Friday, October 10, 2014

Play PS2 and PS1 games without console - PCSX2 1.2.1 Emulator

PCSX2 software is an emulator for Playstation 2 and 1 games, it allows you to play without using the physical console. So if your PS2 or PS1 machine are faulty, you can still play it using the emulator although the performance may not be as good as the real machine. Besides Sony is not making its PS3 and PS4 console compatible with the old console games, so we can still have the chance to play them using this software.

Step 1: Installation

Download the PCSX2 software from its official website PCSX2 download. The version is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating system depending on which one you are using. Once you have download then proceed to install it on your system the step should be fairly easy just like installing other application software.

Step 2: Download the BIOS

The BIOS is a small application software just like the computer BIOS which define the system (brain) and you will need this to run it. They are 3 types of BIOS made up by regional designation i.e. Japan (Asia), USA (North America), Europe (Europe). You will have to download the appropriate BIOS based on which regions the game are made for otherwise you will not be able to play it for example USA games will not work for Japan BIOS. You may download the BIOS here




Once the BIOS is downloaded - then proceed to extract to any folder preferably in the PCSX2 installed folder as it is easier to find out later.

Another way is to extract your own PS2 or PS1 bios if you have the console. The tool is available for download in PCSX2 site together with instruction how to do it.

Step 3: Run PCSX2 

Now run the PCSX2 programs and select the appropriate "first time configuration" settings. This part can be ignore as it can be configured again later on. Click next until you see the BIOS selector - un-check the "Use Default Setting" and browse the location where the BIOS was extracted in step 2. The list will come up for you to choose which one most suitable for your games.


Step 4: Playing Games

The game can be played either by directly from the CD/DVD or using the ISO file. To play directly from the CD/DVD navigate to "Config" >> Plugin/BIOS Selector and make sure the CDVD plugin is set to cdvdGigaherz (0ll) 0.9.0 [cdvdGigaherz].

Then go to CDVD tab and select the "Plugin" Option. On the same CDVD menu select Plugin Menu>>Plugin Settings and select the CD/DVD player drive for example drive D:
Place in the your DVD games inside the drive and start to play by going to System>>Boot CD/DVD (fast).

Note: The problem playing directly from the CD or DVD is it slower as the system takes a longer route to fetch the games and it process more slower compare to hard disk based games. 
There is an option you can play the games directly from the Hard disk by setting the PCSX2 on the CDVD tab select ISO and then ISO Selector>>browse the location of the game either in ISO or BIN file. To rip the games from the CD/DVD to ISO or BIN file is fairly easy steps - just download and install the PowerISO trial version from its website and run the PowerISO.
  • In PowerISO select Tools>>Make CD/DVD/Blu-ray Image File...
  • Place in your game CD/DVD inside the drive and select .bin file
  • Choose the location of the file that is easy to locate later and click OK

After completed the game is ready to be played on PCSX2, by going to CDVD>>ISO Selector>>browse...the game location where the .bin file was created by the PowerISO

Step 5: Configuring the Game Speed

Using Intel Core i5 processor, the PCSX2 1.21 configuration doesn't need much or any adjustments. But it is required for system using Intel Core i3 and below. On the PCSX2 emulator click Config>>Emulation Settings and follow the setting as below


Using Intel Core i5 use default setting microVU Recompiler for the VU0 and VU1 settings because if setting superVU Recompiler [legacy] it will make the games abnormal speeds more like a fast forward running hamster. Only use the setting below if you are using Intel Core i3 and below


Turbo Adjust can be set higher depending on and error on the games performance behavior. Try 250% to 300% it should be alright.



Select the MTVU (M-Threaded microVU1) if you have your CPU have 3+ cores otherwise leave it unchecked if using Intel Core i3.


This setting is specific to certain games and leave it unchecked if your games is none of the listed in the specified list.



CPU Throttling (PCSX2 Game Lag)

I don't really know much about CPU throttling, but from what I've read generally it is the process of fluctuation of the CPU power usage within the max and min range due to heat. Meaning that when the CPU is operating at its maximum for sometimes it has to go down to breath, and this is important to protect the CPU and other component of the motherboard from overheating as well as safeguard its life span. By design all CPU especially Intel core i3, i5, i7 throttling is normal.

How does the CPU throttling affects your PCSX2 gaming experience? Well it's very simple when the CPU power usage reach its maximum for example 25 watts for my Intel Core i3, the game run smoothly. But not long after the power usage will drop to the minimum for example 1.25 watts, during this breathing process the game starting to get lag. Then it will be normalize again when it rise up to the maximum. It happens time after time as long as you are playing the games, during overheating it will lag constantly

CPU Throttling effect can be monitor using  HWMonitor a tiny programs made by the CPUID. Watch out for the Power package value where it fluctuates within the min and max value. At the highest value 25w maximum the game will run smoothly otherwise when it falls to the lowest minimum 1.25w the lag will occur.



How to prevent CPU Throttling

It seems there is no way to prevent CPU throttling as it is designed that way for good. How you can try to force it to work at its maximum by setting the PC power usage at the highest performance, although this is not going to stop CPU from throttling but it does help to keep the CPU to work at its maximum a little bit longer than normal settings. But there is a risk that overheating could reduce the lifespan of the CPU and other parts of the motherboard. Follow the steps below to configure the computer power  performance in Windows 7

Start>>Control Panel>>Power Options
Select High Performance>>Change Settings>>Change advanced power settings do the settings

Intel(R) Graphic Settings

  • Intel(R) Graphic Power Plan
  • On battery = Maximum Performance
  • Plugged in = Maximum Performance
Note: Only set this settings if your computer is using integrated graphic card instead of discrete graphic card
Processor power management
  • Minimum Processor state
  • On battery = 100%
  • Plugged in = 100%
  • System Cooling Policy
  • On battery = Active
  • Plugged in = Active
  • Maximum Processor state
  • On battery = 100%
  • Plugged in = 100%

Note: The maximum processor state is the most important settings in this processor power management. Setting it at 100% for both battery meaning that to force the CPU to use full power consistently.

Another way to reduce throttling effect is too cool down the CPU as much as possible especially for laptop computers where ventilation is limited and fan cooling capacity less compare to desktop computers. You could make your own ice pack cooler like this - inside are the commercial ice packs from supermarket cost around $5 each.



System Specification (Tested) and Results of PCSX2 Performance

Computer Type Dell Laptop N4030
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
CPU Intel Core i3 380M Arrandale 2.53Ghz
RAM DDR3 2GB
Graphic Card Intel(R) HD Graphics (Integrated)
CPU Max Temperature 89 Degree Celcius
CPU Throttling (Max/Min TDP) 1.25w to 25w
Game Played Winning Eleven 2012 (PS2)

Using Winning Eleven 2012 from Playstation 2 the game play is fairly good using system with the above specification. However the throttling effect is inevitable as the temperature rise to the maximum at 85 to 89 Celsius at max TDP = 25w after a couple of minutes it will drop to 75 degree Celcius at min TDP = 1.25w where the game will terribly lags. By setting the laptop processor management rate to the highest performance (100% processor state) it helps a bit but eventually it will drop.

Overall the system above is still probably be good to play games with less movement/actions and winning eleven is still a playable game based on the tech spec.

Computer Type Dell Laptop 2420
Operating System Windows 7 Home Professional 64 bit
CPU Intel Core i5 3230M 2.6Ghz
RAM DDR3 4GB
Graphic Card NVIDIA GeForce GT 620M
CPU Max Temperature 82 Degree Celcius
CPU Throttling (Max/Min TDP) 1.25w to 35w
Game Played Winning Eleven 2012 (PS2)

Using i5 machine with 4GB the game run smoothly provided that only the PCSX2 apps is in used. The normal average temperature within 75 to 78 Degree Celsius however after few other applications are opened the game will show minor lags at 82 Degree Celsius. 

Computer Type Dell Laptop 2420
Operating System Windows 7 Home Professional 64 bit
CPU Intel Core i3 3120M 2.50 Ghz
RAM DDR3 4GB
Graphic Card Intel(R) HD Graphics 4000 (Integrated)
CPU Max Temperature 82 Degree Celcius
CPU Throttling (Max/Min TDP) 1.25w to 35w
Game Played Winning Eleven 2012 (PS2)

Using Intel Core i3 with upgraded 4GB RAM does not improved much compare to the above. Sometimes the lag even a little bit worst then the first.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Distorted flickering computer screen from Start to Windows startup


Have you ever experienced your laptop or desktop computers have flickering screen right from the machine is turned on. It becomes more obvious on the Windows screen especially when running heavy application programs i.e. Antivirus scan. At first glance i was thinking this could be a monitor or the cable defects, but that is not the case after testing it on my laptop. The monitor and the cable work perfectly without any sign of flickers.

But when the monitor is re-connected to the desktop integrated graphic card the flicker instantly appear again and it become worst (totally distorted) if connected to the additional PCI-E graphic card module. In addition the CPU usage also influence the intensity of the flickers. These indication confirmed there must be other causes to this problem.


In order to find out the root cause of the flicker I have diagnosed the following.

1. CPU heats up
2. BIOS Virus
3. Graphic card drivers
4. Motherboard Defect

Although the graphic card could be the most compelling sign of faulty but i could not tested it because there is only one desktop computer. So the additional Graphic card was removed and the monitor connected to the integrated graphic card of the motherboard. Then the troubleshoot was initiated with the CPU - during the test it shows that when opening applications especially heavy software like Anti-virus the flicker is starting to get more intense. The performance shows the CPU usage and heats starting to rise drastically up to 100%. This indicates the CPU heats could be the root cause. But still we are not sure until, after cleaning the heat-sink and add more thermal paste to the processor the problem still remains as it is.

Then move on to the BIOS virus - Not really sure if there is anything called BIOS "virus" but anyway I have run Kaspersky boot scan and updated the BIOS ROM software to the latest. The result still no sign of improvement. Consequently I've uninstalled the graphic cards driver from Windows and Re-install new one. Although I know this is quite illogical as the flicker happens right from the start but it was done just in case it could be related. But as expected this does not work at all.






Leaving nothing else to check, I look for the CMOS setup screen and found that the Date/Time has been reset and the hard-disk boot detected some weird characters instead of the Hard disk attached to the motherboard. By then i am quite convinced the motherboard is faulty, it could be components that is related to the graphic card although i am not quite sure what it is. This is because when using the additional graphic card the screen becomes totally distorted but using the integrated motherboard graphic still flicker (not distorted) influenced by the CPU usage

So I've got a new motherboard to replace it and re-used every single existing components that have i.e. Processor, RAMs, Graphic cards. The computer screen is now back to normal no more flicker even from when the PC is turned-on until Windows or running any application software.