The Best Console Emulators for Your Laptop Retrogaming Experience

With the 2012 video gaming season in full swing, lots of drool-worthy titles have already been released to the sheer delight of gamers everywhere; or at least, to those who are able to play them.

For console gamers who can’t, the reason is probably because they can’t afford to buy the games at day-one prices just yet. PC gamers, though, have one more factor to contend with: Their gaming rigs just aren’t powerful enough to accommodate the latest games.

Desktop users can get by this relatively easily, what with desktops being flexibly upgradeable and all. However, laptop users aren’t afforded such advantages. More often than not, the specs of the laptop parts that their computers came with upon purchase are the specs that their computers will keep

As such, laptop gamers will have to wait a little longer until they can save up enough to purchase a new laptop (or better yet, switch over to desktops). In the meantime, they can install older games that they haven’t played yet; games that their laptop components will be able to handle. Batman: Arkham City? Check. Fallout: New Vegas? Check. Mass Effect 2, Dead Space, the first Assassin’s Creed? Check, check, and stealth-kill-you-in-broad-daylight check.

Heck, since you’ve already gone back by about five years, why not just go retro all the way? Surely your little ol’ laptop with its 2-year-old laptop parts will be able to handle it. And who knows, you might just rediscover a forgotten classic or two that your dad used to play when he was your age (or your mom, just so we’re clear that we’re not being sexist here).

Below is a list of the best emulators of the some of the most popular console systems of yesteryear, counting down from the most recent to the most ancient.

5.       Dolphin (Nintendo GameCube)

After years of stubbornly sticking to cartridge-based games, Nintendo finally made the switch to optical media with the GameCube in 2001. Although eventually losing the sixth generation console war to Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox, the Cube was nevertheless popular in its own right, especially with the younger crowd.

The Dolphin emulator seeks to reintroduce these games which were mostly unplayed by the gaming majority (the adults and older kids, that is). Better yet, the Dolphin is also able to emulate Wii games.

4.       PCSX2 (Sony PlayStation 2)

Of course everyone has heard of the PS2. It’s only the bestselling console of all time, right?

Launched in 2000, it has since sold more than 150 million units; spawning countless now-classic games in the process.

PCSX2 is able to emulate a many titles, most of which are the blockbuster titles. The only downside is, since the PS2 employed a multi-core processor structure, at least a dual-core processor in your PC is a necessity for the PCSX2 to work, along with a 1 GB RAM and a fairly powerful GPU.

3.       ePSXe (Sony PlayStation)

The console that built the (gaming) house of Sony, the original PlayStation was one of the biggest reasons why the video game industry transcended from being kid stuff to being big business. The PS is as historic as they come.

ePSXe has come a long way since emulation first hit the mainstream, with almost all titles capable of being emulated, and at upgraded graphics, too.


2.       ZSNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System)

 The eventual winner of the fourth generation console war (a.k.a. the 16-bit war), the SNES was one of probably only two consoles that most adults nowadays grew up on. It featured advanced graphics and sounds during its time, and was home to some of the most revered titles ever.

ZSNES, widely considered the best SNES emulator, allows for robust customization of games, and emulates almost all titles with 100% accuracy.

1.       Gens (Sega Genesis)

Although playing second fiddle to the SNES, the Genesis is no less a classic console. Admirably giving Nintendo a run for its money for quite a while there, what the console lacked in power compared to its rival, it made up for with technical innovations that made full use of what it had.

Like ZSNES, Gens is deemed the best Genesis emulator. Aside from allowing a variety of game customizations, it is also able to emulate the Sega CD and the 32X: The two add-on consoles to the Genesis.

About Colleen Northcutt:

Colleen Northcutt is a 22 years old from Reno, Nevada. She is an avid PC gamer and a Writer / Web promoter, and Blogger at She’s written about technology especially for laptops and notebooks and very passionate, optimistic & dedicated woman who takes up responsibilities with utmost enthusiasm.

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