What is a GP2X really like?

From wiki.gp2x.org



One of the most common questions about the GP2X is "Just how good are these things?" Often one can do a fair bit of searching and still not be left with a clear picture on what a GP2X exactly can and can't do. This article hopes to answer those questions, and encourage people to make a choice on whether these handhelds fulfill their needs or not.

How easy are these things to use?

Really, as long as you have a basic understanding of computer systems, and are able to search this wiki and a forum or two, there's really no reason you can't use any and all available current software on a GP2X. It's not rocket science.

Most program and emulator pages come with step-by-step installation instructions, and there are several guides written on GP32x.com forums. An understanding of Linux shell scripts (or even DOS batch files) will help you troubleshoot most issues.

As with most online communities, a bit of groundwork and searching is always appreciated before asking a question. Examples:


Good: I have read all the pages and guides, I have tried these detailed steps but I still can't get these specific things working, please help?

A couple of small common things GP2X owners refer to:

SDL & Libraries

Although it is very rare, some early software on early firmwares required additional SDL libraries installing. Read the User_Tutorials to find out how. Another common library for homebrew games is Fenix, which you can find on The Archive.


Whilst the GP2X has two quite decent 200Mhz processors, some software is not entirely optimised, and/or is just asking too much from the console. Every GP2X will overclock to 240Mhz, with 250-260Mhz being quite common. Some lucky people reach 280 and even 300Mhz, but this is not commonly heard of. Poll thread here.

Firmware v3

If you buy a new new GP2X, it will come with Firmware 3.0.0 pre-loaded. Alot of people "downgrade" to the latest stable 2.1.1, for reasons including faster boot times and better compatibility (although the compatibility issue is a completely unproven rumour - the differences between 2.1.1 and 3.0 are far too small to cause any compatibility issues).

Be aware that to downgrade to 2.1.1, one actually needs to flash 2.0.0, then 2.1.1.


If you do not like the stock GP2X launcher, there are several other ones, the most popular of which are GMenu2X and GP2XMB]. Usage of these is personal preference, after all, it's your console and you can set it up any way you like. Try out each one and see what you think!

Text formats

Don't forget the GP2X runs Linux, and hence has different text editor formats than Windows and Mac. Sometimes, editing your config files in Win/Mac will break them on GP2X. EditPadLite, Programmer's Notepad, and WordPad all support the proper file format required.

Power Adaptor

Alot of people ask should they get a power adaptor? It really depends on what you're going to do with your GP2X.

The power adaptor will not charge the batteries. The power adaptor resets a powered-on GP2X as it switches power circuits. The power adaptor is a good safe way to update your firmware. You can't use the power adaptor in the park or on the bus/train, which is the reason you're buying a handheld anyway, right?

If you want to play your GP2X around power outlets, and save batteries, or don't want to risk powering off during a firmware update, then get a power adaptor. Otherwise, don't.


It's no surprise that most people seem to buy a GP2X for its' emulation capabilities. But is it any good? Is it fast? Is it accurate? Is it playable? Will it play my favorite game?

Really, it depends what system you are trying to play, and what specific ROM.

Some honest GP32x.com forum threads on the topics can be found here, here, and here.

(I have paraphrased the first version of this article's emu section from these threads and my own experiences, hopefully it will grow over time to the point where this sentence is no longer necessary --Super Jamie 03:21, 2 April 2007 (PDT))

If it's really a one-game-specific question, and you can't find any info on that game, someone on the forums will likely be more than happy to test the game for you, if you ask nicely.

Here is an overview of emulated systems, and their comparisons to the common competitors in their field:


Usable SNES emulators on the GP2X are DrPocketSNES and SquidgeSNES. PocketSNES seems to be faster and more accurate for most 2D games, while Squidge seems to do Mode7 and more advanced games a fair bit better. Each emulator's page has a (somewhat flaky and out of date) compatibility list, which can give a rough idea.

GP2X is more accurate at SNES than both Nintendo DS and GBA. GP2X is faster at SNES than PSP by a rough average of 10fps. A couple of really informative YouTube videos are here and here.

Most games have very high compatibility and playability. 2D games do generally not require an overclock. Games with tricky transparencies can sometimes cause speed issues, but nothing 240Mhz can't fix. Of the Mode 7 games, Mario Kart is very playable on SquidgeSNES, however Starfox is still quite slow.

GameBoy Advance

Obviously, nothing can beat a real GBA or DS for playing these games.

It's no secret this is on area where the PSP excels over the GP2X. See a video comparison here.

That being said, GP2X's GpSP is in constant development, and is at an extremely playable and compatible stage. Most games are enjoyable enough that it doesn't really matter that it's not on GBA/DS/PSP.


Nintendo is a very easy system to emulate. However, there is no clear leader between the GP2X, Nintendo DS, Nintendo GBA and PSP.

The most widely used NES emulator for the GP2X, GPFCE, is already pretty compatible with most games, however, it hasn't been touched for months. It suffers from an unwieldly UI, broken TV-out, and in some games, inaccurate sound.

See YouTube video of emulation in action here.

SEGA Mega Drive / Genesis

GP2X has Picodrive, which has reached a development state of near-perfect, at full speed, with SegaCD support. See here.

By comparison, PSP's MegaDrive has not been updated for quite a while, PSP's DGen is still being developed, but neither can do alot of things GP2X's Picodrive can.

PC Engine / TurboGrafx16

If you have your heart set on emulating this console, you're in for alot of heartbreak. Emulation on all systems is pretty much imperfect, either a mix of accurate emulation and feature support with poor speed, or broken sound, or full speed with no sound and missing basic features such as savestates.

There also appear to be ALOT of different emulators out for this system. Combine your efforts, guys!


Both GP2X and PSP emulate GB fairly well, GP2X has an advantage in sound.

Like NES, a fairly easy system to emulate, so shouldn't really have to many problems on any hardware.


All ports of MAME for handhelds are obviously not going to be as compatible as their desktop counterparts. For example, GP2X's MAME is based on MAME 0.34, so playing modern arcade games is pretty much right out. That being said, GP2X shines at MAME compared to PSP. The Gp2xMame emulator has a better interface, and more support for things like orientation changing (for playing cabinet games that are on their side).

Have a look at some videos here, here, and here. These video uploaders have more MAME videos in their playlists too.


Nothing can, and probably never will, beat the PSP here (funnily enough, this also includes european PS3s), as it has an official emulator written by Sony, the same family of CPU as the PSX, and powerful 3D hardware.

At the moment, the GP2X can launch and play PSX ISOs, but right now it's more of a proof-of-concept than anything. Some basic 2D games are playable, most suffer heavy speed loss and sound fragmenting. 3D games you may as well forget about, and it is unlikely fullspeed 3D will ever be achieved, due to the lack of 3D hardware in the GP2X.

However, it might happen. Might.


The GP2X also has emulators for many other obscure consoles and computers, in varying degrees of quality. Look here for more info.


Video on the GP2X runs fairly well. It supports DivX versions 3,4, and 5, and Xvid encoded video in avi or ogm containers, with either MP3 or OGG audio. Despite being advertised as such, official WMV support is not available, and due to the nature of Microsoft technologies on Linux, it is doubtful it ever will. There are applications available that can play WMV and WMA formats to some degree available, however.

Most videos that fit this criteria should play perfectly - the video will be down or upscaled to fit the screen, but be aware that this uses a lot of power, and can sometimes look ugly. It is recommended that you downscale your video files, to save space and battery power.

If you want to learn more about transcoding or downscaling video files, go here.


Music on the GP2X also runs well. Though, the out-of-the-box player is a little rough around the edges. Thankfully, other players have risen up to provide a better listening experience. Some good players to check out are, CraigAmp, and GMU.


In summary:

Things that are good about GP2X

The GP2X has a very good LCD display, which is crisp and does not suffer the "speed blurring" of the PSP screen.

The GP2X is designed to execute homebrew code, you do not have to mess around with hacked or illegal firmwares to play anything you want on it, and you will not void your warranty doing so.

The GP2X has TV-out, and combined with it's movie, music and USB capabilities, can be used as a media center if desired.

Things that suck about the GP2X

Some people do not like the limited viewing angle of the LCD display - this however, is entirely personal preference.

The GP2X has quite short battery life in comparison to its peers. Expect 4-5 hours during heavy emulation with slight overclock, from 2xAA 2500MaH batteries.

The GP2X has a fairly tinny pair of speakers, and stereo does not work out the box with current firmware 2.1.1 (the headphone socket does do both quality of sound, and stereo, fine).

A number of people do not like the GP2X joystick. Because of thumb orientation, one often hits across when meaning to hit down. There do exist (very) limited production runs of GP2X D-pad mods. Alot of people also don't mind the joystick, especially since the introduction of the MK2 model.

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