Increasing resolution and adding shaders can make Citra look fantastic

Improve Citra 3DS Graphics Quality

Improve Citra 3DS Graphics Quality

Over the last year Citra has seen an amazing amount of great updates, from stability to graphical improvements. In the UI front, the team redesigned its configuration section and even started working on an Android UI. It’s incredible how much this emulator has improved in such a short period of time.

But from all these mentioned updates, one of the greatest features recently added is the ability to use custom shaders. In this post we will be testing and showing the results of using custom shaders and resolutions to improve Citra’s experience.

Citra Test Machine

Our testing machine is good for running Citra at 60fps in most games that allow it. The only lag on games normally comes from the game not performing well yet on the emulator. This is important as improving the graphics will require will require a good computer.

  • Ryzen 7 3700x
  • 32 GB DDR3
  • GeForce 1060 GTX

Improve Citra Resolution

By default, Citra will render games in its native resolution: 400x240. While this looks somewhat ok in the original device, as soon as you try it on a larger 1080 screen it makes it hard to consume. Luckily, Citra can override the original resolution and by switching to 2X or 4X, games will start looking much better.

To achieve this, go to Emulator > Configure and then Graphics. Change the Internal resolution to 2X or 3X. Try the highest you can before the game slows down, or just select Auto to fit to the computer screen.

In the picture below you can see the differences between the original resolution and 3X. It can be quite drastic and I’m normally surprised by how well most texture hold.


besides changing the resolution, another option that was recently added to Citra is the ability to use Shaders. These are programs (or renderers) that dictate how the elements will be rendered on the screen. Shaders can affect things line color, distortion, sharpness and many other things. They cannot change scenes or models, though.

While the official Citra build doesn’t come with additional shaders, you can find some from the unofficial Android build.

A user on Reddit took the time to unpack them and place them as a standalone package. We tried them and they work fine, but as always, download it at your own risk.!B7JSUKwC!IOgkY3qqqnhQzVZPDefltd9EbBT_Yi2mCbjrSRwIgqc

You can also get the shaders yourself if you download the .apk and open it with a tool like 7Zip.

Unpack them under C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\Citra\shaders and restart Citra. When going to Graphics options you should see them in the list.

You can experiment from here. In our tests, we found that the best improvements in both 3D and 2D were achieved with the SEDI shader. That said, your performance could take a hit.

In the picture below you can see how this particular shader affects 2D rendering too. The shader can be quite pleasant in most occasions but there are cases were it made the 2D text worse.

All in all, we consider it an improvement.

In Short

If you are new to Citra and have a computer that can sustain the FPS in all games you can push the limits by increasing the rendering resolution and adding shaders to it. You will find yourself playing games that look much better than on the original device.


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