OS Neutral Can you emulate without a GPU?

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by MacBH928, Mar 17, 2015.

  1. MacBH928 macrumors 68040


    May 17, 2008
    My question is to all those who own a recent laptop without a dedicated GPU (Intel HD integrated chip).
    I tried emulating Gamecube on my 2008 machine, surprisingly it worked even though it looked like its a bit in slow motion with dropped frames.

    Then I tried it on a 2011 macbook air thinking I will get better performance, I was surprised it barely worked. I was told this is because the older macbook had a dedicated GPU and the Air doesn't.

    How about newer macbook retinas? Can they emulate PSx/PS2/GameCube era consoles?
  2. Pakaku macrumors 68020


    Aug 29, 2009
    My 15" retina MBP emulates Gamecube-era games just fine, but that would be because of the dedicated graphics card.
  3. antonis macrumors 68020


    Jun 10, 2011
    Most emulators depend heavily on the CPU speed rather than the GPU. This would explain the low performance from the MBA. If that is the case, it will be visible from the activity monitor in OS X (or task manager under Windows, respectively).
  4. MacBH928 thread starter macrumors 68040


    May 17, 2008
    but that doesn't make sense. Surely the 2011 macbook air can run lapse around my core2duo 2.0GHz machine?

    It must be the GPU, because I got a 9400M while the Air has none.
  5. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Of course an Air has a GPU. The 2011 Air's GPU is at least 2x faster than the 9400M (which by the way is an integrated card). And modern MBAs are 2x faster still. No idea why your emulator has issues with performance. I guess the problem is with your emulator's software. For PS2/Gamecube level of graphics, you don't really need any GPU in the first place. It can be easily emulated on a modern CPU, even a low-power one.
  6. librarian macrumors regular

    Sep 24, 2011
    emulating any kind of 3d graphics from ps2, gamecube/wii requires proper gpu and a decent processor… at least a sandy bridge i7 quad for decent speed and a midrange video card with 1gb of vram.
    as example I try to run super mario galaxy on a laptop with an intel i7-4710 quadcore 3,5ghz. It has Optimus on board so I can either run Dolphin with the intel4600hd or a gtx880m.
    with the intel card there's no hope to run it even closely to the wii quality even at native resolution, while using the 880m runs it runs decently in full hd res.
    Keep in mind that the majority of these games are designed to run at 60fps as they run like that on original hardware. Losing frames (frame skip) is not ideal as it add more issues with timing, audio,gameplay and input lag. Also there are many features designed for the original hardware capabilities that are extremely expensive to emulate, mainly framebuffer effects (picture in picture, blur, water reflections, distortions…) These effects can slow down to a crawl the emulation even on beefy pc set ups when running N64 games! Modern emulators take advantage of GPU to render these expensive features.
    On the mac OS side...
    The 2012 imac with i7 and 680mx is still not fast enough to run certain games at full speed, but a good amount will play well in QHD resolution with minimum amount of frameskip. I would not go below a macbook pro 15" with nvidia gpu for it.
  7. MacBH928 thread starter macrumors 68040


    May 17, 2008
    you are talking about a wii game not gamecube. I tried Luigi's Mansion and it worked on my 2008 laptop, so I imagine it works fine on a 2014 spec

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6 March 17, 2015