Despite our devices getting more and more powerful every year, it may be crazy to some that we still can’t run games designed for consoles released over ten years ago. Game consoles released years ago use wildly different processor architectures, which makes emulation of those consoles a difficult task for a number of reasons. The Nintendo Wii and Nintendo GameCube are two examples, as while they are similar in architecture to each other, they’re quite different from the devices we usually use. Thanks to Dolphin Emulator, we can play games from both the GameCube and Wii pretty well on the desktop, but only the highest end Android smartphones can handle that. The newly released Xiaomi Mi 9, powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, can emulate GameCube and Wii games like a champ.
We tested legendary titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Super Mario Sunshine in the case of the GameCube, while we also gave Mario Kart Wii and Super Mario Galaxy a try too. We tested all of these titles on the Xiaomi Mi 9 with the Snapdragon 855 and Adreno 640 GPU and compared performance against the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845-powered Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S (both 6GB RAM models), so we could compare two devices with a similar software experience but with a direct upgrade in processing power. We’ve already seen how the two platforms compare in synthetic benchmarks, so we wanted to see how they perform with a demanding emulator. The results and improvements in some instances are incredible.
Note as well, none of these tests are done with any optimization. There are ways and means to go about optimizing the performance of emulation through the modification of settings in the Dolphin Emulator app, but we neglected to change any of that in favor of using the pre-defined settings. We just installed the latest version of the app from the Google Play Store, loaded up the games, and recorded videos of the sessions. Sadly, we couldn’t record any data using Gamebench since there were issues getting it to recognize the Xiaomi Mi 9.
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 855||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845|
|CPU||1 Kryo 485 ‘Prime’ (A76-based), up to 2.84GHz3 Kryo 485 (A76-based), up 2.42GHz4 Kryo 385 (A55-based), up 1.8GHz45% Performance improvement over previous generation||4 Kryo 385 (A75-based), up 2.8GHz4 Kryo 385 (A55-based), up 1.8GHz25% Performance improvement over previous generation|
|GPU||Adreno 64020% Performance improvement over previous generation||Adreno 63025% Performance improvement over previous generation|
|Memory||4x 16bit, 2133MHz LPDDR4X||4x 16-bit, 1866MHz LPDDR4X|
|Manufacturing Process||7nm (TSMC)||10nm LPP (Samsung)|
Although we haven’t yet tested it, we assume that the North American Samsung Galaxy S10, Galaxy S10e, and Galaxy S10+ with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 should perform similarly to the Xiaomi Mi 9 in terms of emulating Nintendo GameCube and Nintendo Wii games. In fact, most devices with the Snapdragon 855 should handle Dolphin Emulator pretty similarly, with minor differences due to throttling, tweaks to CPU/GPU ramping, etc. Even if you don’t own or plan to own a Xiaomi Mi 9, the videos below should be useful in gauging the performance of your future smartphone with the Snapdragon 855, like the OnePlus 7, Google Pixel 4, LG G8 ThinQ, LG V50 ThinQ, and others.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S vs. Xiaomi Mi 9 – Super Mario Sunshine
An all-time favorite of the GameCube, Super Mario Sunshine is a classic. It’s fun, it’s silly, and it has a lot of depth to it. In some parts of the game, smartphones have a lot of trouble emulating it. Even just trying to go to the map can cause incredible amounts of lag. Take a look at it running on the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 845. Keep in mind that , from our testing, demonstrates the most subtle improvements in emulation performance.