Good news for those of us using Dolphin to emulate Wii games on the Steam Deck, a new update has improved performance by up to 30 percent in the game’s more strenuous areas.
Writing on the Dolphin website, one of the developers shared their experience with the Steam Deck, noting that compiling Dolphin on the Deck was a bit of a nightmare due to the way Linux works (they’re right).
While attempting to get Dolphin optimized for the Steam Deck, the developers noticed something interesting.
“Things took a twist when they discovered that the function GetVertexSize was using a lot of CPU time on the GPU emulation thread,” reads the update post.
“This function should only need to come up once per vertex format and isn’t anything that you’d expect to see in a flame graph. Surely there was a reason, right? Well, they started optimizing it and immediately got positive results. In fact, just optimizing this alone was able to push performance up on a downclocked R9 5900 roughly 30%! That’s a huge jump, and one that had to be seen to be believed.“
Yeah, I’ve got no idea what that means either. But what is important is the gains. A 30 percent bump in certain areas is a huge accomplishment, and is sure to make playing the Wii classic that much smoother on the Deck.
The performance bump also applies to all games across the GameCube catalog, though don’t expect results to be quite as drastic as Super Mario Galaxy’s.
As noted in the post, if a game does feature a ton of bottlenecks, gains could only be in the region of 1.5 percent, as is the case with Rogue Squadron 3. Still, something is better than nothing.
If you’re new to emulation on the Deck or the idea of compiling programs makes your head hurt, be sure to check out my guide to get EmuDeck up and running. It’ll save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
Otherwise, if you’re interested in learning more about what the Steam Deck is capable of – including running a Mario 64 decomp – be sure to keep an eye on the RetroResolve guides section.