-download and re-play all my VC games. Just downloading them was hard enough….

    This sucks! 🙁

  3. jomigo says:

    I bought a Wii in late Oct 2007, did nothing with it (it was a Xmas gift for my kids) until around Dec 10th ’07 when I hooked it up to make sure everything worked (so there were no surprises on the big day), registered it that same day, and turned it on for good Xmas morning. I fired it up with component cables, in 480p, with wi24connect on and connected to my wifi router. It ran in this “orange” standby state when we were not playing for 1 week then on Dec 30, 2007 we turned it on to play Wii Sports. I noticed something funny with the opening menu, but didn’t think much more about it until 5 minutes later when my daugther hit a homerun in Baseball and it looked like black snow in the blue sky! Then it became more and more prevelant as we played that day….this “pixel”/”artifact” issue had struck. We tried other games and they all had the same effect. I tried the original cables, I tried 480i with the components, I tried not in widescreen, in widescreen, i.e. I tried everything…..The menu was looking worse by the hour. I read this blog and others that night and quickly turned off wii24connect and shut the unit down for a whole day, but it didn’t help. I contacted Nintendo this moring Jan 2, 2008, and they were very polite, professional and quick to respond. The CS guy I spoke with started asking me questions like “what type of TV?” “in what mode?”, etc… and I quickly knew where he was going so I told him everything I tried and he quickly replied – “Well, we have two options” – “repair” or “replace”. They were so quick to give me the option. I took the “replace” option and they are sending a replacement out with a return label.
    I’ll let everyone know how the replacement works, but am wondering if anyone else has taken the replacement option AND then with the replacement put it back in wii24connect “on” mode. Did the problem return? Did you leave it in “on” mode and never have the problem again? I would like to say I plan on leaving it in “off” mode, but am hearing that games may soon come out that connect over the internet and will require the wii24connect to be on. Any truth to that? If so, I am undecided if I will risk it.

  4. flsomerv says:

    Hey everybody.

    I got my Wii back on Dec. 28. The invoice that came back with my Wii (no charge by the way, still under warranty) said that they had to replace the circuit board and the disc drive; however, the Wii they sent me back has a new serial number on it. My guess is that they sent me a refurbished unit. That is fine by me as the new unit works just fine. I have had a few disc read problems with the new Wii, but not consistent and most of the time it doesn’t happen at all. The artifacting problem is gone. I have a new setup for my Wii now. I have my Wii sitting on top of a 3 foot high bookcase beside my TV. I am hoping that the height will give more air circulation. Also, I have a power strip plugged into the wall that I only connect the Wii’s power to. When I am done playing the Wii, I power off the Wii, it goes into standby mode with the orange light, and then I switch off the power strip so that the orange light goes away from the front of the Wii. I still use WiiConnect24, but it can’t do anything when the power strip is off (and thus should not overheat). I can still access the forecast channel, the internet channel, the shop channel, and the Wii message board still works. My setup prevents the Wii from overheating when I’m not playing. I’ll be sure to post back here if I have any problems.

    Nintendo transferred my save data and settings over to the new unit. I did have to re-download all of the VC games I had on the old unit. Also, my Wii points remained intact. The only real thing to mention is that any Miis you created on your old unit will be available on your new unit for use, but you can’t edit them any more.

    Let me know if you have questions.

    Just for reference:

    Display: 52″ Widescreen CRT rear-projection HDTV Monitor (RCA Brand)
    Connection: 480p via Intec component cables
    Wii: WiConnect24 is on, Wireless internet connection through a USB access point on my home computer

  5. Jacopo___ITALY says:

    ——-> UPDATE!!!!!! <———

    I can trust it!

    One week ago my electric socity cut the energy with any advice…when i was playing with my “artifected” Wii…
    The day after that, THE ARTIFACTS WENT AWAY!! i’ve no more artifact since 7 days!!

    I can’t undertand it!!

    I phoned to the Nintendo Call Center and told that my “artifacted” Wii doesn’t show the problem no more!! They told me that i can send however the console to the Center but if they’ll not see the problem, they send me the same and my console!

    So, i don’t know what i’ve to do! I can play with any games without artifacts or damaged pixels…

    I know that the energy off didn’t solve the problem beacuse it’s impossible…but it’s strange!

    What do you think??


  6. Ben L. says:

    I bought my wii last summer and set it up with component cables to a 37 inch lcd tv. I also enabled 24connect. In November while playing resident evil 4 wii i started noticing red and green artifacts in the video. I read that this problem is from an overheating GPU, so i called nintendo, they asked me to send the unit in for repairs. About 2 and a half weeks later, i got my repaired unit back with an invoice saying they replaced the circuit board and disk drive. I hooked up my console and found the exact same video problems, they must not have repaired/replaced the GPU. I was very upset, so i called nintendo, and they sent out an advance replacement refurb console. Once i got the new console, i transferred as much as i could and all was well. I hooked wiiconnect24 again as i did the first time. Well, a month and a half later i have an overheated GPU again. I think the lesson that i learned is that given enough time, Wiiconnect24 will fry your GPU, so you should definately turn it off! BTW, my folks have a wii that is not connected to wiiconnect and they have never had a problem. Nintendo needs to fix this issue!!!

  7. Jacopo____ITALY says:

    UPDATE #2 : On the same Wii, the artifacts came back after 1 month! 🙁

    The problem is that is very diffucult to see and so, impossible (i think) to send to Nintendo for some check… 🙁

  8. flsomerv says:

    Hey. If anyone is interested, I found out that internet access on the Wii can still be had with the Standby Connection turned off. I turned off my Standby Connection and left WiiConnect24 on. This yields a red light on the power button when the Wii is turned off–which means it should not be using the internet connection and therefore should not overheat the GPU. When set up this way (Standby off, WC24 on), I can access the internet through the Wii Shop Channel, the Internet Channel, and in games that use WC24 for online play. The only things that don’t work without the Standby Connection are the Forecast Channel and the News Channel.

    I highly recommend that people turn on WiiConnect24 for internet access, but turn off the Standby Connection. This way you can download VC games, browse the web with the Internet Channel, and use the online play in various Wii games without fear of overheating your GPU when the power is off.


  9. wgfinley says:

    Same exact problem. I run it through my Pioneer Receiver which converts everything to HDMI out to my Pioneer plasma and I have always gotten those artifacts. I always thought it was an issue with the receiver’s conversion but apparently not.


  10. Brad says:

    Same exact problem. I’m on my second repair for this. My first repair did fix the problem, only to have it reappear 2 months later. I DID have WiiConnect24 enabled for those 2 months.

    Future looks grim.

  11. Jacopo____ITALY says:

    I sent my Wii to the Nintendo Service…exactly i brought it on my hands to reduce the time of traveling…now 15 days passed and i onlty know that they recognize the problem of artifacts and told me that they are waiting for the new one from Germany (i dunno why from germany :O ).
    So i’m still waiting for news…
    But i don’t thint that i let the connection on in stand by….already one wii is died..so i didn’t want the broke another wii, if the problem is of Nintendo and not my problem. I’ll ask to the service.

    See you soon! 😛

  12. Brad says:

    Still waiting for my second Wii to be returned.. I just hope they solve this stupid problem once and for all. And, I hope Nintendo reads this blog. 😉

  13. Jacopo____ITALY says:

    Still waiting the new wii from Nintendo Service since 19th March!! 🙁
    I hate them! Someone sayd that they take 5 day to change the console!! I’m near 1 month!!!!!!!!

    A question… Anyone know if the send a “regenerated” console and not a “brand new” console??
    Because a friend of mine received on “old” Wii with OLD serial! He sent LEH112….. and came back a LEH101…. !! 🙁
    I don’t know if inside there is a new hardware as new wii at discount!

  14. bbum says:

    They very likely will ship either refurbished or new, depending on what is in stock.

    Wow! Waiting since March 19th. That is awful. I would suggest calling them and politely giving them hell for it.

  15. Jacopo____ITALY says:

    I’ll call monday! I hadn’t time today! 🙁

    But i’ve found a way to AVOID the overheating, forever! I found a way to mod the wii motherboard that let the fan ON in stand by mode…
    so i’ve this option:
    1 – Fan in ON when Wii work (Indipendet from WC24)
    2 – Fan in ON in STANDBY status (with WC24, if WC24 is off th fan in off)
    3 – Fan in OFF when Wii does’t have power or the light on pwr button is red

    So no more artifacts. 😛

  16. Jacopo____ITALY says:

    WOW!! Finally new Wii comes to me!! after 1 month! It’s new and No artifatcs :p Today i’ll install the modify for the fan so goodbye artifacts!

  17. flsomerv says:

    Jacopo___ITALY: Good to hear you got your Wii back (finally). I have had no problems with artifacts since I got my Wii back. I have had WiiConnect24 On, but the Standby connection off. I don’t really have a need for the standby connection. The only thing you need it for is weather forecasts and news headlines. All other online stuff works with the standby connection off.

    Keep us updated as to any other artifact problems.


  18. Kim says:

    Its the component cable,i have tried using it on two different wiis,bout suffers the same now,the black dots.
    I have sent mine in for repair,so I hope tey will fix it.
    dont use component cables!

  19. Pete says:

    I had this same problem with my new Wii, using a non-Nintendo branded component cable and thought the cable was the problem or maybe electrical interference. In the end I just lived with it. After reading this I got worried I may have to replace my Wii, but turns out I don’t have to. I replaced my TV aerial cable from a cheapo one to a proper shielded cable over the weekend and that has done the trick. No more artifacts!! My Wii also runs with WC24 on standby so it wasn’t due to overheating. Mine is a newer Wii but at least for me anyway the probem doesn’t seem to be related to a faulty GPU or overheating, just interference from my TV aerial lead!

  20. Ryan says:

    Having the same problem right now. Nintendo tried to tell me it was s scaling issue and I may not have noticed it until now. Trust me I would have noticed this. I’ve had my Wii for 3 months without problem and now there are lines everywhere. I used to leave my Wii in standby with WiiConnect24 on. Just in case I won’t do that anymore. I’m unplugging it and putting it in the fridge overnight 😉 Anyway I take it into the repair depot myself next week. The guy said there’s a small chance I might lose my data they’d replace my wiiware and downloaded games if that happened. However he also said even if I backup my games and Mii’s there’s a chance they may not work with the new ‘OS’ which is a pain. Oh well I’ll be happy if it just works properly.

  21. Littlelinkkid says:

    what about that “burn-in screen reduction” thing on your wii?

  22. ChuckZ says:

    This blows! I just experienced the problem. I last played my Wii over Christmas break and had no problems. I disconnected it and had it stored away until spring break when I pulled it out and started to notice the artifacts all over the screen. I thought this was an aberration so I didn’t start playing it again until my spring college semester ended a week ago. Same thing!

    I entered my serial number on Nintendo’s website for repair and it’ll cost my $75 to have it fixed since it’s out of warranty! That’s almost half the cost of a new Wii!

    Bah! My GameCube never had any problems and even my older systems still work including my Sega Genesis and Nintendo 64.

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