by MSX Resource Center on 21-04-2005, 00:00

fMSX-SDL is an emulator that stays very close to the emulator it's based on: fMSX. Basically it adds better music and graphics emulation using SDL (Simple Direct media Library). The benchmark results show how close fMSX-SDL stays to its 'mother': they are exactly the same as those of fMSX.  


Instead of a GUI, fMSX-SDL can be operated with a launcher. This adds some benefits and some downsides to the emulation. One of the major downsides is there are a couple of things you have to set before you start running the emulator (e.g. the disks you want to use), which can be changed during emulation on most GUI-based emulators. Luckily hotkeys allow you to change the most essential things you'd want to change during emulation. Another interesting thing about fMSX-SDL is the fact it only runs in fullscreen mode.  




With benchmark results and sourcecode so close to the original fMSX one would expect the same amount of MSX compatibility. This is confirmed by the tests we ran. Strangely, FAC demo 5 does boot and run without any problems, giving fMSX-SDL a 5 point advantage over fMSX. The 20th anniversary demo and Metal Limit performed a bit better than on fMSX as well. The only test that performed below expectations was Vscreen, which responded very slowly.  




Accuracy is not the only thing that has been improved compared to fMSX. Although both are accompanied by quite some clicks and other small glitches, the MSX-MUSIC and (in fMSX unsupported) MSX-AUDIO actually sound like they should in a lot of songs. The MSX-AUDIO doesn't perform too well when using AM-Synthesis, which is often used in Dutch scene products and the MSX-MUSIC doesn't perform too well when it comes to drums and warmth, but it's already a whole world of difference when compared to the square waves of fMSX.  




It is amazing what a few changes can do to an emulator. The better music emulation of fMSX-SDL compared to fMSX greatly adds to the 'MSX experience'. Apart from that, the changes made to make fMSX-SDL run on SDL somehow improved the accuracy of the emulator at the same time, as fMSX-SDL runs a lot of software better than fMSX. It even runs software that doesn't even boot in fMSX.  


Information chart

MSX2 CPU Benchmark:        1133
MSX2 VDP Benchmark:        1070
turboR CPU Benchmark:       N/A
turboR VDP Benchmark:       N/A
MSX1/2 accuracy score:      66.25%
turboR accuracy score:      00.00%
Music quality score:        26.67%
Usability & Features score: 29.41%
CPU load MSX2 idle:         ~ 90.00%
CPU load turboR idle:       N/A
MRC EmuRank:                43.47%
Emulator interface:         Launcher
Save-states:                yes
Screenshots:                no
Joystick support:           no
Mouse support:              no
Printer support:            no
Real disk support:          no
Multi-disk support:         no
Change disk:                yes (limited)
Dir as disk:                no
MSX1 palette:               no
Image enhancements:         no
Fullscreen:                 yes (only)

fMSX-SDL website:


To see how fMSX-SDL compares to other emulators, check out the MRC EmuRank chart.