Playing Wii in HD at 1080p

Let's jump straight to the point - the Wii has terrible graphics. It outputs at 480p (640x480), which looks pretty horrible on today's 50"+ 1080p (1920x1080) flat panels. Sure, sure...it's not graphics that makes a game fun, and art style is more important then pixel/polygon count, etc, etc... but really, Wii games just look bad.

There is one way around this though, and that's to use the Dolphin emulator on a PC to play Wii games and increase the resolution to 1080p (plus apply some AA and other filtering), which dramatically improves the image quality of some games. See the video below as an example (make sure to select the highest resolution to watch it at).


To do this, you need to download the Dolphin emulator, connect your Wii motes to your PC via Bluetooth (no special drivers needed in Windows 7), and connect the sensor bar to the Wii for power. The sensor bar is a purely passive device. It's just an array of infra-red LEDs which the Wiimotes see and use as a point of reference. You can also buy 3rd-party sensor bars that use batteries or a USB cable for power, so you don't even need a Wii at all (you can even make your own from recycled IR LEDs, or even a bunch of candles!).

You will also need ISO images of your games, as regular PC DVD drives cannot read your physical Wii games. As long as you have the physical game purchased though, you should be able to legally download an ISO image to play on the emulator. Just make sure you're not uploading and redistributing these ISOs, and don't download ISOs of games you don't legally own.

The Dolphin emulator requires a pretty fast PC to play at reasonable speeds though. You will need a dual-core CPU with 3.4GHz plus preferably, and a dedicated graphics card. The GPU doesn't need to be too fancy, a mid-range or even recent low-end should do just fine. I'm running mine on an AMD Phenom X2 570 and a HIS Radeon 6570, at which the Mario games run mostly fine but other games are a little slow at times. Dolphin does not take advantage of quad-core CPUs apparently, so the fastest clock dual-core usually gives the best performance from what I've read.

Once you get the games running, you can configure the graphics options in the emulator and bump up the internal resolution to 720p or 1080p. Games such as Super Mario Galaxy, New Mario Bros and Mario Kart look incredibly sharp at 1080p! Some other games don't scale so well however. And emulation is not perfect. Most Mario games seem to work fairly well, but some games may experience some graphical or audio glitches and the occasional slow-down.

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