There is no question, the Nintendo Wii is a great console that is still worth owning today. But depending on which model number you're looking at – RVL-001 vs RVL-101 – you could be in for a significantly different console gaming experience. And despite their differences, the two models actually look very similar on the surface.
What are the differences between the original Wii (RVL-001) and the Wii Family Edition (RVL-101)?
- Original model
- Designed to stand upright; ships with vertical stand
- Compatible with GameCube games and accessories
Wii Family Edition (RVL-101)
- Designed to sit horizontally; doesn't ship with vertical stand
- Not compatible with GameCube games and accessories
- Not compatible with Wii titles that require GameCube controller ports in order to work
As you can see, there is a massive difference between the two models when it comes to the games that are compatible with each respective unit. The RVL-001 is able to play all of the Wii games as well as the GameCube's library of fantastic titles. On the other hand, the RVL-101 isn't compatible with any GameCube games or accessories, and it isn't even compatible with a small handful of Wii titles that use the 001's GameCube controller ports (the Active Life series and Ultimate Party Challenge). Additionally, the Wii Family Edition has limited functionality with the Dance Dance Revolution franchise as well as rhythm/exercise game Walk It Out.
But again, despite being very different in terms of what games these models actually play, there are only a handful of minor cosmetic differences between the two. In fact, most consumers probably wouldn't even know that there are any differences between these consoles just by looking at them. So, how can you tell the original Wii and the Wii Family Edition apart?
RVL-001 vs 101: How To Tell The Difference
Again, the two models are very similar, aesthetically speaking. But there are a small handful of ways to tell these consoles apart just by looking at them.
- Model Number RVL-001; serial number prefix is “LU” or “LB”
- Has a plastic panel that flips open to reveal GameCube controller and memory card ports
- New systems ships with a vertical stand
- “Wii” logo is perpendicular to the disc drive slot
- Visually designed to stand vertically
Wii Family Edition
- Model Number RVL-101; serial number prefix is “KU” or “KB”
- The same plastic panel from the original model is screwed down
- New systems do not ship with vertical stand
- “Wii” logo is parallel to the disc drive slot
- Visually designed to lay horizontally (although, it is compatible with the vertical stand)
The easiest way to tell any two models apart is by looking at their “model numbers.” That being said, it's not always easy to see these numbers if shopping online. But if you are able to check out these consoles in person, distinguishing between the two is as easy as reading the model or serial information on the bottom of the units.
Still, it's pretty easy to tell the difference between the 001 and the 101 simply by looking at the front of the console – if you know what to watch out for, that is. As shown in the image above, the backward compatible original unit (RVL-001) will have the “Wii” logo – as well as the button text – run perpendicular to the disc drive. In other words, if positioned vertically, the text on the front of the console will be legible. On the other hand, the RVL-101's text will be run parallel to the disc drive and will be readable when laying horizontally.
Put simply, the original console is meant to stand vertically while the RVL-101 is visually designed to lay flat. That being said, both models are compatible with the vertical stand – even if the text on the newer model isn't as legible when positioned upright.
Lastly, you will notice that the plastic cover – which is present on both models – is screwed closed on the Family Edition. This is because the plastic cover on the original model opened up to reveal all of the GameCube controller ports and memory card slots. Since the RVL-101 is not compatible with these accessories, Nintendo decided to seal the panel seeing as how there is no real reason to open it. And even if you do unscrew the panel manually, it won't magically reveal any controller ports or memory card slots; these simply aren't present on the 101 model.
But still, the RVL-101 cannot be all bad – can it? There has to be some reason to own the newer model over the original.
RVL-001 vs 101: Pros And Cons
This is usually the part of the comparison in which we discuss pros and cons, but there is really only one advantage of the 101 over the original model – and that is the price. When the Wii Family Edition first launched, it was branded as the reduced-cost version of the Wii, and it still is to some extent today.
That said, the pricing is a lot closer today with used units. (Costs can fluctuate, however, so make sure to check out our continuously updated article – How Much Is The Wii Worth? – in order to stay up-to-date with console pricing.) When the RVL-101 launched, the price discrepancy was much larger – and while the original model does tend to go for a little bit more than the 001, it's oftentimes a wash depending on the retailer or seller.
Bottom Line: There really isn't any reason to get an RVL-101 model over the original Wii, unless you find an excellent deal and don't care all that much about backward compatibility. Still, great deals can usually be found for both models if you are patient, so the 001 model is the recommended way to go when picking up a Wii today.