RGB is the single best video output option. RGB comes in many forms, like how 240p and 480i RGB typically comes out of a SCART connector or a Japanese 21-pin connector and how analog 480p and higher come out of a VGA connector. HDMI usually uses a digital form of RGB and displays 480p and higher. All mainstream video game consoles after the NES, besides the N64, NTSC GameCube, and NTSC Wii output some form of RGB. The NES, N64, Atari 2600, and NTSC Wii can be modded to use RGB, and the NTSC GameCube can theoretically be modded for RGB, but nobody has RGB modded one yet. However, mmmonkey has provided a guide on modding a component cable to output RGB on the GameCube.
If you are interested in RGB, here’s a bunch of information you need to know. Sync is a signal used to tell the television or monitor all the information it needs to know, and there are many types of sync. Sync-on-composite is exactly what the name implies. Same with sync-on-luma and sync-on-green. Composite sync is not the same as sync-on-composite as composite sync is separated from any video signal, and horizontal and vertical sync are basically composite sync separated into two sync signals.
Component is the second best option for video games consoles. Component video is Y/Pb/Pr and can be thought of as an even more separated S-Video. Y/Pb/Pr is a compressed form of RGB (which I will get to tomorrow) and comes in a couple different forms. The digital equivalent is Y/Cb/Cr and is used in HDMI if you so choose. There is no colour bleeding, and even the analogue form, Y/Pb/Pr, supports high definition. Y/Pb/Pr is also slightly sharper than S-Video, but a tiny bit less than true RGB.
Every mainstream console PS2 to the Wii U supports component video, and all of them support enhanced definition (480p) or better, except the PAL GameCube and PAL Xbox (sorry PAL gamers, you were screwed over as far as higher resolutions go). Even the Super Nintendo can be modded for Y/Pb/Pr video output at 240p and the occasional 480i.
S-Video is the third worst and is third best in terms of pre-HDMI consoles. It looks okay on an HDTV and looks good on a CRT. The design of the plug sucks, but the video quality is better than composite video because S-Video separates the luminance and chrominance. The colour is still a little compressed and has a bit of bleeding, but it lacks rainbow banding, dot crawl, and a really blurry image. If your console or computer outputs S-Video, whether it be modded or not, it will most likely look pretty good. You will definitely notice the difference between composite and S-Video.
I would recommend that you at least use this connection with your consoles and computers. All mainstream consoles, except anything before the Super Nintendo, some PAL N64s, any PAL GameCube, Wii, or Wii U, and anything after the NTSC-U and NTSC-J Wii U support S-Video. Many earlier consoles can be modded to output S-Video, like the Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Atari 2600, NES, etc.
Composite video is the second worst choice for video game consoles. I would not recommend using it unless you need to, like if your equipment doesn’t support anything better. Composite video is the same deal as RF, only there’s less snow and white noise, as the video and audio are separated, and you also don’t need to tune into channel 1, 2, 3, 4, 95, or 96.
Composite video blends the luminance and chrominance together to output video in one pin. This results in an image that looks like ass on modern televisions. It looks okay on a CRT (unless it’s a Sega console or a CGA card for early PCs) and it is better than RF, but even for a CRT, there are superior options I will get to in the next three days. The audio quality is amazing, and that will be applicable for all upcoming entries.
Here are a few ways to remember composite video sucks: CVBS = (c)omposite (v)ideo is (b)ull(s)hit (mine), the video cable is yellow because it’s piss-poor quality (not mine, but a YouTube commentator’s), and police sketches are called composite sketches (AdamKoralik on YouTube)
*I do not have any stigma against Sega consoles and early PCs, except for their composite video output.
One note I would like to make that seems to confuse many people: component and composite are NOT the same thing! Component cables use one green cable, one blue, two red, and one white; one red is for audio, the other is video. Composite cables are one yellow, one white, and one red.
RF is the bottom of the barrel as far as video formats go. Otherwise known as retarded format, RF means radio frequency, and it squeezes the audio and video into one shitty cable. You should never use this type of cable unless you are using it for nostalgia, a console older than the NES, or the NES toploader. Even if your console doesn’t support anything better than RF, I would recommend getting the console modded for at least composite video. The video and audio quality are horrendous! Common effects of RF are a snowy image, white noise, dot crawl, a blurry image, and a lack of saturation.