How to Speed Up Dolphin Emulator For PC Windows 7/8.1/10/11 (32-bit or 64-bit) & Mac
Dolphin Emulator is a popular and highly regarded open-source emulator designed for running Nintendo GameCube and Wii games on personal computers. It was first released in 2003 and has since undergone significant development, becoming one of the most accurate and feature-rich console emulators available. Dolphin is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems, making it accessible to a wide range of users.
One of Dolphin’s standout features is its ability to enhance the graphics and performance of supported games compared to their original console versions. This is achieved through features like high-definition rendering, widescreen support, and customizable settings that allow users to fine-tune their gaming experience. Additionally, Dolphin supports a variety of input devices, such as game controllers and keyboard/mouse setups, giving players the flexibility to choose their preferred control method.
Dolphin Emulator is continually updated by a dedicated team of developers, which has led to improved compatibility and performance over the years. The emulator has a strong community of users who contribute to its development by reporting bugs, testing new features, and providing valuable feedback. Overall, Dolphin Emulator provides an excellent platform for revisiting classic GameCube and Wii games, offering modern enhancements and a vibrant community for fans of these Nintendo consoles.
- Dolphin Best Settings is an open-source emulator that allows games for the Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo Wii U consoles to be played on a PC. The emulator offers unique Dolphin enhancements that allow older games to be played with enhanced visuals and performance tweaks. However, because the Nintendo consoles that Dolphin emulates are drastically different from an average computer, even decade-old Wii games can strain a high-performance computer. On a slower or older system, fine-tuning your Dolphin emulator settings will be key to ensure that games can be played without too much lag interfering with the gameplay experience.
Basic Speed Solutions
There are a few simple ways to increase the speed of games running in Dolphin. Before adjusting settings, close any additional programs or windows 7/8.1/10/11 open alongside Dolphin. Because the emulator uses a computer’s CPU more than the video card, running other programs simultaneously will reduce the amount of processing power available for the game you wish to play. At the same time, adjusting game window size and – in the settings accessed by clicking the “Graphics” tab in the main Dolphin menu – reducing the display resolution can quickly speed up a game emulated in Dolphin. Turning off the V-Sync and Antialiasing features may also improve game performance, though it will come at the cost of visual quality.
Turn Off Dolphin Enhancements
One of the most effective ways to speed up Dolphin on a slower machine is to turn off Dolphin enhancements from the emulator’s “Graphics” menu. Though running GameCube, Wii, and Wii U games at a higher visual quality than the original consoles could manage is one of the appeals of the Dolphin emulator, these enhancements can overwhelm an older or less-powerful CPU, particularly if it is only a dual-core system. Turning these enhancements off from the “Graphics” menu will often lead to an increase in game speed.
In the worst-case scenario, reducing Dolphin emulator lag may require you to upgrade the hardware in your computer – or, if using a laptop that cannot have its parts swapped out, it may require upgrading your entire system. This can be frustrating, given that some games Dolphin emulates are nearly 20 years old. Still, the emulator is incredibly CPU-intensive: system recommendations suggest using a quad-core CPU, and the emulator needs a dual-core at minimum to function. Adjusting emulator settings can help get a game just above your system’s capabilities to run adequately. Still, only so much can be done if your hardware cannot keep up with the emulator’s demands.
Every game has different requirements. Some titles may require a powerful computer, while others may not. Generally, these are the minimum recommended requirements for dolphins.
- OS: 64-bit edition of Windows 7/8.1/10/11, Linux, or macOS (10.10 Yosemite or higher). Windows 7/8.1/10/11 and Unix-like systems other than Linux are not officially supported but might work.
- Processor: A CPU with SSE2 support. A modern CPU (3 GHz and Dual Core, not older than 2008) is highly recommended.
- Graphics: A reasonably modern graphics card (Direct3D 10.0 / OpenGL 3.0). A graphics card that supports Direct3D 11 / OpenGL 4.4 is recommended.
Dolphin is shipped with default settings for the most optimal performance; you do not usually need to change anything on your first-time Dolphin setup.
Enable Dual Core
Provides a significant speedup on modern systems. It has been recommended on most titles, though it may cause issues like crashing or graphic issues on some titles.
CPU Emulator Engine
JIT Recompiler is the fastest engine and is recommended on almost all titles. A few titles work better with different emulator engines but are unplayable and slow.
DSP HLE is the fastest DSP Emulator Engine. It is very reliable, and only a few titles still have problems with it. See DSP LLE for more details. Cubeb is the faster backend. It is recommended on almost all titles.
Some of these settings will improve emulation compatibility in exchange for PC performance.
- Depending on the game and the graphics card: OpenGL or Direct3D 11 in the backend setting will offer better performance. Vulkan is still in the experimental phase and is not recommended.
- V-Sync helps prevent screen tearing.
- Use Fullscreen toggles between fullscreen and windowed mode.
The emulation can suffer slowdowns from extreme multiplier options in Internal Resolution, Anisotropic Filtering, and Antialiasing settings. Start with a minimum option like “1x Native (640×528)”, and go up until you can find the highest setting without slowdown. Keep in mind that non-1x options may cause graphical issues in some titles.
- Skip EFB Access from CPU – Provides a speed boost. However, it provides this boost at the expense of emulation accuracy, breaking some titles and removing effects. It’s off by default for greater emulation accuracy.
- Ignore Format Changes – Most titles don’t care about this, and it provides a small boost. However, a small number of titles hate this setting. It’s enabled by default.
- Store EFB Copies to Texture Only – Enabled by default. Disable it only when running a game that requires it. Refer to this page for a list of titles that require disabling it.
- Texture Cache – Setting the slider on the “Fast” position will improve performance greatly, but it may cause graphical glitches in some games (Most commonly missing text).
- Fast Depth Calculation – Uses a less accurate method of calculating depth values. It gives a small speedup but can cause flickering textures.
- Disable Bounding Box – Don’t emulate bounding box calculation, which is only required for a limited set of titles, mostly Paper Mario titles.
- Vertex Rounding – Rounding 2D vertices to whole pixels fixes graphical glitches in several titles at higher internal resolutions.
Install Dolphin Emulator on Your PC Windows 7/8.1/10/11
When installing Dolphin Emulator, you have two options: a Stable version and a Development version. Stable versions are released once every year or two, while Development versions can be released multiple times within the same day.
If you want to play it super-safe, you can use a Stable version, but I highly recommend simply using the latest Development version and updating once every week/two weeks. Issues don’t often arise in Development versions, and when they do, they are quickly fixed.
Head to the Dolphin download page and select which version you want to install. Dolphin 5.0-5994 is the most recent at the time of writing, so we’ll be installing that one in this guide.
Click “Windows 7/8.1/10/11 x64.” Dolphin will download in a 7z archive which can be extracted using either 7-Zip or WinRAR. 7-Zip has some of the best performance and is free, though, so we recommend it. You’ll need to decide where to place this archive – I recommend setting aside a folder, especially for Dolphin and your games. This is a secondary hard drive folder named “GameCube and Wii.”
Hit “Save,” open up the folder where you placed your Dolphin archive and extract it.
Inside the folder you’ve extracted (I recommend choosing “Extract to dolphin-master-your-version” so it’s easy to switch between versions later on), go inside the “Dolphin-x64” folder and click your Dolphin executable to launch it for the first time.
And you’re in!
You’ll see that I have quite the collection of games despite this being a new version of Dolphin for me. This is because, regardless of where you install your versions of Dolphin, all of your configuration files will be kept in “My Documents -> Dolphin Emulator.” When using custom textures and saving configuration files, make sure that you place them there so they will be usable across your entire Dolphin installation.
Add Games to Dolphin Emulator
Start by selecting “Config.”
Now, click “Paths.”
Click “Add,” then add the folder where you store your games.
Note: acquiring games is your responsibility by legally extracting them from a Wii console. We are not liable if you choose to use other methods!
In the main menu, click “Refresh,” You should see a list of all the games Dolphin found in that directory.
If you don’t see banners for some of your games, don’t worry – those will appear after you launch them, play them and create a save file.
Configure Game-by-Game Settings
One of the problems with emulation is that even after all these years, it’s not an exact science. Some games work better with one graphics backend, others with another one. Some games can run at 60fps with full antialiasing, while others can’t.
This means that sometimes you’ll have to tweak an individual game’s config file so that your main settings get overridden for that one game.
To change the settings for an individual game, right-click it in the Dolphin main menu, click Properties, and then under the GameConfig tab, click “Edit Config.”
You’ll be presented with a big blank notepad document to enter in overrides for any setting you want.
Enter them by writing the heading in square brackets, followed by the INI tweak per the wiki page. So to force “TimeSplitters: Future Perfect” to play on widescreen and the DirectX11 backend, it’d look like the box below.
Once you’ve entered all the overrides you want, save and exit the Notepad file. To remove your tweaks, return to this file and delete whatever changes you made.
Checking Game Compatibility
Before playing anything in Dolphin Emulator, you should check its compatibility. You can do this by searching for it on the Dolphin Wiki or right-clicking a game’s entry and selecting “Wiki.”
The game’s Wiki page will provide you with all the information you need on compatibility issues in Dolphin and links to enhancements, widescreen codes, and more. Use this information to ensure your settings are compatible with the games you’re playing!
Configure Controllers in Dolphin Emulator
Dolphin Emulator is primarily for playing games, but you’ll need to configure your controllers before you can play any of those.
Before we dive straight into the configurations themselves, check if you have any of the following controllers on hand:
- An XInput-compatible controller – Xbox 360, Xbox One + S/X, many Logitech gamepads. XInput gamepads will be recognized by default but must be configured manually or with a .ini file.
- A PlayStation 3/4 controller – These can be recognized as XInput controllers using the ScpToolkit.
- A GameCube controller – Using the Wii U GameCube Controller Adapter or its Mayflash counterpart, Dolphin will be able to recognize your controller after some configuration.
- A Wii Remote – Using a Bluetooth adapter and the “Real Wiimote” option in your settings, you can sync a real Wiimote. You’ll need to get a wireless sensor bar alongside that or opt for the Mayflash DolphinBar, which doubles as a Bluetooth receiver for your Wiimote.
So you’ll need, for the most part, either the real thing or an XInput-compatible gamepad to have an authentic experience with Dolphin. Without those, you’ll need to use a mouse/keyboard setup, which I generally don’t recommend for anyone outside of a few scenarios (like for Metroid Prime Trilogy, an FPS title).
Fortunately, I will provide ready-to-use profiles that will be immediately compatible with any XInput-enabled controller connected to your system. These profiles will support the following:
- A GameCube controller profile
- A Wii Classic controller profile
- A specialized Super Mario Galaxy 1/2 profile that maps all functions to a normal XInput gamepad. The most notable changes are the star-bit pointer to the right analog stick, shake/skin to the X button, and jump to the A button.
There are other profiles for you to download and use of your own volition, but these should suit you for most of the games you’ll be playing on Dolphin. I highly recommend investing in controllers and adapters to play it all.
Loading configuration files in Dolphin is, fortunately, pretty simple. First, ensure that “Standard Controller” and “Emulated Wii Remote” are selected in their respective drop-downs, like the image below.
On either of these, all you need to do is click “Configure.” Select your XInput Gamepad under “Device” and the profile of your choice under “Profile,” and click Load to apply all of my settings for your usage automatically.
You’re welcome to tweak any of these as you like and either overwrite my provided profiles or create your own. Humbly speaking, I think mine are a pretty great place to start.
A Guide to Dolphin Emulator Graphics Settings
Open your Graphics menu, and let’s walk through all the important settings.
- OpenGL – The most well-supported Backend should give good performance and provide minimal in-game issues.
- DirectX 11 – Falls right behind OpenGL in support and may provide better or worse performance, depending on the game.
- Vulkan – Is labeled “experimental” for a reason. It can provide great performance increases but is much more prone to glitches and errors than the other backends.
- Software Renderer – This is very slow, doesn’t offer enhancements, and will try to play exactly like the Wii/GameCube. Only useful for developers – no reason to use this.
- Null – Does nothing.
Fullscreen Resolution can be set to “Auto” or native Resolution. I set mine to the latter for Shadowplay recordings, but if you aren’t recording your Dolphin gameplay, you shouldn’t worry about this.
The aspect ratio is best left on “Auto” since it may change depending on the game.
V-Sync will reduce screen-tearing at the cost of some performance. Enable if you can handle that; otherwise, leave it alone if it causes lag spikes in-game.
Using Fullscreen will make your games automatically launch in Fullscreen. You can use this if you like, but Alt + Enter and the FullScr button in Dolphin’s main interface can do this for you.
The “Other” options are all pretty self-explanatory. I recommend enabling “Show FPS” while experimenting with settings and disabling it once you know what works for your system. Leave the others alone unless you know what you’re doing.
Internal Resolution corresponds to game resolution. I recommend starting at 2x Native as a baseline and moving up until you start seeing performance hitches. This will have the biggest effect on your FPS.
Antialiasing will reduce “jaggies” in an image, making it clearer and sharper. It is very performance-intensive, so I advise leaving it off or adjusting it after you’ve found a comfortable resolution for your play.
Anisotropic Filtering is pretty much free visual fidelity on PC. Set to 16x or 8x if that gives you performance problems.
Ubershaders will add shader compilation to your initial game launches but will otherwise save you lag spikes in games that are prone to it, like Xenoblade or the Metroid Prime Trilogy. I recommend setting this to “Hybrid” if you have a modern GPU.
Post-Processing Effects will add post-processing to your images. I don’t personally care for it, which may impact performance slightly, but you’re welcome to experiment with it if you like. The FXAA option is a lightweight way to add some AA, for instance.
As for the other enhancements:
- Scaled EFB Copy and Per-Pixel Lighting will ensure better visuals at little to no cost to performance or compatibility. Leave enabled.
- Force Texture Filtering will boost visuals but can cause issues – especially in games like Mario Sunshine. Leave this disabled.
- Widescreen Hack can give some great results, but you’re better off applying game-specific widescreen codes instead. Leave this disabled.
- Disable Fog may look nice but will actively break games that use it, like Silent Hill or Resident Evil. Leave this alone.
- Force 24-Bit Color will make your game look more vibrant at little to no performance cost. Leave enabled.
Stereoscopy only applies to those using 3D monitors or Virtual Reality headsets. That’s enough content for an article, so we’ll leave that alone.
Skip EFB Access From CPU can give performance gains but damages compatibility and playability. Leave unchecked.
Ignore Format Changes improves performance with minimal to no downsides. It may need to be disabled for a few games out there, but none that I’ve played.
Store EFB Copies to Texture Only offers higher performance but lower accuracy. (Most notably, save-file screenshots won’t work with this enabled.) This setting is fine in most cases but may need to be disabled per game.
Texture Cache is best left on Fast with GPU Texture Decoding enabled for those with discrete GPUs.
XFB is best left on Disable unless a specific game requires it enabled.
All options under “Other” will provide visual and performance improvements in all but a few titles.
Most things here should be left alone unless you’re a developer.
However, enable “Load Custom Textures” and “Prefetch Custom Textures” if you’ll be using them. “Enable Progressive Scan” is safe to enable but won’t do anything in most games.
About Other Dolphin Emulator Enhancements
Advanced enhancements involve special codes and texture packs with your games in Dolphin to bring them to new heights. Unfortunately, the installation and configuration process will change depending on what game you’re playing, but if you find these enhancements, online tutorials will be included alongside them.
The following is an example on my PC. This is Super Mario Sunshine, upscaled to 1080p, using a widescreen code, a 60 FPS code, and an HD texture pack to make the visuals pop. I highly recommend watching this fullscreen video at 1080p 60fps for the full experience.
This will look much better when played in-game. Rendering and compression of this footage have somewhat compromised the visual fidelity of the footage above, but this should still give you a strong idea of what can be done with Dolphin enhancements.
I want to cover some more Dolphin Emulator topics in more detail, but this should be all you need to get started using Dolphin to play and enhance all of your favorite Wii and GameCube titles. Comment below if you need assistance with anything Dolphin-related, or tell us what you’ll be playing!
Author’s Opinion regarding the Dolphin Best Settings For Slow PC Windows 7/8.1/10/11 (32-bit or 64-bit) & Mac
The Dolphin Best Settings For Slow PC has very powerful features while considering security purposes. Priority is very high. No VPN or RDP is required for the said purpose. In some cases, the emulator also works fine, and middleware software also has an important role in smooth functioning. Therefore, the author recommended the Dolphin Best Settings For Slow PC for your personal use and has no issue regarding the installation on PC (Windows 7/8.1/10/11 and Mac). I hope you also use it without any trouble. If you have any issues, please mention them in the email, and we will provide you with the proper solutions. Please like and share with others. We made a lot of effort while collecting the software for your download.