Disclaimer: We do not advise using emulators or downloading ROMs online.
The Steam Deck is a handheld gaming device released in 2022. It is set to compete against the Nintendo Switch as the go-to portable gaming console for many.
If you are not familiar with the Steam Deck, it is basically a compact computer that can run your whole Steam Library. Another advantage of using the Steam Deck is emulators. This means you can expand your game library beyond what Steam offers.
That being said, we are going to talk about running PS2 emulators on the Steam Deck and the steps you need to be able to play smoothly.
Can Steam Deck Emulate PS2
The short answer is yes. The Steam Deck can easily emulate PlayStation 2 games through the use of PCSX2 – an open-source PS2 emulator that is free to use.
Running PlayStation 2 games on your Steam Deck requires a little bit of know-how since you need to configure the emulator first. Meanwhile, regular Steam games do not require this additional step.
There are reports that some PS2 games stutter or have performance drops since the AMD OpenGL drivers are unoptimized at the moment. However, the good thing is it works at the moment and optimization will follow since the PS2 emulation community is still huge.
How To Use PCSX2 PS2 Emulator On The Steam Deck
The Steam Deck allows you to play PlayStation 2 games on the go through the use of PCSX2 PS2 emulator. The games run quite well and the setup is very easy. It works similarly to the PC version so if you have used this emulator before then you already have a head start.
Before you start going crazy over the ability to play PS2 games on your Steam Deck, you need to remember that PlayStation 2 emulation is still considered piracy. The only legal thing you can do if you own a PS2 is to use your own PS2 bios on the emulator. We do not condone piracy by any means and we highly suggest that you acquire games through legal means.
With that on the way, let’s get started.
Installing PCSX2 On Your Steam Deck
- Go to the Desktop mode by pressing the Steam button. Head on to Power and then click on “Switch to Desktop”.
- Open Start Menu then click on “Discover”. You may also press the Start Menu and type “Discover” if you are using a wireless keyboard and mouse.
- Head on to Search then press the Steam + X button to use the keyboard.
- Type PCSX2 on the search bar then press Enter.
- The PCSX2 screen will show up. Click “Install” on the upper right corner of your screen. Wait until the download and installation are done.
- You are done! Close the Discover store and the next step is to configure your PCSX2 for the first time.
Configuring PCSX2 On Your Steam Deck
- Open up PCSX2.
- The First Time Configuration window will show up. Press Next.
- PCSX2 will now ask for a PS2 Bios file.
- Open your Steam Deck browser and head on to Romsmania to download a Bios. Again, this is for demonstration purposes and you need to acquire a legal PS2 Bios by owning the console.
- Download the PS2 Bios file.
- Open the downloaded PS2 Bios file and extract the file.
- Open the extracted folder.
- Select every downloaded file and press Copy.
- On your File Explorer, head on to Home. Click on .Var then click on App.
- Open the net.pcsx2.PCSX2 folder. Click on Config.
- Click on PCSX2 then click on BIOS.
- Paste the files that you have copied into the empty folder.
- Go back to the PCSX2 window and click on Refresh list. The list of BIOS that you have pasted on the BIOS folder will now show up.
- Select your BIOS of choice by double-clicking on it and you are done!
- Before you head on to the next part, close the program log that appeared in the background to avoid any problems.
Setting Up Your PS2 Game Folder For Your PCSX2
- Go back to the net.pcsx2.PCSX2 folder on your File Explorer.
- Create a new folder by right-clicking on the Window and then clicking on Create New Folder. Rename it to Games or PS2 Games, it is up to you.
- Download your game ISO through your browser.
- Copy your game’s ISO file to the PS2 Game folder that you just created.
Setting Up PCSX2 On Your Steam Deck
- Go back to PCSX2. Re-open it if you have previously closed it.
- Head on to Config on the top menu. Click on General Settings.
- Navigate to GS Window on the left side of your screen.
- Change the Aspect Ratio settings to “Fit to Window”.
- Set your Custom Window Size to 1280 x 800 as it is the size of the Steam Deck screen.
- Enable “Start in Fullscreen mode”.
- Head on to the Speedhacks section on the left side of your screen.
- Enable MTVU (Multi-Threaded microVU1).
- On the lower part of the Window, you will see the Preset.
- Set the preset to Safe.
- Click Apply.
- If the “a configured folder does not exist” window shows up, ignore it and click on Create.
Setup Your PCSX2 Graphics Settings For The Best Performance
- Open PCSX2.
- Head on to Config and click on Graphics Settings.
- Navigate to Renderer and choose Vulcan since the Steam Deck is using an AMD APU.
- Go to the Adapter drop-down menu and select “AMD RADV”.
- Under the Renderer menu. Go to the Internal Resolution and select “2x – Native (720p)”.
- Head on to the CRC Hack Level drop-down and select “Aggressive”.
- Go to the Hacks menu and enable “Manual HW Hacks”.
- Enable “Disable Partial Invalidation”.
- Leave the other settings as is and you are good to go. Just adjust the graphics settings accordingly if you experience lags or game stutters.
- Click Ok and exit the menu.
Configure Your PCSX2 Gamepad for the Steam Deck
- Open Steam.
- Click on Library and click on “add a non-steam game.”
- Select PCSX2 and click on “add selected program”.
- Go back to Gaming Mode by clicking on the “Return To Gaming Mode” icon on your desktop.
- Open your game library and click on non-Steam.
- Click on PCSX2 and select the controller icon on the right side of your screen.
- Your current layout has the label “Gamepad with Joystick Trackpad” by default. Change it by clicking on it and you will be transferred to the gamepad layout menu.
- There will be two sections – the default templates and community layouts.
- Choose your community layout of choice. This depends on your playstyle and preference. Clicking on a layout will download it to your device.
- You are done! It is up to you now to configure the gamepad layout that you have chosen.
Time to Play PS2 Games Using PCSX2 On Your Steam Deck
- Open PCSX2 while in Gaming Mode.
- Click on CDVD on the top menu then click on ISO Selector.
- Click on Browse and navigate to the game folder that you have created earlier.
- Under the browsing window, go to the net.pcsx2. PCSX folder then go to Games and select the PS2 game that you want. Click Open.
- To play the game, click on System on the top menu then click on Boot ISO.
- Your PS2 game will finally open and it is time to play.
- Have fun emulating PlayStation 2 games on your Steam Deck.
The Steam Deck is god-sent for those who love emulating classic consoles such as the PlayStation 2. The hardware is more than enough to run these classic titles and it expands the already massive Steam game library.
There might be issues surrounding Steam Deck emulation at the moment such as frame drops. But with a huge community backing it up, there will surely be a workaround available soon.
What are your favorite PlayStation 2 games? Let us know in the comment section below. Do not forget to check out our Steam Deck guides here too.
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