PS3 games look incredible when upscaled to 4K using this emulator

By Cal Jeffrey · 19 replies
Oct 11, 2017
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  1. If you have not heard of RPCS3, I won't blame you. I hadn't heard of it until today and for good reason. RPCS3 is an open-source PlayStation 3 emulator for Windows and Linux. Since I still have my PS3, I have no need for an emulator, so I have never gone looking. What drew my attention to it today, however, was the addition of 4K support.

    I initially thought that I wouldn't be impressed. I have seen side-by-side comparisons of 4K upscaling on literally dozens of console games and have consistently been underwhelmed. The improvements usually amount to a sharpening of the picture and removal of some of the jaggies but these upgrades are barely noticeable when you are sitting 10 feet from the screen. At the end of it all, you're still looking at low-res textures in high-definition.

    So when I fired up the video above, I was expecting the usual. What I got was something that genuinely impressed me. The improvements to Yakuza 4 (1:24) were particularly remarkable. Seeing this made me want to play through some of my favorite games on RPCS3.

    The new rendering options can actually support up to 10K on most PS3 games. Of course, few rigs (if any) could take advantage of gaming in 10K.

    "We doubt many users will have the setup necessary to benefit from 10k today," said the developers. "Emulation is all about preserving for tomorrow."

    Red Dead Redemption rendered at 3840×2160. (Image via RPCS3, scaled down to 1680x945)

    The results in the video were achieved using RPCS3's 4K rendering and 16x anisotropic filtering (AF) capabilities. Best of all, game performance does not even take a hit with the increased resolution.

    "All processing is done CPU side, and as far as the GPU is concerned it is simply rendering 2006 era graphics (yes, the PS3 is 11 years old now). We’re happy to report that anyone with a dedicated graphics card that has Vulkan support can expect identical performance at 4k."

    The reason that the difference is so remarkable is that PS3 games already have high-resolution assets. It's just that on the PS3 hardware, those assets were compressed to run in 720p giving up detail and resolution. RPCS3 unleashes those textures as they were meant to be seen. In the part of the video showcasing Demon's Souls, you can see the chainmail go from a mottled grey smearing to detail great enough to distinguish individual links in the chain.

    "High resolution rendering is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to improving graphics quality," said developers.

    The RPCS3 team is working on adding custom anti-aliasing, texture scaling algorithms and possibly patches for specific games, all in an effort to make the PS3 offerings look their best. I, for one, will be interested to watch this emulator evolve. You can download RPCS3 here.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Thanks for the tip about this emulator. I have just about every emulator I've found on my rig...except this. I think I read about it once but figured my rig wouldn't be able to handle it (Radeon RX460)
  3. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 2,973   +1,397

    I can only say wow. Great work from the devs.
  4. BTW if anyone is interested, DO NOT change the name of the PS3 Firmware file when downloading. The Emulator won't recognize it (it didn't for me at least). Also, the compatibility list of games isn't huge and if you DO find one that is compatible, good luck finding it to download. Even then it'll most likely be in multiple RAR files that need to be stitched together.
    Reehahs and Cal Jeffrey like this.
  5. Cal Jeffrey

    Cal Jeffrey TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,078   +266

    Thanks for the info.

    There's always a catch, isn't there?
  6. Reehahs

    Reehahs TS Guru Posts: 641   +371

    High server load is crashing their site.

    Their emulator is pretty amazing.
    Cal Jeffrey likes this.
  7. Funny enough, it seems like every emulator dealing with a Playstation system is VERY well optimized. PSP emulator is fantastic. The PS2 emulator is top-notch. And now this. Maybe its the popularity of the systems? I still wonder why they can't emulate the original Xbox.

    Like every good emulator, it'll take a while and lots of support to really establish a good quality emulator and ROMS. As for finding PS3 ISO's, I thought about it and they're scarce because A) A PS3 emulator is not yet popular and/or compatible and B) Some of the files are HUGE (BluRays and all). Still, exciting stuff for sure. :)

    Pretty much one of the main reasons I custom built my PC was to emulate and after hours and hours of research and tinkering, I finally got things the way I wanted them. Still learning too.
    Reehahs likes this.
  8. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,152   +1,174

    I've been screwing around with PCSX2, and it takes a surprising amount of power to emulate. I cant imagine the power needed to emulate a PS3 at 100% speed consistently.

    Still, quite exciting. I already have a significant PS3 library, and would love to play them upscaled to 4k.
    TBF, the PS2 emulator still has major performance issues, and it took 15 years to crack enough of the PS2 bios to reach 95% emulation support.

    The XBOX, from what ive read, is an even bigger PITA then the PS2, with multiple support chips to emulate and a OS architecture that is nothing like other consoles. Given that its most popular games outside of halo and forza were multi-platform titles, and the relative popularity of the PS2, its no surprise to me that the xbox isnt emulated well yet.
    Reehahs likes this.
  9. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,938   +1,102

    Emulators have been doing this for 10+ years.
    You can pump of the visuals much higher then the original version, heck some even offer high-rez textures, AA, and other features.
    Project64 makes Start Fox 64 look like a whole new game.
    With Dolphin I run Gamecube games, its amazing how good these games look when pumped up.

    Edit: I have SNES, N64 and Gamecube USB controllers too that work perfectly with the emulators, joysticks and all...they are actually very accurate.
  10. Reehahs

    Reehahs TS Guru Posts: 641   +371

    It is interesting to see that non-exclusive and simple games are easier to emulate.
  11. Stoly

    Stoly TS Rookie

    It seems the main reason the xbox not being emulated is lack of interest. Today there's cxbx but you really can't do much with it. Before that, there was Dxbx which could run Turok IIRC, but development just stopped.

    What's surprising is there's a Xbox360 emulator that already plays many commercial games while Cxbx is still in initial state.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
    Reehahs likes this.
  12. dispo

    dispo TS Rookie

    Haven't been able to get an answer to this, but does anyone know if this emulator can also scale to 1080p? I know it won't be the same quality, but 720 to 1080 would still be a nice jump in quality.
    Cal Jeffrey likes this.
  13. pencea

    pencea TS Addict Posts: 128   +78

    Same, though I wish there was a fully functional original Xbox emulator that can play all its games.
  14. Aaaaaand I will look into this 360 emulator you mention :)

    I guess this is where a person like me says "but the original xbox had an x86 processor and MUST'VE used some form of Windows so shouldn't it be compatible? Also, I've only had two games not perform well on my rig but I got them to work great by tinkering with the graphical settings (bunch of tricks to get more performance) and putting the game on my SSD. <---THIS. I've noticed huge differences when playing some games on my SSD rather than my back mechanical hard drive.
    Reehahs likes this.
  15. J spot

    J spot TS Addict Posts: 189   +105

    I remember back in 2003 or so reading about an X-Box emulator, and every once in a while I would look into if there was any progress. The issue seems to be legal, because MAME won't do anything related to the X-Box because of its CPU, an x86. I think it has something to do with Intel.

    A top video game system is not going to find itself not having an emulator due to lack of interest.
  16. ForgottenLegion

    ForgottenLegion TS Maniac Posts: 218   +217

    I see you're new to this.

    All you do is open the first rar file and extract. Just extract the files. 'Stitching' is done automatically.
  17. padajuan

    padajuan TS Rookie

    A ps3 emulator. First thought: ITS APRIL?!?!?
  18. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,214   +482

    I've actually been using a FAT60 PS3 with a modded firmware to rip my original PS3 media and then use those files to play at higher resolutions in this emulator. This has been working for a while now but there are many titles that still won't play. Keep an eye out though as the compatibility list is growing a lot faster now than it was in the past.

  19. Sorry yeah. I realized my mistake the moment I typed it but just didn't bother to change it.
  20. Cal Jeffrey

    Cal Jeffrey TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,078   +266

    It can scale to whatever resolution you want up to 10K. You can even scale down if you need to for some reason. The settings screen will have two settings regarding resolution. One simply says "Resolution." Leave that set to 1280×720.

    The other setting is called "Resolution Scale." This setting takes a percentage. Native resolution is 100%. To downscale you would enter something less than 100%, say 50% for half the resolution (640x360). Likewise, you use higher percentages to upscale. So 200% would set it at twice native resolution (2560×1440) and so on. Doing the simple math you would need to set Scaling to 150% to get 1920x1080.
    dispo likes this.

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