GPD Pocket 2: Dolphin Emulator on Ubuntu & Win10 comparison (Mario Sunshine and Twilight Princess)

Gaming Jan 14, 2019

I wanted to see how Dolphin's performance on the GPD Pocket 2 compares between it running on Ubuntu 18.10 and Windows 10. The results aren't as clear-cut as I originally had hoped they might be. Let's take a look.

GPD Pocket 2: Dolphin Emulator on Ubuntu & Win10 comparison (Mario Sunshine and Twilight Princess) video on YouTube

I apologize that you cannot see the actual framerates during gameplay. The text is just way too small for that and I don’t have any means to capture the screen directly. I do hope you’ll be able to get a good feel for the performance by watching the gameplay footage in the video above.

The results are.. inconclusive?

Super Mario Sunshine seems to perform better on Ubuntu, with zero hiccups or noticeable slowdowns. Over on Windows on the other hand there were at least two major hiccups that completely froze the game for a split second. Other than those hiccups though performance was good, so perhaps those moments were cases of shader caching causing a ruckus, but whatever caused it, they were  quite the big stutters, which never happened over on the Ubuntu build.

Twilight Princess, paints a different picture; There are constant slowdowns on Ubuntu. Not full-on pauses in gameplay, but persistent slow-downs that lower framerate substantially.

Over on Windows the game performs very well, without any noticeable slowdowns and even audio performing perfectly without hiccups or stutters from what I could hear. However, there is a weird bug of some kind that causes a square with some random color like pink or green to flicker in and out, seemingly at random. I have not noticed this in Super Mario Sunshine so it might be specific to Twilight Princess, though I have yet to try other games to verify this.

Perhaps the lower performance is an issue with the Vulkan or Intel graphics drivers on Ubuntu. Or perhaps a different shader caching setting might resolve or otherwise reduce these slowdowns. But in my tests I was not able to get it to run as smoothly as it did on Windows. Do note that I have only tested using Vulkan thusfar. While I don't think OpenGL would perform any better on integrated graphics, I could be very wrong about that, so it's definitely worth giving this a try.

The GPD Pocket 2 running Dolphin on Ubuntu 18.10, with an 8Bitdo SF30 Pro controller on the side.

These tests ran on a GPD Pocket 2 that has 8GB of RAM and an Intel m3-8100Y CPU with Intel UHD 615 Integrated Graphics. Both Windows 10 as-well as Ubuntu 18.10 were fully up-to-date and running the latest Dolphin master builds as of the recording of this footage. I used Vulkan and the Asynchronous Ubershader option on both operating systems. I also disabled WiFi on both operating systems during recording to reduce possible background activity, and no other software was running other than OS defaults.

What do you think of the results? Is there anything I should try that might improve performance or otherwise reduce slowdowns/hiccups? I am still absolutely impressed that these games even run like this on such a tiny device. Massive kudos must go out to the Dolphin developers for all the hard work they have put in over the years to bring the GameCube and Wii emulator where it is now.

I hope this video helps those of you who might have been curious about this very subject. If you have any ideas that might improve performance, please leave a comment over at YouTube, or ping me on Twitter. Thank you!