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Emulation best setup, recommendations ?


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Hello All, 

Hope you are well. :)  I had a small but big question on what path to go down with emulation.

I have a few old gaming systems that I want to pack away for space and use one single device to play those games.

Main systems I would like to emulate, PS1,PS2,Dreamcast,WII,Megadrive,SNES

 

There is a bulk load of different setups out there and recommendations and like anyone Id be after the most cost effective setup.

I have looked at using a Pi4, I currently own a steam link, which I have read can be modified, The intel NUCs, or do you just get a second older low spec PC ?

 

I guess the PC option would be best all rounder but your going back to a bulky unit. I would be after something that is discreet away from the wifes vision :P

What do people use? Any recommendations please

Cheers!

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@pete88,

 

Best place to start is this thread:

 

If you're looking to emulate PS2 and Wii (or above: 3DS, Wii U, PS3) you're into the higher-end. This chart I made may help(?)

 

I think you might be able to do PS2, Dreamcast and Wii on the Nvidia Shield (con the partner you've not spent much/doesn't take up much space option ;) ) but check the dedicated thread. I don't think anything else all-in-one like that will manage them, other than a GPDWin handheld.

 

As for the PC, it's the most powerful option with the fewest compromises but is one of the most expensive (and largest). The sweet spot for you is probably going to end up being the Nvidia Shield TV but, if you have cash to spare, check out the GPDWin :)

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The Wii makes a great little emulation box in the sense that it is cheap, has wireless controllers, is small and emulates all 16 bit and below really well.  Also, because it is a Wii it does Wii and GameCube perfectly and can run those games from a USB hard drive.  However it's pretty poor for PlayStation 1 and N64.  It doesn't stand a chance of doing PlayStation 2 or Dreamcast.

 

 

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I would have suggested getting a laptop and putting Retroarch and a few other emulators on there, but it would have to be pretty recent, less than five years old if it was to run DC/PS2/etc easily. But yes an ShieldTV would probably be the best compromise. 

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Personally I don't think there's any way around it. If you want the "best" emulation platform, it's a PC. Even on a small budget you'll be able to put a system together that runs pretty much everything. If you're willing to compromise some systems in order to have a living room experience, the Nvidia Shield I hear is the next best thing. They are quite expensive though, and even worse at the moment as there aren't any available anywhere.

 

It's all a compromise one way or another. Decide on what compromises you are happy with and adjust your budget accordingly. 

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Oh I dunno. I built a very budget desktop just before lockdown that runs PS2 great. Been playing PES2 and Rez this morning in fact! Your processor is better than mine I think - I have an i3-8100, with an Nvidia GT 1050Ti. Runs PS2 great. Suppose like you say it depends on the games too, but you'll get a very good experience for not a lot of money generally.

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You should check out my thread, I went into a huge amount of detail on exactly which level of build can push what :)

 

Anyway, no need to go down that particular rabbit-hole. The OP wants something small and discreet, as well as powerful. So we need his budget, really! @pete88, care to share? ;)

 

Realistic cheap choices:

  • As @dumpster says, a Wii will be ultra-cheap, natively play Wii and GC games as well as loads of 16-bit systems. If you lean towards Nintendo, this is a good option.
  • I've got a modded PS3 Slim but haven't emulated on it. If you want to shift towards PS2 & PS3, plus multiplatform gaming from the previous era and PS1/16-bit, this is a solid choice.
  • Android devices run Dreamcast games really well, using the excellent Redream (not sure if there's a version for Retroarch yet?) so you can use your phone for Dreamcast. Unless you're an Apple user (*spits on floor*) ;)

 

 

Subtle expensive options:

SFF PC (small form factor PC). You can get these to look however you want; there are endless case options. They'll end up roughly the size of a console or smaller. I go into a lot of detail in my thread about what you'll need so check there and come back with questions. You could put together a really capable Win10-based, mini-ITX  gaming PC for <£200 second hand.  

 

Nvidia Shield TV. Cheaper (maybe...?) than a 'good enough' SFF PC, this is sleek and powerful. Still, any system not running Windows is going to be limited in what it can emulate (as all major dev work on emus is primarily Windows first). Simpler than a PC though. Over £100.

 

GPDWin2: Very expensive but by far the most subtle. Looks like a Nintendo handheld, runs everything up to and including PS2. Around £400 second hand.

 

God, Linus's gurning mug is off-putting, isn't it?!

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Thanks for all your responses, I have been doing a bit of reading :S, sorting through stuff to see what I already have to play with the possibly to convert based on the articles sent.

I didnt want to spend more than a £100 on this little project to be honest. From all your reading many different options but like some same PC is the best all rounder. But

 

@dumpster I have a wii that I could change. so no real cost.

Switch and PS4 mods? Good ? Available?

 

@Treble  - I most likely lean to PS1/2 then nintenod/sega, 

 

I have been monitoring a couple of slim PCs for the PS route. But not sure if the spec is any good for what i want to do though. This is around £80, and seems to be slightly smaller than a wii

Intel® 4th generation Core™ i5 Quad Core

Integrated Intel® HD Graphics 4600

4GB ram 

 

 

 

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I don't think for that budget you'll get PS2 on anything. Maybe have a look at ETA Prime on YouTube. He has good tutorials for those ex-work PC's that you can pick up very cheaply indeed if you are savvy enough. I'm sure he had PS2 running on one, and he pays next to nothing for them. I would have a go myself but I could never be arsed enough with eBay or what-have-you to get one at the right price, and I don't really want anything bigger than an Android box in the living room.

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I'm not blowing my own trumpet to say I covered all this ;) Just want to prevent us circling round and round when the graft's already been done :)

 

 

 

The TL;DR from that is you'll need £100-£120 for a PC that'll do PS2. Basically the kind of PC you mentioned (i5 Core 4th Gen CPU), but with a £35-£40 graphics card on top.

 

I recommend a 750ti from Aliexpress, although you might be able to get even more for less since I wrote the guide. 

 

Edit: shit, prices have gone up! I blame 'rona. Looking at £50 - £55 delivered for a 750ti. 

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