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Series S vs Steam Deck for PS2 emulation?

I've been wanting to get into PS2 emulation for a while, and it seems like now might be the time. I've got a PS5, but Sony's new Gamepass competitor doesn't seem like it will allow individual purchase of games, which is a dealbreaker for me, so I'm going to pick up an emulation device. The obvious choices seem to be the Series S and the Steam Deck - if there's some other device I should be considering feel free to let me know.

PS2 emulation seems good on both systems, as does Gamecube/Wii. The Steam Deck obviously has the portability factor, plus access to the Steam library. The Series S has access to the modern Xbox library (essentially all of which is also on Steam and/or PS5) as well as a lot of 360 games (a lot of which are also on Steam, though perhaps not with Steam Deck compatibility?).

I've got a few questions:

1. Is the SSD worth the $130+ price premium for the Steam Deck? I've seen a lot of people say that performance from SD card is comparable even for more modern games. I've already got a PS5, so my Steam Deck would only be for emulation and the occasional PC/Xbox exclusive. Can I get any old SD card off Amazon or is there a particular variety I should be looking out for to maximize performance?

2. A lot of the Steam games I'd be most interested in playing are older games without solid controller support (think Dragon Age Origins) or with generally unproven Steam Deck compatibility. My hunch is that the community will wind up creating mods to get a lot of these games working on Steam Deck eventually - is that naïve?

3. I've heard various conflicting things about how easy it is to do emulation on the Series S. For example, some people say you have to use dev mode, some people say you don't. Some people say PS2 emulation is hampered by a 2GB limit on applications, some people say it isn't. What's the actual deal?

Any other advice you might have welcome.
 

Beechos

Member
I gave up on series emulation. Trying to configure and navigate retroarch with a controller is not fun. At least with the steam deck theres touchscreen. Ill stick to pc for any emulation.
 

ParaSeoul

Member
If you have a high end phone you can emulate gamecube,ps2,wii and even the switch (although thats still not 100% optimized yet)
 

01011001

Gold Member
you don't need dev mode, that hasn't been a requirement for ages

navigate to the link above on the browser of your Xbox of choice, and download the emulators you want.
 
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ACESHIGH

Member
Retroarch is nice and all but its way behind on core updates. For the high end systems (PS2 and above) its better to stick to standalone emulators. Hell I can't even make Sega CD and Saturn games work on the phone version of Retroarch.

Mobile phone emulation is underrated AF currently. It has made significant strides lately. And everyone has a decent phone these days, so it comes at no additional cost. Pop in a 30 USD controller and you are golden.
 

GHG

Member
Steam Deck or a SFF PC.

If you want emulation then you want the flexibility of being able to have full control of an operating system.
 

rofif

Gold Member
So the SSD models of the Steam Deck aren't really worth the additional cost? Micro SD is about as performant?
I am trying to decide myself haha.
The 512gb model have anti glare MATTE screen. People love this but I personally loathe matte screen. I prefer clear reflection to a blob.
256gb version has nvme drive and glossy screen.
64gb version has emmc storage and glossy screen.

All have the same SSD slot(internal) and all work with SD cards.
It is supposedly true that SD cards are just as performant as internal storage... so 64gb model + 512gb sd card is still cheaper even than 256gb model. So why overpay?
 
I am trying to decide myself haha.
The 512gb model have anti glare MATTE screen. People love this but I personally loathe matte screen. I prefer clear reflection to a blob.
256gb version has nvme drive and glossy screen.
64gb version has emmc storage and glossy screen.

All have the same SSD slot(internal) and all work with SD cards.
It is supposedly true that SD cards are just as performant as internal storage... so 64gb model + 512gb sd card is still cheaper even than 256gb model. So why overpay?
Yeah that's what I've been thinking. But I see that something like 70% of Steam Deck sales are for the 512gb model so it's like what am I missing? Or is it just early adopters spending more money for nothing
 

BigBooper

Gold Member
With regards to storage on the Steam deck, if you get the 64gb and have a 1tb drive with a bunch of steam games installed on it, the shader cache for those games will use up a lot of the space on your 64gb drive. Maybe not a problem if you're almost entirely doing emulation.

Never tried retroarch on xbox so can't comment.
 

keefged4

Neo Member
PCSX2 & Dolphin on Retroarch using a series s is a bit of a pain to use, its really not worth the hassle in my experience. Its really unstable and comes with a lot of limitations. Steam deck is your best bet, or you might want to consider something like this: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/odin-the-ultimate-gaming-handheld/x/2622521#/

I've got an Odin Pro and it plays the majority of the PS2 and Gamecube's Libraries flawlessly. plus stave states etc, all the bells and whistles inlcuded. Really impressed with it.
 

CrustyBritches

Gold Member
Yeah that's what I've been thinking. But I see that something like 70% of Steam Deck sales are for the 512gb model so it's like what am I missing? Or is it just early adopters spending more money for nothing
The preorders came before the teardown and SD card vs internal storage comparison videos. My thought process was I wanted the largest, fastest storage for dual-boot, without having to open the unit.
 
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Calverz

Gold Member
If you download the latest version of retroarch on series consoles, dolphin is ready to go immediately. Just need the games to add. And it runs really well. Initially you might find a little stutter here and there but once the game hs loaded an asset for the first time, the stutter goes away.

PCSX2 involves finding some files first before it will work. From my experience ps2 could be hit or miss. Dolphin runs much better.

You can then download duckstation for ps1. It’s amazing and literally perfect. The geometry and perspective correction is insane.

I can’t speak for steam deck as havent got mine yet.
 

jshackles

Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the capability to make the world's first enhanced store. Steam will be that store. Better than it was before.
I personally prefer the Steam Deck because a) Retroarch on Steam supports cloud saves - meaning my save files are backed up to the Steam Cloud and can be played on other connected devices and b) portability

PSCX2 is a bit of a pain to set up in Retroarch on the Steam Deck, but it was totally worth it.
 
I've got an Odin Pro and it plays the majority of the PS2 and Gamecube's Libraries flawlessly. plus stave states etc, all the bells and whistles inlcuded. Really impressed with it.
Oh interesting, I didn't realize the Odin was so good at PS2 emulation. I had watched some video reviews and they seemed sort of negative about the PS2 capabilities. But I guess the emulator has gotten better with time?
 

keefged4

Neo Member
Oh interesting, I didn't realize the Odin was so good at PS2 emulation. I had watched some video reviews and they seemed sort of negative about the PS2 capabilities. But I guess the emulator has gotten better with time?
I assumed that too, it doesn't have the raw power available compared to the series s or the Steam Deck, but it can manage 2x resolution on just about everything I've thrown at it full speed. Aether SX2 is a really impressive emulator.
 

Boy bawang

Member
Retroarch is nice and all but its way behind on core updates. For the high end systems (PS2 and above) its better to stick to standalone emulators. Hell I can't even make Sega CD and Saturn games work on the phone version of Retroarch.

Mobile phone emulation is underrated AF currently. It has made significant strides lately. And everyone has a decent phone these days, so it comes at no additional cost. Pop in a 30 USD controller and you are golden.

Have you been able to emulate N64? I have a raspberry pi4 and lots of games are unplayable, such as Ganbare Goemon.
 

FStubbs

Member
Pretty sure there are more PS2 games than Switch games. And you can actually buy Switch games. You can't buy Silent Hill 2m
Yeah, but that requires the Nintendo haters to buy underpowered hardware. How dare you. Nintendo games are to be emulated on real hardware.
 
S

SpongebobSquaredance

Unconfirmed Member
Many games run poor, have graphical issues or just outright don't work.

You really need a PC for quality PS2, Wii, and to a lesser extent N64.
Most PS2 games I've tried worked pretty good, only one didn't work at all. With Gamecube the compatibility is even better. PS2 emulation on Xbox Series S definitely isn't perfect, but still good.
 

Ozriel

Member
If you’re going with the Steam Deck, Buy The smallest size $399 version. I’ve got money put down for the 256gb version, but if I knew the SSD was easily replaceable, I’d have gone with the 64gb version.
There’s compatible 512gb SSDs for little over $100 and user upgrade isn’t that hard.
 
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