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Quick Start PCSX2 Configuration Guide v1.2.1
If you have any comments/suggestions/corrections/etc about this guide, please post your thoughts here. Thanks.

Quick F.A.Q:

Don't mount the DVD ISO image!
There's no need to use the CDVD plugin or to mount the DVD ISO image!. PCSX2 supports reading ISO files directly: Drag and drop an ISO file to PCSX2, or, CDVD -> Iso Selector -> Browse. (the plugin is mostly useful only to read actual DVD media which you put at the DVD tray, and it will be slower than using an ISO image).

GS plugin failed to open
Use the SSE2 plugin and/or update directx via the web updater.

My Game runs slow/Lags! (and my PC runs Crysis 2 smoothly at high settings!)
- (Laptops - Intel) MAKE SURE it uses the external GPU and not the Intel one.
- (Laptops - Intel) MAKE SURE your CPU frequency can go up to around 3GHz (on i3/i5/i7 processors) while you play (it won't always stay there, but it's important to make sure it can get there if needed).
- Try presets 4-5 (sometimes even 6, e.g. at God Of War games, but for most games it will cause false FPS reads).
- Try lower resolution at GSdx settings (check "Native resolution", or, for the sake of it, try custom resolution of 256x256 just to see how if affects speed - it WILL look ugly though).
- Try to enable 8-bit textures at GSdx (depends on the game).
- Try to enable MTVU at the speedhacks panel of the configuration (usually useful only if you have 3 cores or more - i5/i7).

It's normal that some parts of some games will have lower FPS (e.g. menus sometimes run faster than in-game, and lots of enemies on screen or otherwise intense graphics may slow things down). Also, some games are harder to emulate than others, so your speed might change with different games and even at different places of the same game.

Popular games which require fast systems to run well:
- Gran Turismo 4
- Shadow of the Colossus
- Zone of the enders
- Metal gear solid 2/3

Games which can run on slower systems:
- Ico

Useful links

All the information here is included at the longer guide, but I believe this format and content answers many common questions at the forums, while still being relatively short and easier to read through, compared to the guide...

After you've read this guide, if you ask for help at the forum, it's VERY IMPORTANT that you include the following information:
  • Your hardware specs - CPU, Graphics Card, Memory, Operating System.
  • The version of PCSX2 you are using.
  • Any non default settings you are using, preferably a Preset number.
  • What games you are trying to play and if you are playing them from ISO or DVD.

1. General hardware:
- PCSX2 is not perfect and emulating PS2 requires a fast CPU, keep in mind that even if your PC is new and/or it runs Crysis 3 fine, it doesn't mean it will run all emulated PS2 games at full speed.

- PCSX2 uses 2 threads (cores) by default. This means that if you have a 4-cores CPU, the maximum CPU utilization you'll see is 50%, and usually a bit less. If you have a single-core CPU, most games will run slow.

* PCSX2 1.2.1 or newer can use 3 threads by enabling the MTVU speed hack (works with most games).

* When GSdx is configured to do software-rendering, it can also be configured to use more threads ("Extra rendering threads").

- Laptops: Make sure power settings are set to "High performance". If you have dual GPU, make sure the external one is selected.

Further reading:
- Will PCSX2 run fast on my computer (general hardware).
- PCSX2 CPU benchmark thread (CPU only).

2. PCSX2 versions/installation:
- Use the latest official release (currently 1.2.1 - r5875). Older builds or newer nightly development builds might sometimes be faster, but are generally less stable/compatible - use them at your own risk.

- DirectX: Install the latest updates. Even if you have the correct DirectX version installed (9.0c/10/11) and other games run fine, PCSX2 might still need the absolute latest DirectX updates (Symptom: GSdx fails to open).

- Installation: If your settings are not saved after exiting PCSX2, try the binary package, and extract it to the root folder at one of your drives (e.g. C:\PCSX2 ).

3. Plugins:
- Only 3 plugins are used by PCSX2 as long as you use an ISO file (instead of an actual DVD media at your DVD tray). These are the Audio plugin (Use SPU2-X) and the Graphics plugin (Use GSdx) and the Gamepad plugin (Lilypad).

- DVD:
- PCSX2 will run faster when using a DVD image file (instead of an actual DVD media). Create an image file with Imageburn. Other tools might create corrupted images, or not.

- To run a PS2 DVD image file, DO NOT MOUNT THE IMAGE (daemon tools, etc). Instead, use CDVD -> ISO Selector -> Browse, and choose your image file. Note that despite the name "Iso selector", many image formats are supported (iso, nrg, cue/bin, etc). If you followed this, then the "Iso" item would be selected at the CDVD menu, and the CDVD plugin will NOT used (This is OK - PCSX2 will load the image file without using a plugin).

- Audio:
- Use SPU2-X (other audio plugins are usually less compatible).

- SPU2-X configurations have little effect on speed (at most about 3%, and usually less). If you want the absolute fastest emulation you can squeeze, choose Interpolation - 0 (Nearest neighbor), and disable effects processing.

- Graphics:
- Use GSdx (other plugins are usually slower and less compatible).

- GSdx Renderer: Use one of the Hardware modes for best speed. Use one of the Direct3D (Software) modes for most compatible visual emulation (usually with negative impact on speed).

- GSdx Scaling/Resolution: For fastest emulation, choose "Original PS2 resolution". Note that while higher resolutions mostly looks better, they might also cause some visual glitches (after all, the games were designed for the original resolution only). With a recent GPU it's possible to use higher resolutions with minimal impact on speed. Using one of the x2/x3/... scaling options is usually less likely to create visual glitches than using a custom resolution. On some cases though, a custom resolution might remove some horizontal/vertical thin lines (Try: 1200x1200). (I usually use x2 or x3).

- "Allow 8 bit textures" might improve speed significantly for some games, and might also hurt performance for other games. Try both modes for each game. (I personally leave it usually on).

- Alpha correction might hurt performance on some games. Try with or without it for each game. (I personally leave it usually off).

4. PCSX2 configuration:
- The best way to try different PCSX2 configurations and examine how they affect speed, is to use the Presets at the bottom of the configuration window. Preset 1 is slowest but most compatible, preset 4 is generally both safe and relatively fast, and preset 6 will many times give fake FPS read (i.e. FPS is high, but the game actually runs slow).

- Watch the values which the presets affect while moving the presets slider (especially at the "Speed hacks" tab), and you can also change them manually while the presets are disabled.

- When not using presets, It's important to make sure that "Automatic game fixes" is checked at the system menu (done automatically when using presets). It automatically applies various specific configuration values to many games, to improve/correct emulation of these games.

- Using superVU for VU0 and/or VU1 (at the VUs configuration tab) might increase speed slightly for some games, but superVU is generally less compatible than the newer (and default) microVU. The presets don't change between mVU/sVU, so you might want to try it manually. Also FYI, superVU is no longer being actively developed or improved.

- Clamping Mode (for VUs/EE/IOP): you might get a slight speed increase when changing to 'None', but it might also negatively affect compatibility. Recommended: Leave at 'Normal'.

- Vsync: can make games run slower. Recommended: leave disabled.

- Frame skipping: many times breaks visual display. Recommended: leave at 'Disabled'.

- Game fixes: they fix various issues with emulation and may break other things. Recommended: leave all of them disabled (they would still be applied automatically when needed if the 'Automatic game fixes' is checked). The only exception is the 'EE timing hack', which might improve speed slightly for some games, and might badly break other games, or just have no effect at all.

- Other settings, which were not mentioned above are best left at their defaults.
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