The RPCS3 PlayStation 3 Emulator is now available on macOS

Play PS3 games on you Mac through emulation

The RPCS3 PS3 Emulator is now available on macOS

PlayStation 3 games are now playable on macOS using the RPCS3 Emulator

Starting today, the RPCS3 PlayStation 3 emulator is now available on macOS, using MoltenVK to make the previously Windows/Linux only emulator available on Apple devices.

RPCS3 is an emulator, but what is an emulator? To put things simply, an emulator is software that can be used to replicate the functions of specific hardware. RPCS3 is a PlayStation 3 emulator, allowing users to play PlayStation 3 games on PCs. One of the major perks of RPCS3 is that it also allows many PS3 games to be played at higher resolutions and framerates than their original PS3 versions, making PC the best place to play many PS3 games today.

Today, the RPCS3 team released a video showcasing the emulator in action, showing many popular titles running on various Apple system. This Apple's M1-based Macbooks, and older Intel-powered MacBooks. On M1-based Macbooks performance is limited by using Apple's Rosetta 2 translation layer, and Apple's lack of support for AVX instructions on their M1 devices limits performance further. Even so, many games are playable using the emulator.

RPCS3's macOS support came from a contributor called nas, who expanded on the efforts of a developer called kvark. Nekotekina, GalCiv and Clienthax improved the performance of RPCS3 on macOS by implementing LLVM support within the emulator. Additionally, kd-11 assisted with the graphics pipeline. Thanks to the maturation of MoltenVK, a software library that allows the Vulkan API to run on macOS devices, the RPCS3 emulator was able to be ported to macOS.

Limited Performance - And Compatibility

While the RPCS3 emulator now runs on macOS, the PlayStation 3 emulator does not offer the same levels of game compatibility and performance as the emulator's Windows and Linux versions. The macOS version has OS-specific bugs and performance issues, with Intel-based Macbooks running better using Windows or Linux OS'. The macOS version of RPCS3 is expected to improve over time.

Currently, the macOS version of RPCS3 doesn't work with Nvidia graphics cards, and no gamepads are currently supported by the emulator aside from PlayStation controllers. Random crashes also occur then a wireless controller is disconnected from macOS 12 devices. 

    RPCS3's highly anticipated macOS release is now available now for download! Thanks to nas building upon work done to get RPCS3 working on macOS in 2018 by kvark and other developers prior. Our team saw this as a good opportunity to get this into a good state.

Nekotekina, GalCiv and Clienthax implemented LLVM support so performance wasn't horrible. While kd-11 assisted with the graphics pipeline. Thanks to MoltenVK maturing since 2018, some roadblocks were resolved further helping macOS builds become a reality.

As these builds are new, none of the games on our compatibility list have been tested on macOS. And due to some mac specific issues we can't exactly change a game to ingame from playable just because it doesn't work on macOS. That being said, games listed as Playable are much more likely to work well.

KNOWN ISSUES:

No support for NVIDIA GPU's
Only PlayStation controllers are currently supported
Random crash when disconnecting controller with macOS 12 (Monterey), especially over Bluetooth (WIRED RECOMMENDED)

LIMITATIONS

macOS performance is much lower than Windows/Linux due to using MoltenVK instead of Metal and other factors (see below)
M1 Performance is slow due to requiring Rosetta 2, and not having AVX instructions. If RPCS3 gets a native M1 Port Rosetta 2 will no-longer be required.
Apple's drivers working differently will cause RPCS3 to exhibit more macOS specific issues
Lack of TSX support due to Apple using old microcode hurts performance of some Intel Mac PC's.

We expect things to improve over time, not only from RPCS3, but from changes made to macOS and upstream libraries we use. That being said, we don't see macOS reaching comparable performance to Windows/Linux anytime soon. Although Asahi Linux may be quite good for M1 Macs if they have their own GPU drivers.

RPCS3 worked on macOS prior to 2016, but then Apple stopped supporting OpenGL

RPCS3 has a macOS builds before 2016, but as the emulator became more advanced, the emulator needed to make OpenGL 4.3 support a baseline requirement for the project. Since Apple stopped supporting new versions of OpenGL, support for RPCS3 on macOS was abandoned.

Now, thank to the Vulkan API and MoltenVK, RPCS3 has now returned to macOS. That said, the Windows and Linux versions of RPCS3 are currently much more stable and performant, making those platforms a better place to play PlayStation 3 games. 

You can join the discussion on the RPCS3 PlayStation 3 Emulator coming to macOS on the OC3D Forums.

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