Lakka on Pi2B, performance unexpectedly low

Edit: I forgot to mention I’m using Lakka 3.3, but noticed the performance issue already on a 2.x version (2.3 maybe? Not sure…). I can be wrong, but I think a nightly I tested around that timed performed slightly better, although this is probably not very useful. And the Recalbox version I’m referring to was 7.1.x, I think. I also thought about thermal throttling, but I never noticed a slowdown in other use cases. I use it as the bare board standing vertically and it never felt hot. Anyway, if I remember anything else I forgot, I’ll make sure to add it here as well.


Hey there, forum newbie here, with a possibly dumb question:

I’m relatively new to emulation run on other system than my phone (well, a little on PC long ago as well). I usually used well-established standalone emulator apps, mostly for SNES and GBA (patched/hacked ROMs).

I happened to buy a Raspberry Pi 2B some years ago which I mostly used for multimedia playback. Now I wanted to try RetroArch on on, which had me testing Retropie, Recalbox, Lakka, and Batocera. Overall, Lakka was my favorite UX-wise, but since I initially had some issues installing, I decided to stay on Recalbox until I finished playing my recent game.


When I installed Lakka again and set it up similarly to Recalbox, I noticed a big difference in performance. Both systems were equally overclocked with some overvoltage to provide the necessary juice (and ran stable for that matter). However, Recalbox ran mostly smooth, only with some crackling sound and seconds of lag during higher quality music and effects going off at the same time. But Lakka really struggles running the same game from the title screen. There is crackling sound and the FPS really tank, even with very little happening on screen.

The Pi already runs at 720p (usually integer scaled down) to accommodate its low performance, the power supply delivers 2A (it’s not a Pi 4 anyway) and its USB ports only have a small BT adapter and the monitor hub cable attached (keyboard and mouse get their power from the monitor). I also used all three cores (gpSP, VBA-M, mGBA) provided, with VBA-M performing the worst and the other two similarly better. Recalbox also used mGBA, IIRC. Both were installed on the same (barely used otherwise) SanDisk Extreme microSD, which also stores the games.


So yeah, long story short, Lakka runs the same game much slower at equal settings compared to Recalbox, which actually confuses me, given Lakka seems more simplistic (it’s “just enough OS” vs. Recalbox’ heavier package, right?)

(FWIW, I recall testing a Lakka nightly some months ago which may have performed better, but I doubt there’s now any usefulness in this particular info)


Has anyone else experienced similar issues, and maybe even found a solution? I don’t have too much games I could try, but should this even matter with similar to equal setups? (retesting systems would require multiple reinstalls on the same SD card, I guess… :/)


Many thanks to anyone for reading, I hope this can be figured out, since I really like Lakka’s simplistic approach. Also many thanks for having it developed in the first place.

Have a great day.

Yes this is something that started ocurring when Lakka updated the kernel (to 5.10 I believe) on 32 bit RPi images.

I don’t think there has been any progress in fixing this in Lakka, I would suggest using Raspberry Pi OS which should be ok (even with the latest kernel).

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Thanks for your response. If it’s the kernel, I might try to dig up an older version. If that runs fine, I possibly just stay there, as the PI is used offline anyway.

Running RetroArch on Raspberry Pi OS would imply a heavier load on the Pi, wouldn’t it? I have a Pi OS card already, but like to have a dedicated card for both. Maybe I reinstall one of the aforementioned Emulation Station distros again for the time being. I’m sure they perfectly fit other users with extensive game catalogs and such. But for me, Lakka is perfect for how lean it is.

I am thankful for such projects and feel bad about comparing them to each other by their issues. I sincerely don’t want to talk Lakka down. There could be a “fix” to bring performance on par with other distros in the future, right? (In case those run a similar kernel, which I’m not sure of tbh)

And I know the Pi2B is quite old, so it may also not be understated maintaining it until today. It can still perform, but personally I won’t run anything PSX and up up it.

You can make a really lean system from Raspberry Pi OS Lite (forgot the lite ) and build a custom Retroarch with unwanted features disabled. This is what I use on my Pi3.

You can private message me if you would like some tips.

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I appreciate the offer, maybe it’s worth looking into. But wouldn’t that result in a similar system to Retropie? I really like that Lakka has no extra frontend to it, so if I’d need something like Emulation Station, I wouldn’t enjoy it as much personally. (Edit: Oh, nevermind, I just found a similar project on GitHub, which explicitly states such a setup wouldn’t utilize ES.) Also, I’m not sure if my current skills would allow that without a tutorial, I still consider myself pretty much a noob on the technical side. I’ll keep the offer in mind though, thanks.

Right now I downloaded the 20210404 nightly, which is supposedly the last version driven by the 5.4 kernel. If performance issues are gone, this might be good for now. I don’t need bleeding edge features and run the Pi offline anyway. Once I installed it, tinkered a bit and did some games testing, I’ll possibly leave a note here for future reference or someone else stumbling across this thread.

Even if the culprit in the 5.10 kernel implementation is never found, I might just get a newer Pi and leave my old one running LibreElec.

Sure no problem. To give you an idea I started with this tutorial which I then developed into my current system which I try to keep as lean as possible and with an experience similar to Lakka’s.

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That’s exactly what I found as well, seems promising. I’d appreciate if you could shoot me some short hints via DM as to what I have to look out for and pay closer attention to. A couple of quick notes would be more than enough, I’ll try to figure out the obvious things myself (gotta start learning somewhere :wink: ).

That being said, I have downgraded the 3.3 installation to the aforementioned 20210404 nightly of Lakka (the supposedly last 5.4 kernel version available) just now and performance seems to be fine for initial testing, on par with my last Recalbox installation (7.1, I think), possibly on a 5.4 kernel as well.

So, I’m glad your initial hint towards the kernel version solved it for the time being. But I’m also curiously looking forward to building an up to date RPiOS base system in the future.

Thanks again, have a great day, and I’m awaiting your DM.