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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.

System Requirements

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.

Desktop Computers

Android/Mobile Devices

Dolphin Configuration

Dolphin's default configurations are centered around a mixture of performance and compatibility. Faster computers may want to disable some of the performance hacks for more stability, where as slower computers and many mobile devices may want to sacrifice stability for even more performance. In this guide, we'll go through some of the easiest ways to gain performance and note the downsides of the various performance hacks in order to help identify when they should be disabled for stability. Settings that do not pertain to performance will not be mentioned in this guide.

Main Configuration Window

Enable Dual Core: A powerful option for gaining performance that has no downsides some of the time. May cause various random issues caused by splitting the CPU and GPU threads onto different cores. The most common downside to this performance boost is the risk for random "Unknown Opcode" issues and the associated crashes. Dolphin will usually disable Dual Core in games that are especially sensitive to CPU GPU desyncs.

DSP-HLE vs DSP-LLE: Most users should never have to change between DSP-HLE and DSP-LLE. DSP-HLE is many times faster and causes no risk of issues in 99% of titles. DSP-LLE is typically used for homebrew titles and debugging. The one exception to this is a case where Dolphin will automatically use DSP-LLE - Neo-Geo Virtual Console titles. Due to a timing quirk in these games, DSP-LLE is required for proper audio.

CPU Emulation Engine: This setting should never be touched by general users. It is set to the fastest option by default regardless of whether you're using Desktop or Android Dolphin builds. Changing this option alone may slowdown your performance by tenfold or more.

Emulated CPU Clock Override: This is one of the most powerful tools for gaining performance on weak devices. By lowering the Emulated CPU Clock Rate below 100%, you can cause the game itself to lag. In many cases, games have a built-in frameskip for lagging, which will lower the requirements of running that game drastically. This setting can also break games if they are relying on specific CPU timings, and should be disabled if new problems suddenly crop up after enabling it. Raising the Emulated CPU Clock Rate makes games more demanding to run, but may cause them to run better if the emulated title was lagging internally.

Graphics Settings

While Dolphin doesn't particularly need a powerful graphics card, it does want efficient drivers that can handle things that aren't commonly used in modern games. As such, some of the Graphics Settings may have a higher impact on certain GPUs than they do on other GPUs. We'll try to cover the major cases here, but your performance will vary.

General

Video Backend

Your choice in video backend may greatly alter how much performance you get depending on your graphics card.

A Note on V-Sync

Dolphin does not support asynchronous presentation, so users on Laptops and other devices that may limit the screen to 30Hz or lower may want to disable V-Sync to prevent additional lag. If for some reason your game is running at exactly half speed on powerful hardware, V-Sync might be the cause on a 30Hz screen.

Shader Compilation

Your shader compilation settings can greatly influence performance. Ubershaders are gigantic shaders that allow Dolphin to handle the GameCube's TEV pipeline without having to generate specialized shaders, but come at the cost of being much slower than specialized shaders. Specialized shaders are much faster, however they must be generated on demand and if it takes more than a frame to generate them, the game will stutter while they are generated.

Enhancements

Enhancements are powerful tools that can push the visual quality far above that of the original hardware. With these enhancements comes substantial risk to reduce performance.

Hacks

The hacks window is where you'll find a ton of options that can increase performance when leveraged correctly, or break games completely if they're enabled erroneously. Dolphin will usually enable/disable these settings automatically for games that need them, so it is not recommended to change these settings unless you know what you are doing.

Advanced

The Advanced settings aren't typically for casual users, but there are a few settings that can be leveraged here if you are careful. In this guide, we will ignore most debug/non-performance related options and just focus on the options a user may turn on for various reasons and what they do.

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