RetroArch: bad performance on a MacBook Pro

Javi Lavandeira

Posted 2 months ago


I'm looking into RetroArch because I'm not happy with the rendering under openMSX. Concretely, I'm not happy about:

  1. Its fake scanline effect
  2. The fact that I can't record video from the emulator in high definition, and that the video recorded doesn't have any kind of output filter applied anyway (such as the scanlines)

This is what I mean about the rendering: the left half of the image is a screenshot from openMSX with rendered scanlines. The right side is RetroArch with the Lottes shader. Note that it accurately emulates the RGB triplets on a CRT display:

This is a problem because I use openMSX to take screenshots and videos for the reviews here. The biggest annoyance is recording video: I have to use QuickTime Player to do a screen recording of the window running the emulator, and I need to use Loopback to be able to even record the audio.

Needless to say, this is not a good solution.

I've installed RetroArch to address this. The configuration is a pain in the ass, but I managed to get it running. It runs fine without any display filters (though the pixels look like bricks). However, if I enable any shader the framerate drops and it becomes unusable.

Do I need a more powerful machine (or GPU) for this, or is there something wrong with my settings?

This is the machine I'm currently using:


Try toggling between full / windowed

Or, try setting the hard GPU framesync setting to 1 if it's 0.

Or 0 if it's 1.

Looks like the problem was that I was looking at the frame rate in the graphical menu, without actually running any game. I followed your instructions without actually changing any settings, and now it works just fine, both in the menu and while running a game. This is what I did:

  • Switched from windowed to full window. Framerate fell from ~40 FPS to ~15 (in the menu screen, without actually running any game)
  • Switched back from full window to windowed. Framerate went back to ~40 FPS.
  • Tried to open a game. Pressed ESC by mistake and the emulator closed.
  • Ran the emulator again. Now the animated background in the menu runs very smooth (windowed).
  • Tried switching to full screen. Still smooth at about ~50 FPS.
  • Launched a game. Runs smooth at 60 FPS.

Looks like whatever it was, closing the emulator and opening it again reset something and it's now fine:

Now to find out how to take screenshots and how to record video from RetroArch.

Thanks! :-)

Ok, I'm able to reproduce the performance problem. It's the dual display.

When I'm at home my MacBook Pro is plugged to a 27" display. Most of the time I'm using both the laptop's display and the external one. However, when I need space on the desk I close the laptop and put it out of the way, using only the external display.

Using only one display (either the built-in or the external one) performance is perfect. No issues in this case.

It's only when I'm using both displays that performance drops, regardless of the settings.

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