Decided to revisit this topic and see what people are using for their base hardware to run Lakka on. for a little switch up, I decided to go through a little chronology of what/how I started using Lakka and what I’m running nowadays.
On that note, I still hate Retropie. LOL. Despite the fact that I learned Linux and gained a ton of knowledge regarding how Linux-based OSes interact with hardware and each one’s unique individual or collective functionality, I’ve gained an appreciation for some of the more difficult OSes to run (I’m looking at you, Arch Linux). But as soon as I try to do a Retropie build, it does something that I don’t experience with the other retro gaming based distros. And that’s without touching the numerous, onerous, scattered configuration files scattered all over the place and tweaks you need to make. However, I can respect Retropie for being one of the first long-term ones on the scene, even if you “barrow” most of your functionality from RA.
It was my frustration with my failure with Retropie and its unforgiving ecosystem (especially with those scattered config files, tracking down the infamous White Screen of Death), and crashing ES before it could even boot up. I found Recalbox before that, and I was happy with that for a long time (I wanted Kodi with my retro gaming on the Pi 3, so it literally had everything I wanted). But then I heard about Lakka at the same time, and WOW! I was impressed with the quality of the emulation and the fact that since you take a more bare-metal approach to constructing your OS, your performance is much better than Retropie. You can squeeze more out of the same hardware and are more optimized for boards, but Retropie has far more documentation and better marketing (therefore, more mindshare, but it has its drawbacks that’s for sure). Not only that, once I found out there are other devices you can run this OS on, I became hooked. I still love Lakka/Retroarch to this day and it’s my preferred gaming emulation software of choice.
With that mini-rant done, on to what I started with:
Device: Raspberry Pi 3 Model B (w/ black case, heatsinks and cooling fan) 32 GB Sandisk Micro SD card 128 GB USB 3.0 Sandisk thumb drive Dual Shock 3 controller
For Pi 3 users, overclocking the Pi 3 is how you’re going to get decent performance out of anything past a PSX system-wise (yes, this includes N64 running the GlupeN64 plugin). Don’t ever run Sega Saturn emulation on the Pi 3. Just, don’t.
Since the whole N64/PSP emulation thing bugged me about the Pi, I decided to take a chance and upgrade the unit and 2nd Lakka unit was the following:
Device: Hardkernal Odroid-XU4 32 GB Sandisk Micro SD card 256 GB USB 3.0 Sandisk thumb drive (more CD-based games, especially PSX, Saturn, PSP). Dual Shock 3 (wired) Odroid-1 Wi-Fi USB Dongle (802.11 b/g/n)
Full speed N64/PSP emulation was mostly possible (PSP is a bear for most hardware, especially running God of War), Saturn just sucks for ARM-based devices period (and for most PCs as well). The fan’s cycling on and off was a little annoying, but a small price to pay for something that ran circles around a Pi 3 emulation-wise (especially on N64/PSP, it’s not even close). However, with the XU4, no built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. You get Gigabit Ethernet and 2 USB 3.0 ports. And yes, you can run a external HDD off of the USB 3.0 ports on its own (stick to Seagate Slim drives, the Western Digital stuff draws too much power).
And yet, Sega Saturn is right there…but it would be a while (and one donated Chromebox to Kivutar) before I got this unit:
Device (Current): Asus Chromebox CN-60 (Intel Celeron 2955U Haswell CPU @ 1.4 GHz + Intel HD graphics GPU) 4 GB DDR3L RAM (upgraded from 2 GB) 256 GB M.2 SSD (upgraded from 16 GB) Gigabit Ethernet + 802.1n Wi-Fi 4 USB 3.0 ports 500 GB Western Digital Red USB 3.0 External HDD HDMI + DVI Out
The core selection difference alone from moving from ARM to x86-64 was night and day. Best thing? Everything runs full-speed. EVEN the notorious Sega Saturn is capable of playing Guardian Heroes at full speed (don’t ask me to play Sega Rally though). Dreamcast emulation is even full-speed and with minimal slowdown. Best part now? Gamecube/Wii and 3DS emulation. Gamecube works with no graphical glitches. Haven’t tried Wii or 3DS yet. The Chromebox opened the floodgates in my home: the Lakka live USB drive now works with ALL of my PCs in my home. Even the Alienware Alpha I picked up cheap (less than $200) from Gamestop. But if you can get your hands on a Chromebox for Lakka, DO IT! It’s worth it and ironically, when you figure in the cost of materials for a Pi 3 (board, heatsinks, cooling fan which is required if you’re going to overclock), you’ll get MUCH better performance and cores you don’t get on the Pi 3.
So what do you use for Lakka now? Share your stories and hardware!