Due to the popularity of my PCSX2 PS2 emulator I thought I would put one up for the Dolphin GameCube emulator. Dolphin is the most advanced GC emulator out there right now and is in version 3.0 with constant updates being done. Most games are near flawless to play but there are still a few that can’t be run or played yet (like Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader). Dolphin is much more user friendly than PCSX2 with less things to mess with and worry about. The config is almost like a regular PC game with only a few adjustments needing to be done to get your game working. Here is a step by step guide (with pictures!) to get your Dolphin emulator running right!
CHECK THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS BELOW! Also, make sure your graphics card driver is up to date!
Minimum System Requirements:
Processor: Single core @ 3GHz. This includes AMD and Intel
Graphics Card: A GPU no more than 3 years old. AMD RADEON HD 4xxx series or newer. NVIDIA GTX 2xx series or newer)
Operating System: Windows XP
Recommended System Requirements:
Processor: Any dual-core CPU at least 3Ghz or faster (overclocked CPUs are best). 3rd generation Intel i5 CPUs are best. Dolphin only uses 2 cores! If you have a quad-core CPU dolphin will only use 2!
Graphics Card: The latest and greatest. AMD RADEON HD 6xxx or up and NVIDIA GTX 5xx and up.
Memory: 8GB or more
Operating System: Windows 7 64-bit
Setting Up – Config
1. Start by downloading the zip file with the emulator here.
2. Unzip into a folder and note, NO BIOS IS NEEDED!
3. You will not be greeted with a setup wizard because Dolphin is very user friendly, start with opening the Config button.
4. Your settings should look like the image below for the General tab. If you only have a single core CPU uncheck enable dual-core. Dolphin only uses 2 cores! If you have a CPU with more than 2 cores Dolphin only recognizes 2 of them! Also check lock threads to core if you have 2 cores or more. This is a small speed up for most games.
5. The second tab, Interface, just allows you to choose a few themes. Other than that, nothing should be changed here. Skip the Audio tab and go straight to GameCube. Check Skip BIOS for faster game startups.
6. Go to Paths and select your ISO paths.
Setting Up – Graphics
1. There aren’t many things to change in this window. The Backend should stay at Direct3D9, unlike the PCSX2 emulator, Dolphin runs better in DX9 than DX11.
2. The Enhancements tab is where you will be changing things the most and trying to balance quality over performance. The first thing you should start with is Internal Resolution. This upscales the graphics internally to make them look more clear on higher resolution monitors. Upscale one step at a time and see if you get any slow down.
3. Ant-Aliasing will reduce jaggies on edges and make the overall image sharger. 8x is the best, but will seriously drop frame rate unless you have a GPU that is a AMD RADEON HD 5xxx series or GTX 2xx series and up. 4x is a perfect balance between quality and performance.
4. Anisotropic filtering reduces bluriness in textures and is safe to turn all the way up on recent graphics cards without any loss in performance.
5. The rest should look like the screen shot.
6. The Hacks tab shouldn’t really be messed with. Just leave all options enabled as see in the screen shot. Don’t mess with the Advanced tab unless a Wiki fix says otherwise.
Click images to enlarge and see details
9x SSAA enabled. Notice how sharp and crisp everything looks, even in the distance
4x SSAA enabled. Notice how detail starts to degrade, especially in the distance
No Anti-Aliasing enabled. Notice how blurry everything looks and objects in the distance are very hard to see. This is how it originally looks on GameCube
Setting Up – Gamepad
1. A gamepad is highly recommended for GameCube games and for Wii a Wiimote and wireless sensor bar are required. If you don’t have bluetooth built into your computer buying a cheap bluetooth dongle will work as well. I don’t own a Wiimote so I can’t give you a step by step guide on that, but for GameCube any gamepad will work.
2. Click the buttons and press a button on your controller to assign it. HUGE HINT! Where it says L-Analog and R-Analog under Triggers, assign the trigger buttons! If you do not pressing all the way up on either analog stick with cause a trigger press. This really confused me when playing Wind Waker. I would press the stick all the way up and Link would go into combat mode. Everything else here is pretty easy to figure out. Once you’re done it’s time to play!
My assigned layout for Games for Windows controller.
Playing A Game
1. The first thing you should is make sure your game is compatible and try any fixes. Right click on the game and click the Wiki. This will tell you what fixes to try in the Graphics section if you experience problems.
2. Click Play and start playing! Mess around with the Enhancements tab in Graphics if you experience slowdown or want to improve the visuals. One important thing to always keep an eye on is the title bar. There are three things here: FPS, VPS, and Speed. Speed should always bee 100%. FPS should always be around 30 and VPS should always be near 50-60. Games tend to be unplayable under 75% speed. Adjust the graphics until you get 75% speed or higher, 95% or higher is the best.
Remember to use save states! Always save in game, but for tough areas save states are available! Some games are incompatible with the emulator so please, CHECK THE WIKI FOR COMPATIBILITY BEFORE ASKING ME!
Have fun playing!