Unfortunately, there’s no standard for displaying video, playing audio, and accepting input from game controllers that works on every operating system. Or rather, there’s many standards, and different ones work best on different computers. Therefore, higan comes with “drivers” for video, audio and input, so you can find the one that works best for you. To see what drivers you’re currently using, or to choose different ones, go to the Advanced tab of the Settings window.

Here are the most notable drivers for each platform for each category. If your copy of higan includes a driver not listed here, it’s probably a reasonable choice, so try it out and see how you like it.

Note: After changing any driver, you must restart higan for the change to take effect.

Note: Video, Audio and Input all have a special driver named “None”. This is a dummy driver that does nothing (draws no video, plays no audio, accepts no input), so don’t choose it unless you’re trying to diagnose problems with other drivers.


On Windows:

  • OpenGL is usually the best choice, since it supports custom shaders, however it does require support for OpenGL 3.2 which excludes some integrated graphics chipsets and old graphics cards.
  • Direct3D is a good choice if OpenGL is unavailable. It also allows Exclusive fullscreen, bypassing Windows’ desktop compositor.
  • GDI is the safest choice, but performs very poorly at large sizes.

On Linux:

  • OpenGL is the best choice, since it’s fast and it supports custom shaders, but requires OpenGL 3.2. You can check what version of OpenGL your system supports by running glxinfo | grep 'core profile version' in a terminal.
  • XVideo is also fast, but may be low-quality, and generally only supports the “Blur” shader, not “None”.
  • XShm is the safest choice, but performs very poorly at large sizes.


On Windows:

  • ASIO offers the lowest possible latency, but is the least likely to work on any given computer.
  • WASAPI offers low latency, but is only slightly more likely to work. It also offers Exclusive Mode, which can improve audio quality and lower latency, but may be better or worse than shared mode in practice.
  • XAudio2 is a good choice, but it requires the latest (June 2010) version of the DirectX 9 End-User Runtime to be installed.
  • DirectSound is the safest choice, and not a bad one.

On Linux:

  • PulseAudio or PulseAudioSimple are almost certainly the drivers to use, since almost every Linux distribution uses PulseAudio to manage audio output. The two drivers should behave identically, but some users report one working better than the other.
  • ALSA is a good choice for Linux distributions that do not use PulseAudio. If PulseAudio is running, this will wind up using PulseAudio’s ALSA emulation, or failing due to “sound card already in use”, unless you use a tool like pasuspender.
  • OSS may be useful for non-Linux platforms, or for Linux systems with the third-party OSSv4 kernel drivers installed. For most Linux systems, this will use ALSA’s OSS emulation, PulseAudio’s OSS emulation, or not work at all.

TODO: If the audio driver is set to None, or you have no audio device, Sync Audio does not work and games will run in fast-forward unless you enable Sync Video. https://board.byuu.org/viewtopic.php?p=44138#p44138


On Windows, “Windows” is the only driver available, and uses RawInput for keyboard and mouse input, XInput for Xbox controllers, and DirectInput for other controllers.

On Linux:

  • udev supports every input device, but requires a modern Linux system.
  • Xlib is the safest choice, but only supports keyboard and mouse input.