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Which Sega Saturn Model Is Best?

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The Sega Saturn, manufactured by Sega, was first released in North America in May 1995. Sega Saturn is a home video game console having 32-bit fifth generation capability with dual- CPU and eight processors. It is quite different from its predecessor Sega Genesis.

Its gaming format is based on CD-ROM where the game library possesses various coin-op game ports and equally original games. In the US, it failed to be as popular as they hoped due to the release of Nintendo 64 that resulted in market loss and it was discontinued in 1998. Numerically, 9.26 million devices were sold throughout the World.

So Which Sega Saturn Model Is The Best?

Again, as with all gaming systems a lot of what you like is personal preference. There are little nuances here and there that only you might notice. For the Sega Saturn, the general consensus seems to be that the Model 1 has a better picture quality and therefore is the better version of the two.

If you would like to know more about this subject, please keep reading or check out this video below!

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Sega Saturn Model 1

The original version can easily be identified by the Power and Reset buttons being OVAL instead of ROUND. Hence this version is often referred to as the Oval version. It also had no notches on the power supply port, allowing it to accept a wider gamut of power cords (a standard 2-prong half flat/half round power cord).

They are both heavy units that feel and are well built. Both models seem to hold up pretty well over time.

  • Unit Lifetime: 1995-1998 (US)
  • Units Sold Worldwide: 10 million
  • Resolution: 740 x 512
  • Colors Available: 16.7 million
  • Colors on screen: 32,000
  • Power Requirements: AC120 volts
  • Sound:32 Channel PCM, 8 Channel Stereo
  • Games Released US: 245

The original Sega Saturn has two controller ports on the front. SEGA moved on from the standard 9-pin Genesis controller ports and went with a larger metal port. The SEGA Saturn Multitap would allow up to 6 controllers to be plugged in. 

The original SEGA Saturn also came with a larger joystick for the US, than the smaller Japanese pad. This controller looks like a 6-button SEGA Genesis controller with a shell around it. The smaller controller would soon replace the larger and ship with the unit. 

On the top of the machine from right to left we have a Power Button which is LED light, then the Eject Button in the center. Next to that, there is an Access LED that blinks when the Saturn is accessing the disk and finally the Reset Button. The Reset Button will make the current game restart as if it were inserted again. The Eject Button pops open the clam tray for the CD and the Power Button of course turns this system on. The Power Button locks down when on as well.

The left and right sides of the unit are free of inputs but do have some vents for cooling.

On the back of the SEGA Saturn on the left side there is a large access panel that is held in with a clip. This provides access to change the internal battery. This uses a standard CR2032 watch battery that you can buy almost anywhere. The battery pops out of the unit with ease and is easy to replace. And you will want to replace it! This battery will keep the internal clock of the Saturn working. This saves the date and time information. If your battery is dead then you will be prompted to enter the time and date every-time you turn the SEGA Saturn on, and it is annoying.

On the right rear side of the machine you have a Communication Connector port that was used with the SEGA Netlink Modem. Next to that are the AC Power Supply port and the AV OUT port. One nice thing about both SEGA Saturn models is that the power cable is a standard 2-prong cable that is used for all kinds of products and can be found easily if you lose yours. 

Gone are the large Power Supply boxes from the Genesis days. The AV OUT port looks very similar to the old SEGA Genesis port but the cables are not interchangeable. One the plus side, this port will output S-Video which makes for a better picture from your SEGA Saturn.

Sega Saturn Model 2

The second version, released in 1996, changed the case slightly and altered some of the internal layouts for cost savings and efficiency.

The front of the machine retains the same controller ports and looks identical to the original with the exception of the SEGA logo that is now here instead of on the top left corner of the original model. This model also included a smaller (Japanese version) controller.

On the top of this version, the Power and Reset buttons are now ROUND, this is the easiest way to see which version you have. The drive access light has been removed, but the power LED remains. The clam tray is constructed in a slightly different way on this model also.

The back of this version has the same layout and ports as the original with the exception of the keyed power port. The Power port on the back has a notch added making the old power cord no longer usable on the newer models, although it’s still easy to find a cord almost anywhere.

Outside of the cosmetic changes, quite a few internal changes were made. On the original model the Power LED and the Access LED were actually attached to the top part of the Saturn Case. So if you open the unit (to switch out a drive or something) you would have to be careful as there is a small wire group that runs up from the bottom half of the unit where the computer boards are and attaches to the top half of the shell and runs to the LEDs to power them.

On this version, the Access light is gone and the Power light is a clever plastic tower extension coming from the bottom of the unit that transmits the light which is now attached to the main board. This removed any need for a wire to be attached to the top of the shell meaning it will lift off with ease.

SEGA Saturn Model 3

This version, released later in 1996, had only internal cost saving changes made and is cosmetically identical to the 80000A model.

Sega Saturn Model Version

NTSC and PAL are two different categories, where both models fall, they could be either NTSC or PAL.

As Sega released its Saturn version in three different regions of the World, the US and Canadian version was NTSC, while in Europe and Australia, gamers enjoyed its PAL model version. In France Sega released its unique version combo of two, SECAM and PAL, easily convertible.

Sega Saturn Controller

There is no specific difference in accessories except the controller. With the North American version, the second-generation controller comes in which looks different in style and color. The difference being its black color and logo.Preparatory ports are available in all Sega series. Power bottom, keypad, shoulder bottoms and other function keys are executed on the controller.

Sega released two types of controller, the former design of controller is quite different from the later one. However, people mostly prefer the second later model of the controller due to its better grip while playing games.

The buttons are the same in number. Functional buttons in the former controller are arranged in convex and concave order, whilst in the secondary version, they are pretty much the same with flat and round buttons. 

Technical Features

There are eight processors featured in this device. The main central processor units allocated two Hitachi SH-2 microprocessors. For sound control, Sega installed Motorola 68 E000 at 11.3 MHz Yamaha FH1 consolidated with sound processor.

This device is capable of streaming channels. It is featured with two display processors, VDP1 and VDP2, control texture, polygons and backgrounds. Hitachi SH-1 controls CD-ROM drive. It contains 16 Mbit for RAM and 12 Mbit for video RAM. 


RGB scart cable is used in both models differently. There was no need of modification to acquire RGB output in Sega, but some specific cables go on perfectly according to their regional model, so in this case, it is necessary to study about the cables to get a more interesting RGB output.

Sega Saturn Accessories

Various accessories were launched for the Sega Saturn world widely in three different regions. Some were commonly used and accessible and some were exclusive to Japan. Many of the other models were licensed by other Sega partners.

At the moment, when Sega released its more advanced gaming models, they carefully designed its hardware, but it raised some complexities for costumed developers.


Apparently, the Sega Saturn series developed by Sega, didn’t have many drawbacks but it faced a huge commercial failure from the United States where it discontinued after some years. Most believe it was due to the release of Nintendo 64, which was more advanced than Sega Saturn. It was quite costly as compared to other playstations at that time.