Make sure you have the latest version! The team is constantly making changes, and even if it doesn’t seem important it may fix your problem!
After 13 years PCSX2 is finally out of beta! Just about all of the PS2 libraries runs flawlessly or with a few minor issues that can be fixed with settings in the emulator. You will need a PC no older than 2 years old to get the games running at 60 FPS. You can use an older computer, but may not be able to run graphics-heavy games like Killzone, Black, Final Fantasy X, or Devil May Cry. You may be able to run other games like 2D RPGs such Ar Tennelico, Tales of Symphonia, as well as simpler games like Amplitude, Frequency, or Odin Sphere. Here’s what you should at least have to get the games running smoothly. The games are unplayable at 60 FPS and you experience the games in slow-motion. Instead of seriously jerking around like in PC games, the emulator will just play everything in slow-motion and voices sound like they’re drunk. Not a fun way to play.
With my laptop specs below I can play most less graphically demanding games at 60 FPS. Games like Black, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, Killzone, God of War 2, Gran Turismo 3 and 4, won’t run on these specs. I get less than 20 FPS which is unplayable.
Minimum System Requirements:
Processor: Any dual-core CPU at least 3GHz. This includes AMD and Intel
Graphics Card: AMD RADEON HD 4xxx series or newer. NVIDIA GTX 2xx series or newer)
Onboard graphics chips WILL NOT ALWAYS WORK! This includes Intel HD Graphics chips, DON’T EVEN TRY IT! Your mileage will vary
Operating System: Windows Vista 64-bit
Mid-Range System Requirements:
Processor: Any quad-core CPU at least 3Ghz or faster (overclocked CPUs are best). 3rd generation Intel i7 CPUs are best or newer.
Graphics Card: GPU no older than 5 years. AMD RADEON HD 6xxx or up and NVIDIA GTX 5xx and up.
Memory: 6GB or more
Operating System: Windows 7 64-bit
With desktop specs below I can play any game out there with 3x native resolution and MSAA x4 and the games barely push my system. Even Killzone and Black run really well. Even games that are graphically demanding or require software mode to run push my CPU on the below rig. You need something similar to get the best results with no slow down.
Recommended (High-End) System Requirements:
Processor: Any quad-core CPU at least 3Ghz or faster (overclocked CPUs are best). Latest generation Intel i7 CPUs are best.
Graphics Card: The latest and greatest. AMD RADEON RX 560 or up and NVIDIA GTX 1050 and up.
Memory: 8GB or more
Operating System: Windows 10 64-bit
Here’s a video of me playing Gran Turismo 4 at 4K 60FPS with my current build above!
1. Here’s where to start. Download the installer *currently outdated* so download the latest SVN
2. Extract the folder to a location, click the exe and follow the setup wizard.
3. For the GS settings select (with whatever revision number after it there is one). This is for the newest processors with AVX2 for the fastest emulation. Only select lower if you know what you’re doing or if you have a really old computer (probably pre-2010).
4. For PAD select Lilypad and hit configure. Make sure your controller is plugged in and you should see the device near the bottom.
Leave all other settings (unless you know what you’re doing) and go to the Pad 1 tab.
Some controllers may come with preset bindings, but if not just click the buttons then press the button on the controller. If your controller has force feedback click the Big Motor and Small Motor buttons to change settings and test to see if it is being recognized by Lilypad. When done click apply. *Make sure you save your bindings in case you update PCSX2 and it loses your bindings! Bindings save is in General tab* Click ok and next in the wizard
5. SPU2-X should be your sound plugin. There’s no point in fiddling with this, but make sure your Interpolation is set to 2 or 3 and not 4 under Configure.
6. Just click next on everything else. These are CD drives, Firewire, and USB plugins that really don’t need fiddling with.
7. At the end, it will ask you about BIOS files. GOOGLE IT! The first 10 results will have links to the files. I can’t post them because they are copywritten by Sony and illegal unless you dump your own BIOS files from your own PS2 (which is complicated and confusing for the average user). But, it’s a pirate’s life for me! Once you get your BIOS files, put them in the bios folder in the PCSX2 folder and click refresh. Select the latest USA BIOS that shows up and you’re done!
Next are games. You can use ripped games or ones in the CD drive. For ripped games go to CDVD>Iso Selector>Browse. After this click System>Boot (fast) and your game should be running! Now to configure your graphics plugin to make the game work faster, and improve the quality of the game over what you would normally see on the PS2!
1. With your game in window mode go to Config>Video>Plugin Settings
You should have Direct3D11 (Hardware) selected. There’s another plugin that might look slightly different, but overall it’s the same so don’t panic. Selecting Software mode will make the emulator run everything off your processor only which will give you incredible slowdown (unless you have a monster 4+ core CPU). Hardware uses both GPU and CPU. Null doesn’t render any video and is pretty much useless.
There are some options here that most PC gamers will notice. Most of these settings will make you take some serious FPS hits (especially anti-aliasing and native resolution above 2x) so turn them on and if you notice any serious FPS drops turn them off.
1. Texture filtering – makes textures look cleaner and smoother (leave on Bilinear)
2. Internal Resolution – Makes the game looks much sharper without needing MSAA. A huge GPU hog starts with 2x and moves up until you start losing frames. Most high-end GPUs can go up to 8x on some games.
3. Anisotropic Filtering – A cheap way to make textures look smooth. Uses very little GPU power so always set to 16x unless you notice frame loss.
4. Software Rendering Settings – This renders with the CPU only and ignores the GPU. There are some games that only work in Software mode so check that game’s page first. Edge Anti-aliasing should always be set and enter the number of threads you have (however many cores you have times 2. EX: an i7 4770 has 4 cores so it has 8 threads. An i7 8700 has 6 cores so 12 threads). This is important to get the max speed out of your CPU.
5. Renderer – Always use DX11 Hardware unless a game specifies otherwise. This will get the most out of your GPU.
6. Enable HW (hardware) hacks – Only enable this if you have some graphics issues in games. After you enable it hit configure and you will notice MSAA (yes this makes the games look sharper, but with some serious FPS hits). Hover over each item and you will see a list of games they work on. If you are playing that game and notice graphical anomalies check it and see if your problem goes away (it probably will). If you are having weird issues, like Destroy All Humans 2! below, then that’s what skipdraw is for.
These fullscreen issues are rare now, but if they happen set skipdraw between 1-20 and it will usually go away. Destroy All Humans 2!’s full-screen issues like this go away at 5 skipdraw.
That’s pretty much it for the graphics plugin. For each game just tweak the settings and see how good you can make the game look without getting under 60 FPS.
Secondly, we’ll get to the Core settings which can make your game even faster! Go to Config>Video>Core GS Settings
If your game just doesn’t run well with basic settings try using speed hacks. Completely ignore the first three tabs! You will never need to change these. These are the PS2 EmotionEngine settings and only coders, programmers, and people who seriously know what they’re doing need to mess with these! Just focus on the last three tabs. The latest versions of PCSX2 have auto-mode enabled which is fine for most games, but some need tweaking. Try to always enable MTVU if you have a quad-core CPU or higher to get some much needed FPS.
Try adjusting steps 1-3 on EE Cyclerate first before using VU Cycle Stealing. Ignore the warnings on here, except when you’re on 3. If an FMV or cutscene is slow or stutters go back to 2 until it’s over (yes it’s a pain but what can you do?) VU Stealing can give you a bigger boost but may cause a slowdown in some games even if you are at 60 FPS. Things may run in slow-motion despite high FPS so turn down VU Stealing. Ignore all other settings here. Just fiddle with these sliders to your heart’s content.
This is where you can set the fullscreen aspect ratio, window size, etc. You can enable Vsync and other options and is pretty straightforward. Nothing complicated here.
This is all pretty self-explanatory. If you have a game listed here and you are having listed issues, check these fixes. Nuf said.
Playing the Game!
Now that all the boring stuff is out of the way it’s time to play! If you play in window mode you will notice some things at the top of the window.
The only things you have to watch are:
-Interlaced: When you press F5 to stop screen shaking this will tell you what interlace option is enabled.
-Limiter: This is very important! If you press F4 you will turn the FPS limiter off and see the full potential of your hardware and PCSX2! However, if the game runs above 60 FPS it will be like it’s in fast forward and will either freeze up or skip everything. Keep it on Normal.
-FPS: This is your frame rate per second. This should always be around 60.
Ignore everything else!
If you play a game in hardware mode some FMVs may not play. Press F9 and enter software mode so they will. If you ever get a half-screen problem you need to be in software mode. Currently Champions of Norrath is one of those games. You need a very powerful quad-core CPU to play in software mode, preferably a CPU with 8 threads or more. 4 thread CPUs are fine, but dual-cores won’t really work unless it’s highly overclocked (above 3Ghz).
PCSX2 has a save state feature where you can save anywhere in the game and load right back up to that moment whether it’s mid-swing in a boss fight, or just before a crucial move in a strategy game. Of course, you can save like on a normal PS2 which is recommended because save states can be incompatible with the different versions of PCSX2. There’s a backup feature that should be enabled in System just in case.
Have fun and I hope this guide helped!