Best Hardware Emulation Consoles

With Retro Gaming making a major comeback in the past years, you might find yourself looking to replay the best games of your childhood or wishing to take a stroll through the most important titles in video game history. However, just like the games themselves, getting to play them might be quite challenging.

Games from the previous century tend to come on cartridges which require specific hardware to play them on. Given that you can’t plug them into your PC or phone, you’re left with two options: buying an original system or opting for an emulator.

Buying a vintage system in this day and age will certainly set you back a few hundreds of dollars, and that’s not even the end of it: they’re only compatible with old CRT screens, come with bulky power adaptors, take up ridiculous amounts of space and they will only play cartridges designed for them – and even then, you have to watch out for region locking, so you’ll actually need two different consoles to play both US and Japanese releases!

Opting for a hardware emulator will certainly save you from going through all that trouble. They’re brand-new systems, far less expensive than the original systems, and use modern technology to mimic old systems and run their games.

However, given the large amount of hardware emulators available on the market, you might find yourself wondering which one is best for you. Don’t worry, we have you covered with our list of the best hardware emulators!

RetroN 77

The RetroN 77 is by far the best modern system to enjoy the Atari 2600 library on. It looks and feels like a compact version of the 2600, while hiding a true powerhouse behind its wood panel design. Its chipset can easily do graphics upscaling, enabling you to play your favourite vintage games crisp, 720p Full HD. It’s compatible out-of-the box with modern TV sets, to which it connects through HDMI, while also retaining compatibility with CRT screens, for which you can switch to a 4:3 aspect ratio. It also features a black and white switch, to teleport you back to the 70s.

For another upgrade in convenience, the RetroN 77 features save states, to help you get through those difficult game sections, along with the ability to save games to a memory card, allowing you to turn off the system if you need a break, then return to playing without losing any progress!

Its compact size and light weight are true selling points, at only 12’’x3.5’’ and 2.5 pounds, compared to the whopping 13.6”x9.1’’ and 4.5 pounds of the original Atari 2600, and are guaranteed to save you a lot of space. Its premium controllers mimic the feel of the original 2600, while featuring buttons on both sides, making them perfect for both left and right-handed players! However, if you still prefer to play games with Atari’s original controllers, you’ll be delighted to discover that the system is fully compatible with them!

So if you’re in the market for a system to play your favourite games from the Atari Age, you should certainly consider the RetroN 77. Its compact design, strong chipset and high compatibility make it the best console for 70s gaming.

RetroN 1

If you’re looking to play some NES games, the RetroN 1 will certainly fit your needs. This compact system weighs only 0.9 lbs, compared to the whopping 5 lbs of the original NES!  It retains all the NES functionalities and features a region switch, allowing you to play games from all around the world without buying several consoles! Th video output is done through the coax AV output, which is compatible with both modern and vintage TV screens.

Not only does the RetroN 1 come with a premium controller that has that sweet vintage feeling, but it’s also fully compatible with all the NES original controllers, including the beloved Light Gun, so you won’t be missing any of the action! It even features dust flaps like the ones on the Top Loader, so you won’t have any issues with dust getting into its connector pins!

While it is a budget system, lacking HD upscaling, it will certainly deliver an authentic experience. If you’re looking for a great budget system to relive the NES library, the RetroN 1 is certainly the right one for you, with its highly convenient size and an excellent price point!

MegaRetroN HD

The MegaRetroN does what the Genesis didn’t! It’s sleek, it’s lightweight and it is undoubtedly powerful. It’s got HDMI connectivity straight out-of-the-box and its graphics upscaling allow you to run those fast-paced Genesis titles in crisp 720p HD on your flat-screen TV! You can switch from 16:9 to 4:3 and even connect it to CRT screens through its AV cables, so you can play your games like it’s the 90s again!

The system is absolutely borderless, and you can easily move between playing Genesis games to MegaDrive titles with a literal flick of a switch! Go ahead and jump straight into the fast levels of Sonic or dive into the seas as Ecco the Dolphin, without having to worry about compatibility issues and aging hardware.

The system comes with a premium controller built in the spirit of the Genesis, featuring 6 buttons and excellent ergonomics. Its design is beautiful, without making any compromises in the quality department. The system is also fully compatible with all Genesis and MegaDrive controllers and peripherals, so you can ramp up the action as you see fit!

Whether you’re a Genesis or MegaDrive enthusiast looking for the best system to run that fast-paced SEGA action or just looking to try out some iconic titles from the 16-bit era of gaming, the MegaRetroN HD is certainly the right system for you, with an excellent mix of strong specifications, qualitative design and an excellent price!

RetroN 1 HD

The RetroN 1 HD takes the NES experience to the next level, doing graphics and sound upscaling, so you can enjoy the system’s library in full 720p HD with beautiful sound to go along with it! The system is lightweight, at only 1.85 lbs, compared to the 5 lbs of the original NES. It connects to all modern TV systems through a convenient HDMI cable and it can also easily be hooked up to CRT screens using its coax AV cables. It even features a 16:9 to 4:3 switch, so you can easily adapt the graphics to your favourite way to play.

The system comes with a specially built controller retaining the look and feel of the original NES controller, while featuring a sleeker, black and grey colour scheme. It’s also fully compatible with the original NES controllers and the Light Gun, so you can play like it’s the 90s again!

The RetroN 1 HD is certainly the right choice if you’re looking for a premium way to play your 80s Nintendo titles, without having to spend large amounts of money on several vintage systems. Its convenient size, light weight and powerful graphics and sound upscaling make it the ideal system for any gaming enthusiast!

SupaRetroN HD

Jump straight into that 16-bit action with the SupaRetroN HD! Designed in the spirit of the SNES, this hardware emulator not only runs Super Nintendo and Super Famicom titles, but it also packs a powerful punch. It’s capable of doing graphics and sound upscaling and connects through HDMI out-of-the-box, guaranteeing you’ll have a great experience playing your favourite games on a full HD flat TV screen. It’s also compatible with older TV sets, through its AV connectors and allows you to switch between aspect ratios to your liking.

The SupaRetroN HD comes with two premium controllers, in the same style as the original SNES ones, with great ergonomics and beautiful design, so you can play all your favourite 16-bit titles alongside a friend! The system is also fully compatible with the SNES’s controllers and peripherals, so you can enjoy all your retro titles the way they were meant to be played! The system also features Hyperkin’s patented Pin Perfect technology, allowing for fast reading of data from the cartridge, rendering video lag practically obsolete.

If you’re looking for the best system to play your SNES title without sinking hundreds of dollars into several vintage consoles, adaptors and retro TV sets, then the SupaRetroN HD is certainly the best option for you. Its sleek design, great controllers and versatility make it the perfect system for enjoying some 16-bit Nintendo classics!

RetroN 5

The RetroN 5 is certainly the most impressive hardware emulator currently on the market. It’s a behemoth of a console, compatible with a plethora of systems, including the NES, SNES, Famicon, Super Famicon, Genesis, Mega Drive, Sega Master System, GameBoy, GameBoy Color and GameBoy Advance!

The console features graphics upscaling, being able to render video from all supported systems in crisp 720p HD, and can connect to both modern TV sets, through its HDMI cable, as well as to CRT screens through AV cables. It’s even able to switch between 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios, allowing you to play your favourite titles in any way you wish. However, the convenience doesn’t stop here – the console even features save states, to help you progress through the most difficult titles in gaming history and can even take screenshots at the push of a button, so you can prove to your friends how far you’ve gotten in your favourite titles!

The RetroN 5 comes with a highly versatile Bluetooth controller, featuring 11 buttons, great ergonomics and even its own docking station on the back of the console. However, if that’s not enough for you, you’ll be delighted to discover it has several controller inputs on its side, allowing you to connect peripherals from any of the supported systems, so you can play your retro titles in any way you wish.

Whether you’re looking for the ultimate retro gaming experience, or just want a system that’s compatible with all the games you’ve got, then the RetroN 5 is certainly the system for you. Its versatility, user-friendly menu, and the sheer number of games it supports are absolutely impressive. With this system you can really take a cruise through gaming history, with over 8,000 different supported titles!

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re an Atari, Sega or Nintendo fan, you’re going to need a console to play your old games on. Buying vintage systems for all your titles will certainly send you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you plan on playing import titles or games from different platforms, not to mention the costs you’ll face if you ever need to repair one of them. There are other solutions, such as the NES and SEGA Mini or the SNES classic edition, but these will only play their built-in game list, leaving your cartridge collection to continue gathering dust on the shelf, and they certainly will not be playing games from rival systems.

Hyperkin’s systems are highly optimized hardware emulators which can easily run your titles, most of them even featuring graphics upscaling, allowing you to relive your favourite titles on brand-new hardware, don’t feature any region locking and will support most if not all of your vintage controllers and peripherals. The best one is by far the RetroN 5, given its impressive number of supported systems. However, if your game library doesn’t span across several systems, then any of the consoles on the present list will be a great choice for you!

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