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Video Discussion: What Retroarch SNES core is right for you ?


Lordmonkus
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  • 1 year later...

This video guide is now horrendously outdated and useless so here's an updated and ultra simplified version of this guide.

Please refer to the link below to see what games are incompatible or have known issues with specific cores.
https://wiki.libretro.com/index.php?title=Nintendo_SNES_Core_Compatibility#SNES9x

For the vast majority of the average users out there just use the Snes9x core, the one that has no year in its name. This core will run 99% of the games just fine and works very well on modest hardware and is updated regularly. The cores with the years in their name or meant for very old and low powered mobile hardware, you can view more information on those specific cores here: https://wiki.libretro.com/index.php?title=Main_Page

For those of you who require more accuracy, compatibility and have the extra CPU power to drive it the BSnes Balanced and Accuracy cores are the next choice. There are the Mercury variants of these cores which allows for a couple of extra core functions such as FX chip overclocking so you can run games like Star Fox at a faster frame rate. There is one catch to these cores however, you have to have dumps of the special chips in your \Retroarch\system\ folder for the games that require them to work. For a list of the required special chips refer to this link here: https://wiki.libretro.com/index.php?title=Bsnes and for a list of games that require these special chips refer to this wiki page found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Super_NES_enhancement_chips

And for those of you that demand the most accurate and cutting edge SNES emulation and have a very powerful CPU you will want the newly added Higan core. This core will also require the same special chip dumps as the BSnes cores above. This core is extremely demanding on the CPU so unless you have a very powerful modern CPU to use this core and maintain a constant smooth 60 fps I highly suggest that you use one of the other cores. This core runs "fine" on my 4GHz AMD 8350 CPU but there are some audio crackles here and there which indicate performance problems and I have read that even a modern i7 has some problems with it.

In conclusion here's the TL;DR:

Average users stick with Snes9x (no year).
If you have the special chip dumps and a semi decent CPU use BSnes Balanced or Accuracy.
If you have a beastly CPU and you MUST HAVE the best use the Higan core.

Edit:
Because the Snes9x core is faster you can set your "Frame Delay" setting in the Video options of Retroarch to a much higher setting in return reducing input latency. Now whether or not this is something many people actually care about is another story and is personal preference but it is something to consider when deciding which core to use.

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I use the Bsnes Balanced core for most games but I didn't knew until now it needed chip dump files.  :$

I also use the snes9x core for Super FX Chip games due to the posibility of overclocking it and have a smoother experience.

brb gotta go dump some system chips, if you know what I mean.

Edited by Suhrvivor
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5 hours ago, Suhrvivor said:

but I didn't knew until now it needed chip dump files.

Only for the games that require them.

5 hours ago, Suhrvivor said:

I also use the snes9x core for Super FX Chip games due to the posibility of overclocking it and have a smoother experience.

The BSnes Mercury cores allow for this as well.

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Hey @lordmonkus, care to comment what's that 1% that we should be looking for in SNES9X's core? I was using bsnes accurancy, since I have an i7 7700 and I thought I could use it no problem, but when I tried higan I saw some weird fps drops on Yoshi's Island, don't know if I need more horsepower, or the new core just needs more development.

But either way, if 99% of the games run 99& accurately, I think it's not worth the hassle to fiddle around with either bsnes or higan. Would you elaborate a little more?

Thanks! :)

Edited by alfredolvera
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If you can use the BSnes cores and have  the special chips there is no reason to not use it but you can check the game compatibility per core here https://wiki.libretro.com/index.php?title=Nintendo_SNES_Core_Compatibility#SNES9x

The Higan core is just very demanding but it is the most accurate SNES emulator there is. You would think an i7 7700 would be enough though since the stand alone doesn't require that much CPU power to run it. But then again there is something with the Retroarch cores that ups the requirements compared to the stand alones they are based off of, the Mednafen Saturn core is more CPU intensive than the stand alone.

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Very short history lesson but Higan was know as BSnes at one time back when it was only an SNES emulator. Byuu, the author renamed it when he started added more systems to it and agreed to release the source code to an older version of BSnes. It was this source code that got turned into the BSnes core and stand alone emulator being developed now by other people while Higan is being developed by Byuu. The BSnes core in Retroarch is based off the 0.94 code base but with extra development from different people working from that code. For a while there was animosity between Byuu and the Retroarch devs for whatever reasons but they recently patched things up and Byuu decided to allow them to make a Higan core based off the current code. As long as this relationship remains friendly it should keep up to date with the newest versions of Higan as they come out.

Short version; BSnes is built off an older version of Higan back when it was known as BSnes and Higan is now the more up to date cutting edge version directly from Byuu.

The goal of Higan is to be absolutely 100% cycle accurate and anything less than that is unacceptable to Byuu and performance is not a concern to him at all. 100% accuracy however comes at a cost and that cost is higher CPU requirements.

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Something I just thought I should add here since I read about another good reason to use the Snes9x core over BSnes or Higan.

Because it is a faster emulator you can set your "Frame Delay" setting in the Video options of Retroarch to a much higher setting in return reducing input latency. Now whether or not this is something many people actually care about is another story and is personal preference but it is something to consider when deciding which core to use.

The difference in Frame Delay for me using an AMD 8350 @4 GHz CPU and Super Mario World as a test game was a delay setting of 3 using BSnes Accuracy and 9 using Snes9x. Depending on your CPU and if you are using the Balanced or Accuracy can vary, also the setting can vary based on which game you are playing.

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  • 2 years later...

I built my new rig last year with a Ryzen 2700X in it and even though it's more than capable of running Higan at full speed I still prefer the Snes9x core for the above reasons plus it is so much easier to use the MSU-1 hacks with it.

Nowadays when I want to play SNES "accurately" I play on my MiSTer. 

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1 hour ago, Lordmonkus said:

I built my new rig last year with a Ryzen 2700X in it and even though it's more than capable of running Higan at full speed I still prefer the Snes9x core for the above reasons plus it is so much easier to use the MSU-1 hacks with it.

Nowadays when I want to play SNES "accurately" I play on my MiSTer. 

I've never heard of MiSTer - what is that?

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