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PCSX2 screenshot july 2014.png
Screenshot of PCSX2 1.2.1 running on Windows 8.1
Original author(s) Linuzappz, Shadow
Developer(s) PCSX2 Team
Initial release March 23, 2002; 13 years ago (2002-03-23)
Stable release 1.2.1 / February 2, 2014; 19 months ago (2014-02-02)
Development status Active
Written in C++, C
Operating system Windows, Linux, OS X
Platform IA-32
Available in 22 languages
Type Video game console emulator
License GNU General Public License
Website pcsx2.net

PCSX2 is a free and open-source PlayStation 2 emulator for Windows, Linux and OS X.


PCSX2, like its predecessor project PCSX (a PlayStation emulator), is based on a PSEmu Pro spec plug-in architecture, separating several functions from the core emulator. These are the graphics, audio, input controls, CD/DVD drive, and USB and FireWire (i.LINK) ports. Different plug-ins may produce different results in both compatibility and performance. Additionally, PCSX2 requires a copy of the PS2 BIOS, which is not available for download from the developers, due to the copyright concerns and legal issues associated with it. At present, PCSX2 is not compatible with PlayStation games. PSX games can be played by using GSdx with a PlayStation emulator such as PCSX or ePSXe.

The main bottleneck in PS2 emulation is emulating the multi-processor PS2 on the PC x86 architecture. Although each processor can be emulated well on its own, accurately synchronizing them is very difficult.


Development of PCSX2 began in 2001 by Linuzappz and Shadow, who were programmers for the PlayStation emulator PCSX-Reloaded. Other programmers later joined the team, and their first accomplishment was to get simple homebrew running. Subsequently, they started to try to get genuine PS2 software running. Many revisions later and with lots of plug-in development, the PCSX2 team managed to get some games into loading screen, and even in-game footage for other games. The team then started working on emulating the PlayStation 2's BIOS, which proved to be extremely difficult to accomplish. The team got the BIOS to run, although it was slow and graphically distorted.

After that, the team started to focus on implementing missing parts of the emulator and replacing hacks with correct emulation as they started to understand those areas. The implementation of the first recompiler was made by Goldfinger and improved speed greatly compared to the older interpreter. These improvements slowly increased the speed and compatibility of PCSX2. Zerofrog later joined the team and developed the ZeroGS and ZeroSPU2 plug-ins. He also rewrote the VU and EE recompilers, which led to huge speed boosts in version 0.9.1, which was released in July 2006.

During summer 2007, GiGaHeRz managed to get the Netplay working. In 2008, Zerofrog left the team, and minor changes were made to the emulator by the two remaining programmers, Refraction and Saqib, to keep the project alive. After the release of 0.9.4 in November 2007, Gabest significantly updated the GSdx plug-in and improved its speed. In February 2009, new programmers were enlisted to work on the emulator. PCSX2 0.9.8 was released in May 2011 and featured an overhauled GUI written with wxWidgets that improved compatibility for Linux and newer Windows operating systems, the addition of a new VU recompiler that brought better compatibility, a memory card editor, an overhaul of the SPU2-X audio plug-in, and numerous other improvements and bugfixes. The SPU2-X plug-in was updated in June 2011 to improve emulation of the PS2's audio.[1]


The current development version is reported to be compatible with around 94.73% of the currently 2,562 tested games.[2] Compatibility only means that the game won't crash, lock up or enter a loop, so there can be bugs, missing post-processing effects,[3] textures and shadows in many compatible games. This is especially the case in hardware mode (many games require hacks to avoid bugs). If the bugs are impossible to work around, it is advised to use software mode (however, software mode is almost always significantly slower due to it only using the CPU for emulation). This is particularly the case in games that use mipmapping on textures, such as Ratchet & Clank, Jak and Daxter and Crash Bandicoot. Mipmapping is unimplemented in hardware mode,[4] and there is currently no way to work around it except to use software mode. Hardware mode also does not have properly working texture cache.[5]


PCSX2 supports save states and dynamic recompilation (JIT).

Graphical improvements (GSdx Plugin)[edit]

  • Option to increase internal resolution (only in hardware mode)
  • Antialiasing: FXAA, MSAA (only in hardware mode) and Edge-AA (only in software mode)
  • Post-Processing Pixel Shaders (toggle F7/Home/Page Up)
  • Mipmapping (toggle with Insert key, but only in software mode; required for correct functioning of some games, like the Jak series)
  • Bilinear filtering
  • Anisotropic filtering
  • Texture filtering
  • Widescreen hacks


Several plug-ins are currently being further developed, for performance and compatibility enhancements.

Name Subsystem Notes
GSdx Video The fastest, most accurate graphics plug-in. Requires Direct3D or OpenGL support and optionally uses a GPU. GSdx plugin is compatible with PSX emulators but is limited to software rendering with them. There also exists an unofficial ToCAEDIT[6] version and the GSdx-Cutie version.[7]
GSdx FX Video Post-processing shader pack for GSdx plugin.
ZZogl Video A less optimized graphics plug-in that uses Open GL. Compatible with Linux and Windows. This plugin is fork of ZeroGS KOSMOS plugin.
SPU2-X Audio The most accurate sound plug-in.
SSSPSX Pad Input A simple input plug-in.
LilyPad Input An advanced input plug-in that supports keyboards, mice, and controllers.
Nuvee Input An input plug-in that supports lightguns and USB mice.
TwinPad Input Another keyboard and mouse plug-in.
XPad Input A Xbox 360 controller input plug-in.
CDVD Optical A simple optical media plug-in that runs games from optical discs.
Linuz ISO CDVD Optical A plug-in which has the ability to compress ISO images.
Dev9 Hard drive Handles PS2 hard disk drive and ethernet emulation.
MegaDev9 Hard drive A more advanced version of Dev9. Currently, it only partially emulates the PS2 hard drive.
Netplay Netplay A plug-in which allows certain games to be playable multiplayer over the internet.
System requirements
Minimum Recommended
Microsoft Windows
Operating system Windows XP x86 or higher Windows 7 x64 or Windows 8.1 x64
CPU SSE2 support, Pentium 4 and up, Athlon64 and up. Modern quad-core CPU. Intel i5-2400 or AMD FX-8350 or higher.
Memory 2 GB RAM or more.
Graphics hardware Pixel Shader 2.0 Modern DirectX 11 GPU.

Hardware requirements[edit]

Hardware requirements are largely game-dependent, although the performance bottleneck in most cases is the CPU rather than the GPU. This is especially the case in software mode, in which only the CPU is used for emulation. In hardware mode, the GPU emulates the graphics, but can still be a bottleneck if the internal resolution is set too high. Some games may also run slower due to unoptimized graphics code or weak video cards.


PCSX2 has been very well received. Matthew Humphries of Geek.com described it as "an impressive piece of work".[8] Alex Garrett of PC World criticized the difficulty of setting up PCSX2 but called it a "masterpiece".[9] Although he also criticized the complexity, David Hayward of Micro Mart called it "technically amazing".[10] Sriram Gurunathan of In.com described PCSX2 as "arguably the most popular emulator around" and named it as one of the site's Top 5 Emulators.[11] Brandon Widder of Digitaltrends.com included PCSX2 on his Best Emulators article[12] John Corpuz of Tom's Guide mentioned PCSX2 on his Best PlayStation Emulators for PCs article stating "when it comes to stable, playable Playstation 2 emulation, PCSX2 is pretty much the best game in town at the moment".[13]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]