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PC Emulation - MAME, MESS, M2, all that good stuff


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Hi All

 

I've just grabbed a 2nd hand laptop - no great shakes just a i5 4th Gen old corporate workhorse.

 

I want to get it up and running for retro games .

My first thought is MAME - I can move my existing set-up across but it's pretty old (0.139 ROMs) so is it worth upgrading?

Heard about MESS and Groovy Mame and all sorts of other stuff.

 

Never installed DAPHNE successfully - any tips on that would be appreciated.

 

Are there any other recomendations on good stuff to give a go?

Obsure vector emus, etc.

 

I'm more of a computer/arcade kind of person. Consoles passed me by until PS1/2

 

EASY to use ZX81, Speccy, C64, Amiga, BBC emulator recommendations would be a GREAT

 

Fave genres are Arcade games - and love some Drivers and SHMUPs.

 

Can't emulate PS2 on such a POS machine can I? LOL

 

Many thanks in advance

 

Andy

 

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Also. This newer laptop is Win10, old old MAME Laptop is XP.

 

How easy is it to get Plug & Play pads in PS configuration (I hate offset Analogue Sticks on an XBox controller).

 

I had/have an old Saitek pad somewhere that was great-Hoping that may work....?

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3 hours ago, HOW said:

Hi All

 

I've just grabbed a 2nd hand laptop - no great shakes just a i5 4th Gen old corporate workhorse.

 

My first thought is MAME - I can move my existing set-up across but it's pretty old (0.139 ROMs) so is it worth upgrading?

Heard about MESS and Groovy Mame and all sorts of other stuff.

 

Never installed DAPHNE successfully - any tips on that would be appreciated.

 

Are there any other recomendations on good stuff to give a go?

Obsure vector emus, etc.

 

I'm more of a computer/arcade kind of person. Consoles passed me by until PS1/2

 

EASY to use ZX81, Speccy, C64, Amiga, BBC emulator recommendations would be a GREAT

 

 

 

Mame is your one stop shop for arcade stuff. It's based around accurate emulation so newer versions of Mame may have a higher system requirements than older versions of Mame when playing the same game.   You can try play more demanding games just to see how your PC handles it. If there are any games you want to play that are slow on Mame just Google to see if there's a dedicated emulator. Ridge Racer runs like shit on my old PC via Mame, but it's fab using the emulator Viva Nonno for example. I don't know about other offshoots of Mame but an i5 should handle regular Mame well enough, it all depends on the game.

 

For console, Retroarch is a good starting point. It's a nice front end and allows you to download emulators (called cores) from it's own menus. Again, just try stuff, see how it goes.

 

Daphne now has a torrent client built in and downloads the games automatically.  Search for "Daphne Loader". It's very straightforward these days.

 

I'd probably stick to Retroarch as a one stop shop for computer and console emulation. The menu is a bit weird to navigate at first but you get used to it and there are cores for all sorts of formats.  It's a good place to start, trying different cores to see how well your PC handles them.  

 

Also see the TecknoParrot thread in retro, there's magic in there.

 

Most pads are plug and play on windows 10.  

 

nebula is great for Sega Model 2.  Supermodel is great for Model 3. 

 

 

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17 hours ago, HOW said:

Hi All

 

I've just grabbed a 2nd hand laptop - no great shakes just a i5 4th Gen old corporate workhorse.

 

Can't emulate PS2 on such a POS machine can I? LOL

 

 

Hmm, as with all things in life, the answer is 'depends' :)

 

With onboard graphics, you are going to be limited. What's the full laptop spec? 

 

Most emulators that'll run OK on systems with no discreet graphics options tend to be CPU-heavy, but PCSX2 (for PS2) is tough on both. I was able to get a semi-locked 30fps on base settings using old PC builds -- we're talking Core 2 Duo and 2nd gen i3s and i5s -- but CPU wasn't much of a drawback in the grand scheme, and GPU was the bottleneck. I was only able to start getting 1080p/60fps from a GTX 970-upwards. 

 

You may want to try Dolphin as a test platform, with either Gamecube or Wii games, to see how much the laptop can be pushed before attempting PS2 emulation. Redream (Dreamcast emulator) is one of the most well-optimised emus going, so give that a whirl.  Most emulators couldn't give two shits about system RAM, but some of the latter ones may chomp down on a gig or more. If your machine has 4GB, it'll be worth upgrading that to 8GB if supported.

 

Pretty much anything below this, in the fifth gen (PS1, N64, Saturn) shouldn't give you any problems. @dumpster is the guy to ask about the emulators themselves, though, as he's turned himself into a proper little expert over the last couple of years :)

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The problem with shaders is the people have a tendency to completely overcook it so you can see every last effect it's trying to implement. I tend to go with whatever CRT one looks nicest, and then turn off (halation, really?) or turn down (i.e curvature) until the effects compliment the graphical style, not completely take it over.

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On 17/08/2020 at 21:04, dumpster said:

Mame is your one stop shop for arcade stuff. It's based around accurate emulation so newer versions of Mame may have a higher system requirements than older versions of Mame when playing the same game.   You can try play more demanding games just to see how your PC handles it. If there are any games you want to play that are slow on Mame just Google to see if there's a dedicated emulator. Ridge Racer runs like shit on my old PC via Mame, but it's fab using the emulator Viva Nonno for example. I don't know about other offshoots of Mame but an i5 should handle regular Mame well enough, it all depends on the game.

 

For console, Retroarch is a good starting point. It's a nice front end and allows you to download emulators (called cores) from it's own menus. Again, just try stuff, see how it goes.

 

Daphne now has a torrent client built in and downloads the games automatically.  Search for "Daphne Loader". It's very straightforward these days.

 

I'd probably stick to Retroarch as a one stop shop for computer and console emulation. The menu is a bit weird to navigate at first but you get used to it and there are cores for all sorts of formats.  It's a good place to start, trying different cores to see how well your PC handles them.  

 

Also see the TecknoParrot thread in retro, there's magic in there.

 

Most pads are plug and play on windows 10.  

 

nebula is great for Sega Model 2.  Supermodel is great for Model 3. 

 

 

 

Wow! Thanks @dumpster that's all really useful stuff :)

 

Great news re. ' Most pads are plug and play on windows 10'.

I looked out my trusty old Saitek P880 circa 2004 and found an old portable hard drive with my MAME on (0.128 (I got a full ROM set on DVD back in like 2008 or something)). As a test I booted up Robtron and.........YES!

 

So that's Arcade pretty much sorted - though your ideas below are ones I need to try:

 

'Viva Nonno' - I had this years ago but was a bit crappy - Maybe my 'new' & 'mighty' i5 can improve it for me ;)

I will certainly do a search for "Daphne Loader" as you've suggested.
PS. Is 'Nebula' same as 'M2' Emulator? As I has Sega ~Rally running OK previously on M2.

Supermodel & TeknoParrot look intearesting....if SCARY.

 

Takling of Scary - Retroarch scares me, but I think that was attempting it on a crappy tablet some years ago.

You say it's good for consoles - I take it it will do Home Computes too?

Agree it'd be nice to have one Frontend rathr than loads of emus for obscure stuff floating about.

 

Thanks again - Now back to see if I can EVER hit 500K on Robotron.....Oh, the shame!

 

 

 

 

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For a frontend, Launchbox would be my recommendation, although you have to pay to access 'Big Box' which is it's fullscreen TV style interface. It certainly makes working with retroarch a lot easier, although any frontend will require some configuration (both itself and the emulators it uses). Plenty of videos on Youtube.

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On 18/08/2020 at 10:36, Treble said:

 

Hmm, as with all things in life, the answer is 'depends' :)

 

With onboard graphics, you are going to be limited. What's the full laptop spec? 

 

Most emulators that'll run OK on systems with no discreet graphics options tend to be CPU-heavy, but PCSX2 (for PS2) is tough on both. I was able to get a semi-locked 30fps on base settings using old PC builds -- we're talking Core 2 Duo and 2nd gen i3s and i5s -- but CPU wasn't much of a drawback in the grand scheme, and GPU was the bottleneck. I was only able to start getting 1080p/60fps from a GTX 970-upwards. 

 

You may want to try Dolphin as a test platform, with either Gamecube or Wii games, to see how much the laptop can be pushed before attempting PS2 emulation. Redream (Dreamcast emulator) is one of the most well-optimised emus going, so give that a whirl.  Most emulators couldn't give two shits about system RAM, but some of the latter ones may chomp down on a gig or more. If your machine has 4GB, it'll be worth upgrading that to 8GB if supported.

 

Pretty much anything below this, in the fifth gen (PS1, N64, Saturn) shouldn't give you any problems. @dumpster is the guy to ask about the emulators themselves, though, as he's turned himself into a proper little expert over the last couple of years :)

 

Hi @Treble thanks for taking the time to reply to my somewhat tongue-in-cheek PS2 emu query ;)

 

Stats of the aformentioned POS laptop are as per below:

 

Model:            ThinkPad L440
Processor:     INTEL I5-4200M
Graphics :     INTEGRATED
RAM Size:     4GB DDR3
Hard Drive:    500GB
System:         WINDOWS 10 HOME

 

I'll be interested in what I can squeeze out of it.

I do have a real PS2 so no worries  there :)

 

Thanks again

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Heh Heh, yeah it's a potato by most standards but will serve you well for anything up to fifth gen. Plus the likes of Supermodel, I'd imagine. 

 

Have you modded your PS2? That'd be a great way of getting the most out of that one :)

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5 minutes ago, Treble said:

Heh Heh, yeah it's a potato by most standards but will serve you well for anything up to fifth gen. Plus the likes of Supermodel, I'd imagine. 

 

Have you modded your PS2? That'd be a great way of getting the most out of that one :)

 

Oi! ;)

 

Non-modded PS2. Wouldn't know where to start tbh

Also have an unmodded Wii and see that has options too.

Or maybe I'll play some OLD OLD games now MAME's up and running ;) LOL

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40 minutes ago, phresh said:

The problem with shaders is the people have a tendency to completely overcook it so you can see every last effect it's trying to implement. I tend to go with whatever CRT one looks nicest, and then turn off (halation, really?) or turn down (i.e curvature) until the effects compliment the graphical style, not completely take it over.

 

That's what I've done with the above samples. The base presets came with a disgusting white sheen over the top corners which made the supposed glass look like matte plastic.

 

Even when I play on my PVM in sunlight I don't get any screen reflection, so I updated the shader parameters to match. Sat at even a closer-than-usual distance and the visuals are indistinguishable from the CRT.

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43 minutes ago, HOW said:

PS. Is 'Nebula' same as 'M2' Emulator? As I has Sega ~Rally running OK previously on M2.

 

No, Nebula is a CPS1, CPS2, PGM and Neo Geo emulator, great but last updated in 2007. Current options are Mame and Final Burn Alpha

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2 minutes ago, amorenod said:

 

No, Nebula is a CPS1, CPS2, PGM and Neo Geo emulator, great but last updated in 2007. Current options are Mame and Final Burn Alpha

 

I think the confusion comes because the same guys made the Model 2 emulator (it's on the official website at least). Model 2 should play Sega Rally.

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1 hour ago, phresh said:

Yeah, yours look great (not a lover of the bezels, but that's subjective). Are you on a 4k monitor or 1080p? Shaders definitely come into their own at 4k. 

 

1440p. 1080p is usually a big no-no due to incorrect resolution integer scaling resulting in an ugly banding effect, however with this that isn't an issue at all as the shader seems to have been engineered so well. I'm even streaming the preset to Twitch and it's scaling just fine while still looking great.

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I was considering perhaps taking the plunge with a mini pc set-up. I wanted to know, what is the minimum specs you need to run more modern emulation? Are there guides out there?

 

Specifically:

  • Mame - Planet Harriers, Daytona, Sega Rally
  • Dreamcast: 1080p 60fps
  • N64: 1080p 60fps
  • Saturn:  1080p 60fps

 

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Yeah, you've got a few good options for Dreamcast, Redream, Demul (a touch out of date but considered the most accurate) and Flycast Core (in Retroarch). Not sure about Redream but the the other two will also play various arcade games based on similar hardware (like Naomi, Atomiswave, Hikaru?). You do run into the same romset compatability issues you get with Mame though, so just beware of that.

 

I've always used Project64 for N64 but no idea if that is the best one to use now.

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If anyone is after a machine perfect for emulation and some lower spec games etc I am going to be putting my current PC up for sale I shortly.  It is a decent dual core processor with a GTX 960 2gb and 12gb of DDR3 Ram all in a nice new mini ATX case. 

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18 hours ago, Tomdominer said:

I was considering perhaps taking the plunge with a mini pc set-up. I wanted to know, what is the minimum specs you need to run more modern emulation? Are there guides out there?

 

(snip)


Regarding hardware itself, check out ETA Prime on Youtube. He's always fucking around with Small Form Factor PCs and specifically how they perform with emulation.

As for specs - well, it depends how small you want the PC to be, and how much you want to spend. Sega Saturn emulation is likely to be the highest bar that any PC needs to manage, which depending on the emulator/game used can run on something like an ancient Core 2 Duo (SSF), up to needing a relatively modest quad-core CPU from 2013 (Mednafen/Beetle Saturn).

If you can put up with something bigger than a Mini-ITX but smaller than your average desktop, You can easily stump for an ex-office Dell Optiplex and stick in a modest low profile graphics card.

If you absolutely must have something as small or slightly smaller than Mini-ITX, most affordable NUC style computers or barebones units come with incredibly basic Celerons, so I'd honestly go with an Asus Deskmini and stick in whatever flavour of Ryzen APU you fancy.

Finally, if you're looking at something seriously minute, you can either go for Ryzen Single-Board Computers like the Udoo or even a Skull Canyon NUC, but at that point you're spending 500 bones on a PCB just to play Planet Harriers, and you're probably going to feel better by fucking off buying a PC entirely and picking up an Odroid XU4. It'll do enough for a pittance.

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Are you going to put this into some sort of arcade machine  or is it an under the TV job? How comfortable are you 'tinkering' with emulators as well?

 

The easiest way to get the specs 'right' is to really start to narrow down what the machine has to play, and what are nice to haves.

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21 hours ago, Tomdominer said:

 

  • Mame - Planet Harriers, Daytona, Sega Rally
  • Dreamcast: 1080p 60fps
  • N64: 1080p 60fps
  • Saturn:  1080p 60fps

 


I’d be staying away from Atom processors and probably Celerons too. Pick up an old i5 or i7 if you can. I run a 2600k (from 2012ish?) in my arcade cabinet. Up until 6 weeks ago it powered my gaming PC and ran every arcade game I threw at it (Daytona 3 via Teknoparrot etc). 
The only formats I tried where is struggled were WiiU and PS3 emulation.
Even a Q6600 (which I used to run in my cabinet) could handle Saturn, Model 2 / 3 and most MAME stuff. 

 

As far as GPUs go, I believe MAME, Model 2 and Model 3 are more CPU dependant as my arcade has an ancient 9600GT. 

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2 hours ago, phresh said:

Are you going to put this into some sort of arcade machine  or is it an under the TV job? How comfortable are you 'tinkering' with emulators as well?

 

The easiest way to get the specs 'right' is to really start to narrow down what the machine has to play, and what are nice to haves.

 

Defo under the table tv job. I am fairly comfortable with tinkering, and got the classic (through retroarch) to play four player arcade games and handle various sticks and controllers which aren't supported out of the box. Modding my ps classic has got me wanting something super portable that can handle later retro stuff, so I can just take it round a friends and play four player turtles, or MK64 or Power Stone etc.

 

Longer term I am thinking that the follow up to Mister seems to be the solution I am looking for, but this might be a fun stop gap.

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Yeah, at around the NUC size you linked and aiming to put it under the telly, I'd go with either the Deskmini as the most "affordable" PC option that can be put together from retailers, or just looking at the Odroid XU4 if you really need something *that* tiny. Atoms and Celerons can easily struggle, so that entry level of NUC isn't going to be great for CPU intensive stuff like emulation.

Used might be what you're looking for, however - take a look at a thin client PC that has a 4th gen Intel CPU,  like this Lenovo M93p:
 


It might choke a little on Mednafen Saturn, but you can always switch to Yabause. Had a quick squizz on ebay, there's a couple you under BIN for £150 all-in (including double the ram and having a hard drive, unlike ETA's example here).

I personally put together a Deskmini as I could afford something a little taller - ends up having the same surface area as a four-pack of cola, and about 2/3rds of the height. Which, in return for that and about another £150, basically runs whatever I throw at it, including a lot of PC games.

EDIT: Also, consider the NVidia Shield TV - It's no PC like the Odroid, but due to the Android-based nature of the system it has a lot of support!

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