Future Linux Guide
This guide is adapted from Setting up Windows version. In this guide we will try to explain how to download, install and properly configure PCSX2 1.2.1 on a Linux environment, and also give some tips for running games. The latest version of the guide can be found on the official forum.
You can also watch the video configuracion guide (for Windows) here. Part of this guide has been translated to many languages, you can find those translations here. The user avih made a shorter version of the official Windows guide here
There is also a Setting up Mac version version of this guide (but it is possibly not as detailed as this one).
PCSX2 is a Playstation 2 emulator capable of running commercial games. It's an open source project and it runs on Windows, Mac and Linux. Like its predecessor project PCSX (a PlayStation emulator), it is based on a PSEmu Pro spec plug-in architecture, separating several functions from the core emulator. PCSX2 requires a copy of the PS2 BIOS, which is not available for download from the developers, due to the copyright concerns and legal issues associated with it.
You will need the BIOS file from your Playstation 2 console. It is not included with PCSX2 since it is copyrighted by Sony so you have to get it from your console. Visit the tools section on the PCSX2 site to find out how to do this.
These are the minimum system requirements to run PCSX2, bear in mind that most games will be unplayable or slow:
- CPU: Any that supports SSE2 (Pentium 4 and up, Athlon64 and up)
- GPU: Any that supports Pixel Shader model 2.0, except Nvidia FX series (broken SM2.0, too slow anyway)
- 512MB RAM (note Vista needs at least 2GB to run reliably)
These are the recommended system requirements to run PCSX2:
- Windows Vista / Windows 7 (32bit or 64bit) with the latest DirectX
- CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo @ 3.2 GHz or better OR i3/i5/i7 @ 2,8 GHz or better OR AMD Phenom II @ 3,2 GHz or better
- GPU: 8800gt or better (for Direct3D10 support)
- RAM: 1GB on Linux/Windows XP, 2GB or more on Vista / Windows 7
Because of the nature of emulation, even if you meet the recommended requirements there will be games that will 'NOT' run at full speed, due to emulation bugs or other limitations.
You can get PCSX2 for Linux here. You need the following installed: libasound2-dev, libbz2-dev, libgl1-mesa-dev, libglew1.5-dev, libglu1-mesa-dev, libgtk2.0-dev, libjpeg-dev, libsdl1.2-dev, libsoundtouch1-dev, libsparsehash-dev, libwxbase2.8-dev, libwxgtk2.8-dev, libx11-dev, nvidia-cg-toolkit, portaudio19-dev and zlib1g-dev.
PCSX2 compressed package
This will download the compressed package for the latest stable version of PCSX2, unpackage it with
tar -xzf pcsx2-1.2.1.tar.gz. This will create a pcsx2-1.2.1 directory with the following folders:
- bios: This is where you should place the BIOS file of your PS2, PCSX2 will look for it here by default.
- cheats: Cheats will be stored and read from here. Cheats are the files with .pnach extension.
- inis: This folder is responsible to hold the configuration files for the emulator. You can make PSCX2 load different configurations for each game creating a shortcut to pcsx2.exe with different command line arguments.
- logs: Emulator logs are going to be stored here.
- snaps: Screenshots taken with the F8 key are stored into this folder.
- sstates: Savestates are stored here.
Remember that savestates made with a certain version of PSCX2 won't be compatible with other versions of the emulator. Save your game's progress on your memory card before updating PCSX2!.
Those folders can be changed to a different location anytime you want. Find out how to do this in the Folders section of this guide. To launch PCSX2, run
The folowing links will provide information on adding the repositories to download and update PSCX2 on your distro:
- If you use Debian/Ubuntu, check out [here]
- If you use Archlinux, check out [here]
- If you use Gentoo, check out [here]
- If you use Fedora, check out [here]
Running PCSX2 for the first time
PCSX2 has the first run configuration wizard to help you with configuration. The emulator will automatically store all settings, memcards and any new configuration related files in the same folder where launch_pcsx2_linux.sh is located.
In the first drop-down list, simply select the language you want the program to be translated to.
In the second screen you will choose which plugins do you want to use. The default plugins are the ones with the higher compatibility and will usually perform better, so before changing them make sure you know what you're doing.
Here you can also specify a different folder for your plugins if you want, by unchecking the use default setting checkbox and selecting a folder of your choice.
In the third screen, you will be prompted to select one of your BIOS images from the list. If you can't see anything in this list, you need to either copy your BIOS files in the folder shown below, or change that folder to point to a location where BIOS images are saved. For more information about the BIOS, check the BIOS configuration section of this guide. Note that you will not be able to use PCSX2 without a proper BIOS image.
To finish the configuration process press Finish button. You will be taken to the main GUI (Graphical User Interface) of PCSX2:
From Config => Plugin/BIOS, you can review and change the mentioned above settings or plugins used by PCSX2 at any time. Also refer to the following section for the BIOS or plugin configuration.
The Component Selector (Plugins, BIOS and folders configuration)
The Component Selector is the plugin and BIOS configuration window that will open when you select 'Config => Plugins/Bios. It has 3 tabs -- Plugins, BIOS and Folders.
We will start with configuring plugins then move onto Core settings configuration and Folders configuration.
PCSX2 is a plugin oriented program. Your launch_pcsx2_linux.sh is the main processor that can emulate the real PS2 on the PC but it does not work alone. It needs a graphics plugin to display the game graphics and a sound plugin to play game sounds and music, and it also needs a pad plugin to allow you to play using your keyboard, mouse or gamepad. Moreover there may be more than one plugin of each type so you may choose which is better suited for a particular game. All plugins are stored (by default) in the plugins folder of your main PCSX2 folder. Some plugins like GSDX for example can be updated quite often so you may want to renew only this plugin (out of all plugins). In order to do it you'll need to download the updated version and extract it by using the archiver into your plugins folder. Selecting your new plugin and changing its configuration may also be required.
If you select a different plugin from the drop-down list you will not be able to configure it until you press apply button! The plugin configuration page will look like this (see the picture on the left).
Graphics (GS) plugins
First, you will want to check what version of pixel shaders your graphic card supports. You can do that here.
You'll have 2 GS plugins installed by default with PCSX2 1.2.1:
- ZZ Ogl PG 0.4.0
- GSdx 0.1.16
GSdx is an OpenGL plugin made by Gabest which recently got greatly improved in both speed and image quality. It requires at least pixel shaders 2 and SSE2 to work. ZZ Ogl is a very old plugin which has not been updated in years. Still a very small number of games works better with this plugin than with GSdx, you can try it as a last resort.
ZZogl is the most recently developed OpenGL-based graphics plug-in, made by Zeydlitz and based on the ZeroGS OpenGL plugin, made by ZeroFrog. It is commonly used by Linux users, since DirectX is exclusive to Windows. By nature, it is noticeably slower than GSdx, since it doesn’t efficiently offload enough tasks to the video card.
ZZOgl PG Advanced settings
Beside each checkbox there is a description about what that setting does.
To configure GSdx plugin press configure button.
Here you can choose the way the graphics will be rendered.
- By selecting "OpenGL (hardware)", GSdx will use the OpenGL backend.
- By selecting "OpenGL (software)", GSdx will use the OpenGL backend in software mode.
- By selecting "Null", GSdx will not output anything. This mode is udes for debugging propuses.
Here you are able to choose between None, Auto and 6 other interlacing techniques, which are used to remove the screen "shaking" or interlacing effects. We recommend leaving this on Auto for all but some picky games. In parentheses, you can see what kind of effect and maybe disadvantage (e.g. like the incorrect FPS readings in blend) each one of these modes have.
You can cycle through the interlacing modes when running a game by pressing the F5 key.
OpenGL internal resolution Here you can improve the visual quality of your games by increasing the resolution at which the textures are rendered. Do keep in mind that changing the native resolution of games can cause various glitches (from the usual very minor glitches to more serious ones in rare cases). On the other hand for many games (especially for 3D ones) increasing internal resolution will improve the graphics dramatically.
- Original PS2 Resolution - Native: If you check this box, the plugin will render in the original resolution of the game you are emulating (that is why Custom Resolution and Scaling get grayed out).
- Scaling: This option will simply make it possible to choose an arbitrary resolution (Custom Resolution). Or you can set it to 2x-6x so that the game's internal resolution will be multiplied by that value. For instance setting this option to 3x for a game with native resolution of 640x320 will render all scenes at 1920x960 (triple of the native resolution). Using simple multiplier instead of custom resolution may prevent some upscaling bugs from manifesting. As of 2014 most of graphics cards can easily render at x2 or x3 scaling but may get a sharp speed drop at higher settings.
- Custom resolution: Here you can specify the exact resolution you want textures to be rendered at. This way, if your PC is powerful enough (mainly your graphics card), you can play your favorite ps2 games in much higher resolutions making the graphics crisp and more detailed. Note that the higher resolution means more work for your video card, thus slowing down rendering process.
Custom shader settings
- Shade Boost: This option will help you to adjust saturation, brightness and contrast of any game to your liking. Default settings are 50 on all of them.
- Enable FXAA: GSdx will apply the FXAA anti-aliasing algorithm to improve the visual quality of your games with a (usually) minor speed hit. You can also toggle FXAA on and off in-game by pressing the PageUp key.
Hardware mode Subsection Only available if a Hardware Renderer has been selected above. Here you can change some settings for extra performance or video quality.
- Texture filtering: This setting has 3 options.
- Force, everything on screen both 2D and 3D will be bilinearly filtered.
- Normal, filtering will be done as on a PS2. This is the preferred setting.
- Off, bilinear filtering is disabled completely. Lowers video quality but may help some slower graphic cards.
- Allow 8-bit textures: Uses more efficient "palletized textures" for all rendering which reduces the graphic card RAM requirements. On the other hand it increases the processing load and can cause visual bugs. Recommended to try both and see which gives you the most performance.
- Alpha Correction (FBA): (DX9 mode only) Keep this enabled as it fixes some blending problems that the DX9 mode has. Can also cause some issues.
Software mode Subsection Only available if a Software Renderer has been selected above. Here you will find options to tweak how many threads the renderer will use and turn on/off the software AA.
- Extra Rendering threads: This box is only usable when having selected a software rendering method. Here you can specify how many threads GSdx will use while software rendering, to take advantage of all cores your processor might have, e.g. set it to 3 for quad core processors. Boosts speed significantly in multi-core systems for software rendering with more than 2 cores.
- Edge anti-aliasing (AA1): This box is only usable when having selected a software rendering method. When checked, the plugin will try to apply a form of anti-aliasing on the game improving the visuals. Use with caution, pretty much experimental at this time.
The following settings are ONLY for advanced users that know what they are doing.
These settings can and WILL cause serious glitches if used in games that don't need them! (only affect hardware modes).
Hacks Subsection Check Enable HW hacks to enable the options described below. Click configure to select which you want to enable.
- Alpha hack: Try this if your game has issues with fog like effects or shadows. In general, try it if you get graphics glitches in case it fixes them.
- Sprite hack: Read the description at the right panel of the box for more information.
- Log depth hack:
- Offset hack: This hack adds an offset to all surfaces so that some common upscaling issues get reduced. Use this when blur or halo effects seem to appear shifted up-left of where they should be.
- Wild Arms hack: Known to help with lots of games. Read the description at the right panel of the box for more information.
- Date hack:
- Skipdraw: Skips drawing some surfaces altogether, based on how likely they are to cause issues. Specify how many surfaces should get skipped after the first problematic one is found. Try lower values first like 1-3 then use higher ones (the highest the number the higher the chance of broken/missing graphics and effects). This hack may cause random speedups as well!
- Texture offset:
Movie Capture This is a hidden feature. By pressing F12 while running PCSX2 with GSdx a message box will appear. In the first field you must show the plugin where the captured video will be stored, and type the file name too. In the second field you can choose a compression codec like x264vfw or "Uncompressed" which will not compress the video at all. If you choose a compression codec, you will be able to change its settings by pressing the "Config" button. Note that only codecs already installed in your PC will show up. Press F12 twice at any time to stop the capturing. The video produced will be automatically sped up to 100% for your viewing pleasure Smile If using SPU2-X, the audio file will be saved as recording.wav in the same folder pcsx2.exe is in. Hit Ok to save your changes or cancel to go back to the main Configuration window
As explained at the start of this section this is a Null plugin thus it will not render anything on screen. Press Configure to get a menu with a checkbox where you can check/uncheck "Enable Logging" which will enable/disable GS logging. It should be used for debugging and developers.
The latest and best sound plugin at the time of writing this. It was first based on Gigaherz's SPU2 and later modified by Jake Stine (Air) of the PCSX2 team. This is the only SPU2 plugin that supports effects processing (like reverb) and Dolby Pro Logic (II) (if your sound card is able to decode it). It's also the most advanced in emulating the chip correctly. Many games only work with SPU2-X!
- Interpolation: Here you can select 1 out of 5 options:
- Nearest: As the description says, no interpolation is done in this mode and is the fastest one.
- Linear: Does linear interpolation on sound, fast.
- Cubic: This is another type of interpolation. Slower, with good highs.
- Hermite: This is the recommended option. Closest to what the PS2 would produce, thus the most accurate, but a bit slower than the above.
- Catmull-Rom: This is another type of interpolation. Slow, higher quality.
- Disable effects processing: Checking this will disable any emulation of effects like reverb, lowering sound quality but increasing speed.
- Use the de-alias filter: As described, gives more emphasis to the highs.
- Enable debug options: Checking this will make the Configure Debug Options button available. When clicked it will present you with various logging options which can be enabled for debugging purposes. Should only be used by developers.
- Module: Here you can select 1 out of 5 settings, which are different ways of outputting sound in your system:
- No sound: Will not produce any sound (mute) resulting in best speed.
- X Audio 2: Works better under Vista so XP users might want to try the third option. If you have problems with Portaudio, use this method.
- DirectSound: Should be slightly worse than X Audio 2,use it if it works better for you.
- Wave out: Not recommended, option 2 or 3 should always work better.
- Portaudio: This is the recommended method. Uses a crossplatform library called Portaudio. This is the only option aside from no sound in Linux.
- Host API: This is the API Portaudio will use to produce sound, if Windows WASAPI has issues, try setting this to Windows DirectSound
- Device name: Here you can select the specific audio device you want to output sound on. If you get no sound while this is at Default Device, choose your device from the dropdown menu.
- WASAPI Exclusive mode: Check this if you want SPU2-X to work in exclusive mode, blocking all other applications from using your output device.
- Output Latency: The lower the latency value the smaller audio delay you will have. You can leave this to Use smallest possible to let the plugin decide what's best for you, or set a custom value below. Note that setting latency too low WILL cause cracks and pops in sound, so change the values until you find the lowest one that works with your game without causing cracks.
- TimeStretch: The default and recommended setting. This keeps audio and video in sync, and also helps eliminate cracks and other sound problems. Note that if your speed is low, your sound will also be as slow as your video with this setting.
- Async Mix: Makes the audio out of sync with the video, so you will get normal sound speed even if your frame rate is not optimal. Can cause games to hang or crash so use with caution!
- None: Audio will skip if you set this mode and you don't get max speed with the game you're running. Small FPS boost.
- Advanced: Here you can fine tune how your selected time stretcher will work. As described in the GUI, larger values are better if you are not getting good speeds while the opposite is true if you're running your game above full speed. Pressing Reset to Defaults will set all values here back in their initial setting.
Audio Expansion mode: Here you can choose if you want the audio produced from the plugin to be expanded to your whole speaker configuration and not just in 2 channels (stereo). Only usable with the XAudio2 module.
- Stereo: Default setting, no audio expansion when this is selected.
- Quadrafonic: Will expand audio to 4 speakers
- Surround 5.1: Will expand audio to 5.1 surround speakers
- Surround 7.1: Will expand audio to 7.1 surround speakers
- Use a Winamp DSP plugin: If you don't know what this is, leave it be. (Not available in Linux at the moment.)
On the default installation of the Linux version, only OnePAD 0-Dev is available.
Simply assign the inputs by pressing the button's name, and pressing the key you want to assign to it
In most circumstances, you will be able to use the built in ISO loader in PCSX2 by choosing ISO in the CDVD menu, and then, under ISO Selector, either choosing an image from the list or choosing browse to add one.
However, if you want to use a plugin to do things such as playing a game from the actual DVD disc or creating a dump of an ISO file, choose Plugin in the CDVD menu, and then select a CDVD plugin.
By default, PCSX2 includes:
- Linuz Iso CDVD
Linuz Iso CDVD
Select Linuz Iso CDVD v0.9.0 and hit configure.
- This plugin has the extra ability of compressing your images to save you disk space apart from running your images for the emulator.
- Click Select Iso to select the game image you want to run/compress. Once you've selected an image you can either close the config window so you can run it or press "Compress Iso" to compress it. If you selected an already compressed image you can also select "Decompress Iso" to decompress it.
- Under Compression Method you can select either ".Z - compress faster", which will compress your image faster but make it larger or ".BZ - compress better", which will compress your image slowly but make it smaller.
- Under Options you can check/uncheck Enable Block Dump=>ISO name.dump. When checked, this option will create a "ISO name".dump file in the PCSX2 root folder(where pcsx2.exe is located) from the game you ran. This file is like a small iso, which is mainly used for debugging. It will store the sectors read during the execution of the game you ran, so afterwards you will be able to load the file(using "select iso" of Linuz Iso CDVD) and run it without any image/cd/dvd. Note that if the game will try to read any other sectors from the ones not included in the dump file, it will obviously stop responding.
This is a Null plugin just like GSnull, meaning it simply does nothing.
It doesn't have a configuration screen for obvious reasons.
On the default installation of the Linux version, only DEV9null Driver is available.
On the default installation of the Linux version, only USBnull is available.
On the default installation of the Linux version, only FWnull is available.
On the BIOS tab of the Plugin/BIOS selector window, you'll see an identical screen to the last one of the First Time Configuration wizard, with the same usability, meaning to select a BIOS file from the list and change the folder where PCSX2 tries to find your BIOS images
In this list you will find your bios image, if you have one and have put it in the selected bios folder.
Note that the only LEGAL way of obtaining a bios is dumping it from your OWN Playstation 2 console. DO NOT ask where to get the bios in the PCSX2 forum, because it's against the rules. That's because the PS2 BIOS is a copyrighted material of Sony and that makes its distribution illegal, meaning we could get in trouble if it was found out that we were supplying people illegally with bios files. If your BIOS image does not even appear on list even after you have selected your right bios directory, it is an invalid image.
Attention: It is recommended that you have all files for BIOS newer than the SCPH-10000.bin. You will probably be able to run the bios or games without having them but there may be a chance that these affect compatibility somehow. This includes rom1.bin,rom2.bin,erom.bin and a SCPH-XXXXX.nvm file where XXXXX is the version of your bios(eg SCPH-34004.nvm). This last file can be also created from PCSX2 after you configure your bios (set time zone, language, etc.) but it's better if you have this file directly ripped from your Playstation 2. Once more DO NOT ASK where to get these files, since they are part of the BIOS too.
Here's a quick explanation about what these files do by auMatt:
Basically the first Japaneese PS2 had a single bios and the dvd player etc were installed on the memcard.
A new Bios dumper is already available that can dump your PS2 Bios,ROM1,ROM2,EROM and NVM. Get it here.
Note: For maximum compatibility it is recommended that you use a BIOS image different than SCPH10000.BIN which is the oldest one. That's because with this BIOS there are problems in memory card emulation and in other sections.> How to extract the bios files from your PS2: Visit this thread and a thread here. Also, here is a youtube tutorial on dumping your BIOS from your console. Thanks to FullGrownGaming.
So now we are done Configuring all plugins for PCSX2.
Here you can change the folders where some of the files that PCSX2 creates will be stored at. By unchecking Use default setting you can click the Browse button to find a folder of your choice where PCSX2 will store: Save states, snapshots and logs/dumps respectively.
Next are the Core PCSX2 settings which can be found under Config => Emulation settings. You'll see a window like this (click to enlarge):
There are 6 tabs, EE/IOP, VUs, GS, GS Window, Speedhacks and Gamefixes.
We'll start with EE/IOP.
EE/IOP stands for Emotion Engine / Input Output Processor which are the core components of the Playstation 2. Below we'll describe the settings available to us:
- Emotion Engine: Select "Recompiler" to enable the recompiler for the Emotion Engine, granting a really big speedup. It's extremely compatible, so you should always use it. By selecting "Interpreter" you will be using the really slow Interpreter mode, which in some cases is more compatible, but is mainly there for debugging purposes.
- Enable EE Cache: As the text following notes, this will only work if you set Emotion Engine to Interpreter. It is extremely slow and is only known to help the japanese version of "Dead or Alive 2" to work. You can disable it after you start a fight to get the speed back.
- IOP: Same settings as above for the Input Output Processor. The Interpreter here is not such a huge slowdown as the EE but still a big speed hit.
- Round mode: Changes how rounding of float numbers is calculated. If your game is freezing somewhere, try changing the value here. Default and most compatible value here is Chop/Zero. Automatically changed when 'Automatic Gamefixes' is checked under System for some games known to need a different value than default.
- Clamping mode: These settings go from faster to slower from top to bottom. So 'None' is the fastest but least compatible and 'Full' is the slowest but most compatible. Default value here is Normal which works fine for most games without compromising speed much. Automatically changed when Automatic Gamefixes is checked under System for some games known to need a different value than default.
- Restore Defaults: Click this to restore all settings to their default values (which are seen as Bold in Vista/Windows 7 or colored green in Windows XP).
VUs stands for Vector Units which are the co-processors of the Playstation 2 working in parallel with the EE and IOP. The Playstation 2 has 2 of these co-processors called VU0 and VU1. Below we'll describe the settings available to us:
- VU0 & VU1: In this radio box you can choose one of 3 choices: Interpreter, microVU Recompiler and superVU Recompiler (legacy).
- Interpreter: By selecting this PCSX2 will use the Interpreter for the VU0 unit, which is extremely slow and not very compatible either. Should only be used for debugging and testing.
- microVU Recompiler: The latest recompiler for the Vector Units made by cottonvibes. This option has very high compatibility with games, is more stable and has fair speed. Recommended.
- superVU Recompiler (legacy): The old recompiler for the Vector Units made by zerofrog. This is not actively developed any more (thus the legacy tag), has quite worse compatibility compared to microVU, more unstable and usually a bit faster. Should only be used to identify bugs with the new recompiler or for the rare cases it works better than microVU.
Advanced recompiler options:
- Round mode: Same as EE/IOP
- Clamping mode: These settings go from faster to slower from top to bottom. So None is the fastest but least compatible and Extra+Preserve Sign is the slowest but most compatible. Default value here is Normal which works fine for most games without compromising speed much. Automatically changed when 'Automatic Gamefixes' is checked under System for some games known to need a different value than default.
- Restore Default: Click this to restore all settings to their default values (which are seen as Bold in Vista/Windows 7 or colored green in Windows XP).
If you experience spikey polygons or bad geometry, try setting Clamping mode to Extra + Preserve Sign.
GS stands for Graphics Synthesizer which is responsible for rendering the graphics of the Playstation 2 (among other things).
Below we'll describe the settings available to us:
- Framelimiter: The options in this group can be used to control the frame rate of your games in various ways.
- Disable Framelimiting: By checking this your games will run as fast as your PC can make them to, ignoring all below settings and limits. Toggle it ingame by pressing F4.
- Base Framerate Adjust: Here you can control the base framerate for your games in a percentage. If you leave the base NTSC and PAL frame rates intact (60 and 50 fps respectively), 100% here would mean 60FPS for NTSC and 50 FPS for PAL, 110% would be 66 FPS and 55 FPS respectively etc. The frame limiter will limit the FPS of your game to these values. Setting this to higher than 100% is NOT a speed up in any form, recommended to keep it at the default value of 100%.
- Slow Motion Adjust: Here you can control in a percentage the speed your game will be limited at when you activate slow motion. The percentages are referring to the above Base Framerate, so 50% means half of the Base Framerate speed, which you can see above how it is calculated in FPS. Toggle it ingame by pressing Shift and Tab.
- Turbo Adjust: Identical to Slow Motion adjust but is activated when you enable turbo mode. Toggle it ingame by pressing Tab.
- NTSC Framerate: Sets the speed NTSC games will run at. Default (and normal) speed for these games is 59.94 FPS, but you can set this lower or higher to combine it with the above options. Hint: Setting this to lower values than normal can speed up a few games but doing so can break some games. Can only be changed via editing the pcsx2_vm.ini and changing the value after FramerateNTSC=.
- PAL Framerate: Sets the speed PAL games will run at. Default (and normal) speed for these games is 50 FPS, but you can set this lower or higher to combine it with the above options. Hint: Setting this to lower values than normal can speed up a few games but doing so can break some games. Can only be changed via editing the pcsx2_vm.ini and changing the value after FrameratePAL=.
- Frame Skipping: The options in this group can be used to control how frame skipping works, a technique which skips drawing some frames of a game to make it feel like it's running smoother when full speed cannot be achieved. As noted in the GUI, this feature can and will cause stuttering, flashing or other abnormal behavior depending on the game. Toggle it ingame by pressing Shift + F4.
- Disabled: When selected disables Frame Skipping, recommended if you are getting adequate speed.
- Skip when on Turbo only: When selected, enables Frame Skipping only when Turbo mode is on.
- Constant Skipping: When selected, enables Frame Skipping constantly.
- Frames to Draw: Specify how many frames will be drawn before skipping.
- Frames to Skip: Specify how many frames will be skipped when the above frames have been drawn.
- Use Synchronized MTGS: Check this option to use a different mode of MTGS. very slow, only for debugging purposes.
- Disable all GS output: As the name suggests, will disable all graphics output. Used for benchmarking core PCSX2 speed and debugging.
Remember the following hotkeys related to the framerate in-geme:
Here you will be able to control various aspects of the video output of PCSX2. Below we'll describe the settings available to us:
- Apect Ratio: Here you can select:
- Fit to Window/Screen:Will stretch the video to fit in your window.
- Standard (4:3): Will set the aspect ratio of your video to 4:3.
- Widescreen (16:9): Does the same but with a 16:9 ratio. Keep in mind that the game's display will be stretched this way, deforming the normal display. For proper wide screen, make sure you check Enable Widescreen Patches under System, or if there is no patch for your game set it in its menu (if it supports it).
- Custom window size: Set your preferred size for the video window in pixels. This does not effect the game's rendered resolution, image quality or speed in any way, it is equivalent of resizing the output window by dragging its corner with the mouse.
- Zoom: As the name suggests, you can enter the percentage you want the game to be zoomed in. You can also use it while running a game by:
- Pressing Ctrl and + for zoom in and Ctrl + - for zoom out of the numpad.
- You can also press Ctrl + * of the numpad to reset the zoom to 0.
- Vertical Stretch: This option can not be changed from the GUI but is similar to Zoom thus in this section.
- Does what the name suggests and is usable by pressing Ctrl+Alt and + or - of the numpad.
- You can also press Ctrl-Alt + * of the numpad to reset the stretch to 0.
- Disable window resize border: When checked, removes the border used for resizing from the video window.
- Always hide mouse cursor: When checked, the mouse cursor will not be visible when it enters the video window.
- Hide window when paused: When checked, the video window will be hidden whenever emulation is paused.
- Default to fullscreen mode on open: When checked, PCSX2 will start on full screen. Switch back to Windowed by pressing Alt and Enter.
- Double-click toggles full screen mode: When checked, double clicking in the GS window will toggle from full screen mode to windowed (and vice versa).
- Wait for vsync on refresh: When checked, PCSX2 will use vsync which can reduce tearing but also greatly reduces actual FPS. Applies to full screen mode and may not work with all GS plugins.
- Dynamically toggle Vsync depending on frame rate: What this option does is explained in the tooltip, leave your mouse on it until the tooltip shows.
For more information regarding Widescreen, please check: Widescreen Game Patches post this here.
Speed hacks are various techniques used to speed up emulation at the cost of emulating accuracy. All of these options can and will cause severe bugs, crashes and other abnormal behavior so use them with caution!.
Also note that these affect certain games only, so you might not get any speed up depending on the game. Below we'll describe the settings available to us:
- Enable speedhacks: Check/uncheck this for a quick toggle to turn on/off all selected hacks below.
- Emotion Engine (EE) Cyclerate: This hack increase the time an emulated operation takes, thus the task is easier to do for your CPU. Anything other than default can break your games, make them appear sluggish or make them start skipping frames.
- Default Cycle Rate - Slider Level 1: This is not a hack, this will emulate the EE on its actual speed.
- Slider Level 2: Reduces the EE cycle rate by 33%. Moderate speed increase, small compatibility hit.
- Slider Level 3: Reduces the EE cycle rate by 50%. Big speed increase, moderate compatibility hit. Also can cause stuttering audio in game videos.
- VU Cycle Stealing: This hack increases the number of cycles the Vector Unit (VU) steals from the Emotion Engine (EE). 'This hack can and will cause false FPS readings (especially in higher values), screen flashing, slowdowns and other serious bugs with certain games!.
- Slider Level 0: This is not a hack, this will disable VU Cycle Stealing.
- Slider Level 1: Small speed increase, small compatibility hit.
- Slider Level 2: Big speed increase, moderate compatibility hit.
- Slider Level 3: Small speed increase compared to level 2, huge compatibility hit. This level will not work properly for the majority of games causing flickering, slowdowns and graphical bugs while offering a marginal speed increase over level 2 when it works. Not recommended except for very few specific games that work well with it.
- Other Hacks: Various hacks with different usability.
- Enable INTC Spin detection: This hack takes a shortcut in a known situation PS2 games do when they idle, check the tooltip for a detailed explanation. Instead of doing the idle loop it just jumps to its end and continues from there. Can give big speed boosts but only in a few games. Very safe hack with almost no compatibility hit, recommended.
- Enable Wait Loop detection: Similar method to the above, check the tooltip for a detailed explanation. Moderate speed up with no known compatibility hit, recommended.
- Enable fast CDVD: Reduces loading times by setting a faster disc access mode. Check the HDLoader compatibility list for games that will NOT work with this (usually marked as needing mode 1 or slow DVD). Not recommended since it can break many games.
- microVU Hacks: These hacks are only applied when microVU is selected as the recompiler in the VU tab of Emulation settings. If superVU is selected, these hacks do nothing.
- mVU Flag Hack: Check the tooltip for a detailed description about how this works. Moderate speed increase with very high compatibility, recommended.
- MTVU (Multi-Threaded microVU1): Check this to use a third core for emulating the VU1 unit of the PS2. This speed hack provides a large speed boost for processors with 3 cores or more, while having extremely high compatibility (causes problems only in a handful of games). Note that some games might not get a good speed increase (depends how much they use the VU1 unit). There are also reports of speed boosts even on dual core processors.
- Restore defaults: Click this to restore all settings to their default values (which actually disables all hacks in this tab).
As the name implies, these are special game fixes for some games which for some reason emulating them requires something special. Note that the team has no intention of keeping hacks for specific games, these are there temporarily until a proper fix is found so they can be removed. Many of these are automatically applied when Automatic Gamefixes is checked under System.
- VU Add hack: This hack is also needed because the PS2 doesn't follow the IEEE standard on floats. Enable it only for Star Ocean 3,Valkyrie Profile 2 and Radiata Stories.
- VU Clip Flag Hack: This hack is only needed when superVU is selected as recompiler under VU in Emulation Settings. Needed for Persona games.
- FPU Compare Hack: This hack is needed because of the limited range of floating point numbers defined by the IEEE standard that the PS2 doesn't follow. Enable it only for Digimon Rumble Arena 2.
- FPU Multiply Hack: Needed for Tales of Destiny.
- FPU Negative Div Hack: Needed for Gundam games, fixes the camera view.
- VU XGkick Hack: Adds more delay to VU XGkick instructions. Needed for Erementar Gerad.
- FFX videos fix: Makes GIF flush before doing IOU work. Fixes gray overlay garbage in the videos of Final Fantasy X.
- EE timing Hack: Multi purpose hack. Known to help: Digital Devil Saga, SSX, Resident Evil: Dead Aim.
- Skip MPEG Hack: Use this to skip freezing intro videos to avoid hanging
- OPH flag Hack: Needed for Bleach Blade Battler, Growlancer' II and III and Wizardry
- Ignore DMAC writes when it's busy: Needed for Mana Khemia - Alchemists of Al-Revis" and Metal Saga.
- Simulate VIF1 FIF read ahead: As the description says, can help games which load slow.
- Delay VIF1 stalls (VIF1 FIFO): Fixes Socom - US Navy Seals 2 HUD.
- Ignore Bus Direction on Path 3 Transfer: Fixes Hotwheels.
- Switch to GSdx software rendering when an FMV plays: With this checked, GSdx will automatically switch to a software renderer when it detects a video playing and back to hardware when it's done. More of a convenience setting than a hack, it is very useful considering the number of games that have issues with videos on hardware renderers of GSdx.
Starting from 0.9.8, the preset system was introduced. In short this is a system to help users who want a quick and easy configuration of PCSX2. When Presets is checked (located at the bottom of all 6 tabs we have described until now), all of the options in these tabs will be grayed out since the Preset system will be changing them instead of you. Here are the preset levels (from slowest and most compatible to fastest and less compatible):
- Safest: As the name implies it is the safest preset in terms of compatibility. Compared to the other levels it is the most compatible and the slowest too.
- Safe (faster): Almost the same as 1 but applies some very safe speed hacks to gain a speed advantage. Compatibility should be as high as Safest.
- Balanced: Further increases the speed hacks used, taking a mild compatibility hit in favor of speed.
- Aggressive: Also adds more speed hacks and changes some clamping modes. Less compatible but faster, some games will have problems with it.
- Aggressive Plus: Lots of speed hacks, many games will be bugged but speed will be even better for those that will work with it.
- Mostly Harmful: As the name suggests, this preset will mostly do harm than help you. Most games will have problems and might even be slower than some lower presets. Not recommended.
Now to describe what the rest of the options do:
- System => Boot CD/DVD (full): If you press this the emulator will run the image you have selected in your CDVD plugin (or internal ISO selector) or will ask you to find an image if you haven't selected one in the CDVD plugins' configuration. If you are using the Gigaherz CDVD plugin this will instantly run the CD/DVD of the selected drive. The 'full' mode first goes through the BIOS intro just like on a real PS2 console. Use it for games that have different language translations or games with copy protection.
- System => Boot CD/DVD (fast): As above but this option skips the BIOS intro and runs the game instantly. Helps booting some games while using newer BIOS files compared to Full Boot by skipping region checks.
- System => Run ELF...: You can use this to run demos which are almost always in .elf format.
- System => Pause/Resume: You can use this to Pause or Resume emulation at any time.
- System => Load State/Save State: Here you can load/save states while running a game. In Load state, with "Backup" you can load a backup save state created with the "Backup before save" option for the selected slot.
- System => Check/Uncheck Backup before save: When this is checked, PCSX2 will create a backup of your saved state each time you save it. Very useful in case your state got damaged or corrupt in some way. You can find the backup states in the sstates folder, they have a .backup text at the end of the filename. You can load them from the GUI with the menu described above.
- System => Check/Uncheck Automatic Gamefixes: This will enable/disable game fixes. These fixes can have various uses, from skipping game videos which are not properly emulated yet and can stop the emulator from progressing to more advanced ones. Checking this will also enable some special configurations and game fixes for some games known to need them.
- System => Check/Uncheck Enable Cheats: This will enable/disable game cheats. Cheats work with the same system as patches but are loaded from the Cheats folder of PCSX2. Check various guides on our forum on how to create cheat files for PCSX2.
- System => Check/Uncheck Enable Widescreen patches: Starting from version 1.2.0 and thanks to our great community we added support for custom wide screen patches for games. If there is a patch for your game, enabling this will force it to render in true 16:9 ratio, without stretching the display but properly increasing the field of view and in some cases even the fonts and HUDs! Note that you also have to set Aspect ratio to 16:9 on Emulation settings-> GS Window. For more information and the latest patches, visit our forum thread here..
- System => Check/Uncheck Enable Host Filesystem: This will enable/disable the Host Filesystem of PCSX2. Used mainly by demos and homebrew.
- System => Shutdown: This will shut down the current game you are playing and reset PCSX2.
- System => Exit: Closes the emulator
- Iso Selector: This is the internal ISO loader of PCSX2, which does not use a CDVD plugin. You can choose any disc image PCSX2 supports by clicking Browse and run it. For your convenience, this menu entry also keeps a list of your recently used game images. This will only work if Iso is selected in the menu below!.
- Plugin Menu-Plugin Settings: This will show you which CDVD plugin you have chosen and let you configure it from here (instead of manually going in Plugin/BIOS Selector and doing it from there).
- ISO-Plugin-No Disc: This radial menu controls the source from which PCSX2 will load games from. If you select ISO, the internal ISO loader will be used to load your selected games (described above). If you select Plugin, the configured plugin will be used to load your games. If you select No Disc, no game will be loaded and PCSX2 will simply boot in the BIOS.
- Emulation Settings: Will open the Emulation Settings screen which we described in the Core Settings section of this guide.
- Memory cards: Will open the memcard manager:
- By clicking browse you can specify a custom folder from which PCSX2 will try loading its memory cards.
- Select any one memcard from the list to have the Duplicate,Rename,Delete and Eject buttons available. Duplicate creates a copy of the selected memcard, Rename changes its filename, delete deletes it and **Eject removes it from the assigned slot.
- Select any empty port to have the Create button enabled. By clicking it you will see the create new memcard dialog, where you can type the filename and select between 8, 16, 32 and 64mb for the memcard's size. As the notes say, the larger the memcard size the more chances there are of failing to work with various games so be aware that some games will NOT be able to save in large memcards. Check "Enable NTFS compression when creating this card" to use NTFS compression on the file, saving you some hard disk space. Highly recommended to have this checked.
- Select any memcard in the -Unused- list to enable the Insert button, which will bring out a dialog for you to choose in which port you want to insert the selected memcard.
- Auto-Eject Memcards when loading save states: Description is in the GUI, recommended to be checked.
- Plugin/BIOS selector: Will open the Plugin/BIOS selector screen where you can change plugins, BIOS used and folders which we described at the start of this guide.
The follwing entries will open the configuration screen for the selected plugin, respectively (Video/Audio/Pad/Dev9/USB/Firewire).
- Video (GS)
- Audio (SPU2)
- Controllers (PAD)
- Multitap 1: Will enable Multitap 1. You also have to enable multitap in the Lilypad input plugin for it to work. Does not work with all games yet, but most should be fine.
- Multitap 2: Will enable Multitap 2. You also have to enable multitap in the Lilypad input plugin for it to work. Does not work with all games yet, but most should be fine.
- Clear all Settings: Will clear all saved settings restoring them to defaults and opens the First Time Configuration Wizard.
- Check/Uncheck Show Console: This will enable/disable a second window that will appear behind the PCSX2 display and is mainly used for debugging. There you will be able to see various messages that can help you identify a problem or when running a game what is being done each moment by the emulator. Red messages are errors and yellow messages are warnings.
- Console Window:
- Log->Save/Clear: Saves or Clears the output in the console window.
- Appearance: Changes how the console window looks.
- Sources: Check the various items here to add more PS2 components that will have their behavior logged in the console window.
- About: The about window. Here you can see who the emulators' authors are and some thanks.
- Change language: Opens the labnguage selector dialog.
For a full list of currently supported keyboard shortcuts, you can check page 4 of the PCSX2 readme.
PCSX2 also supports overriding the hotkeys set by using a custom made ini file (PCSX2_keys.ini). For instructions on how to create it, visit this link.
If you still have problems using the emulator, post your problem in the PCSX2 forums here after reading the rules carefully.
- Did you find a bug and want to report it to the developers? Your first step is following the instructions on the following forum thread.
- PCSX2 has command line support, you can find out more here.
- A list of other useful guides on this wiki can be found at Category:Guides
- Information on compiling the sorce code and developement can be found here.
This guide was originally written by Bositman, you can find it here.
Thanks to Gigaherz for pointing out how to make the index guide work with Firefox on the web version.
Many thanks to Regulus for the background and the smilies script on the web version and for his help.
Thanks to Razor Blade for fixing the image borders.
Thanks to crushtest for pointing out some problems with Firefox and for his suggestions.
Thanks to Nachbrenner for his suggestions and additions.
Thanks to Falcon4ever for bugging me with XHTML validation.
Thanks to rama for helping me with some explanations.