What are the best emulators?

asked by Samuel King
294 contributors
18 solutions
  1. 34

    #1BlueStacks

    BlueStacks

    BlueStacks is an Android Emulator that lets you run your favorite mobile apps and games fast and fullscreen on your Windows PC and Mac for free. It also serves as a gaming platform for mobile games that you would like to run on your desktop.

    Software

    Web

    Free

    Russell Ortiz
    Written on May 23, 2019
    "This is the de facto choice for a lot of users and is considered by many to be one of the best emulators to be able to use Android on PC's and Macs. It looks nice, it's easy to use, and runs really well. Give it a try."
  2. 29

    #2RetroArch

    RetroArch

    RetroArch is a free emulator that makes use of a powerful development interface called Libretro to make it compatible with PlayStation, Game Boy, SNES, and Nintendo DS. It requires users to download some programs called 'cores' from within the app.  

    Apps

    Android, Windows, Mac, iOS

    Free

    Kevin Qiu
    Written on May 23, 2019
    "This is a really great all-in-one emulator that is capable of running multiple consoles from the PlayStation to the Game Boy and even the SNES. Good stuff and you should definitely try it out."
  3. 27

    #3ZSNES

    ZSNES
    ZSNES is a free Super Nintendo emulator. It is written mostly in x86 assembly with official ports for Linux, DOS, OS X, Windows and an unofficial port for Xbox.
    Software

    Windows

    Free

    Alan Guo
    Written on May 23, 2019
    "Retro games invoking that sense of nostalgia in players are really popular right now. If you were around the time of the SNES and want to experience it all over again, this is one of the best emulators to do that."

WHAT'S THE MEANING?

While emulators are often confused with simulators, the two are totally different things. Simulators mimic the activity of what it is simulating and are often used for analysis and study purposes. On the other hand, emulators are used as a substitute for the hardware or software it is emulating. For example, if you want to play a PlayStation 2 game on your phone, you can use a PS2 emulator for Android or iOS without making any hardware modifications. 

DID YOU KNOW?

Did you know Game Boy emulators are one of the first console emulators to ever exist? The first emulator appeared seven years after the release of the popular 90s gaming console. Marat Fayzullin created the Virtual Game Boy, the first emulator in existence that could play commercial games. His creation became a hit especially to gamers who weren't able to lay their hands on the Game Boy console. Fayzullin also created the iNES, the first emulator for NES. Keep in mind that these were created during the time when computers weren't fast enough to mimic games.

At first, emulation was deemed as a form of piracy. In fact, emulation was even considered as a dirty word in the game development industry. This is because they mimic propriety hardware and uses the game's code to run it on a device without making any modification. Luckily the negative view on emulation changed over time as gamers now see it as a form of preservation. It allows nostalgic players to go back in time and play their favorite childhood games. Now, there are dozens of Gameboy Advanced Emulators as well as emulators for other old gaming consoles. With the many advances in technology, anything is virtually possible —even going back in time. 

  1. 25

    #4Cmder

    Cmder

    Cmder is a software package with many tools and that is created to be a terminal emulator for Windows with total portability features. It was originally created by Samuel Vasko.

    Software

    Windows

    Free

    Wayne Rice
    Written on May 23, 2019
    "This is great for more professional applications as it allows you to run Windows on any capable hardware. It's great if you rotate between different machines but can still get work done."
  2. 24

    #5ClassicBoy

    ClassicBoy

    ClassicBoy is an All-in-one emulator that runs roms that emulate different gaming platforms like PS1, N64, GBA, GB, GBC, NES, SEGA Genesis, SNK NeoGeo.


    Apps

    Android

    Free- with in-app purchases

    Bobby Guzman
    Written on May 9, 2019
    "Love this! Classicboy allows me to play my favorite old games on my phone. I'm currently using the lite version but planning to get the full one to activate all the functions"
  3. 22

    #6AMIDuOS

    AMIDuOS

    AMIDuOS is a new concept that brings the functionality, depth, and fun of the Android experience to Microsoft Windows devices. It runs on nearly any Windows 7, 8 or 10 PC or tablet device for easy switching between Windows and Android environments.

    Software

    Windows

    $10- $15

    Sarah Taylor
    Written on May 9, 2019
    "The site says they're currently down for maintenance. I hope they get back soon "
  4. 20

    #7Andy

    Andy

    Andy is an emulation tool that allows you to run your apps and Android games in a Windows-based environment whatever it is PC or laptop. It allows you to integrate your Android device with your PC using your mobile as a controller for your games.

    Software

    Windows, Mac

    Free

    Emma Wu
    Written on May 23, 2019
    "This a great emulator if you want to run Android on your Windows or Mac devices. It looks nice and works with pretty much every game and app that I have tried. It does run and load a little slower than other emulators but aside from that, it's good."
  5. 19

    #8higan

    higan

    higan is a multi-system emulator that supports the following systems: Nintendo Famicom, Nintendo Super Famicom, Nintendo Game Boy and more. It is originally called as bsnes.

    Software

    Windows, Mac

    Free

    Jane Howell
    Written on May 9, 2019
    "For old souls like me who wants to experience classic old games that's no longer available on other platforms, THIS IS FOR YOU!"
  6. 16

    #9ARChon Runtime

    ARChon Runtime

    Archon is a developer tool that allows you to run your APK android apps and games in a PC environment. It is designed to be used as an extension to Chrome browsers, as well as the Chrome OS.

    Software

    Chrome

    Charles Watson
    Written on May 23, 2019
    "A great all-in-one emulator that lets you run Android apps on Chrome OS, Linux, and Windows. I've tried it on my Windows 10 PC and it works as intended and works great. It will run even better with higher-end hardware so give it a try."
  7. 14

    #10PSXeven

    PSXeven

    PSXeven is a free and fast Sony PlayStation Emulator for Windows which you can play your favorites Playstation games such 'Metal Gear Solid', 'Final Fantasy VII', 'Resident Evil' on a Windows PC. 

    Software

    Windows

    Free

    Estela Ordoñez
    Written on March 29, 2018
    "PSXeven is an emulator for the Sony Playstation. It works to emulate other video game systems too, you can play all your favorite games right on your pc. Fast, and works well."
  8. 12

    #11PCSX2

    PCSX2

    PCSX2 is a free and open-source PlayStation 2 emulator for Windows, Linux, and macOS that supports a wide range of PlayStation 2 video games with a high level of compatibility and functionality.

    Software

    Windows, Mac

    Free

    Cheng Chang
    Written on May 23, 2019
    "There is a reason why the PlayStation 2 had the longest life cycle out of all of Sony's game console line-up, it had some of the best games ever of our generation. If you've been wanting to play those games, go check this emulator out."
  9. 10

    #12ZOC

    ZOC

    ZOC is a terminal emulator for computers with Microsoft Windows and macOS operating systems. It allows access for character-based hosts with the use if SSH, telnet, SERIAL, and more.

    Software

    Windows, Mac

    $79.99- Free trial available

    Frank Rice
    Written on March 30, 2018
    "I loved emulators and I found a good one in ZOC Terminal which is a professional SSH/telnet client and terminal emulator. What makes it impressive, it is fast to access hosts and very secure."
  10. 9

    #13ePSXe for Android

    ePSXe for Android

    ePSXe for Android is a Playstation emulator (PSX and PSOne). It is a port of the famous ePSXe for PC. ePSXe provides very high compatibility, good speed, and accurate sound. It includes a two players option with a split-screen mode.

    Apps

    Android

    Free

    Christina Brooks
    Written on May 23, 2019
    "While the release of the PlayStation Classic was cool and all and let us experience our favorite classic games again, it was a living room experience. if you're looking for a more untethered experience and have an Android device, check this one out."
  11. 7

    #14Matsu PSX Emulator

    Matsu PSX Emulator

    Matsu PSX Emulator is a multi-emulator for Android which supporting multiple consoles like PSX, SNES, NES, GBA, GBC, Genesis. it also contains various functions such as state save, fast forward, rewind, etc.

    Apps

    Android

    Antonio Balderas
    Written on April 3, 2018
    "I had high hopes for this, because some tablet games I don't want to burn up my tablet playing. That thing can get pretty hot sometimes when I've been gaming for an hour or two. But this emulator doesn't really do what it should. I've had several games that just bug out or load but act quite strangely when I try to boot them up on my console. Which is a shame. It feels like they tried too hard to make this a cross platform emulator, when they should've just focused on one at a time before adding another console. Shame."
  12. 5

    #15Console2

    Console2
    Console is a Windows console window enhancement. Console features include: multiple tabs, text editor-like text selection, different background types, alpha and color-key transparency, configurable font, different window styles.
    Software

    Windows

    Free

    Vicky Duan
    Written on April 6, 2018
    "I really like console and have been using it for a long time. It does everything I need it to do plus a little extra. It allows me to work quicker and efficiently. It was the best download I ever made and it helps me out with all my work on a daily basis."
  13. 2

    #16Tera Term

    Tera Term

    Tera Term is a free open-source terminal emulator software under BSD License. Its TTSSH supports SSH2 protocol and is compatible with computers with Microsoft Windows operating system.

    Software

    Windows

    Free

    Ethan Fisher
    Written on April 5, 2018
    "This is a very good emulator that I have been using for about a year now. I have had very good success with it and would recommend anyone that is looking to give it a try. This emulator has some nice built in features such as a macro scripting language. You know if you need this. "
  14. 1

    #17Mednafen

    Mednafen

    Mednafen is a game emulator for Windows and Linux. It utilizes platforms such as OpenGL and SDL. It can emulate games from Nintendo, Sega PC Engine, and other handheld games. Users can remap keys, set save states and record clips.

    Software

    Windows, Linux

    Free

    Howard Garcia
    Written on June 6, 2018
    "Yeah what a fantastic waste of time trying to figure out how to install the emulator on linux! They need to work on that"
  15. 0

    #18Nox Player

    Nox Player

    The Nox Player is a new android emulator that you can download in your PC to run apps and Android games on your computer. It was developed by Nox Digital Entertainment Co. Limited.

    Software

    Windows, Mac

    Free

    Frank Vasquez
    Written on April 9, 2018
    "Nox is a great PC app that lets you take your mobile gaming experience to your computer. It's an emulator for Android games only which is the downside, but it's also free. So now you can play games that are normally only available on mobile devices on a larger screen."

Summary

Best What are the best emulators
RankSolutionsTypeVotesPrice
1BlueStacksSoftware 34 Free
2RetroArchApps 29 Free
3ZSNESSoftware 27 Free
4CmderSoftware 25 Free
5ClassicBoy Apps 24 Free
6AMIDuOSSoftware 22 Paid
7AndySoftware 20 Free
8higan Software 19 Free
9ARChon RuntimeSoftware 16 Paid
10PSXevenSoftware 14 Free
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