HTPC STYLE SETUP AT-A-GLANCE (WIP)
A popular question with newcomers is what kind of PC do they need. This largely depends on what exactly you want to emulate. The scope of which I cannot totally explain here but suffice to say, generally: the newer the system you want to emulate is, the beefier the PC you will want to have. Some further reading HERE.
My favorite system is the PS2 so I was hoping to include it in my rig. It seems to be hit or miss but I am unsure of how much of that is my system and how much is the emulation. What do I run? An AMD FX 8350. It's an eight core which may actually help PS2 emulation but I am not sure if there are very many emulators that actually utilize multi-threading. It runs at 4.00Ghz which is more important IMO. Whatever PC you are considering buying, always take the one with higher clock speed. My graphics is an R7 200 series. Not a powerhouse by any means but I have been impressed with how it handles most stuff.
Once you know what your emulation expectations are, you can look at hard drives. First I would suggest you buy the biggest SSD you can afford. They have the fastest access times so Windows itself should be installed on it. What else you will want to fit on there will depend on how big it is. The Roms/CD images can all go on HDD's even an external since most games will be loaded into memory and run from there not the HDD. But HS (and RL) and all it's artwork/videos should be on SSD since you will accessing them very quickly as you scroll the wheel. This can be quite large. My HS folder is 80GB at the moment. That doesn't include RL media like bezels/pause/move lists/fades. That doesn't include any games. No emulators. Just HS videos and images. Don't get me wrong HS can be run just fine from USB drive especially if it is 3.0. As a matter of fact that's how I'm doing it! Ideally you would get better performance from SSD though.
At this point, if you are building an actual cabinet, you may want to follow a different guide. I have no idea if setting up the hardware is similar or what may be different from what I have been doing. My goal is a simple, fully controllable with 2x XBox360 joysticks, rig hooked to my "50 TV.
Keep it clean! Don't just install everything into the HS folder. Everything should be in it's own folder. This isn't just an OCD thing. Keeping things separate allows you to update any one component without having to reconfigure a lot of paths later. I have these 5 folders in the root of my drive:
Pretty self explanatory except for the Utilities folder. I used this folder for the original install files for anything that I downloaded/installed during my setup process. This included HS, RL, HyperSync, Emumovies Sync, and things like .net framework, visual C runtimes, JoyToKey, DTLite, 360 drivers... The idea being that after setup is complete, you can copy/move this folder to another location and heaven forbid anything happens to your system, you won't have to visit 100 sites and re-get all this stuff. Setup would go rather quick!
The latest database (xml) around here is usually based off the latest Mame version. Therefore you must use the latest Mame release! If you wish to use an older version of Mame, you can try to create your own xml but it will probably be missing the metadata info (publisher/year/ect.) that's included in the official databases. Maybe someone on the forum is using an older version that can share their xml??? This is a major drawback of the current database system IMO.
Basically, all three: XML+Mame Version+Mame Romset have to match. You can try to mix and match but some games may work, some may not, All depends on what has been renamed/moved/changed between releases.
- I think actual arcade joysticks are hooked up to their own keyboard encoder, But if you want to use a regular xbox360 or PS3 joystick then you'll want a "direct input" version of mame. Also, the native joystick controls in HS do NOT work! There are a few options here and if you are adept with writing scripts you can probably accomplish what you want for free. (I think there is a startup script here somewhere already) Keymappers like xpadder and joytokey are relatively cheap though and with full RL support can make things way easier. I chose joytokey and couldn't be happier.
*Rinse and repeat
- Adding more systems (nes, snes, gba, etc) is much the same. Just make sure to setup things in order. First make sure you can load, play, and exit in your emulator. Then make sure you can load, play and exit from RL's audit page. Then finally loading in HS, making any tweaks that may be necessary.
** Make visual/aesthetic changes
- No link because there is no one good place to do this. HyperSync and an EmuMovies account will make getting the videos a whole lot easier but all the best fine tuning stuff has to be searched for!