ZSystem Arcade

Welcome to ZSystem 2018

The Dedicated Linux Mame Build

ZSystem is a Linux based system designed from the ground up to run Mame with the best possible performance available on today's hardware. It is primarily intended for fixed resolution configuration with advanced options for variable refresh rate and is ideal for OLED, LCD or PC CRT monitors.


ZSystem being dedicated means it does not carry the overhead of typical graphical desktop computers such as:

Graphical logins and the software loaded with Desktop systems - Volume widgets, Clocks, Task bars, Window/File managers, Auto updates, Bluetooth stacks etc.

Other benefits from a Linux Mame cabinet are a very fast boot up time and rock solid emulation/operation.

Typically from the bios logo screen at power on to having your menu in front of you and selecting a game to play is about 10~20 seconds.


ZSystem also takes advantage of Mame's waitvsync option, ensuring tear free video display on all systems with compliant video cards.

Depending on your level of expertise, Mame may be run in Throttle mode (Default) or Syncrefresh mode (VRR).

Throttle mode is Mame's default configuration option and can be compared to most xxxin1 type boards.

Syncrefresh mode provides a much better gaming experience and is the preferred mode for custom Mame cabinets.


Throttle mode (Fallback)

Throttle mode, Mame's default and simplest configuration to operate also produces the most shabby emulation.

Games will jitter/stutter every few seconds due to frame rate mismatch, Especially noticeable on fast moving/scrolling games.

Useful when hardware is not powerful enough (CPU), Hardware is not capable (Fixed refresh) or as a Fallback mode for when a games Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) falls outside of the min max ranges of the display capabilities.


Syncrefresh mode (VRR)

For systems with compatible video cards (Typically AMD, Intel & nVidia) Syncrefresh operation is possible with the addition of VRR.

VRR - Variable Refresh Rate matches the system video refresh rate with the original game refresh rate for near perfect emulation.

This will result in smooth scrolling with no jitter/stutter every few seconds. For best results, audio should be synchronized as well.

If you want the games to run like they originally did, Then You will want to use VRR with Syncrefresh mode.

Syncrefresh mode requires more CPU power than Throttle mode. Check operation with Show FPS (F12).


Based on 64bit Debian (Buster)

This guide was initially written for Arch Linux, Though any base Linux distribution (Debian etc) is suitable.

For Arcade CRT monitors, Please see the Groovy Arcade Live CD project which has OS patches for 15khz displays.