Dolphin emulator is a game emulator for two recent Nintendo video game consoles: the GameCube and the Wii. This emulator allows PC gamers to enjoy games for these two consoles in full HD (1080p) with several enhancements: compatibility with all PC controllers, turbo speed, networked multiplayer, and even more!.
Dolphin Emulator Hardware and system requirements
Dolphin emulator is a cross-platform emulator that runs on Windows (7 and newer), Linux, and Mac OS X (Yosemite and up). For their ease of use and additional graphics backend options, Windows is generally recommended for most users. Other Unix-like systems (such as FreeBSD) may work but are not officially supported. Operating systems are required to be 64-bit to run Dolphin.
As well, Dolphin emulator runs on Android 5.0 and up on 64-bit Android devices. The Android version of Dolphin is in alpha and should not be expected to work as well as the PC counterpart.
Which CPU should I use?
Dolphin emulator is a dual-core application that relies upon IPC (Instructions Per Clock) for performance. Additional cores will not make Dolphin go any faster, though an “extra” core that Dolphin isn’t using may help slightly by keeping background tasks from using the same cores as Dolphin emulator.
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Intel: Newer Core i5 and i7 processors such as the i5-4670K and i5-3570K are extremely fast and very affordable considering their relative power. The K series allows for overclocking, which can further improve the performance of those CPUs. Core i7 variants yield almost no benefit in IPC over the i5s they are based on, so save the cash if you’re building a Dolphin machine. For laptops, you can rely on the i7-4700MQ and i7-4930MX for the absolute best performance. Most games will run very well on any of those processors.
AMD: Due to very low IPC, AMD CPUs are poor choices for Dolphin. The FX8000 line of processors is the best they have, and even then most of those processors will be around half the speed of the 4670K’s performance with Dolphin emulator.
Note: For more information regarding CPU performance, please check out this handy benchmark that contains results from tons of users. Just remember that Dolphin is a console emulator: it does what the games instruct it to do. Every game has its own needs and requirements. Some games run well on most modern processors, while others won’t run full speed at all times on even the most powerful of processors.
Which GPU do I need?
Compared to processors, choosing a GPU for Dolphin emulator is a fairly simple task. The more powerful the graphics card, the more pixels and enhancements you can throw at it before you’ll see a slowdown. However, the biggest thing to watch for is making sure the GPU supports DirectX11.1 and OpenGL 4.4. Dolphin emulates a console that functions very differently from a traditional PC and uses the latest D3D and OGL features to reduce overhead. If you do not have those extensions, performance will suffer.
NVIDIA: Due to the importance of the OpenGL Extension “Buffer Storage” no NVIDIA GPU before the Geforce 4xx series can be recommended. Despite being a bit old, the Geforce GTX 460 will handle almost any game you throw at it in HD resolutions. Older NVIDIA GPUs will still be able to run the games fine, especially within the D3D backend and in OpenGL with older builds still using the “Vertex Streaming Hack.”
AMD: Unlike the processor battle, AMD’s graphics cards actually fair very well at Dolphin emulator. As of 4.0-1192, AMD video cards see boosts around the board because of the addition of integer math. As such, the AMD HD5770 and should run most games at HD Resolutions.
Intel Onboard: Intel HD3000 and HD4000 can run Dolphin at reasonable speeds, and can even run many games with enhancements, but they will struggle with demanding titles. A full-fledged graphics card is highly recommended. IGPs older than the HD3000 is not officially supported.
How much RAM do I need to run Dolphin emulator?
2GB or more is recommended. RAM speed or the amount of RAM generally has no effect on emulation speed.