Emulators for PC have become increasingly popular in recent years, allowing users to experience classic and modern games on their computers.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore the best emulators for various platforms and guide tech noobs through the process of using them. We’ll also address some common questions about emulators and their legality. So, let’s dive in!

Emulators for PC

An emulator is a software program that mimics the hardware of another device, allowing users to run software designed for that device on a different platform.

In the context of gaming, emulators for PC enable users to play console games on their computers.

Emulators have also been used for software development, testing, and preservation of older games and software.

Best Emulators for Various Platforms

Here is a list of the best emulators for different gaming platforms and operating systems, compiled from various sources, including Reddit.


  • DOSBox-staging
  • DOSBox-X
  • 86Box
  • PCem

Windows 95/98

  • 86Box
  • PCem

Nintendo Entertainment System

  • Mesen
  • puNES
  • Nestopia UE

Virtual Boy

  • Mednafen (GUI)
  • VBjin

Super Nintendo

  • bsnes or ares (same core)
  • Mesen
  • Snes9x

Nintendo 64

  • ares
  • simple64 (mupen64plus + paraLLEl-RDP + a GUI)
  • ParaLLEI N64 with Multithreaded Angrylion (libretro core)
  • Project64

Nintendo GameCube/Wii

  • Dolphin

Wii U

  • Cemu

Nintendo Switch

  • Yuzu
  • Ryujinx

Game Boy/Game Boy Color

  • Sameboy
  •  BGB
  • Gambatte (has ceased development. Just libgambatte exist now.)
  • Mesen
  • mGBA

Game Boy Advance

  • mGBA
  • ares
  • VBA-M

Nintendo DS

  • melonDS
  • DeSmuME

Nintendo 3DS

  • Citra


  • DuckStation
  • Mednafen (GUI) (libretro core: Beetle PSX HW)
  • ares

PlayStation 2

  • PCSX2
  • Play!

PlayStation 3

  • RPCS3

PlayStation Portable



  • Cxbx-Reloaded
  • xemu

Xbox 360

  • Xenia

Installing and Using Emulators

The process of installing and using emulators on your PC may vary depending on the emulator you choose. Generally, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  • Download the emulator from its official website or a trusted source.
  • Extract the emulator files (if needed) to a folder on your PC.
  • Run the emulator’s executable file to launch it.
  • Configure the emulator’s settings, such as controls, graphics, and sound, as desired.
  • Obtain the game ROM or ISO file for the game you want to play. Make sure to follow applicable copyright laws and only use ROMs or ISOs for games you own.
  • Load the game ROM or ISO file in the emulator, and start playing!

Remember, each emulator may have specific instructions, so refer to its documentation or website for more detailed guidance.


Emulators for PC offer an excellent way to experience classic and modern games on your computer.

With this comprehensive guide, you should be well-equipped to choose the right emulator for your needs and start playing your favorite games.

Remember to follow applicable copyright laws and have fun gaming!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are emulators for PC legal?

Emulators themselves are legal, as they are simply software programs that replicate the functionality of another device.

However, downloading copyrighted game ROMs or ISOs without owning the original game may violate copyright laws in some jurisdictions.

Always follow applicable laws and only use ROMs or ISOs for games you legally own.

What are the system requirements for running emulators for PC?

System requirements vary depending on the emulator and the platform it emulates. Generally, the more modern the console being emulated, the higher the system requirements.

Some emulators may require a powerful CPU, GPU, and a sufficient amount of RAM to run smoothly. Always check the emulator’s documentation or website for specific system requirements.

Can I use a game controller with emulators for PC?

Yes, many emulators support various game controllers, including USB and Bluetooth controllers. You may need to configure the controller settings within the emulator to map the buttons correctly.

How can I improve the performance of emulators for PC?

Improving emulator performance may involve adjusting settings within the emulator, such as graphics, sound, and emulation options.

Additionally, ensure your computer meets or exceeds the emulator’s system requirements and update your graphics drivers if needed.

Richard is an experienced tech journalist and blogger who is passionate about new and emerging technologies. He provides insightful and engaging content for Connection Cafe and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest trends and developments.