Welcome to Dolphin Emulator

Dolphin is an open-source platform project which means it's available on all kinds of hardware more recent versions only support 64-bit Windows, Mac OS 10, Linux, and Android operating systems.

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In the gaming world, we have two of the best game consoles ever made. So it's only right that the Dolphin emulator which emulates both consoles on PC is one of the best emulators ever made.

So on this site, you will get to know about how to get it up and running, get the best settings to configure controllers, tweak the graphics and make Mario pop, and many more.

The Dolphin emulator is among the most popular if not the most popular on the scene this is because of an unprecedented level of accuracy performance features and enhancement capabilities.

What started as a humble GameCube emulator became the premiere GameCube and Wii emulator before the later systems console cycle was even finished.

Dolp hin is an open-source platform project which means it's available on all kinds of hardware more recent versions only support 64-bit Windows, Mac OS 10, Linux, and Android operating systems.

For the sake of simplicity, we are providing the use of this emulator on the Windows 10 operating system which is the most used desktop operating system at the time much of the wisdom learned here can be applied to installation and configuration on another operating system as well.

How to Install Dolphin Emulator on PC

When installing the Dolphin emulator you have two options a stable version and a development version.

devolopement version of Dolphin Emulator

Stable versions are released once every year or two while the development version can be released multiple times within the same day.

If you want to play super safe you can use the stable version but I highly recommend simply using the latest development version and updating every one or two weeks.

Issues don't arise very often in development versions when they do they are very quickly fixed.

So let's head to the download page and select which version you want to install.

For me, I'm clicking on Windows X64 Dolphin. It will be downloaded in .zip format.

You can then extract using 7zip or WinRAR archive software.

WinRAR has some of the best performance software out there.

You'll need to decide where to place the archive we recommend setting aside a folder especially for Dolphin in your games for us this is a folder on the secondary hard drive game GameCube hit saved.

Open up the folder where you place your Dolphin archive and extract it.

Now you can launch it by clicking desktop icon of dolphin emulator but in case if its not there then Go inside the Dolphin X64 folder and click your Dolphin executable to launch it for the first time.

You will see that we have quite a collection of games on my machine. Despite this being a new version of Dolphine for us this is because regardless of where you install your version of Dolphin or your configuration files will be kept in my Documents Dolphin Emulator.

When using custom textures and saving configuration files make sure that you place them there so there will be usable across your entire Dolphin installation.

Add Games to Dolphin Emulator

Start by selecting config.

Now click paths click add and add the folder or folders where you store your games.

In the main menu click refresh and you should now see a list of all the games stocking found in that directory.

If you don't see banners for some of your games don't worry those would appear after you launch them play them and create a save file.

Configure Game by Game Settings

Configuring game by game settings one of the problems with the emulation is that even after all these years it's not an exact science.

Some games work better with one graphics back and others with another one. Some games can be run at 60 FPS with full anti-aliasing and others can't.

This means sometimes you'll have to tweak an individual games config file so that your main settings get overwritten for that one game.

To change the settings for an individual game right-click it in Dolphin main menu.

Click properties and then under the game config tab click edit config.

You'll be presented with a big blank notepad document where you can enter any overrides for any setting that you want.

There is the full list of settings you can enter on the Dolphin Wiki site here.

Enter them by writing the heading in square brackets followed by any tweak as per the Wikipedia page.

Checking Game Compatibility

Before playing anything in the Dolphin emulator you should check its compatibility.

You can do this by searching for it on the Dolphin Wiki or right-clicking a game's entry and selecting Wiki.

The game's wiki page will provide you with all the information you need to know on compatibility issues in Dolphin as well as information and links to enhancements white screen codes and more.

Use this information to ensure your settings are compatible with the game you're playing.

Configure Controllers In Dolphin Emulator

Dolphin emulator is primarily for playing games but before you can play any of those you need to configure your controllers.

Before we dive straight into configurations themselves check if you have any of the following controllers on hand.

An XInput - compatible controller, Xbox 360, Xbox one, many Logitech gamepads.

XInput gamepads will be recognized by default but must be configured manually or within any file.

A PlayStation 3/4 controller

These can be recognized as XInput controllers using the SCP Toolkit.

GameCube Controller

A GameCube Controller using the Wii U GameCube Controller Adapter or its Mayflash Counterpath, Dolphin will be able to recognize your controller after some configuration.

Wii Remote

With a Wii Remote using a Bluetooth adapter and the "Real Wiimote" option on your settings, you can sync a real Wiimote.

You'll need to get a wireless sensor bar alongside that, though, or opt for the Mayflash Dolphin bar which doubles as a Bluetooth receiver for your Wiimote.

So you will need for the most part either the real thing or a XInput compatible gamepad to have anything resembling an authentic experience with Dolphin.

Without those, you'll need to use a mouse and keyboard setup which I generally don't like and don't recommend for anyone outside of a few scenarios.

Especially for you, we're going to provide some ready-to-use profiles that will be immediately compatible with any XInput controller connected to your system.

There are several other profiles for you to download and use of your own volition but these should suit you for most of the games you'll be playing on the Dolphin emulator.

Loading Controller configuration files in Dolphin

Loading configuration files in Dolphin is pretty simple.

First, make sure the standard controller and emulated Wii Remote are selected in their respective dropdowns on either of there.

All you need to do is click configure select your XInput gamepad under device and the profile of your choice under profile, and click load to automatically apply all of that settings to your usage.

You're welcome to tweak any of these as you like and either overwrite our provided profiles or create your own.

Graphics Setting in Dolphin Emulator

Open your Dolphin graphics menu and let's just walk through all of the important settings.

General

On the General Tab, there are backend options are:

OpenGL

It is the most well-supported back-end you should get good performance and provide minimal in-game issues.

DirectX 11 (Direct3D 11)

DirectX 11 falls right behind OpenGL in terms of support and may provide better or worse performance depending on the game.

Vulkan DirectX 12 (Direct3D 12 Experimental)

It is labeled experimental for reason can provide great performance increases but is a lot more prone to glitches and error than the other backend.

Software Renderer

The software renderer is very slow doesn't offer enhancements and will try to play exactly like the Wii and GameCube only useful for developers no reason to use this to play.

Fullscreen resolution

Fullscreen resolution can be set to either auto or your native resolution. We set ours to the latter for Shadow Play recordings but if you aren't recording your Dolphin gameplay you shouldn't need to worry about this.

Using fullscreen will make your game automatically launch in full screen you can use this if you like but alt + Enter and the full-screen button in Dolphin's main interface can do this for you as well.

Aspect ratio

Aspect ratio is best left it on auto since it may change depending on the game.

Vsync

Vsync will reduce screen tearing at the cost of some performance. Enable if you can handle that otherwise leave it alone if it causes lags and spikes when you play the game.

Other options

The other options are all pretty self-explaining

we recommend enabling Show FPS while experimenting with settings disabling it once you know what works for your system.

Of course, leave the other alone unchecked unless you know what you're doing.

Enhancement

Internal resolution

Internal resolution corresponds to game resolution. We recommend starting at two times native as a baseline and moving up until you start seeing performance glitches. This will have the biggest effect on your frames per second.

Anti-aliasing

It will reduce jaggies in an image making it clearer and sharper this is very performance intensive however so we advise leaving it off or adjusting it after you've found a comfortable resolution for your play.

Anisotropic Filtering

Anisotropic Filtering is pretty much free visual fidelity on a PC set to 16 times or eight times if that gives you performance problems.

Post-processing

Post-processing effects without post-processing to your images we don't personally care for this effect and it may impact performance lightly but you're welcome to experiment with it if you like.

FXAA option is a lightweight way to add some anti-aliasing for instance.

Scale EFB Copy and Per-Pixel Lighting

For the other enhancements Scale EFB Copy and Per-Pixel Lighting will ensure a better visual at little or no cost to performance or compatibility so make that enabled.

Forced Texture Filtering

Forced Texture Filtering will boost visuals but can cause issues especially in games like Mario Sunshine leave this disabled.

Widescreen Hack

A widescreen hack can give some great results but in general, you're better off applying specific widescreen codes instead leave this one to disable.

Disable Fog

Disable fog may look nice but it will break games that use it actively like Silent Hill or Resident Evil so perhaps best leave this alone.

Stereoscopy

Stereoscopy only applies to those who use 3D monitors or virtual reality headsets.

Hacks

Skip EFB Access from CPU

Skip EFB Access from CPU can give performance gain but damages compatibility and playability leave unchecked.

Ignore format changes

It improves performance with minimal or no downside it may need to be disabled for a few games out there.

Store EFB Copies to Texture Only

It will offers higher performance but lower accuracy most notably things like file screenshots won't work with this enabled. This setting is fine in most cases but may need to be disabled on a per-game basis.

Texture cache

Texture cache is best left on fast with GPU texture decoding enabled for those with discrete GPUs.

External Frame Buffer (XFB)

XFB is best to left on disabled unless a specific game requires it enabled.

Other

Other options under Other will provide visual and performance improvements in all but a few titles.

Advanced

Advanced option as you would probably predict most things here should be left alone unless you're a developer.

Load Custom Texture and Prefetch Custom Texture

Enabling Load Custom Texture and Prefetch Custom Texture are safe to use if you using them.

Enable Progressive Scan

Enable Progressive Scan is safe to enable but it won't do anything in most cases.

History of Dolphin Emulator

So in the past on September 22nd, 2003, Fire and Hector revealed Dolphin Emulator to the public. It was the first GameCube emulator to launch commercial games.

January 24th, 2004

The first alpha build was released. The early builds were plagued by crashes, bugs, slowdown, and completely absent audio emulation.

Only a single game was considered playable

December 18th, 2004

Dolphin 1.0 was released and games began resembling their hardware counterparts but they were still extremely slow and buggy.

Dolphin was considered a curiosity at best. Despite promises of going open source, the Dolphin team went silent following the 1.0 release.

Hope for the project waned as years passed by with no updates.

August 20th, 2007

After nearly three years of silence Dolphin 1.03.2 was released. Featuring an improved dynamic recompiler some games even ran at full speed and graphics.

This release left people with sky-high expectations for what to come next... Eleven long months passed before the next announcement.

July 13th, 2008

Dolphin finally went open-source with a full team of new people.

Dolphin 1.0-5

Dolphin 1.0-1293

Dolphin 1.0-1855

Dolphin 1.0-2390

Dolphin 1.0-2630

Dolphin 1.0-2745

Dolphin 1.0-3286

Dolphin 1.0-3661

April 12th, 2010

Dolphin 2.0 was released after thousands of revisions, fixes and features. Dolphin 2.0 was hailed as a full-fledged emulator rather than some kind of prototype. But this success alone was not enough to satisfy the developers.

Dolphin 2.0 was a frustrating emulator. Everything was great when it worked. But the plethora of hacks and half working features caused a ton of problems and crashes.

Something had to be done...

After 2.0, the developers dropped the plugin system so that they could focus on fixing the many hacks introduced to make games run.

The focus slowly shifted from making features to making them work properly. Stability and increased accuracy became the name of the game. That is not to say there were not any huge additions.

One of the biggest flaws of Dolphin 2.0 was its shoddy audio emulation. Only a handful of games had any working audio at all. Even the games with working audio were prone to bugs.

The developers handled the situation by adding support to low-level audio emulation and then games could finally sound as good as they looked.

Dolphin began to mirror its console cousins. The graphics backends also received heavy work, including a new addition to the group.

June 13th, 2010

D3D11 joined D3D9 and OpenGL as a third hardware video back-end.

D3D11 gave Dolphin additional capabilities to fully emulate console effects. With new features, increased stability and much greater accuracy, a news release were on the horizon.

June 23rd, 2011

Dolphin 3.0 was released.

With this release, all of 2.0's promises were finally fulfilled. With greater accuracy and stability, hardware requirements for Dolphin increased.

This made 3.0 a controversial release with a lot of people refusing to upgrade. The filtering out of game-specific hacks fixed a lot of inconsistencies and smoothed emulation. Even the developers did not realize how far this would take Dolphin.

Dolphin's compatibility and feature set kept growing rapidly even after 3.0.

December 24th, 2012

An interim release dubbed 3.5 was made available. Sporting a balance between optimizations and accuracy, it was well-received by users. With this, the developers could finally focus on their most ambitious goals yet.

How ambitious?

GameCube Broadband Adapter Support.

The more accurate hardware emulation means that more than just the base game can be emulated. Dolphin can even connect to a GameCube over LAN to play games like Mario kart: Double Dash and Kirby Air Ride.

But not all the features would be quite so specialized. With full GameCube, Wii and Virtual Console support, you can watch your favourite series grow up right before your eyes. All in flawless HD clarity with additional features like Savestates, Customizable controllers...

Support for HD texture packs, Gecko and Action Replay and even more... Rewritten HLE Audio gives LLE quality at almost no performance cost. OpenGL is also completely rewritten, giving some games up to a 50% boost in performance.

Android devices and ARM Chromebooks are supported thanks to compliance with GL 3 standards.

Most Wiimotes can connect to Dolphin just as easily as to a Wii and features compatibility with all Nintendo Wiimotes, Balance Boards, Motion+ and more... With almost no configuration required on most computers.

Stable and fast netplay lets Dolphin host online tournaments. Any GameCube game with multiplayer can be taken online. It can even play on Nintendo WFC with real Wiis and other Dolphin Emulators. With support for most WiFi-enabled Wii and WiiWare games.