Amiga Emulation Guide
[Page 4] WinUAE Settings Part 2
The original Amiga 500 had four possible main resolutions: 320x200, 640x200 (NTSC) and 320x256, 640x256 (PAL). It was also possible to double the horizontal resolution with interlace mode (e.g. 640x512) - with a great deal of flickering involved as I recall. WinUAE outputs these same resolutions as required by the game or program. Note that most games came in PAL format, so 320x256 and 640x256 were the most common resolutions.
Here you can select the output device and the resolution your graphics card uses to display WinUAE's output in this section, but it does not affect the resolution of the game. That is, if you increase the resolution in the Fullscreen resolution box for example, it doesn't make the game run at a higher resolution and hence look less pixellated; it just changes how big or small WinUAE's Amiga screen output looks on your screen. E.g. choosing a fullscreen resolution of 1280x720 will result in a small 640x256 image surrounded by black borders being displayed.
I recommend selecting your monitor's native resolution, which is usually the highest resolution available in the first Fullscreen dropdown box. This allows for the crispest image on an LCD monitor, and you can then use the Filter settings of WinUAE to resize the display image to fit the screen properly - see the Filter section further below for details. Select the bit depth of the image as either 16 or 32. The Amiga 500 only had 4096 possible colors, so 16-bit color mode works fine, but 32-bit is recommended for optimal display on modern desktops. You can also adjust your Refresh Rate in the third box on the Fullscreen setting, however the Default option is recommended.
For Windowed mode enter a new width in the first box, and a new height in the second box (multiples of 320 width and 256 height are the recommended values). A window matching this resolution will open on your desktop when running games in WinUAE.
In the 'Native Mode' drop-down box I recommend selecting 'Fullscreen' so that WinUAE runs games in fullscreen mode by default. Note that 'VSync' is Vertical Synchronization, and enabling VSync can result in smoother graphics in fullscreen mode however it can cause performance problems. Furthermore if you're using a refresh rate higher than 60Hz in Windows this can also cause problems. So on balance I recommend against enabling VSync unless you notice jerky graphics and scrolling text in games.
Under Centering I recommend ticking both the Horizontal and Vertical boxes – these help to center the Amiga emulation image on your screen when running in Fullscreen mode, and hence reduce the chance that the image may be off-center. Again, you can also use the Filter settings (See further below) to resize and reposition the image further.
Leave the 'Filtered low resolution' box unticked, as it's not necessary for most games and applications. Only tick it if you really need extra performance in WinUAE.
Line Mode is important, as it allows the standard Amiga Resolutions to display correctly on a PC screen. The option should be set to Double, as the other settings may see the display show lots of black horizontal lines.
Make sure the Refresh slider is to the far left, so that 'Every Frame' is shown. This increases CPU load slightly, but makes games much smoother by rendering every frame of the game's image, which the original Amiga also did.
The 'FPS Adj' slider allows you to choose an actual Frames Per Second value for the graphics output. The Amiga 500 only had two possible FPS rates – 50Hz (50 FPS) for PAL monitors (outside North America) and 60Hz (60 FPS) for NTSC monitors (US). This should be set to 50 or 60 depending on your choice of PAL or NTSC in the box next to the Fullscreen resolution box. I recommend leaving it at the Default option shown - only change the PAL/NTSC setting if a particular game skips frames every once in a while in an odd way.
Any remaining settings here can be left at their default, and you can experiment with them if you experience any graphical anomalies in games. The settings above work for me in all Amiga games I've used, but it depends on your monitor and particular game as to what may work better for you. And of course use the Filter settings in WinUAE to further refine and resize the image, as that's the most common problem in WinUAE image output.
The Sound Device you choose should be your main sound card or onboard sound driver, which should automatically be detected if you select the 'Default Audio Device' option. Only change this if troubleshooting.
Under Sound Emulation, I recommend the 'Enabled, 100% Accurate' mode. Selecting Enabled is recommended if you experience audio problems, however try the other options below before altering this setting. Note that the 'Disabled but Emulated' option means that sound is off, but WinUAE fools the game into thinking sound is enabled to reduce compatibility problems – not that this setting is recommended. Leave the 'Automatic switching' box ticked.
Exclusive Mode should be ticked if available, as it allows WinUAE to play audio without any background noises from Windows or other applications interfering. The Volume slider is self-explanatory, but the Sound Buffer slider is very important. It determines the amount of sound to be buffered (loaded in advance) before being played back. The larger the sound buffer – that is the further to the right the slider – the less chance there is for sound glitches, but the more "sound lag" you may experience in sound playback. The default buffer of 4 should provide good performance and no sound lag, but if you have lag or problems, you may want to gradually reduce it until it improves audio playback.
For the Sound Settings options, I won't go into too much detail as there are many options and many possible values. The original Amiga 500 had 4 Channel 8-bit Stereo sound, and that's all that's required to emulate it accurately. However modern sound systems can sound quite poor with that sort of playback quality, so we can increase the playback quality here.
Frequency determines the quality of the sound output, and for the most part 44,100 is a good choice for quality playback. Channel Mode should be set to Stereo at least, you can try more channels depending on your audio setup. Stereo Separation of 70% is normal, and Interpolation should be set to Anti to start with and Disabled if there are any problems.
Both 'Swap Channels' and 'Stereo Mixing Delay' are left empty unless you specifically desire to have the left and right channels reversed for example.
The 'Audio Filter' alters the crispness of audio playback - 'Emulated (A500)' is a compromise between being overly sharp and overly muted. The 'Always Off' option provides the crispest audio and is the one I use. The 'Always On (A500)' option mutes sounds too muted and artificial in my opinion. In any case experiment to see which sounds best on your system.
Now here's the cool part of these settings: Floppy Drive Sound Emulation. This option allows you to emulate the sound effects of the Amiga's 3.5" floppy drive as it loaded up information, and boy is this a real nostalgic kicker. I recommend enabling it by selecting the 'A500 (WinUAE built-in)' option from the drop box at the bottom which normally says 'No Sound'. Then use the slider just above it to reduce the volume of the drive sounds, since at 100% it's way too loud. I personally have it set to around 15% to emulate the background noise the drive use to make. The drive noises are emulated almost perfectly, pausing and whirring randomly just the way the clunky DF0: on my Amiga 500 used to do.
Enabling the drive sound emulation is also very useful, because it allows you to tell whether a game is still loading, or whether something's gone wrong. This is especially handy since sometimes games can take quite a while to load because of the 100% emulation - yes, games could sometimes take almost a minute or more to load up in the old days. It can appear like the emulation has frozen, when in fact it's just taking a while to load.
The remaining sound options can once again be left at their defaults unless you experience any problems. Then you can come back and refine which drivers are allowed for example.
Game & I/O Ports
The important part of the Game Ports section is the Mouse/Joystick settings area at the top - you can leave the other areas unchanged unless you want to Print from the Amiga for example.
For Port 0, which was the mouse port on the Amiga 500, I recommend selecting the default, which is 'mouse*' - this emulates the Amiga mouse using your PC mouse.
For Port 1, which was the second mouse/joystick port on the Amiga 500, for most PC users simply select a keyboard layout which suits you. I personally prefer 'Keyboard Layout B', which uses the PC arrow keys as the joystick directions, and the right CTRL and ALT keys as the primary and secondary fire buttons.
Under the I/O Ports section, interestingly at the bottom you can set the emulation of any protection dongles used for particular games. A 'dongle' was a physical device you needed to plug into the back of the Amiga, and served as copy protection in the early days of Amiga piracy.
If you connect a joystick to your system, WinUAE should detect it and allow you to configure it here. Alternatively you can emulate a joystick with the mouse, and adjust settings as relevant to fine-tune it.
Here you can configure the output quality for movies of in-game gameplay which are produced in .AVI format in the directory of your choice. Select the Codecs to use for Audio and Video output by clicking the relevant buttons. Select the PAL or NTSC button as appropriate to determine the framerate for the AVI movie.
To start recording an AVI movie, you will have to click the 'AVIOutput Enabled' button either before launching Amiga emulation, or during it. To launch it during Amiga emulation, press F12 to bring up the WinUAE screen, go to the Output section and click the button. The AVI file will be placed in the directory you chose at the top of this screen – by default it's the base \WinUAE directory. You can then play back this AVI movie with a player like Windows Media Player. If you find the file size or sound quality to be problematic, play around with various codecs and encoding rates.
If you want to save static screenshots from an Amiga emulation screen, press F12 during emulation, and in the Output section of WinUAE click the 'Save Screenshot' button. This places a .BMP screenshot of the current screen in your \WinUAE\Screenshots\ directory by default.
If you want to only save the sound and music from a game and not the video, you can use the 'Sample ripper' button. Click this button during emulation and the resulting sound output will also be saved in the \WinUAE\Screenshots\ directory by default.
Note that when AVI output recording or the Sample ripper are enabled, you may experience jerky gameplay, crackling sound etc. depending on your system. I personally use the FRAPS recording software to record in WinUAE - see the bottom of the last page of this guide for a sample recorded video. Note that to get smooth recording in FRAPS you will need a moderately fast system and also make sure to select 50FPS (or 60FPS if relevant) output under the 'Video Capture Settings' section of FRAPS; at other framerate settings games will stutter when recorded.
This section allows you to apply various graphical filters to the output image of WinUAE. This is most helpful if you want to move or resize the Amiga display, especially if you run an LCD monitor and want to use your monitor's native resolution; the use of Filters allows you to run WinUAE at your monitor's native resolution, and resize the output to result in a nicely fitting and crisp image on screen. For the most part you will have to experiment to find the right filter settings for your system.
For example, load up a game and press F12 to bring up WinUAE. Go to the Filter settings and select 'Null Filter' as the Filter type and select '1x (16bit/32bit)' - this should provide the sharpest image when scaled. Make sure 'No Autoscaling' is selected, and also make sure to tick the 'Keep aspect ratio' box if you don't want the image distorted beyond its original ratio of width to height. In the drop-down box above the aspect ratio option, you should select the aspect ratio of the monitor you are using - most LCD screens are either 16:9 or 16:10. These settings should provide the correct display of Amiga games on your screen. Amiga games were only designed to run on standard 4:3 monitors, and with the correct aspect ratio enabled, on widescreen monitors there will be black bars to the sides.
However, if you wish to adjust the image further, use the Horizontal and/or Vertical Size sliders to make the image larger or smaller as you wish. Also use the Horizontal/Vertical Position sliders to move the image position around on the screen. The combination of these sliders allows you to resize and reposition the image to take up as much of the screen as possible, and importantly, be sure to try out a few different games and screens to ensure that no parts of the image are going to be clipped in any game. You can also untick the 'Keep aspect ratio' box and/or alter the aspect ratio from the drop-down box above it if you want the image to stretch and fill your entire screen.
Note that adjusting some of these settings may require you to click OK to exit the WinUAE options screen back into the game to properly implement the change.
Keep experimenting with these settings to achieve what you're after, and when you're satisfied with the results, go to the Presets box, enter a name and click the Save button to save them.
This screen allows you to select certain advanced functions for WinUAE. There are too many to go into detail here. Below are my recommendations:
Tick the 'Untrap mouse with middle button' box. This means that in full screen or windowed mode, if you want to switch out of WinUAE and back to your windows desktop, you can either use the ALT-TAB keyboard combination, or you can simply click your middle mouse button.
Tick the 'Show GUI on startup' option to make sure the WinUAE Graphical User Interface shows up each time you launch WinUAE.
Tick the 'Use CTRL-F11 to quit' option - this means that if WinUAE hangs for example, or you can't get into the WinUAE screen to click the Quit button, you can press the CTRL and F11 keys together to quit out of WinUAE.
Tick the 'Disable screensaver' option to make sure that the Windows screensaver doesn't attempt to launch while WinUAE is running.
Important: It is recommended that you select Direct3D from the 'Graphics API' dropdown box here. This will prevent WinUAE slowing down on some systems.
The remainder of these settings are up to you to experiment with, but none are necessary for correct Amiga 500 emulation.
Pri & Extensions
These settings control the priority your CPU gives to WinUAE when it is running, inactive, and minimized. For the most part changing these will not improve performance, and the default settings are fine.
You should not be running other programs when using WinUAE, especially on older systems, as this can cause problems with smooth Amiga emulation. Your first course of action is to disable all background programs and generally optimize your system as detailed in my TweakGuides Tweaking Companion.
Once you've configured all the settings the way you want them in WinUAE, make sure to save them all by using the instructions under the Configurations section on the previous page.
That brings the WinUAE Settings section to an end. I urge you to have some patience and spend some time refining these settings, as once you have them bedded down you'll find most games and applications run without a hitch on WinUAE. Experimentation is the key, but for the most part the settings provided above should work for most people to accurately emulate the Amiga 500.
The next section provides details of running games on WinUAE.