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I've got a pair of classic NES consoles; one in near-pristine condition and the other that shows a bit more exterior wear, but still functions just fine. Since I still enjoy throwing games on the original console from time to time, I was thinking about disabling the 10NES chip in the latter unit to increase its overall reliability.

The question here is twofold:

  • Is this a simple task (e.g. just cut a pin with a pair of wire cutters), or is it more involved (e.g. time to break out the soldering iron)?
  • Will this modification have any negative effects from a usability standpoint?
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We're not really in the business of console re-engineering. Our expertise runs to playing games, and the knowledge attendant with that. It doesn't really include full on console modification. –  Frank Apr 19 at 19:16
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@Kaji This site offers a very good explanation about the chips and the lockout system. –  Krazer Apr 19 at 19:34

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The 10NES chip can be effectively disabled by cutting pin 4 on the chip. (The pins are numbered starting with the black dot as 1, and then continuing down the same side of the chip as the dot).

I did this to my old NES and it worked fine. However, any hardware modification can be somewhat risky, so your mileage may vary.

There's a picture of the chip and the pin to cut on this wiki or there's also this YouTube video that goes step by step.

You can tell if the 10NES chip is disabled because the 10NES chip will reset the console over and over again if a valid cartridge is not inserted. If your power light doesn't blink constantly anymore when the console is empty, then you did it right :)

As far as I'm aware, there's no downside to removing the 10NES functionality. In fact, later NES models that were compatible with the same cartridges did not include it.

For a more in-depth look at the 10NES chip, and a perhaps more in-depth way of disabling it (by routing pin 4 to ground instead), there's this guide.

However, some NES reliability issues are related to the funky 72-pin connector on the NES-001, rather than the 10NES chip directly. You may also have to clean, refurbish, or replace this connector to improve the console reliability, depending on the particular issues your hardware has.

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