My introduction to Android emulators came while looking for a way to install WhatsApp on PC way back in 2013. However, Android emulators have evolved for better in the last few years. From being a clunky and big messy resource hogs, Android emulators today have become productivity tools.
Whether you want to install an Android app or play Android games on PC, the emulators are the best way to do it. Even for developers who want to test their app on different devices before making it public can use the software as it allows you to emulate the app on different screen resolutions and Android versions on PC.
Some of the well known Android emulators are BlueStacks and Nox Player. Apart from the two, there are many other emulators that you can install and run your favorite Android apps on PC.
In this article, we take a look at the best Android emulators for gaming to install and play Android games on your PC.
- Price – Free
BlueStacks is one of the first Android emulators that allowed the Android users to play Android games on PC. It is also one of the most popular free Android emulators with built-in app store and tons of gamer-friendly features.
The latest version of BlueStacks 4 comes with a new and improved UI, faster performance and brings distraction free mobile gaming to your PC.
The user interface is simple and customizable. The developers have added core game playing functions as part of the UI which allows you to switch modes and run add-ons like BlueStacks Store and Quests only when required resulting in minimal impact on system performance.
BlueStacks allows the users to manage key controls in the Game Control Windows. The key controls are divided into categories, and you can change the controls based on your preference.
One interesting feature in BlueStacks is that you can play games from multiple Google Play Accounts simultaneously which is the grey area in the gaming world but benefits the player in the RPG style games.
BlueStacks runs on Android 7.1.2 Nougat out of the box and comes with Hyper-G Graphics for better gaming performance with low-latency gaming sessions.
On the flip side, BlueStacks works best on systems equipped with mid-range hardware. It also feels sluggish at times thanks to the sponsored ads that appear every now and then. You can test the emulator by downloading it from the official website.
– Download now Bluestacks for free from this link (+ free game)
- Price – Free
NoxPlayer 6 is the latest version of the popular Android emulator from Bignox. The developers promote it as the perfect Android emulator to play mobile games on PC.
NoxPlayer has been targeted at mobile gamers who like to play Android games on PC for more precise control over the gameplay. It supports keyboard controls as well as GamePad (Joystick) for gameplay controls.
Unlike BlueStacks, NoxPlayer is completely free of sponsored ads making it a distraction-free emulator with one less annoying things to deal with.
NoxPlayer runs on an older version of Android, but that doesn’t stop it from offering a seamless gaming experience. It can run any Android game and clock up to 60 FPS offering PC gaming like experience from an Android game.
NoxPlayer supports keyboard controls, gamepad, script recording and multiple instances of gameplay that allows you to play games in multi-window simultaneously.
The user interface is as simple as it can get. You can either download apps and games from the Google Play Store directly or download the Apk file from third-party sources and move it to NoxPlayer by drag-&-drop.
For customization, jump into the Settings tab. Here you can play with General, Advanced, Property, Shortcut and Interface settings.
The advanced settings allow you to tweak performance settings, startup settings to change the display resolution and display mode and graphics rendering settings. You can also adjust the FPS setting from 20 FPS to 60 FPS.
NoxPlayer is an excellent Android emulator, but that doesn’t mean it is perfect. For instance, it can put the load on your system leaving little resources for other apps to run in the background. It also runs on older version of Android 5.1 Lollipop, while BlueStacks has the relatively new Android 7.1 Nougat.
That said, if you have a PC or Mac with decent configuration, NoxPlayer is definitely worth a shot.Runner Up
- Price – Free
Memu Play is a relatively new Android emulator and is targeted at users who want to play Android games on PC. It comes with all the essential features of an Android emulator allowing you to play Android games on a big screen with the flexibility of the keyboard game controls.
The performance of Memu Play is similar to what we have seen with NoxPlayer. It works on both Nvidia and AMD graphic chipsets allowing you to take full advantage of games like PUBG Mobile and Free Fire Battleground.
With Multi-instance feature you can play the same game on multiple accounts or multiple different games simultaneously with a split window.
It comes with a wealth of keyboard mapping options to improve the gameplay experience. In addition, you can customize the mouse, use a gamepad instead of a keyboard and play background music if needed.
Similar to NoxPlayer, Memu allows you to download apps from the Google Play Store app in the Android emulator or simply drag-and-drop the Android Apk files onto the emulator for installation.
You can also set your virtual location on Google Maps, making it easy to access geo-restricted apps and games.
The only downside to Memu player is the Android 5.1 Lollipop version it runs on. Some of the latest games may require new version of Android devices to work which puts it at a disadvantage. Nonetheless, Memu is still a solid contender to be the best Android emulator for gaming on PC.
- Also Read: The 4 best Game Boy emulators for Windows 10
- Price – Free open source
Android-x86 Project is an open source free Android emulator developed by a group of volunteers. It runs on the latest Android Oreo which is currently in Beta while the stable release runs on the Android 7 Nougat.
Android-x86 Project is not focused on gamers but an overall emulator that allows you to browse the web, play multi-media files, access gallery and play games on PC.
The downside to Android-x86 Project is that it is not a standalone Android emulator but requires a VirtualBox to run. It is best suited for developers who want to test their apps and games in a virtual environment for multiple versions of Android OS.
To install Android apps and games, you need to download and install the apks as Android-x86 Project does not come with built-in Google Play services installed.
- Price – Free
Ko Player is a yet another free Android emulator that is also focused on the Android gaming community. It supports multi-instance gameplay, keyboard mapping options and the ability to record gameplay built-in.
Ko Player support Intel and AMD processors. The apps and games can be installed using apk files through drag and drop functionality. You can also download apps and games using the integrated Google Play app as well. The display resolution adapts to the game window offering crisp and clear gameplay.
For controls, you can use a keyboard and mouse or gamepad. If you want to record and share your gameplay online, Ko Player comes with built-in gameplay recording feature with integrated social media sharing options.
What’s not so good about Ko Player is the occasional lag issues. At times, the emulator may abruptly close forcing you to restart the emulator all again.
- Price – Free trial / Premium $136 a year
Genymotion being an Android emulator is popular among Android app developers. If you are an Android developer looking for an easy to set up and use tool to test your apps on different virtual Android environment, Genymotion is a good choice.
It is a premium software, but you can download the trial version for evaluation. It is a cross-plat software and compatible with Android SDK and Android Studio.
You can test your apps on broader virtual devices running Android 4.1 to Android 8.0 Oreo. You can simulate every aspect of the app thanks to the full set of hardware sensor support in the emulator. The ADB access allows easy compatibility with a testing framework such as Robtium, Espresso, etc.
Some of the advanced features in Genymotion include Kiosk Mode that allows you to let your visitors test the app on your website without having to download it.
Genymotion is the best Android emulator for developers. It offers everything in one place and helps you in speeding up Android development and automate tests.
What are you playing today?
Android emulators make it easy to play multi-player games on PC with better controls from the keyboard or Gamepad and benefits from a large screen.
It also helps in case your Android smartphone is not capable of running the latest game titles due to hardware limitations. You can simply download the Android emulator on your PC and play any game with max settings with ease.
If you want to share your gameplay on YouTube and other streaming services, check for the built-in screen recording feature in the emulator. If not, check out our best game recording software for YouTube article that features the free and paid gameplay recording software for PC.
Do let us know your favorite Android emulator in the comments below.
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