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WIP - Recommended emulators for each platform


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I've been away from emu scene for quite some years, besides more or less following mame... now I find most of my prefered emus are way surpassed.


I would love if we could build a list of recommended emus for each system, and I hope some gurus here would do their suggestions to compile/debate/agree in this first post.

I'm really open for suggestions on how to do this and I'm more than up to build a comparison table if you help me find the pros/cons ;)

If this has been done already (couldn't find it easily), I will be more than glad to be adressed there and save the work of redoing ;) I knwoo there's the Emulator settings for each platforms (it's pinned!) but I see this as somewhat different

Îf your suggestion is retroarch, please specify cores

I would love to compile links to tutorials to configure each system too.

I'm ashamed not to have personal favourites yet besides bsnes (after being pointed there, 3 months ago was zsnes lol), that's why I ask experienced users :)

I know many of these systems will share emulator, or there's only an option, but just for the sake of individual preferences lest list them individually. Fell free to point missing platforms I compiled it from my roms lists

For arcades I would love to be able to separate better than mame options as final burn for CPS, neogeo, etc. it's the last complete list...


  • NES
  • FMC Disk System
  • VS. System
  • PlayChoice-10
  • SNES
  • GW
  • GB
  • GBC
  • GBA
  • DS
  • 3DS
  • Pokemon Mini
  • Virtual Boy
  • Gamecube
  • Wii


  • SG-1000
  • Master System
  • Megadrive
  • Saturn
  • Dreamcast
  • GameGear
  • Nomad
  • System 32
  • Model 1
  • Model 2
  • Model 3
  • ST-V
  • Naomi
  • Hikaru
  • Naomi 2
  • Triforce
  • Chihiro
  • Lindbergh


  • PC-88
  • PC-Engine
  • Turbograph 16
  • Turboduo
  • TurboExpress
  • PC-FX


  • 2600
  • 5200
  • 7800
  • Linx
  • Jaguar
  • ST


  • AES
  • CD
  • Pocket
  • Pocket Color


  • Pippin
  • WonderSwan
  • WonderSwan Color


  • Loopy
  • PV-1000

Other Arcade

  • Capcom CPS1
  • Capcom CPS2
  • Capcom CPS3
  • Daphne


  • Commodore 64
  • Commodore 128
  • Commodore Amiga
  • Commodore Amiga CD
  • Commodore Amiga 32CD


  • MSX
  • MSX2
  • DOS
  • Xbox


  • PSX
  • PS2
  • PS3
  • PSP


  • Magnavox Odyssey
  • Magnabox Odyssey 2
  • Channel F
  • RCA Studio II
  • Mattel Intellyvision
  • Colecovision
  • Vectrex
  • Fairchild - Channel F
  • Philipc-CDi
  • 3DO
  • Acorn BBC
  • Amstrad GX4000
  • Emerson - ARcadia 2001
  • Entex - Adventure Vision
  • Epoch - Supercassette Vision
  • Amiga CD32
  • Bandai Playdia
  • Appel Pippin
  • Photo-CD
  • Fujitsu FM-towns
  • Sinclair ZX81

Other handhelds

  • Microvision
  • Watara Supervision
  • Tiger R-Zone
  • Tiger Game.com
  • WonderSwan
  • N-Gage
  • Zodiac
  • Gizmondo
  • Palm


  • V.tech Creativision
  • V.smile
  • Leapfrog - Leapster Learning Game System


Edited by Johnnydement
Changed title
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2 hours ago, Johnnydement said:

If this has been done already (couldn't find it easily), I will be more than glad to be adressed there and save the work of redoing ;) I knwoo there's the Emulator settings for each platforms (it's pinned!) but I see this as somewhat different

Yes, something like this already exists. The guys from emu-wiki have done a superb job on this subject and keeping it always up-to-date.

You can find it here: http://emulation.gametechwiki.com/index.php/Main_Page

Just go to any platform you want and you get emulator comparisons including recommendations. For the most emulators you even get some useful configurations tips.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

Best emulator is going to be a fairly subjective.

First, define "best". Are we defining it as the most accurate ? Are we defining it as the most feature rich ? Are we defining it as the fastest ? Are we defining it as the best that will run on a selected platforms hardware specs ? Are we defining it terms of ease of setup ? Or maybe the best over all balance of all of the above ?

To me best is going to be a personal decision based on personal preferences and the system running the emulator. For example on my main gaming PC which is a 4 GHz, 16 Gigs ram, GTX 970 gaming, rig I can run pretty much any emulator with upscaling and shaders without issues but on my laptop which is only 1.5 Ghz, 4 Gigs ram and integrated video I have to be more choosy with my emulators. I would love to run BSnes and Retroarch PSX on it but it simply isn't fast enough so I have to use Snes9x and ePSXe on it.

Then we get into emulators for such systems like the Nintendo64 where neither emulator choice is "best" at all and only "least worse" at best on a game by game basis.

And now we have to take into consideration individual needs to run certain rom hacks that do not run on more accurate emulators because they require certain specific speed hacks of an emulator to use.

I would be more inclined to maybe name the list as "Recommended Emulators" instead of "Best Emulator"

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51 minutes ago, lordmonkus said:

I would be more inclined to maybe name the list as "Recommended Emulators" instead of "Best Emulator"

Title changed ;)


I had in mind to compile the list based in what people suggested, so there's plenty of options to recommend one "generic" emu, and offer alternatives for concrete cases

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Here is my list of preferred emulators I use for the systems I actually care enough to emulate at this point in time. I will say this up front though, I generally use Retroarch to emulate pretty much anything that it can do for the simple reasons of shaders, hard gpu sync for reduced input latency and easy to manage save states. I like to have very accurate emulators where possible but I am not willing to give up those features listed in Retroarch just to get one or two really terrible game to work. I value the total package over absolute accuracy at the expense of overall usability.

Retroarch - 4DO core. This is a system I really couldn't care less about and I have no desire to look into any of the other emulators out there.

FS-UAE - Another system I don't care that much about but FS-UAE was super easy to get up and running and supports WHDLoad files.Launchbox and mounting multi disk games right now is a major effort so for this reason I use this emulator. Other Amiga emulators may be better but I do not know enough about them. This emulator ticked the boxes of easy of use and seems to run really well with every game I have thrown at it.

Amiga CD32
Same as above.

Mame is my choice with HLSL shaders but Retroarch is a perfectly viable option but it may be difficult to run on lower end systems. I could not run Retroarch Mame on my 1.5 GHz laptop.

Atari 2600
Retroarch - Stella core. Shaders here make all the difference over stand alone Stella.

Atari 5200
Kat 5200 is the easiest to get up and running in Launchbox. Altirra is a good emulator on it's own but setting it up in Retroarch requires a lot of extra manual work. Mess is an ok option but has some issues with the 2nd button in certain games, most notably Moon Patrol.

Atari 7800
Retroarch - Pro System core. Same reason as the 2600, shaders.

Atari Jaguar
Retroarch - Virtual Jaguar core. Just like the 3DO this is a system I do not care about, it's an awful system and not worth my time to look into any other emulators.

Atari Lynx

Atari ST
Steem - For the same reasons I chose FS-UAE for Amiga, it was just easy to get up and running.

Demul - The only option there is.

Capcom CPS 1,2 and 3
Retroarch - FBA core. I have these games imported into both their own platforms and Arcade. The Arcade platform uses Mame while for the CPS platforms I use RA. I bounce back and forth on the emulator I use for these games.

Mame - Fairly easy to set up and controller settings are easy to setup as well. HLSL shaders make the games look decent enough to play.

NEC PC-FX, TG16, PC Engine, and their CD addons
Retroarch - Mednafen SuperGrafx core - This core handles all of these systems nearly flawlessly and even handles the small handful of SuperGrafx games. The stand alone Mednafen may be more accurate but it is unnoticeable and no shaders make this an easy decision for me.

Retroarch - Same as Capcom CPS systems.

NeoGeo CD
Mame - Retroarch does not support this system. Stand alone FBA does but does not have fast forward option and the NeoGeo CD has awful awful AWFUL long load times and Mess lets you fast forward through them. Apparently Raine supports this system but who really cares about that emulator ?

Nintendo 64
Mupen64plus core in RA and the stand alone Simple64 are both great choices.

Nintendo DS
Retroarch Desmume core - Shaders and the ability to use the right analog stick as a stylus while the stand alone does not is my reasons for choosing this emulator. The stand alone does run better on slower systems however.

Nintendo Entertainment System / Famicom Disk System
Retroarch Nestopia or puNES - Both are excellent choices with puNES being the more accurate of the 2 and supports Retroarchs shaders. Bizhawk and Mesen are more accurate but look like poo without shaders and are only marginally more accurate than puNES.

Update: There is now a Mesen core, use this

Nintendo Gameboy Advance
Retroarch mGBA core - Same reasons I use RA for anything and it's really accurate as well.

Nintendo Gameboy Colour
Retroarch BSnes core loading through the Super Gameboy Snes rom or Sameboy core.

Nintendo (SNES)
Retroarch BSnes-Accuracy core - This one is a lot of personal preference but my decision was based off shaders and MSU-1 hack support, plus it has 100% compatibility (BSnes-Balanced is a good choice). Higan is a great emulator if you crave absolute accuracy. Snes9x is a very good choice for lower end hardware.

Update: Snes9x or Higan core if you have the special chip dumps and value accuracy above all else, I prefer the Snes9x core myself.

Nintendo Gamecube / Wii / Wii Virtual Console
Dolphin - The only choice there is right now.

Sega 32X
Retroarch Pico core or Fusion - Fusion is probably the better choice but much like the 3DO and Jaguar I really don't care enough about the system to have a favourite.

Sega Dreamcast
Demul - The only realistic choice but if a game doesn't work in it NullDC is usually the only other real choice. Maybe Reicast will catch up but that day is not here yet.

Sega Genesis / CD / Master System
Retroarch GenesisGX core - The best option there is right now. It claims 100% compatibility and is the only emulator other than Mess to play Pier Solar. Fusion is good but not as good at all for these systems. Pico is crap in comparison.

Sega Saturn
Retroarch Mednafen Saturn core for games that use only the d-pad controls and stand alone Mednafen for anything that uses the 3dpad analog controls. Once RA supports analog controls then RA will be the easy choice. SSF while it is a good emulator has to mount disk images and is known for its input latency. Yabause isn't even in the conversation.

Sony Playstation
Retroarch Mednafen PSX - This is my preferred choice just because of RAs extra features. ePSXe 2.0 and above are very good options and has good shader support of its own and great 3D polygonal game support with its hardware upscaling. ePSXe also runs better on lower end systems. RA on my 15 GHz laptop couldn't run the RA core at all without slowdown but ePSXe even with Lottes shader ran great. Both emulators are excellent choices.

Sony Playstation 2
PCSX2 - The only choice for now.

Sony PSP
PPSSPP stand alone. The RA core isn't terrible but not as up to date as the stand alone and this system does not need  RAs shaders.

Mame - Easy to setup and configure controls and looks really good with HLSL shaders. Also the only emulator I could get to load multi disk games within Launchbox.

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  • 3 months later...

Curious about " Sony Playstation
Retroarch Mednafen PSX - This is my preferred choice just because of RAs extra features. "

...but then the rest of the paragraph goes on to praise ePSXe  ....I'm wondering what the "extra features" are that sway your way toward RA on this one...?

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Not much to convert to it really and well worth it over setting up stand alone emulators IMHO. I think overall for the 8,16 and 32 home consoles it wins out over stand alone emulators. Some of the stand alone options may be technically better on paper when it comes to the actual emulation quality itself but the slight difference in emulation accuracy is so minor it is more than offset by the extra Retroarch features.

Perfect examples of this would be the NES and SNES emulation choices. Yeah puNES and Mesen are more accurate than Nestopia and Fceumm but the difference is extremely small. Same with SNES, while Higan is technically superior BSnes Accuracy is so tight on its ass plus it is so much easier to use.

I really love the consistent look and feel that Retroarch provides with its shaders and reduced input latency.

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I'm fairly certain but don't hold me to it because I don't use it personally, but I believe you can set a custom key press or combo for saving and loading save states in Retroarch.

I just use the quick menu by pressing the "guide" button on my controller and using the save state manager there.

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1 minute ago, DOS76 said:

saves in RetroArch will all be done the same way some cores however don't support save states

How did you map the guide button for access to the Quick Menu? I use a Dual Shock 4 in conjunction with Scarlett Crush's custom Xinput hooking utility, so Windows thinks it's an X360 controller. It'd be awesome to use the PS button to access this, but I've only ever seen pre-made configurations in RA for this (I'm using the press R3 + L3 combo now).

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It just worked out of the box for me but if that's not the case for you just go to the Settings menu > Input > Input Hotkey Binds and at the very bottom is Menu Toggle. Press X on your keyboard or whatever your confirm button is on your controller (probably O on a PS4 controller) and then press the "guide" button or PS button on the PS4 controller.

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