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Slowdown while playing Mame or Retroarch through Launchbox / Bigbox

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Hi guys. I have a problem that is literally driving me insane.

So I have had Launchbox / Bigbox on an HTPC for over a year now (i5 4460 @ 3.2ghz, 16GB RAM, SSD for Windows 10, 3TB WD HD, GTX 970). This was running beautifully until about 2 weeks ago when my mom in law was playing Mame and Ms Pacman randomly started slowing down with slow music. "WTF?", I thought. So we switched to Super Mario 2 through Retroarch using the Nestopia core. Same problem: slowdown of both the game and music. Since that time I have been going completely bonkers trying to troubleshoot the cause.

I have not had the issue at all when launching Mame or Retroarch as standalone; it only seems to occur when I launch through Launchbox or Bigbox, though I can't say I've played enough times to know 100% that Launchbox / Bigbox is involved.

Here are the other steps I have tried:

  • A full scan of Malwarebytes, Windows Defender, ADWCleaner, Eset (one time executable), and Hitman Pro
  • Bios is up to date
  • Updated graphics driver for 970
  • All CPU, GPU and hard drive temps stay below 50 C with no spike during the slowdown in games
  • I've tried to watch task manager during the slowdown and I don't see any rogue processes taking over
  • I've ran through Lordmonkus' entire performance sticky (defrag, drivers up to date, reduction of unnecessary services, etc)
  • Ran chkdsk /r in DOS for all drives attached
  • Ran memtest overnight with no errors
  • Full Samsung utilities on my SSD and Western Digital utilities on my WD HDDs
  • Updated Launchbox to the newest version
  • Updated Retroarch to the newest version

I'm going crazy. I'm almost at the point of reformatting my hard drive and starting anew, but that would be a tremendous PITA after getting this thing nicely optimized.

One thing I have not tried is setting my computer to high performance in the power options... maybe my CPU is throttling for some stupid reason? 

Again, I'm not sure if this is Launchbox / Bigbox, but I would appreciate any recommendations anyone can think of, whether specific to Launchbox, or computing in general.

Thank you for any thoughts!

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When you updated your video drivers did you install the GeForce Experience software ?

If so try reinstalling your video drivers but removing the GeForce Experience part of it. I don't know if this will solve your problem or not but it is something I ran into a few weeks back when I updated my Nvidia drivers and installed the GeForce Experience. After updating I noticed emulator issues and they went away after removing the software.

Hopefully this works for you.

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Thanks for the reply and your crazy diligence to the emulation scene, Lordmonkus. I made sure to omit the GeForce Experience software, just a clean install of the driver, HD audio and Physx. I also verified that all XBOX Live recording nonsense was turned off in Windows. I don't think that I had any Windows updates between the time of working and nonworking of computer, but who knows. Argh. 

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If that isn't the cause then unfortunately I don't know what to say other to try and think of any changes that may have happened to the computer around the time of the slow down happening.

Generally speaking sudden performance issues would either be because of a recent change interfering with the computer or possibly some sort of hardware failure starting to happen. Unfortunately not something that is easily diagnosed.

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Yeah, that's my fear as well. I think I've exhausted most software troubleshooting. I think I'll try setting the power settings to performance, and if no improvement, reformat, and if still no improvement, look to buy a new motherboard. Blah. 

Thanks again!

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A format is usually a good way to make sure everything is running great even though it sucks to have to spend the time getting everything all set up again.

Hopefully you don't have to go full drastic measures and replace hardware.

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So I gamed for an extended period last night using Retroarch directly. I was able to beat Super Mario 2 without a single hiccup, but when I launch through Launchbox / Bigbox, it's annoying just to get through the first level. Before I dive into completely wiping out my operating system and potentially buying new hardware, is there any possible Launchbox process that could be going on behind the scenes causing issues? Would there be any value in wiping out Launchbox and reinstalling? 

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How about a slightly different question. If I wanted to complete uninstall Launchbox is there a guide for this? And is there a way to back up my preferences, including which games have been imported and the paths to all of the media files and such?

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just make a copy of your Data folder and any other media you don't want to have to redownload

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Posted (edited)

I've been having performance problems in most MAME games since I updated LaunchBox/BigBox in March.  I'm getting the audio "echo" where sound effects are playing twice in most of my games, and this is well known issue that occurs if the computer is being bogged down... and in this case I believe it it is happening because of recent changes to BigBox.  I actually went BACK to HyperSpin and the problem goes way.  The latest version of BigBox is definitely causing a significant performance hit that it did NOT have before.

Edited by Xpendable

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4 minutes ago, Xpendable said:

I've been having performance problems in most MAME games since I updated LaunchBox/BigBox in March.  I'm getting the audio "echo" where sound effects are playing twice in most of my games, and this is well known issue that occurs if the computer is being bogged down... and in this case I believe it it is happening because of recent changes to BigBox.  I actually went BACK to HyperSpin and the problem goes way.  The latest version of BigBox is definitely causing a significant performance hit that it did NOT have before.

Hi and welcome to the community. :)

I use a 0.196 set in launchbox with no issues what so ever. You say you have a echo of sorts, have you checked that multiple versions of the game are not being started at the same time?

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No, it is not launching multiple instances of Mame. I have confirmed that is not the issue.

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Posted (edited)

@Xpendable I had the exact same issue with echo / repeating sounds from Mame when using bezels, marquee monitor and launched via Bigbox not via Launchbox or Mame itself. I have tried all sorts of options the last hour and finally found the cause. When downloading bezel art the accompanying .cfg files must have had some sort of incompatibility I guess as they where causing the problem, I deleted the .cfg files so mame could start with a fresh configuration file for said game and voila no more lag/echo audio. Only small downside is scaling and aligning the screen again to match the bezel art but I had to anyway. I hope it might help you although I also lowered the ram usage in Launchbox settings from 2 to 1 gb and checked clear ram when launching game, but the echo only went away when starting with a new cfg file, could be a combined solution all in all. 

Edited by Mr. RetroLust

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Thanks for the tip. However, I was able to solve my issue by tweaking frameskip while in a MAME game. I think it is F8 and F9 that decrease and increase frameskip. 

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1 hour ago, Xpendable said:

Thanks for the tip. However, I was able to solve my issue by tweaking frameskip while in a MAME game. I think it is F8 and F9 that decrease and increase frameskip. 

Great, thank you for your tip as well as it might be useful if I come across a weirdly running game, so many options and combinations possible, just have to find the right cocktail, cheers!

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What sort of hardware are you guys running on? I have thousands of bezels for MAME and have never had this issue personally.

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, neil9000 said:

What sort of hardware are you guys running on? I have thousands of bezels for MAME and have never had this issue personally.

I'm running on a somewhat slower machine but am going to switch to a modern pc within a few months, current setup includes: crt-geom-hack in bgfx on latest mame, bezels, external marquee monitor, 1080p and a humongous mame library (around 9 to 10.000 entries) with videosnaps in bigbox, which I still have to make smaller by deleting games, bigbox scrolling runs quite slow within the mame library list but that's understandable as the other platform lists are quite smoothly running in comparison with less games. After the tweaks yesterday its running mame games well again at the moment, specs are: cpu: AMD A10-5700, 8GB ram, gpu: HD7660D , I guess I put it to the test with the above mentioned setup lol.

I copy pasted some text, hence the weird outline, sorry.

Edited by Mr. RetroLust

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2 minutes ago, Mr. RetroLust said:

I'm running on a somewhat slower machine but am going to switch to a modern pc within a few months, current setup includes: crt-geom-hack in bgfx on latest mame, bezels, external marquee monitor, 1080p and a humongous mame library (around 9 to 10.000 entries) with videosnaps in bigbox, which I still have to make smaller by deleting games, bigbox scrolling runs quite slow within the mame library list but that's understandable as the other platform lists are quite smoothly running in comparison with less games. After the tweaks yesterday its running mame games well again at the moment, specs are: cpu: AMD A10-5700, 8GB ram, gpu: HD7660D , I guess I put it to the test with the above mentioned setup lol.

I copy pasted some text, hence the weird outline, sorry.

OK, yeah im not to familiar with the AMD APU's but that should be enough for running MAME, (maybe @Lordmonkus can chime in as I believe he has a AMD setup somewhere) As for Bigbox scrolling being slow, yeah bigbox loves a GPU, especially with a library that large, so it is somewhat understandable if its a little slow. Also you say crt-geome hack, whats that? MAME has the geome shader included, its what I use myself, whats the hack for?

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1 hour ago, neil9000 said:

OK, yeah im not to familiar with the AMD APU's but that should be enough for running MAME, (maybe @Lordmonkus can chime in as I believe he has a AMD setup somewhere) As for Bigbox scrolling being slow, yeah bigbox loves a GPU, especially with a library that large, so it is somewhat understandable if its a little slow. Also you say crt-geome hack, whats that? MAME has the geome shader included, its what I use myself, whats the hack for?

Mame works alright with bezels when launched in launchbox or via mame itself but when launching in bigbox (I guess then the marquee screen and the bigbox ram and gpu usage gets added to the whole)  I get echo/repeat/stutter audio and game lags with some bezels, not all! I especially get lag when going from full to cropped view, but I don't know if you guys should help me with this as I am going to move to a newer PC anyhow, Nvidia, I5 and 16gb of ram, that should resolve all issues I bet. 

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1 minute ago, Mr. RetroLust said:

Mame works alright with bezels when launched in launchbox or via mame itself but when launching in bigbox (I guess then the marquee screen and the bigbox ram and gpu usage gets added to the whole)  I get echo/repeat/stutter audio and game lags with some bezels, not all! I especially get lag when going from full to cropped view, but I don't know if you guys should help me with this as I am going to move to a newer PC anyhow, Nvidia, I5 and 16gb of ram, that should resolve all issues I bet. 

I use a i5 3570k overclocked to 4.2ghz, a Nvidia GTX 1060 and 16GB of ram on Windows 10 64bit. However I don't have the capabilities of using a marquee so I cant speak to that being any issue with regards to performance. There is a option in launchbox to clear the ram cache when launching games, but I don't think that option is in Bigbox. The thing that is weird to me is that a bezel would effect anything in the first place. As far as I understand it bezels are simple images overlaid on top of the game screen so shouldn't really need any extra power to show them.

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