- If you're nostalgic and want to reexperience retro games, the best all-in-one emulators are here to help you.
- The software on our list can play all console and pre-PC era games straight on your computer.
- Some require a controller but all the all-in-one emulators on our list are free.
Here at WindowsReport, we have shared a ton of resources for Windows and other platform users to play old retro and new Android games on their computers.
Likewise, we have also shared some resources to play your favorite Nintendo GameBoy and DS games on PC and iOS devices.
While these emulators are good and perform the core task more often than not, having to install a new emulator every time to emulate a new platform is not only a daunting task but also time-consuming.
This is where the all-in-one emulator for Windows comes into play. All-in-one emulators are nothing but multi-platform emulators that can emulate and run games from different platforms from a single source. Consider them as your swiss knife for playing old retro games.
Now if you are of the generation that played old retro Mario and Legend of Zelda on GameBoy or DOS games like Alien Carnage on PC, you are probably looking for a way to play those old retro games on your modern, powerful Windows machines as well.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, you can play old retro games from multiple platforms using an all-in-one emulator.
Which emulator is best for low-end PC?
You need to know that running an emulator on your PC means that the app simulates another OS running on your machine.
And that virtual machine uses the same resources as your computer, including CPU and RAM so your PC has to handle both under the same roof. However, we have a list of the best emulators that can run on low-end PCs.
Is 2GB RAM enough for the emulator?
Yes, some of the emulators can run on a minimum of 2GB of RAM. However, this is far less than ideal if you want to run some complex games.
So, today, in this article, we take a look at the best all-in-one emulators for Windows PC to play your favorite retro game that will bring on pure nostalgia.
What is the best multi emulator?
Bizhawk – Best retro emulator
Bizhawk is an ultimate all-in-one retro emulator designed by developers at TASVideos. It is free to use and works on Windows OS running computers.
The core functionality of Bizhawk is to offer accuracy and power to users without making the working process complicated.
Bizhawk can emulate and run Neo Geo Pocket, Nintendo DS, Sega 32X, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Sega Master System, Virtual Boy, Uzebox, and ZX Spectrum ROMs on your Windows PC. You may check the full list of compatible ROMs on the official website.
Bizghawk supports full recording and Lua scripting. In addition, it comes with features like full-screen support, controller and hotkey mapping support, gamepad support for game controls, and auto rapid-fire controls function.
For pro users, it includes basic re-recording and bulletproof recording support, input display, auto hold, RAM watching and poking tools, Lua scripting, Rewind, and Frame lag and rerecording counters.
The installation of Bizhwak requires more than a few clicks on the next and accept button.
You may need to move some files around to get Bizhawk installed and to run the game ROMs on it. Check the YouTube video below for the installation procedure:
RetroArch – Best Nintendo emulator
RetroArch is a bit different than Bizhawk. It is a frontend for emulators, game engines, and media players and allows you to play games from multiple platforms on your Windows computer.
Being an all-in-one Nintendo emulator, RetroArch can run video game ROMs from Nintendo, Super Nintendo, NES, Nintendo 64, and more.
If you don’t have a Windows PC, RetroArch is compatible with Mac OS, Linux, Android, iOS, gaming consoles, and other devices as well.
The user interface is super slick, and you can browse the game collection through the menu. However, the emulator itself is not the easiest to use.
The installation and setup procedure of RetroArch does take some effort and time. But, once you do, the emulator makes up for the effort by allowing you to play retro games from multiple platforms from a single framework.
The system is highly customizable and allows the users to tweak most of the settings for the emulator and the games.
In addition, it also gets gamepad support and mapping, Shaders graphical filters to enhance the rendering of the game, achievement tabs, Netplay to host or join the online gaming community, and an ever-expanding library.
RetroArch uses RertoCores to emulate the games from other platforms. Some of the cores supported by the emulator include Dolphin to emulate Wii and GameCube ROMs, Citra for Nintendo 3DS, Redream to emulate Sega Dreamcast, Open Lara, a Tomb Rider game engine, melonDS, Gameboy, and more.
Mednafen – Best Sega emulator
Mednafen is a multi-system emulator for Windows computers. It is a portable emulator that uses OpenGL and SDL to render games.
Originally, Mednafen was introduced as a command-line-driven multi-system emulator; however, developers have created a GUI tool to make it user-friendly for everyone.
While RetroArch and Bizhawk offer great support for hand-held retro game emulation, Mednafen is preferable for those looking for a PlayStation 1 emulator along with support for Nintendo and SNES emulators.
Some of the platforms supported by Mednafen include Apple 11/11+, PlayStation One, Sega Genesis, Master System, Game Gear, Super Nintendo, GameBoy Advanced Neo Geo Pocket, WonderSwam, and more.
Similar to RetroArch, Mednafen does not offer a direct installer. You need to move around some files and folders to get it working. But unlike RetroArch, Mednafen is much easier to install.
Other features include the ability to take screenshots, keymapping, support for both Gamepad and keyboard controls, and the ability to record audiovisual movies in the QuickTime file format.
The support for ISO files and the ability to emulate TurboGrafx 16-CD / PC Engine CD is what makes Mednafen an excellent choice for playing CD games on your PC. For the frontend GUI, you can use Mednaffe or MedGui.
FinalBurn Alpha – Best arcade emulator
FB Alpha (popularly known as FinalBurn Alpha) is a multi-system open source emulator for Windows users.
The purpose of the emulator is to emulate the popular Arcade game system, although, now it has more than just Arcade game support.
The emulator supports all versions of Windows since Vista for both 32-bit and 64-bit editions.
Some of the popular platforms supported by FB Alpha include Capcom CPS-1-3, cave, Irem M62 and above, Konami, Kaneko 16, Neo-Geo, NMK16, Pacman-based hardware, PGM, Sega System 1 & 16 Toaplan 1-2, and more.
LaunchBox – Great modern emulator
LunchBox is not an all-in-one emulator but a front end for emulation, DOSBox, Arcade cabinets, portable games launcher, and database.
It was initially released as an attractive front-end for DOSBox, but currently, the software works with modern games and retro emulation.
It can show games from your PC, Steam, and is compatible with a multi-platform emulator like RertoArch.
LaunchBox makes the frontend looks aesthetically pleasing by automatically downloading images and other information combined with its stunning UI.
Adding any ROMs to the LaunchBox is not a difficult task either. You can run any Emulation by simply loading the executable files and telling it to run the games via an emulator or DOSBox.
LaunchBox comes in two versions. The free version works flawlessly without hampering the gaming experience.
However, the premium one, BigBox, can get you more features like full-screen support, custom fonts, color themes, additional filters, gamepad support, and more.
LaunchBox developers have plenty of resources demonstrating the software’s working on YouTube.
LaunchBox requires you to set up each emulator once, but it also allows you to operate your game library irrespective of the platform from one interface.
Bizhawk vs Retroarch
Although both are capable emulators, note that Bizhawk is a lot more straightforward. It simply loads the core that you want and plays the favorite games right there and then.
Retroarch is a lot more complicated, and it will require some knowledge and skills from your part.
This multi emulator for PC has so many cores and options that you might get easily lost in the menus, but once you master it, the retro gaming world is yours.
All of these all-in-one emulators for Windows 10 and 11 are free. We have tried only to recommend the emulators that consistently receive updates from the developers.
If you want to play all your favorite games from your childhood, these all-in-one emulators offer the support to run Nintendo GB Advance, Arcade, SNES, and more emulators on PC.
You might also be interested in consulting our list of the best Sega Dreamcast emulators for PC and getting more insights.
Have you tried any of these emulators before? Then, do let us know your thoughts in the comments below.