A Guide To Different Wii Models

I’d imagine most of you that are reading this already have a Wii, but there are definitely some who don’t, and this post is for them.

Wii modding obviously requires a Wii. Simple, right? Just get a Wii and mod it. Unfortunately, there are several different variations, and these variations can affect what you do modding wise, some subtle, some not so subtle. This guide is meant to help you figure out what revision you want to get.

Background - The Wii And All Its Revisions

The original Wii, model number RVL-001, launched in 2006, and wouldn’t have a true external facelift until 2011. However, there were under the hood changes made between 2006 and 2011.

The first few revisions of the Wii motherboard (RVL-CPU-01, RVL-CPU-10, RVL-CPU-20, and RVL-CPU-30) were 6 layer boards, and they were plagued by overheating issues in standby, and they also consumed more power compared to the later revisions. Only a very small amount of these boards have the patched boot1 that doesn’t allow the installation of BootMii as boot2. These boards were all shipped with Hollywood GPU chips, and are capable of running all versions of Wii software.

Later on, Nintendo redesigned the board and the Hollywood GPU chip. The boards were now 4 layer boards, meaning they did not overheat and consumed less power, and these boards all used the revised Hollywood-1 (aka Bollywood) GPU chip. These new chips are not capable of running Wii software older than 3.2. Lastly, all these boards had boot1 patched to be incompatible with BootMii as boot2. The RVL-CPU-40 was the first board to use this design, and all future boards continued to use it.

All non-white original Wiis have the revised 4 layer motherboard, and most of the white ones have the older 6 layer board.

The Wii board was mostly left untouched after the 4 layer redesign…until 2011.

In 2011, Nintendo debuted the Wii Family Edition, model number RVL-101. This board was not too different from the previous 4 layer boards, with one main exception: the GameCube ports were removed (but the pads remained, allowing adventurous modders to add them back) from the board. The original Wii Family Edition board had the number RVK-CPU-01. There was a later revision, the RVK-CPU-02, released later on.

In late 2012, Nintendo released the last revision of the Wii, the Wii Mini, model number RVL-201. It was a heavily stripped down version of the previous 4 layer boards. It lacked GameCube compatibility like its immediate predecessor, along with a lack of an SD slot, Wi-Fi support, component video support, only one USB port instead of two and it ditched the slot loading drive of the two previous revisions in favor of a top loading drive. There is only one confirmed version of the Wii Mini board, and that is the RVO-CPU-01.

Each revision has its pros and cons. However, all of the versions can be modded, with varying degrees of difficulty. Here they are:

Wii (RVL-001)

RVL-001

The original. This is the only model with GameCube support.

Pros:

  • Can be modded easily
  • Has a chance of BootMii as boot2 (best current brick protection around) compatibility if the Wii is white. All other colors are guaranteed incompatible
  • Has a chance of a disc drive that supports reading DVDs if the Wii is white. All other colors are guaranteed incompatible
  • Has GameCube compatibility out of the box
  • Pretty easy to find, most Wiis on the market are this model
  • Has the biggest variety of colors

Cons:

  • Most of the white ones, which are the most common, have the older 6 layer board, meaning they are more susceptible to overheating in standby mode. Non-white colors are guaranteed to be 4 layer, so this isn’t an issue for those
  • Being the oldest version, they are most likely to start having normal wear and tear failure of parts such as the disc drive, Wi-Fi module, or Bluetooth module.

You should buy this model if one or more of these apply to you:

  • You want good brick protection
  • You want a disc drive that can read DVDs
  • You want GameCube compatibility out of the box

If you’re looking to buy this model, use this next section to help decide what exactly you should be looking for:

If you are looking to have less power consumption and/or avoid overheating issues while using standby mode, look for a non-white version or don’t buy this model.

If you are looking for good brick protection and/or a disc drive that can read DVDs, look for a white one, the older the better.

If you are looking to find one that is less likely to need part replacement in the near future, either don’t buy this model or get a non-white one.

Wii Family Edition (RVL-101)

RVL-001

The first revision with no GameCube compatibility. However, GameCube games can be played using homebrew.

Pros:

  • Can be modded easily
  • Has a decent variety of colors
  • Relatively cheap
  • Newer model so less likely to need part replacement in the near future
  • Guaranteed to have the new 4 layer board, meaning it has no overheating issues

Cons:

  • Guaranteed incompatible with BootMii as boot2, making it harder to unbrick in some cases
  • Has a disc drive that is guaranteed to not support DVD playback
  • No GameCube compatibility out of the box

You should get this model if:

You have no need for GameCube compatibility out of the box

and

You want to be guaranteed the new board with less power consumption and less overheating

and/or

You don’t need DVD compatibility

There’s nothing specific to look for with this model, they’re all pretty much the same.

Wii Mini (RVL-201)

RVL-001

The second and final revision with no GameCube compatibility (but GameCube games can still be played with homebrew), no SD card slot, no Wi-Fi support, no component video, and a top loading disc drive.

Pros:

  • Newest model, least likely to need part replacement in the near future
  • Disc drive is less likely to break due to being top loading
  • Don’t have to worry about system updates
  • Slightly smaller than its predecessors
  • All models come with the 4 layer board

Cons:

  • More difficult to mod than its predecessors
  • No SD Card slot means you have to either solder one on or only use USB
  • No component video means you have to use 480i video output
  • No Wi-Fi support means you have to use a USB LAN adapter with homebrew or add the necessary parts needed for Wi-Fi
  • Does not support all homebrew

You should get this model if:

You don’t need GameCube compatibility out of the box

You don’t need SD or Wi-Fi support out of the box

You have an older TV and have no need for component video

You’re looking for a fun new challenge, as Wii Mini modding is somewhat different compared to other Wiis

There’s nothing specific to look for with this model, they’re all pretty much the same.

Outro

If you’re looking to get a Wii, I hope this post helps.