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ePSXe Tutorial – Run Playstation Emulator Systems on Desktop Like A Professional

Last update: Aug 22, 2023

ePSXe Tutorial

ePSXe Tutorial – Run Playstation Emulator Systems on Desktop Like A Professional

ePSXe? What’s that?

What it does is allow you PC-heads to run your favorite PS games on desktop, with some sweet extras. The system works on a plugin basis, which means you get the flexibility to control every aspect of your gaming sessions, with a unique combination of plugins. But, you’ll need to seek these plugins on the vast Internet plains and add them to your emulator here.

When to use ePSXe?

So, you have this cool new emulator that you can use. But, do you really need the ePSXe? A bunch of new emulators have come up in recent days ; PCSX Reloaded, BizHawk, XEBRA, and the much-acclaimed Retro Arch. If you’re not a tech geek, maybe Retro Arch is the one for you since it’s processes are much more uncomplicated and it has a handful of cool features like 3D jitter correction and multi-emulation support.

But, if you’d like full control over your emulated gaming experience, then ePSXe is perfect for you. With fully customizable plugins and an elegant CD swapping mechanism built-in, you are the boss when it comes to controls. With this flexible emulator, you will be able to recreate almost any Playstation game on desktop, sometimes with even better graphics, audio, and animation than the actual console.

Installing & the basics

The first thing to worry about is obviously the installation. Unlike most softwares, ePSXe isn’t a standalone and yep, you guessed it, no installation wizards to help you whizz through installation. But, the actual process is not as dreary as you’d expect. The necessary files come in a zip archive file. All you need to do is unzip the files into a public folder and locate the executable file. Usually, it’s named ePSXe.exe, so maybe look for that.

Always remember to have your files unzipped into a publicly-accessible folder. The best locations are on Desktop, in Downloads or you can create a new folder in either of these locations. Having a public-access location is crucial for the software to be able to successfully save states for your games. Also, to unzip the file, you will need an archive extractor tool. Usually, WinZip or WinRar would work great on Windows.

Welcome to BIOS & plugins

If this is your first time tinkering with a Playstation emulator, you may be still vague on the plugins and why you need them. For PS1 and PS2 systems, emulation is powered by a combination of different plugins. Each of these is responsible for running a particular task and control of a single feature, be it the actual game, graphics, audio, and more. The emulators are more of a shell task that groups all these plugins together to run the game. Here are some of the basic plugins that you will encounter :

  • The graphic/video plugin
  • The sound/audio plugin
  • The CDR plugin (or a CDROM)
  • The plugin to run the Playstation BIOS

Getting your hands on plugins

Since this is your first go at this emulator system, you will need to set up all the above plugins from scratch. But, no worries. It’s not really as hard as it sounds. Having all the above plugins will give you maximum flexibility in all aspects of gameplay. So, the initial step is to go plugin hunting on the internet. Most gamers are fussy with the plugins they use with their games. But, if you’re not, then here’s a quick list of useful plugins, to save your time wandering the vast lands of the Internet.

  1. PlayStation 1 BIOS (236 KB); Right-click the download link and select “Save Link As”. As you save from the dialog box, remember to save the file with the .zip extension. If you don’t see the function to change file extensions in the dialog box, click on “Advanced options”. You can also change the file extension by using the “Rename” function.
  2. ePSXe Plugin Collection (1.39 MB) – These are the most essential of the plugins that you will need.
    • DFSound.dll - The best audio plugin for this particular emulator.
    • gpuPeopsSoft - This video plugin works best on computers with hardware from earlier days.
    • gpuPeteD3D.dll, gpuPeteDX6D3D.dll, gpuPeteOpenGL.dll, gpuPeteOpenGL2.dll - These guys render specific 3D graphics resolutions. This is especially helpful for gaming across the selection of PS consoles available.
    • gpuPeopsOpenGL.dll - This one is effectively the best video plugin for this emulating system. But, do be sure that your hardware is able to run this plugin.
    • cdrPeops.dll -. This plugin is for a CD-ROM system. As CD-ROMs are being gradually phased out, this plugin is optional at this point.
    • spuEternal.dll - An audio plugin that is much friendlier with older versions of Windows. Requires a support plugin known as spuEternalL.dll

Setting up BIOS, display and audio

Setting up BIOS

Now that you have your plugins downloaded, you should extract them from their .zip archives. Once you’re done that, regroup them into their correct folders for ePSXe. Organize them into ePSXe's folder as shown above. The PlayStation 1 BIOS (“Scph1001.bin”) file is meant to be moved into the “bios” folder. The rest of the plugins go into the “plug-ins” folder.

Configuring the BIOS system

  1. Go to Config > Bios.
  2. You will see the “Config Bios” window pop-up. Choose “Select”
  3. The “Select PSX BIOS” dialog box will pop up. You should see the “Scph1001.bin” (the PlayStation 1 BIOS file) moved earlier. Select it and click “Open”
  4. And that’s all there is to it. Your BIOS system is now up and running.

Configuring video plugins

  1. Go to Config > Plugins.
  2. Further select “Video”.
  3. The system will pull up the “Config Video” window.
  4. Use the drop-down menu to select the best video plugin for your system. It is recommended to run the P.E.Op.S. OpenGL Driver as it is the most compatible. But, other suitable plugins should be fine as well.
  5. Once you’ve selected the plugin, you will have the option to “Configure”. Click on that.
  6. There should be a bunch of setting options at this window. Scroll past all of them until you see “Default Settings”.
  7. Under “Default Settings”, select “Nice”. And to confirm, click “OK”.
  8. And that’s it! Your video plugin is now ready to roll.

Configuring audio plugins

  1. Go to Config > Plugins.
  2. Go on to select “Sound”.
  3. You will now see on the screen the “Config Sound” dialog box.
  4. From the available drop-down selections, choose either the select DirectSound Driver or Eternal SPU plugins. For older/slower systems, Eternal SPU should work better.
  5. Once you’ve chosen the plugin you need, the next step is to click on the “Configure” button.
  6. Again there will be a variety of setting options. Look in General settings > Mode. The default should be set to “Use SPUasync (must be supported by the emu)”, if you’re using the DirectSound plugin. This option is sort of a resource drainer and may be the culprit behind the scratchy audio you’re hearing. A quick fix would be to run it on the “High compatibility mode” instead.
  7. That’s all for configuring the audio plugin. You’re now set for some gaming.

Keyboard, gamepad and controls

Keyboard, gamepad and controls

With everything set up and geared to game, you will now need one last configuration to be made. And that is of your choice controls for your games. With ePSXe, you can choose between using a keyboard or a gamepad. The steps to configure them both are pretty much the same. Let’s run through them quickly.

  1. Go to Config > GamePads.
  2. There will be “Port 1” and “Port 2” options. Select “Port 1”.
  3. Select a gamepad slot. There will be four to choose from.
  4. Begin assigning the gamepad keys on the screen to the corresponding keyboard keys. If you’re using a gamepad, assign appropriate control keys to each space.
  5. Once all the buttons have been set to your liking, click “OK”
  6. And now your controls, either keyboard or gamepad, should be working as you’ve dictated.

Loading a game

On ePSXe, games can be loaded from two sources, PSX ISOs or directly from the game CDs themselves. For ISOs, you will usually need to do a bit of digging. Lots of game forums have these ISOs ready to be downloaded. But, ultimately, loading the game straight from the CDs themselves are probably your best bet. Let’s see how to load games via these two methods.

Loading PSX ISOs

  1. Your game ISOs should be in the form of either ZIP, RAR, 7Z, or ECM files. ECM files are a bit tricky, so here’s a quick guide video to help you out. As for the rest of them, they unpack quite nicely with a simple archive extractor like WinZip or WinRAR.
  2. Once you’ve done that, take a look at the actual file extensions. The emulator can only read .iso or .bin files. If your files are with different file extensions, you will need to search specifically for .iso versions of your game.
  3. After you have that sorted out, you will need to run the file. To do that, go to File > Run ISO.
  4. Select the ISO you want to load. Some games may take a few minutes to load.
  5. All you need to do now is sit back and enjoy your game.

Loading Game CDs

  1. To play any game CD on ePSXe, you will first need the CDROM plugin.
  2. Once that’s installed, go to File > Run CDROM. The game may take some time to load so be patient.
  3. Enjoy the game.

Since the PS1 system is primarily the one with games in CDROM form, loading can be a bit slow for games made for this console. As a workaround, you can instead rip the contents of the CD into a usable .iso or .bin file and save the digital copy on your computer. Plus, a rip of your game would be beneficial, especially if the CD is too old and is heavily scratched, hence unreadable.

Ripping a game CD to ISO

With endless storage spaces in our computers these days, ripping old PS games into ISO formats seems like the most sane way to keep a game running forever. Here’s how to quickly save your games into ISO format, more specifically, as .bin and .cue files.

  1. The first thing you need to do is download a ripping software. ImgBurn works great but any other software that creates disc images is fine as well. You may get some antivirus warnings, but don’t worry, ImgBurn is 100% safe to use.
  2. Once ImgBurn is up and running, select the “Create image file from disc” option.
  3. Choose the correct source drive (this is where you’ve entered the CD into) from “Source”. Select “Read”.
  4. The system should start ripping your CD. The process can be anywhere between 20-30 minutes. By default, the ISO file (with .bin extension) will be saved in “Downloads”.

Using ePSXe

Going fullscreen

To get your games running in fullscreen, you will need to first close any open instances of ePSXe. Once you’re done, reopen the emulator and go to Config > Video. Check the “Fullscreen mode” option. Optionally, you can also specify resolutions and color depth. Select “OK”. Load a game and it should open in fullscreen.

CD swapping

CD swapping is something that some games require. As with desktop games, most old Playstation games come with multiple discs. To swap CDs, wait until the game requires it. Then hit “Esc”. This will return you to the ePSXe window. Here, go to File > Change Disc. Select the CD you need and follow the prompts you see on the screen. This also works for games that have been ripped to multiple ISO files.

Pausing/Exiting a game

Use the “Esc” key to pause your current game. This will also redirect you straight to the desktop. To resume a game, simply click on the ePSXe window that you see. Be warned, however, that closing the ePSXe window will cause the game to shut down completely. Any progress that is unsaved will be lost. There’ll be some notes on saving games, a little later on.

Saving and loading games

Saving and loading games

Capturing a saved state

To capture a saved state, go to Run > Save State. There will be five empty slots to save your games to. Select any one of them. ePSXe saves games best when there is minimal activity. So, it may be a good idea to capture a state before a heavy fight scene or lots of game activity. Aside from the manual way of saving a game, you can also use the F1 key, which is a save state hotkey.

Loading a saved state

To load a state previously saved, go to Run > Load State. Select the state or saved game that you need. F3 is a nifty hotkey that loads the game you’ve saved to Slot 1. The game should load instantly. But, if it doesn’t, give it a few minutes.

Using GameFAQ saves

Scored a couple of great game saves from GameFAQ? Thought so. But, can you work it with ePSXe? Definitely! All you need to do is to rename it to mimic a memory card entry. Since the Playstation consoles come with two memory slots, you can choose to rename them either “epsxe000.mcr” or “epsxe001.mcr”. Then just move the renamed files into the memory card folder for ePSXe. Do remember to check that these save states are compatible with your game. Regional differences can cause your downloaded save states to fail.

Using additional memory

Like your Playstation unit, you can also access your memory card on the ePSXe emulator. This feature is great if you need some extra bit of space to manage your game saved states more effectively. To do this, you will need to go to File > Run BIOS. You should arrive at the BIOS dialog box. Select “Memory Card” and manage your memory card files just as you would on your console.

For Cheaters

It takes about 10 minutes or so for you to be able to add your Game Shark cheats onto the ePSXe emulator. And if you really want to learn how there is a great how-tohow-to page that you can use. But, the easiest way out is to use a cheat pack like below.

Using cheats

  1. Extract the .zip file with all your cheats and place them in the ePSXe's cheats folder. If you’re setting up your own cheats, make sure they end up here as well.
  2. Run the game that you want to use the cheat codes with.
  3. Go to Options > Cheat codes. This will take you to the “Cheat Codes” dialog box.
  4. Here, you should see all the cheat codes that you’ve ever put into the ePSXe's cheats folder. Select the cheat you want to activate and click “Enable”. If you need all of them, “Enable All” would be a more appropriate option.
  5. Select “OK” and the cheats you need should be triggered and running.

Troubleshooting tips

Although this emulator is the #1 Playstation emulator out there, it may not be perfect at every instance. Usually, things can be messed up with either the graphics or sound. To fix those bits, here are some quick troubleshooting tips.

Problem with visuals

Changing some of the settings on the video plugin usually helps. Try a color scheme with lesser colors or use a lower resolution. These should drastically improve any lag with the game. In some cases, the game may require a specific set of video plugin settings. If at all these don’t work, use a different plugin.

Problem with sound

Changing some of the settings usually works quite well. But, if it doesn’t do anything to better the sound, maybe your system works better with another sound plugin.

Common errors and fixes

Aside from the sound and graphic issues, a few other error prompts may pop-up as well. They can range from problems with saving states, game events, or even common operating features on ePSXe. With these few commonly-asked-about issues, you may be on your way to rectifying some of the problems you may be facing using ePSXe.

Always getting a black screen

Sometimes, things don’t always go as planned and all you end up with is a solid black screen. There are a couple of ways to fix this. Keep reading to find out what they are.

  • Wait a bit - Some games just take a bit longer to load. Patience rewards.
  • CPU Overclock - Your game may not be loading because your CPU is overloaded. You can fix this fairly easily by tweaking a setting on ePSXe. Got Options > CPU overclocking. Set it to x1. This should solve it.
  • Use a different plugin - Sometimes, the plugin may just not be compatible with your operating system. The best way out is to get a new one that works well with your system settings.
  • Editing the registry - This is a bit of an advanced step and should only be done if your games loaded fine during previous instances. Basically, all this does is reset your installation of ePSXe. Here’s how it goes down.
    1. Use the “Run” command and type in ‘regedit’. This should show you an executable program with the same name. This is the Registry Editor for Windows.
    2. You will see a prompt that reads “Do you want this app to make changes to your PC?”. Select “Yes”.
    3. There will be a set of nested folders on the left of the screen. Go to “software” and click to expand it. You should see a list of registry entries for all installed softwares on your computer.
    4. Pick out “epsxe” and delete it. This will allow you to do a clean set-up of your ePSX emulator.
    5. Close the Registry Editor and restart the emulator. You will need to set up your plugins and settings from scratch.

“Recompile block too large” error

This error pops up usually when the game file is not in the suitable file extension. As mentioned earlier, ePSXe only works best with .iso or .bin extensions. Check if your game file is set to either of these. If they are, then your files may still be in an archive. To fix this, unzip the file with a third-party archive extraction tool like WinRAR or WinZip. If the error still persists, your ISO may be corrupted. Find an alternate copy of the game ISO and use that instead.

“ePSXe.exe has stopped working” prompt

As for this little malfunction, the culprit behind it is the incompatibility between the video plugin and the video card that you have mounted in your desktop set. What you can do is choose a different plugin that works with your video card. In some cases, the version of the emulator that you are running may be causing the problem. Check that you’re on the latest version of ePSXe and run your game again.

Game too fast

if this happens, that means your system is way ahead of your game. Tweaking some of the graphics settings should help, especially resolution settings. If you’re using the suggested video plugins in this write-up, go to the “Default Settings” by clicking Config > Video > Configure and switch it up to “Nice”. This should trigger the best settings for your current set-up.

ePSXe doesn’t close fully

The thing with this emulator is that its last update was back in 2013. This error is quite common on newer desktop configurations. At this time, there is no fix besides closing the task fully on Windows. To do this, access the Task Manager and locate the ePSXe process. Shut the process tree and restart a new instance of the emulator. This should set things back to normal.

“zlib.dll is missing” error

This is an error that is notorious for making its presence in ePSXe v1.70. In some cases, the file may be accidentally deleted by users themselves. The only fix is to replace the file.Download the “zlib.dll; file and copy it back into the ePSXe folder.

ePSXe not saving states

If you find that it’s impossible to save a game, you may have your ePSXe running from a folder that isn’t accessible or writeable for your operating system. Try moving your ePSXe folder more common ground on your computer, say “Desktop” or “Downloads”. The tell-tale sign of this is usually plugin configurations failing to save, alongside zero game save states. Changing the folder location should be a permanent fix for this error.

ePSXe doesn’t run in fullscreen

On more recent versions of Windows, like Windows 8 or Windows 10, you may encounter this error fairly frequently. What happens is that, instead of running in fullscreen, changing the setting merely centers the window. It’s mostly an incompatibility issue with the newer frameworks of your operating system since this emulator was last updated almost a decade ago. Running it in Windows’ compatibility mode should do the trick. Here’s how.

  1. Go to the ePSXe folder. Locate the ePSXe.exe file and left-click to access “Properties”.
  2. Select “Compatibility”.
  3. Run the compatibility troubleshooter and follow the prompts from the wizard. Most of the time, the “Try recommended settings” option corrects things. If this doesn’t work for you, try to “Troubleshoot program” instead.
  4. Alternatively, you can run the compatibility program by right-clicking the executable file and selecting “Troubleshoot compatibility” on Windows 10.
  5. If troubleshooting works, Windows will automatically open ePSXe in compatibility mode. But, there will always be a prompt that reads “Do you want to allow the following program from an unknown publisher to make changes to this computer? Always accept this message and things should run as usual.

“*cdrom not found” error

When running BIOS, you may run into this little snag. But, the interesting thing is that it occurs on systems that don’t even have a CDROM unit to start with. The only way around this error is to virtually create a CDROM presence on your tablet or computer. Here are the steps to do just that.

  1. Download a virtual drive software. VirtualCloneDrive works really well and most importantly, you can get it for free. Install it with instructions from the installation wizard.
  2. Once installation is complete, you will be able to see a disk icon in the system tray area. Right-click the icon. This should give you the drive assignment that Windows has given your new virtual drive.
  3. Once you have this, re-open ePSXe. Go to Config > Plugins > Cdrom.
  4. You will see the “Config Cdrom” dialog box. Select any CDROM plugin that you have on your computer.
  5. Click further on the “Configure” button. There will be a drop-down menu. Here, select the letter to which Windows had assigned your new virtual drive to.
  6. Re-load BIOS once more. This time, you shouldn’t see the error and everything should work as it did before.

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