What is the Difference Between Sega Genesis 1 And 2?

During most console lifetimes, manufacturers will release revisions of the hardware. These can be released to add new input/output ports, fix some basic hardware or software issues, or just offer some cool new upgrades. Recently, this has been seen with the Nintendo Switch Lite, PS4 Pro, and Xbox One X, but this trend has been steady for years. Sega released three versions of the Genesis throughout its lifetime, each with their own quirks. Due to the differences in these models, finding the perfect one for retro gaming can be difficult, but we’re here to clear up some of that confusion.

Brief History of the Genesis

Released in the fourth generation of home consoles, the Sega Genesis, or the Mega Drive in regions outside North America, was a 16-bit console that brought gamers improved processing power compared to the previous generation. The Genesis was released on August 14th, 1989, to excited fans ready to see what Sega had in store for them. This console was also the debut of the iconic blue hedgehog, Sonic, which heavily contributed to the console’s success in all markets. Throughout the console’s lifetime, a total of 902 games were released for the three iterations of the console. The Genesis was discontinued by Sega in 1997 worldwide, but not fully abandoned by Majesco in North America until 1999, giving this console a whopping 10-year lifespan.

Model One

This is the Genesis that was released on day one. A few notable marks on the console make it very easy to see the differences between the other two revisions. Two clear differences that most gamers will notice immediately include a label that reads “HIGH DEFINITION GRAPHICS”. This was a major selling point for the console since the 16-bit graphics were a significant upgrade compared to the 8-bit of the last generation. This console also contains an ext port on the back of the console, as well as a headphone jack, RF port, and channels 3 & 4 ports. The functionality of the console is the same as the rest, just different ports and markings that set this one apart.

Model Two

The second iteration of the Genesis slimmed down the original model, excluding some of the ports for an upgraded, HD version. This version still works with the 32X and Sega CD add-ons, making it a pretty sleek way to get the Sega Genesis experience. The only reported downside to this revision is the audio quality – while not bad, it is just not to the same standard that the original model offered.

Model Three

The final model for the Sega Genesis is also the smallest. This version kept every change made to the second model, but there are a few key changes that may affect your purchasing decisions. Since this model was built as a budget system, it is small and rather flimsy, and didn’t sell well on release. Furthermore, the model three does not allow for the 32X or Sega CD add-ons due to its extremely slim form factor. The controller shipped with the console has also been known for its cheaper quality, but since most people will be buying a used version, this is less of an issue.

Final Verdict

If you are looking for a full Sega Genesis experience, the model three is probably not worth its high asking price. It won’t support 32X or Sega CD games, which blocks off an extensive library of titles.

The model two is not a bad choice for those looking for a smaller console, but there is an audio quality difference. This is very slight, but if you are looking for the best experience possible, the second model may not be worth it for you. This model does support the 32X and Sega CD, though.

Finally, the high definition graphics model one provides better audio, 32X and Sega CD support, but is much larger than the subsequent revisions. The model one is probably the cheapest version as far as resale goes and is worth the money to access the library of 902 awesome games. This is the best deal for a retro gaming purist by far.

  • Updated September 3, 2020
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