In this installment, I’ll go over the hardware and OS I’m using for the N64-PC.
As stated before, I went with an NM70-TI motherboard/CPU combo. It’s essentially a $60 CAD motherboard with a Celeron 847 processor embedded on it. It’s cheap, it’s small, and it’s powerful enough to run an N64 emulator. Best yet, it runs off a laptop power supply (lucky enough, the same one as my Chromebook), so I wont have to shove a bulky PSU within the N64 case itself. With a $38 stick of ram RAM and a $46 64GB mSATA SSD, it looks like the following:
Someone reading this is probably wondering why I didn’t go with a Raspberry Pi for this, and the answer is pretty simple. It’s not powerful enough for N64 emulation. It’s great up until the SNES and Genesis, and then it hits a brick wall. I have serious doubts even the newly announced Raspberry Pi 2 is powerful enough (if it is, too late, I bought all this stuff in December).
When it came to choosing an OS, I was torn between Ubuntu and Windows 8. Ubuntu has a tiny install and less bloat, but the emulator support is unfortunately not as robust as Windows. It’s especially lacking when it comes to less-popular consoles (Virtual Boy, etc.) And, seeing I already had a Windows key, I decided to throw Windows 8.1 on it. After tweaking some Windows settings, the install is only 14.8GB. That leaves me with 44.4GB left to fill with ROMS. Not too shabby.
At this point, all the hardware works, and I’ve got Windows successfully running. Stick an emulator and a ROM on there, and everything works.
For a controller, I was going to originally use the Xbox 360 controller I use for PC gaming (when playing a game that needs a controller), but then I came to my senses and realized that using a D-Pad that bad would be a disservice to myself. So I went and got a Logitech F310 gamepad for $15, because the D-Pad is decent, and it seems to come recommended amongst emulation circles.
Other than that, I’ve bought a few USB cables and the like, but that’s all the makes up the N64-PC.
Stay tuned for the next installment where I’ll go over my choice of emulator front end, and the setup required to get it all working.