Dolphin has two performance related configuration windows: Dolphin configuration and Graphics settings, in addition to applying settings per game via their GameINI. Dolphin is a very demanding program, so configuring Dolphin the right way is very important to run titles smoothly.
Every game has different requirements, some titles may require a powerful computer while some other titles may not. Generally, these are the minimum recommended requirements for Dolphin.
- OS: 64-bit edition of Windows (7 SP1 or higher), Linux, or macOS (10.12 Sierra or higher). Windows Vista SP2 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 / Vulkan 1.1 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. Recommended on most titles, though may cause issues like crashing or graphic issues on some titles. Refer to this page for a list of titles that require disabling Dual Core.
CPU Emulator Engine
JIT Recompiler is the fastest engine and is recommended on almost all titles. There are a few titles that work better with different emulator engines but unplayably 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. Recommended on almost all titles.
Some of these settings will improve emulation compatibility in exchange of PC performance.
- Depending on the game and the graphics card: Vulkan will generally provide the best performance for Nvidia and AMD, while D3D12 is preferred on Intel. D3D11 is a good fallback option for stability or compatibility reasons. OpenGL should be avoided on AMD and Intel GPUs on Windows due to poorly optimized drivers.
- V-Sync helps prevent screen tearing.
- Use Fullscreen toggles between fullscreen and windowed mode.
- Exclusive Fullscreen is available on Windows, it gives Dolphin full control over the graphics card. This results in minimal latency which is important for competitive games such as Super Smash Bros. Melee. More details on its benefits can be found on Progress Report of July 2014. D3D and Vulkan are well supported for Exclusive Fullscreen. Support on OpenGL is more of a hack. Exclusive fullscreen is enabled by default when it is supported, it can be disabled by checking the Borderless Fullscreen checkbox under Graphics > Advanced > Misc.
- Asynchronous (Ubershaders) is the recommended setting for most GPUs as it reduces shader compilation stutter with minimal performance impact.
- Synchronous should be used as a fallback for older systems or GPUs that do not work well with ubershaders such as some mobile GPUs.
- Synchronous (Ubershaders) is the most effective at reducing shader compilation stutter but should only be used on high-end dedicated GPUs; otherwise general performance will be severely impacted.
- Asynchronous (Skip Drawing) is NOT recommended as it causes rendering issues in many games.
- Compile Shaders Before Starting can reduce in game shader compilation stutter once a cache is built in exchange for longer game startup times.
The emulation can suffer slowdowns from extreme multiplier options in Internal Resolution, Anisotropic Filtering, and Anti-Aliasing settings. Start with minimum option like "1x Native (640x528)", and go up from there until you can find the highest setting without slowdown. Keep in mind 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 - The vast majority of 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 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. 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 seen in several titles at higher internal resolutions.