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Dolphin is a very demanding program, so configuring Dolphin the right way is very important to run games smoothly. This performance guide will show a "quick and dirty" example of how to speed up Dolphin. Only options that improve performance are shown here.
Dolphin has three configuration related buttons: Config, Graphics, and DSP, which will open the options described below.
- Enable Dual Core - Provides a significant speedup on modern systems. Recommended.
- Enable Idle Skipping - A free speedup 99% of the time. Recommended.
- CPU Emulator Engine - JIT Recompiler is the fastest and most stable of the CPU emulator engines.
- Backend - From the three backends available, Direct3D9 is the fastest, OpenGL is the most accurate, and Direct3D11 is somewhere between. It is recommended that you use Direct3D9 unless you encounter problems. Note: OpenGL is the only backend available on Linux and Mac OSX.
- Internal Resolution - "Auto - (Window Size)" is recommended. If the emulation suffers from slowdowns when going to fullscreen, change it to "1x Native (640x528)", and go up from there until you can find the highest setting without slowdown.
- Skip EFB Access from CPU can provide a speed boost. However it provides this boost at the expense of emulation accuracy, breaking some games and removing effects. It should be ok to use, but be careful with it.
- Ignore Format Changes - The vast majority of games don't care about this, and it provides a small boost. However a small number of games hate this setting. Recommended.
- EFB Copies - Make sure that "EFB Copies" is set to "Texture", and change it to "RAM" only when running a game that requires it. You can also check "Enable cache" when using EFB to RAM to gain a small speedup.
- Disabling EFB Copies entirely can provide a radical speedup, however it provides this by disabling an entire class of effects, and will break most games. It is not recommended.
- Cache Display Lists - Allows Dolphin to maintain a cache of display lists (series of graphical commands sent to the emulated GPU) for possible speed-ups. It can cause frequent crashes however, so it is not recommended.
- Disable Destination Alpha - Allows Dolphin to skip the destination alpha pass used by some games’ effects. It breaks a lot of games, but can be a handy speedup. Use carefully.
- OpenMP Texture Decoder - Uses multiple CPU cores for texture decoding. Helps with microstuttering and provides a slight speed up. But be careful with it: in rare instances it can max out all cores and actually hurt more than it helps.
- Hacked Buffer Upload - OpenGL only. Greatly improves OpenGL's performance with nVidia cards. Recommended.
- Fast Depth Calculation - Uses a less accurate method of calculating depth values. Gives a decent speedup, but can cause flickering textures.
- Anti-aliasing/Anisotropic Filtering - Tip: If you are using DirectX11 backend, you can set these to the lowest in Dolphin. You can then configure your graphics card to override the AA/AF settings of Dolphin to a higher value and get the effect of high AA/AF without the performance hit. It is possible to get 30fps with 24x Graphics Card AA via this method versus 8 fps and 16x AA via Dolphin on the same game. You should not have your graphics card override the AA/AF settings with OpenGL or you may get no video.
- DSP Emulator Engine - DSP HLE is the fastest DSP Emulator Engine. However, it can have some problems with certain games. Use DSP LLE if DSP HLE is not working properly. See DSP LLE for more details.
- DSP on Thread - For systems with three or more CPU cores, this option can give a nice performance boost. However, it can cause glitches with DSP HLE and freezes with DSP LLE. Use carefully.