Emulator console


Retro game fanatic
Oct 3, 2008
Fort Knox, KY. USA
TLDR; take a lower power small form factor pc with a sole purpose in life to be console emulation.

So I officially started my project over the weekend. I've had the idea for several years now, I wanted to make a gaming console that emulated other gaming consoles. I know this is currently possible with the Wii and Xbox and PS3, all to certain extents but all the available software for it was generally crappy and less than perfectly emulation, leaves an incredible amount to be desired in the overall compatibility and fluid UI. It forces you with half assed controller options, using only officially supported controllers that are maybe non-ideal for the current game that is played. So what I did may seem kind of like a "well duh, what's so great about that option" but I don't really hear much about it outside of gaming cabinets and arcade machines and stuff like that.

First I found a form factor computer that I liked


It's the ASUS CS5111-AP007 in case anyone wants to follow along at home. Cost me about 400 I'm sure you can find one cheaper on ebay or get something similar

reasons why I chose it.

+looks kinda like the newest xbox 360

+small (size of xbox 360)

+built in hdmi port

+extremely quite (almost non-audible)

+quazi beefy specs for price (2.5Ghz dual core 64 bit, 4gb ram, Intel Gma X3500 GPU)

+built in 750GB HDD

+front facing USB ports

Find a good frontend software for emulators. I chose hyperspin for those who aren't in the know it's an arcade cabinet themed emulator frontend.



hyperspin, while not extremely hard to setup is a pain in the ass to find the correct roms for the naming convention and crc hashes, look for the "no-intro" sets as a word of advice. If you don't you're in for hours of .xml editing and that sucks... a lot. Most of the default emulators don't specifically work right out of the box and you have to configure each emulator to the specific joypad you are using. If you have one controller then that's no problem, but if you are like me and want to be able to plug in 2-3 different types of usb controllers you might need a joypad->keyboard program. I would highly suggest the use of this program.



I used windows 7 as my OS as I'm the most familiar with it, and believe it or not, after testing I found the best hardware compatibility and more mature emulators with windows. Plus hyperspin is also windows only and closed source, and native support xbox controller and configuring my hdmi output did just work, that helped a bit with that decision.

anyway, after a couple hours of tweaking settings and hours filling up my HDD with all my roms and cd rips I have a 80% complete console emulator console that turns on about as fast as my xbox, plays at 1080p output and is capable of emulating everything from a comadore64 up to a ps2, I haven't tried the wii emulator on it yet but given it's gpu I think that's just a tad past where I have to draw the line.

I plugged it all up, I have the power brick plugged into the wall, 1 hdmi going from my "console" to my TV and 1 conroller cable sticking out the front, it boots, goes straight into hyperspin. I plug in the controller I want to use, choose my console, choose my game. Then boom I'm gaming, very quick, and it "just works" It's on my tv, it fits my screen without being distorted, if you have the usb version of the original controller, it feels exactly like it did when you were a kid playing on your tv. It's a pretty magical experience if you ask me.

if you have any similar projects let me know, I'd love to hear some advice or similar stories.

Last edited by a moderator:
That´s funny, I did the exact same thing with an old eeepc with a broken screen (hyperspin & everything), although it wasn´t powerful enough to run anything more than snes era consoles. I actually took it apart for the battery cells for another project the other day. Good luck with your project, and if you need any help I might be able to assist.
Like it :) I've been thinking of doing basically the same thing for a while too, but I think the Pandora may be good enough in this role for me so I'm gonna hold off and see how that goes. Although this would also be awesome as a media centre too...

I use Joy2Key with Ubuntu and can second that recommendation.
I have a selfbuild arcadecab, that I use MALA Frontend with. I found this easier to setup and everything works like intended.

If there is interest, I can put up some pictures or videos.
I have an Asrock Ion which I'm running as my media center pc using XBMC. I have XBMC set up to also function as emulator front-end. Gives it quite a console-ish feeling.

Ok, the Atom is not the most beefy processor in the world and not too great for high-end emulation, but the classics work like a charm.
I know someone who recently stripped an old desktop machine just put iTunes on it, to use as a media center just for music and films. He might like this suggestion of a couple emus too.

I don't know about hyperspin I'll check the vid, I guess it'd s front end app to boot up any of the emus you installed[?]

Sounds good stuff though, i have my iPhone emu with tvout/wiimote and couple emus running on my PS3s otherOS with a PS3 looking USB controller, otherwise I'd be looking to do this myself. Prob runs better your method though probably more power and as you say, better build emus for Windows.

As I read the first few lines I was thinking to myself "niiice, but prob boots up a bit slow" - glad to read on that it doesn't.

Mcobit I'd like to see a vid or pics of this cabinet if neh trouble, is it painted or stickered up nice? I'd have probably just as much fun as playing the games in painting the cabinet, would probably paint it with dif old skool game themes reguarly too

i'd like to try my hand at building a cabinet, is yours pretty much same inside then? A pc resting on shelf in there somewhere, connected to a monitor showing through the display, with an arcade joystick/buttons connected up?

Just thinking about how I could do it, I'm wondering how the arcade stick/buttons connect to a pc, guess they not got USB ports and it's some modding? And how you get the windows OS to just start up and load the emu straight away, without having to see the windows desktop and clicking icons first - but I guess that's what these frontend s/w does?

The idea of having one has popped up in my mind for nearly a couple decades now, but never seriously thought of building one and the cabinets are too much money pre built, if the arcade stick/buttons ain't too much I think I might well start a project in my living room
I was going to look into something like this when the new Zotac ZBOX Blu-ray AD03 came out partly because I don't have blu-ray yet and partly because it has the new AMD APU processor.

For something that sits next to the TV and is for playing video and emulating old systems I wonder if a Pandoraboard is enough though. Still waiting on XBMC and a few emulators to be ported to that though.
Well, for my emulation needs in the living room I use my Wii. I don't tend to emulate anything beyond SNES/Mega Drive so the Wii suits my needs. The only problem I am facing is a way to emulate N64 in my living room...
[…] The only problem I am facing is a way to emulate N64 in my living room...
If you own a PS3, there is still hope with the new modified firmware.

There are already SNES, GBA, Mega Drive/Genesis and some others consoles emulators that have been signed.

Who knows, PS3 may even become a full-fledged linux computer not long from now. (if we get proper drivers)