Nintendo 64 Modder Replaces Innards With Intel NUC

RetroModder's NUC-64 creation
(Image credit: RetroModder)

Readers of a nervous disposition might like to look away, lest the sight of a Nintendo 64 with its Silicon Graphics-approved innards removed and replaced with PC parts (for which we are grateful to Hackaday) cause offence.

There aren’t a lot of original parts left in the NUC-64, a storming build by RetroModder (who has done something similar with a GameCube in the past) which uses the guts of an Intel NUC and some custom parts. The specs, which aren’t cutting-edge but run rings around the original N64 and are more than capable of emulating it (even a Raspberry Pi can do that), see an Intel N3700 Pentium processor (1.60 GHz base / 2.40 GHz boost) paired with 4GB of DDR3L-1600 and a SATA III M.2 SSD. 

So far, so standard. The more interesting bit is at the front of the machine, where a custom PCB bridges the N64’s controller ports and the PC’s USB subsystem via two dual-port Mayflash N64-to-USB adapters. This preserves the functionality of the power switch, reset button, and power LED. Mounts were 3D printed to hold everything in place. A custom circuit sends the proper shutdown signal to the PC when the power switch is pressed, utilising classic 555 timers to generate the pulse expected by the motherboard.

There's further 3D printing deeper inside, mounting the NUC motherboard and M.2 adapter (a 2.5 inch SSD was too large). A custom rear I/O shield allows USB, Ethernet, HDMI and power connections to be exposed, along with holes for two wireless antennas to poke through. The blower-style CPU fan sits under the motherboard, venting out the back.

Perhaps best of all is the treatment the defunct cartridge slot has received, taking advantage of its prominent position to emblazon the name of the build across the top. The Expansion Pak slot is sadly unused, although it’s the ideal spot for an SD-card reader if ever we saw one. 

RetroModder is not the first to have seen the PC potential in an N64. We wonder how many others there are out there?

Ian Evenden
Freelance News Writer

Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.

  • BillyBuerger
    Impressive build and it doesn't look to scary either. The only "destructive" mod I see is that they cut out the bit of plastic where the power brick plugged into. That and they desoldered the controller ports and a few other parts. But those could be reversed and put back in the original PCBs if needed.