With the growth in Android’s popularity, emulators have become a must-have for gamers and Android developers. An emulator allows developers to test their application before shipping it out to end users while giving gamers the option of using a keyboard and a mouse on their games, which makes their games easier and more fun to play, considering that a laptop or desktop monitor has a larger screen and longer battery life. Emulators, in short, give both developers and gamers a convenience that a smartphone or a tablet fails to provide- a reason that very much explains their immense popularity.
What is an Android emulator?
Emulators recreate the environment and behavior of the host – in this case the Android system – but in a different platform called the guest. If say, you are playing a game on your Android phone or tablet and would like to play the same game on a Windows PC, you will require an emulator that will regenerate the original computer environment (hardware and software) in the Windows platform but now with all the controls and capabilities, such as keyboard and mouse controls of the guest platform. If the guest system is more powerful and faster, as is usually the case when an Android game is moved to a PC, the gaming experience can improve dramatically.
Best Android Emulators for PC
Making a list of the best Android emulators is not easy. First, they are so many, and secondly, they can vary widely in their capabilities and technical aspects, but that doesn’t mean that there are no big hitters out there that are a favorite of both gamers and developers alike. The following is our list of the best Android emulators, which has been compiled after some extensive research based on user experience.
Nox Player is a fast, reliable and cutting-edge engine that gives users a gaming experience unlike any other. Nox Player is based off Android 4.4.2 and 5.1.1, and although it is more of a gaming app that is best suited for massive games like Justice League and Final Fantasy, it supports other Android applications. What makes Nox such a powerful emulator is that it allows users to map keys of Keyboard, Mouse and Gamepad, which means that you can create a custom experience for yourself the one that you are perfectly comfortable with.
Nox also gives users the option of specifying the RAM and CPU usage in the settings options. For a really immerse game like Skullduggery, the option to crank up the RAM and CPU usage is very handy because of the faster reaction times that this allows. Other reasons to use Nox player include:
- Multiple instances on the same device
- Supports script recording and other developer options
- Extensive and continuing support
- A large community of users
BlueStacks is one of the pioneers of mobile gaming on PC. It boasts millions of users and has direct partnerships with hundreds of Android developers who create their games to specifically take advantage of the features available. The platform is also well funded by the likes of Samsung, Qualcomm, Intel and AMD. In short, lots of people trust BlueStacks and there is no shortage of reason for you to do so. Here are some of the features to look out for in BlueStacks:
- Android 7.1.2 (Nougat)
- Multiple istances on the same device
- Hyper G Graphics
- Keyboard mapping
- AI-driven resource management that allows for low latency
The only drawback of BlueStacks is that it is not free – you only get to enjoy the features and the support at a price of $24, but considering all the money and effort that has gone into the making of the software, you have to agree that it’s a fair price.
Launched in 2015, Despite this, MEmu has been able to carve out a space for itself as one of the most reliable and easy to set up Android Emulators on the market. MEmu is also free, although there is an enterprise version that comes with extended support and a host of other features that are not available on the free version. The enterprise version of the app can, for instance, be tailor-made to meet the needs of a customer. A constantly cited drawback of MEmu is that it displays poor graphics, especially how it renders the textures.
Android Studio is heavily oriented towards development and is a favorite among developers. Part of the reason is because it is supported by Google and stands out as the home of Android development. It comes with inbuilt plugins and tools to help in the creation and testing of Android apps. Although Android Studio has an inbuilt emulator, it is not that powerful or feature-full like other emulators on the market.
If you are a developer whose only interest is to test your apps, Android Studio is one of the best integrated development environments out there. The following are some of the features that you need to look out for:
- Instant Run – Changes to your app and code reflect immediately
- Intelligent code editor that offers suggestions and checks your code for errors
- Code templates and sample apps
- Robust static analysis framework
Ko Player is another of those free Android emulators that are feature-packed. The software is built on the X86 architecture and supports openGL and hardware acceleration. It also supports multiple accounts, keyboard mapping, video recording and has an internal integrated Google Play Store, which makes it compatible with most Android games.
If you are looking for a lightweight, easy-to-use Android emulator, then you should seriously consider Ko Player; the user experience might not be one of the best, but that can be comfortably overlooked.
Choosing the Best Android Emulator for Your Computer
It is not possible to make a review of all of the Android emulators out there, and even if one could, there is no chance that all of them will suit your needs. So how do you decide which one to install on your computer?
First, you must decide what you want the emulator for: if it’s gaming, focus on the one that is specifically marketed to gamers, and if you just want to play a particular game on your PC, make sure that it is supported by the emulator of your choice. Some really old Android games don’t play well in newer emulators.
If you are a developer, remember that emulators are just an added feature on some platforms. Look for an IDE first and an emulator second. Android Studio remains one of the best IDEs in this regard.
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