There are two reasons someone would want to play an emulated game: one is playing old, vintage (and otherwise unplayable arcade!) games that would otherwise not be playable, or would require spending quite a hefty sum of money to buy the legacy console and the games, which both tend to be overpriced at times, especially if they’re rare editions; the other one is playing new-generation games that are console exclusives. RPCS3 and Xenia both fall under the second category, as they’re the emulators for PlayStation 3 and Xbox, respectively. This, naturally, comes with the fact that the PC configuration will have to be on the stronger side to run the emulators plus games decently.
Since it’s rather hard to abstractly compare these two, aside from some basic characteristics, such as which OS they run on (RPCS3 runs on Windows, Linux, and BSD systems, while Xenia only runs on Windows, so far), we’ll do so by comparing their performance on specific games. Keep in mind they’re emulating different consoles, and there will probably be no clear winner, as the performance and the degree to which the game is polished differs from game to game.
Kicking off with a game that’s a console exclusive, Dante’s Inferno was released in 2010 for both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. One thing that’s noticeable right off the bat is that the sound on the RPCS3 version is cutting out every second or so, which is pretty frustrating to witness, while on Xenia it flows smoothly without as much as a stutter. During cinematics, RPCS3 displays solid 60 fps, with the CPU usage of 96% and GPU usage of a mere 25-30%. Xenia, on the other hand, seems to be faring far better than that, with the same amount of fps, the CPU usage being about 10% lower and the same GPU, which is remarkable, considering how GPU-heavy the Xbox emulator is.
Moving on into the live-action fights, the PS3 emulator still has the same audio issues, and although it keeps displaying steady 60 fps, it does freeze and crash ever so often, while Xenia still takes up the same parameters and even though it stutters a bit, it still runs much more smoothly without crashing.
This is another game that’s never made it to PCs, and it shows considerably different results than Dante’s Inferno. First off, even though RPCS3 does seem to lag and stutter a bit more, Xenia’s environment looks heavily glitchy/unfinished, being mostly either solid black and white with seemingly random details and spaces colored properly in between or some black dots all over the floors and walls. Everything looks much more polished and finished on the PS3 emulator.
Xenia runs on DirectX12 and it has about 60 fps, solid 20-30% CPU usage on average, and 50-ish percent GPU, while Vulkan-based RPCS3 has the same GPU usage, but about 20% higher CPU and 20-25 lower fps.
Dynasty Warriors 3 Gundam
If, after reading this game’s name, you thought to yourself: “This sure does sound like a weird hybrid between the Dynasty Warriors game franchise and the Gundam anime series”, you’re totally right – that’s exactly what it is. It features the core hack and slashes gameplay of the original series and the characters from the anime universe, altering the gameplay mechanics a bit to suit the new robotic characters. This is also a PS3 and Xbox-exclusive game.
As for the performance, Xenia shows almost 100% GPU usage – no surprise there, while being on slightly lower fps and CPU usage than its counterpart. RPCS3 acts a little weird – the GPU usage keeps alternating between 20 and 100%, sometimes even dropping to 0%, but with no changes in fps strictly related to that happening (although it does experience some fps drops of about 20 in value).
Red Dead Redemption
We’ve already covered Xenia’s performance on this one in one of our previous articles, but it wouldn’t hurt to do so again, in the context of comparison with the performance of RPCS3. The first thing that’s noticeable in the introductory cinematic is that the frames per second vary wildly on both versions for some reason, going from as low as 11 on RPCS3 to as high as 50+ at some points on Xenia. Later on, during actual gameplay, the fps is far more stable on both versions, with Xenia having slightly higher values all around.
The GPU usage is traditionally high on Xenia, as is the case with all the even remotely newer games – it’s not going below 95% in cinematics or the actual gameplay, while RPCS3 has higher CPU and much lower GPU usage than its Xbox counterpart – at times, while Xenia is bottlenecking the GPU at 99%, the PS3 emulator is chilling below 40%.
No version runs completely smooth, but RPCS3 seems to fare a bit better, as Xenia is sporadically experiencing some rather often graphic glitches, screen tearing, and random flashing black pixels all throughout the game. Even though Xenia is running on higher fps, because of this, it looks like the RPCS3 version is significantly smoother.
Judging purely by this comparison, a conclusion could be drawn that Xenia is doing slightly better, but keep in mind that it’s based on a random choice of games, and there’s no telling if there are games that run better on the other emulator. One thing is certain, though, and that is that RPCS3 inherently has a bigger game pool, due to the amount of PS3 exclusives outnumbering that of the Xbox, and it deserves to be cut some slack, as emulating PlayStation experience on the PC is way harder than Xbox, as its architecture and the nature of its parts are way more different than the PC ones.
It’s also pretty obvious that Xenia has issues with ‘eating’ the GPU, while RPCS3 is heavier on the CPU. Regardless of all the drawbacks and challenges, both emulators are facing, we have to agree that the progress they’ve both made, especially last year, has been mind-blowing, we hope to see them resolve their problems and are very eager to see in which direction they will develop in the future.