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dsheinem
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Best all-in-one emulation options - 2017

by dsheinem Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:50 am

Due to

1) my inability to get an NES Classic (and, likely, an SNES Classic if those come out)

and

2) my desire to unclutter my life as much as possible

I am thinking of selling much of my physical collection and going the "dedicated emulation machine hooked up to the TV" route. The most obvious solution might be a Rasberry Pi with RetroPie, but I have a few questions about this...

1) Am I right in assuming that there's easy to install/attractive front ends that will link to roms for anything that was popular from the 16-bit era and before? If so, does that include Sega CD/32X stuff? What about more obscure systems (e.g. Tandy CoCo, Amiga CD32, etc.)?

2) Do I need to spend hours upon hours downloading and installing emulators, linking them all to roms, setting up image/art directories, setting up controller and screen settings for each emulator, etc?

3) Do these things emulate N64/PS1/Saturn era stuff at all? If not, is there something comparable that does? I assume a big ass Flash Drive, internal hard drive, or SD card should be able to load up healthy portions of these libraries at this point.

4) How does the RetroPie do with MAME?

5) What, specifically, would you recommend buying to do all this?

I'd like to be able to, potentially, get rid of all my physical stuff that is from pre PS2-era. What is the best emulation machine solution to do this? I don't want to run things off of CD or DVD-ROM discs at all, if possible.

The ideal set up is being able to play virtually every video game released before 2000 on one machine hooked up to my TV without having to tinker with anything after initial set up. Doable?

One other question...

If provided with the hardware...does anyone have any interest in basically doing this for me, for a fair fee?
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Exhuminator
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Re: Best all-in-one emulation options - 2017

by Exhuminator Fri Apr 28, 2017 10:17 am

dsheinem wrote:I'd like to be able to, potentially, get rid of all my physical stuff that is from pre PS2-era. What is the best emulation machine solution to do this?

In order to perfectly emulate everything from 5th generation and back, and have it hooked up to your HDTV in a dedicated fashion, and have a great OS to deal with via plenty of malleability, I would personally go with a dedicated Windows 7 micro-PC.

I would get something like say an Intel NUC:

https://www-ssl.intel.com/content/www/u ... s/nuc.html

You can get it with HDMI out plus Wi-Fi built right in. It can live next to your HDTV, and run every emulator perfectly (because you're using long-developed Windows emulators).

Since you probably already own a wireless 360 controller or two, you can just buy this receiver puck:

https://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Authen ... 00FAS1WDG/

And that will handle your controller needs.

You can also get a wireless keyboard/mouse combo to control the OS with:

https://www.amazon.com/Rii-Wireless-Key ... 00Z81U3YY/

Or use a wrapper and just control the OS with your gamepad instead. Whatever works for you.

Well, that's what I'd do! There are other micro-PCs to consider, but I think the NUCs are cool.

Also, about optical disc games... many emulators can load disc image files natively (like .cue/.bin or .iso). For the ones that can't, you simply use disc drive virtualization, like Daemon Tools Lite or Alcohol 120%.
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Re: Best all-in-one emulation options - 2017

by fastbilly1 Fri Apr 28, 2017 11:18 am

Exhuminator wrote:Or use a wrapper and just control the OS with your gamepad instead. Whatever works for you.

I use Launchbox on my mamecabs now. It will take a while to get setup but once it is running it is awesome. Especially with box art.
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isiolia
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Re: Best all-in-one emulation options - 2017

by isiolia Fri Apr 28, 2017 11:53 am

dsheinem wrote:1) Am I right in assuming that there's easy to install/attractive front ends that will link to roms for anything that was popular from the 16-bit era and before? If so, does that include Sega CD/32X stuff? What about more obscure systems (e.g. Tandy CoCo, Amiga CD32, etc.)?


RetroPie itself is largely that. I have not personally messed with much beyond common 8/16-bit systems, but it actually does include support for a lot.

2) Do I need to spend hours upon hours downloading and installing emulators, linking them all to roms, setting up image/art directories, setting up controller and screen settings for each emulator, etc?


EmulationStation does incorporate a scraper to get images/descriptions/etc. You can fine-tune settings if you want to, but there's a general gamepad setup that should apply to them all.

3) Do these things emulate N64/PS1/Saturn era stuff at all? If not, is there something comparable that does? I assume a big ass Flash Drive, internal hard drive, or SD card should be able to load up healthy portions of these libraries at this point.


They can try, but the Pi can come up a little short. That said, there's a PC version of RetroPie, so you could always try that. I haven't really messed with much of it though.

5) What, specifically, would you recommend buying to do all this?


I'd say to just get a Pi3 and see if it works for you.

RetroPie really just takes flashing the image to a micro SD card. If you have a home network, you can drop ROMs to it over that. It'll rescan the folders on restart, systems that you have ROMs in folders for will show up, and that's about all it takes.
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Re: Best all-in-one emulation options - 2017

by Sarge Fri Apr 28, 2017 12:29 pm

I'd definitely go the way Exhuminator is suggesting. PC is still the place where the best emulators live, and if you want to play 5th gen, that's definitely a better option than the Pi. I almost ended up buying a Steam Machine in a closeout store, and probably should have, but any decent micro PC should work well, plus you can have the option to play indies and older PC games if it's specced out enough.
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Re: Best all-in-one emulation options - 2017

by chuckster Fri Apr 28, 2017 12:59 pm

dsheinem wrote:5) What, specifically, would you recommend buying to do all this?


PC all the way. I tried Lakka on a Pi2 and it just wasn't there. Input was laggy even compared to PC and it just seemed too limited for 3D systems. The new model may be better but I say the solution with the best outlook for support and accuracy is still PC.

Any i5 from the last few years will provide the best in emulation quality all the way up to Dolphin, though if you want to use hardware-assisted rendering on the newer consoles or heavy shaders (like CRT-Royale, for example), a decent GPU is recommended.

It sounds like you're not really wanting to go to a lot of time and effort in building a HTPC (I completely understand that), so I say a NUC or BRIX with a good GPU would be the best bet. If you're shooting for 1080p, or especially if you're willing to have things running at 720p, anything comparable to a 750Ti or so would be fine.

As for storage, a 1TB HDD would hold full-sets for 16-bit and back without breaking a sweat. PS1/Sat .iso files can add up after a while, but unless you have an enormous backup collection for those systems, I don't see that being an issue.

Retroarch gets you most of the way there with emulators, once I got into the UI and really figured it out, I've never went back. There's even an MSX core, man!

I don't use any fancy front-end these days, it's just an extra step that's not worth it for me. I did use Launchbox at one time and it seemed really easy. It can read you library and download plenty of good art and media for most games. All you do then is point it to the emulator .exe for the file types (I don't remember how it handles .bin and .iso files, which many systems will use). Compared to just about any front-end available as of about two years ago, it seemed the clear choice.
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Re: Best all-in-one emulation options - 2017

by BoneSnapDeez Fri Apr 28, 2017 1:26 pm

Back when I was heavily into emulation I just used a PC. I don't keep up with the latest technology, but PC still seems like the easiest and most user-friendly route. Emulating up through the fifth gen is no problem. And a decent computer should be able to handle the PS2 as well. Most Windows emulators these days are extremely easy to configure.

Exhuminator wrote:Since you probably already own a wireless 360 controller or two, you can just buy this receiver puck:

https://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Authen ... 00FAS1WDG/

And that will handle your controller needs.


Ya know, I used to try the "one controller for everything" approach (except I used a Logitech) but I soon began craving the original controllers. A set of either well-made USB controllers and/or original controllers with adapters works best for me. NES, SNES, Saturn, N64, plus any modern PC controller should cover all bases.
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Re: Best all-in-one emulation options - 2017

by Hazerd Fri Apr 28, 2017 1:55 pm

I just use a modded wii, plays SNES/Gen/SCD/TG16-CD/GG/GBC/GBA/GB/SMS/NES/VB, and alot of MAME games, doesnt do N64/PS1 very well or at all. Also you have Wii/Gamecube support.

Anything it cant emulate, ill just use my PC for.

Otherwise retro-pie with custom case and controllers of choice.
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dsheinem
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Re: Best all-in-one emulation options - 2017

by dsheinem Fri Apr 28, 2017 2:34 pm

Hazerd wrote:I just use a modded wii, plays SNES/Gen/SCD/TG16-CD/GG/GBC/GBA/GB/SMS/NES/VB, and alot of MAME games, doesnt do N64/PS1 very well or at all. Also you have Wii/Gamecube support.

Anything it cant emulate, ill just use my PC for.

Otherwise retro-pie with custom case and controllers of choice.


This may be the easiest route, but the lack of HDMI sucks...


Y'all have given me a lot to consider...keep the suggestions coming!
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Exhuminator
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Re: Best all-in-one emulation options - 2017

by Exhuminator Fri Apr 28, 2017 2:35 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:Ya know, I used to try the "one controller for everything" approach (except I used a Logitech) but I soon began craving the original controllers. A set of either well-made USB controllers and/or original controllers with adapters works best for me. NES, SNES, Saturn, N64, plus any modern PC controller should cover all bases.

Sure, I get where you're coming from. But Dsh is trying to "unclutter", so having a bunch of random controllers stashed around his entertainment center isn't ideal.

--

On the subject of NUC/BRIX, does anyone know a good place to buy them pre-assembled with all the necessary parts? I'm looking to buy some of these for a work project, and my employer has plenty of money to throw at it, so no need for me to bother piece-mealing kits.
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