Look what we have here! The elusive GScart switch finally landed in our workshop a few weeks ago and we were able to take a look at the unit today. Highly anticipated since it’s announcement on the Assembler Games and Shmups forums back in 2014, the finished unit was kindly loaned to us by supporter and fan and all round nice guy Clarke Gibson, so that we could put it through its paces.
SCART switches are becoming scarce, so what better way to tackle the problem than build one of your own? Like so many other great innovations in this vibrant community, the GScart is designed by a retrogamer specifically for retro gamers. Housed in a plexiglass case, the unit features no less than eight SCART inputs. Output is via a single SCART socket or a D-Sub 15 (VGA style) connector. You can use both of these outputs at once if desired. We tested the D-Sub15 output with our Startech PEXHDCAP capture card and found it worked perfectly, no external sync cleaner required, making the GScart ideal for use in this setup.
As well as the D-Sub15 output, the GScart also features a 3.5mm audio break out and a built in sync stripper, which can be toggled on or off using a small switch, ideal if your output source demands a clean CSYNC signal.
The GScart is an auto switch with no manual override. It requires a 7 to 12 volt DC power supply. Curiously, on the unit we received for testing, the DC power input was wired for negative tip. Since the industry standard is positive tip, this makes finding a suitable PSU more complicated. A Sega Megadrive Mark 1 PSU will work fine if you have a spare lying around. Apparently on newer models of the switch this has been changed to positive tip so any off the shelf PSU will suffice.
Normally we don’t recommend automatic switches that don’t have a manual override simply due to the fact that they tend to have errors detecting and switching to different inputs. GScart is different as it has been designed and tested extensively with games consoles and SuperG (the designer) has worked tirelessly to iron out any issues with the automatic switching. Switching priority is always top to bottom, that is, if you turn on input 1, then turn on input 2, input 2 will not switch until input 1 is turned off. There’s no LED to indicate which input is active, which would have been nice but is hardly essential.
While GScart is far less likely to cause you any issues compared to pretty much every other automatic switch on the market, it still sacrifices some functionality because of the lack of manual override. Since the auto detection relies on a signal being present on sync (SCART pin 20), you cannot route S-Video or component signals (YPbPr) through the switch. It also means you can’t just pause a game on one console and switch to another, though that’s a minor complaint of course.
What about picture quality?, well, were you really in any doubt? The quality is flawless, really indistinguishable to the naked eye from having no switch present at all. Looking at the capture gallery we can see that there’s a tiny bit of brightness lost, but really nothing that can’t be compensated for.
Brightness/noise test:- Passed, no noticeable noise added, no noticeable brightness lost from picture.
Isolation test:- Passed, zero crosstalk from other inputs.
Conclusion:- SuperG has really delivered a great quality package with the GScart. Flawless picture quality with fully automatic switching. It’s a fraction of the size of an Extron Crosspoint and beats the behemoth on picture quality too by sacrificing slightly less brightness, though it’s not quite as flexible with inputs and outputs. While it would have been lovely to see the unit with a proper metal enclosure rather than the plexiglass, this would have bumped the cost up dramatically (believe us when we tell you this is not an exaggeration, ask RetroRGB who spent a significant amount of time and money researching it). At $220 plus shipping this isn’t a cheap unit by any stretch, but if you’ve been waiting for a high quality RGB switching solution for your retrogaming setup, GScart won’t let you down.
This switch has now been tested for picture quality using a capture card, click here to see how it performed.