What are the best console emulators out there?

Emulation of old consoles and arcades.

What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby mr_bigmouth_502 » 2014-5-22 @ 06:11

So I've been bitten by the retro emulation bug, again, and I've realized that a lot of the emulators I used to use are buggy and inaccurate by modern standards. I know that Higan is supposed to be the best emulator out there for SNES emulation, and I can definitely attest to its greatness, but I wonder what the best emulators are for the NES, Playstation, Gameboy, and Genesis/Megadrive.
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby laxdragon » 2014-5-22 @ 14:10

Honestly, while not the best, I tend to use MESS for most of my console emulation these days. It is just nice to have a single emu that does multiple platforms. That, and MESS is constantly improving, and like MAME shows no signs of becoming stagnant like every other emu ever.
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby Jorpho » 2014-5-22 @ 16:51

mr_bigmouth_502 wrote:I've realized that a lot of the emulators I used to use are buggy and inaccurate by modern standards.
Higan is a major new development, but I don't think "standards" have otherwise changed that much in the last ten years – certainly not for the systems you are referring to. What emulators are you thinking of as "buggy and inaccurate" ?
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby retrofanatic » 2014-5-22 @ 17:52

mr_bigmouth_502 wrote:So I've been bitten by the retro emulation bug, again, and I've realized that a lot of the emulators I used to use are buggy and inaccurate by modern standards. I know that Higan is supposed to be the best emulator out there for SNES emulation, and I can definitely attest to its greatness, but I wonder what the best emulators are for the NES, Playstation, Gameboy, and Genesis/Megadrive.


Just go to http://www.emulator-zone.com/ and download the highest rated emulator program that they have listed for each console. I find the emulator downloads to be well organized there and the top rated ones up to Playstaion 1 emulators all worked very well for me on a Pentium 4 3.0GHz s775 system.

Edit: Oh and BTW, I have tried Maximus Arcade frontend program with all my emulators and I have to say it is awesome...totally worth trying out.
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby MaxWar » 2014-5-22 @ 22:52

If you want to emulate Arcade games it is more complicated.

I find that if a game runs on Final Burn, it works best.
If Final burn does not support it, I use Mame.
But Then I also use a modded Xbox for emulation.
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby mr_bigmouth_502 » 2014-5-23 @ 04:16

I've been playing around with puNES for NES emulation lately. http://forums.nesdev.com/viewtopic.php?t=6928 It's supposed to be the most accurate NES emulator out there, and it seems to work pretty well, though I occasionally run into a bug where my left and right directional controls quit working, which is really quite annoying. I used to use FCE Ultra a loooong time ago and I had no real problems with it other than the colors being off, and the aspect ratio being slightly distorted when run in a "fullscreen" window. I'm not sure if it would be considered a decent emulator by modern standards though.

Also, I don't really trust Emulator Zone's recommendations. They're often vastly out of date, and even back when I used to use their site, I often found that their "best" recommendations weren't really their "best".
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby Jorpho » 2014-5-23 @ 14:40

Would you trust TASVideos? They also recommend FCEUX.
http://tasvideos.org/EmulatorResources.html

If you were using FCE Ultra, I understand FCEUX is a substantial improvement.
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby Holering » 2014-5-24 @ 13:18

My vote goes for mednafen (here's hoping they'll import genplus-gx code for perfect Sega Cd emulation for once). It's got the bsnes core for snes (not the newest), and everything just works great (use ultra low buffer setting for sound and everything feels like the real console; no distortion or sound lag with alsa and hardware mixing). Very similar to Mess, except everything works with good to very accurate emulation (mess has lots of drivers that still don't work too good). Also goes good with CRTs since you can use custom resolutions and keep pixel perfect output with odd ones (keep output from stretching if it doesn't match resolution too); e.g. you can use 640x240 @120hz with only width stretched x2 without interpolation, and have perfect pixels with natural scanlines on Genesis and other 320x224 native consoles (Mame-Mess does this too).

Speaking of monitors, I get natural scanlines in 320x240 @120hz currently with 8400gs, but some videocards-drivers simply force 120Hz double-scan (in this case 640x240@120hz is needed for natural scanlines); 320x224@120hz is below 31.5khz limit of my CRT, hence I use 320x240 or 640x240 @120hz and keep vertical portion centered (stretch vertical size through monitor controls so it fills screen; got to love analog CRT's for making every resolution native with flexibility and no lag). Mednafen, Mess and Mame are really good with custom modelines. PAL resolutions can be fun to play with, as well as lower SNES and playstation resolutions haha.

Haven't tried Mupen64 but I think that should be one of the best N64 emulators; if not, the best. Not sure though.

EPSXE and PCSX-Reloaded should be the most comaptible and accurate PSX emulators IMO.
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby mr_bigmouth_502 » 2014-5-25 @ 01:40

Holering wrote:My vote goes for mednafen (here's hoping they'll import genplus-gx code for perfect Sega Cd emulation for once). It's got the bsnes core for snes (not the newest), and everything just works great (use ultra low buffer setting for sound and everything feels like the real console; no distortion or sound lag with alsa and hardware mixing). Very similar to Mess, except everything works with good to very accurate emulation (mess has lots of drivers that still don't work too good). Also goes good with CRTs since you can use custom resolutions and keep pixel perfect output with odd ones (keep output from stretching if it doesn't match resolution too); e.g. you can use 640x240 @120hz with only width stretched x2 without interpolation, and have perfect pixels with natural scanlines on Genesis and other 320x224 native consoles (Mame-Mess does this too).

Speaking of monitors, I get natural scanlines in 320x240 @120hz currently with 8400gs, but some videocards-drivers simply force 120Hz double-scan (in this case 640x240@120hz is needed for natural scanlines); 320x224@120hz is below 31.5khz limit of my CRT, hence I use 320x240 or 640x240 @120hz and keep vertical portion centered (stretch vertical size through monitor controls so it fills screen; got to love analog CRT's for making every resolution native with flexibility and no lag). Mednafen, Mess and Mame are really good with custom modelines. PAL resolutions can be fun to play with, as well as lower SNES and playstation resolutions haha.

Haven't tried Mupen64 but I think that should be one of the best N64 emulators; if not, the best. Not sure though.

EPSXE and PCSX-Reloaded should be the most comaptible and accurate PSX emulators IMO.


I've played around a bit with Mednafen, but the utter lack of a proper UI for it drives me nuts. It wouldn't be so bad if it only emulated a single system so you could type in "mednafen xyzgame.rom", but it emulates about a dozen different systems so things can get really complicated. I know people recommend to use it with RetroArch, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to get the two to work together.
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby Mau1wurf1977 » 2014-5-25 @ 03:55

Played around with emulators yesterday and today and found that with Windows 8.1 there is an issue with Fusion (Sega Emulator). You get 30 fps in full screen mode :blah:

Then I tried a few SNES emualtors like Higan. It works really well, but I couldn't get the image to be fill 100% vertical space. It was letterboxes with the typical black bars to the sides, which is perfect, but it also had a small gap at the top and bottom.

Last time I tried MAME and MESS I gave up. I find them just too hard to get going. While there are really clever people working on these emulators I find that the user interface and ease of use is shocking. Also they are pre-configured poorly and always require you to manually change settings.
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby Firtasik » 2014-5-25 @ 06:42

11 1 111 11 1 1 1 1 1 11 1 1 111 1 111 1 1 1 1 111
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby Mau1wurf1977 » 2014-5-25 @ 07:23



Thank you, works well :)
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby GPDP » 2014-5-28 @ 07:59

I use RetroArch for pretty much everything, as it has some of the best and most high-quality cores ported for use with it, has the best audio/video sync I've ever seen, and its shader support is the best, period. It also works amazingly well with a CRT monitor.

The cores I use most often include bsnes balanced (SNES), Nestopia (NES), Genesis Plus GX (pretty much everything Sega except 32X), Mupen64Plus (N64), Mednafen (PC-Engine and Playstation), and Final Burn Alpha (Neo Geo and CPS2/3 arcade games). It even has cutting-edge MAME and MESS cores, so anything not covered by individual cores can pretty much be emulated through those.
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby mr_bigmouth_502 » 2014-5-29 @ 07:18

I've tried Retroarch, but I can't seem to get it to work under XP. I've read that it has something to do with the toolchains used to compile it. If I were to compile it myself, what would I have to change to make it work?

EDIT: It turns out that the vanilla 64-bit build works, but not the vanilla 32-bit build or the megapacks. I'm on XP Pro x64 SP2 btw.
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby GPDP » 2014-5-29 @ 21:46

Yeah, the 32-bit Windows build has been neglected for some time. I do not know what kind of toolchain would be necessary to make it build correctly.

Given you can use the 64-bit version, however, why not give this build a try? It's regularly updated, and even has a toolchain you can use yourself if you want:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/91sakv0qdyxjx9f/cGOfV7ZOKd
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby truth_deleted » 2014-5-29 @ 23:50

I agree with GPDP about Retroarch. I use 1.0.0.2 for the Win32 build and it works well across different hardware on 32-bit systems. Given an issue on a 64-bit system, it makes sense to use the Win64 build. Likewise, it may be important to choose the best video and audio driver (such as gl, dsound). The settings and shaders are mostly applicable across the many emulation cores.

The advantages are mentioned above (A/V sync, custom shaders). I'd like to add it also includes Snes9x-Next, an optimized version which runs very well on slow systems. The GUI serves as a functional frontend, too.

On Android systems it has further advantages over many alternatives, such as featuring excellent psx emulation in a core; all for no charge.
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby GPDP » 2014-5-30 @ 02:07

I just wish the DOSBox core actually worked on Windows. For whatever reason, trying to mount a drive results in a softlock or something. I like standalone DOSBox, but I find its VSync implementation to be pretty lacking.
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby bucket » 2014-6-01 @ 03:19

I'm interested in the capabilities of RetroArch, because I'm counting the days until Sony kicks PS3 users off their network. Does anyone have experience getting it to work under PS3 custom firmware?
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby kolano » 2014-6-01 @ 06:56

For folks with a working DOSBox core in RetroArch, I'm interested in it's more capable shader support. Does that work out with the DOSBox core?
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Re: What are the best console emulators out there?

Postby mr_bigmouth_502 » 2014-6-05 @ 07:36

I've been using retroarch for a few days now, and I like the emulation cores and shaders that it offers, but not the user interface. I find that it's confusing to operate, and it tends to crash a lot. Is there a way I can get the same cores and shader support, but with a better UI, perhaps through a frontend?
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