What is the best mini PC for game emulator?
If you love playing retro games but don’t have the space or the budget for a full-sized gaming PC, you might be interested in getting a mini PC for emulation. A mini PC is a small and compact computer that can run various operating systems and software, including emulators that let you play classic games from different consoles and platforms.
But not all mini PCs are created equal, and some are better suited for emulation than others. In this article, we will show you the best mini PCs for emulation that you can buy in 2023, based on their performance, features, design, and price.
Whether you want to play NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, or even newer games like Wii and GameCube, we have a mini PC for you.
Our recommended list of the Best Mini PC for Emulation
- KAMRUI GK3 Plus Mini PC
- HP Prodesk 600 G3 Micro Computer Mini PC
- NUC 11 Mini PC Panther Canyon NUC11PAHi5
- MSI PRO DP21 Mini PC
- AWOW Mini PC
- CHUWI CoreBox Mini Desktop Computer
What is Emulation?
Emulation is the process of imitating one computer system (called the host) with the help of a software (called the emulator) to behave like another computer system (called the guest).
The emulator typically enables the host system to run software or use peripheral devices designed for the guest system. For example, an emulator can be used to run old video games designed for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) on a modern computer.
Emulation is a powerful tool that can be used for a variety of purposes, including:
- Running old software on modern hardware
- Testing software on different platforms
- Learning about how different computer systems work
- Troubleshooting software problems
There are many different emulators available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. When choosing an emulator, it is important to consider the following factors:
- The type of computer system you want to emulate
- The type of software you want to run
- The level of accuracy you require
- The ease of use
Once you have chosen an emulator, you can start using it to run your favorite old software or to learn more about how different computer systems work.
Here are some examples of emulation:
- Software emulation: This type of emulation allows you to run software designed for one computer system on another computer system. For example, you can use a software emulator to run old DOS games on a modern Windows PC.
- Hardware emulation: This type of emulation allows you to create a virtual version of a physical computer system. For example, you can use a hardware emulator to create a virtual version of an old NES console so that you can play NES games on your modern computer.
- Network emulation: This type of emulation allows you to create a virtual network environment. For example, you can use a network emulator to create a virtual network that allows you to test software in a different network environment.
Emulation is a powerful tool that can be used for a variety of purposes. If you are interested in learning more about emulation, there are many resources available online.
1. KAMRUI GK3 Plus Mini PC
First and foremost, when it comes to finding the Best Mini PC for Emulation, the KAMRUI GK3 Plus Mini PC should certainly be on your radar. Powered by the 12th generation Intel Alder Lake-N95 processor that can ramp up to 3.4GHz, this Mini PC is a true juggernaut in a compact form.
Additionally, price under $300 the KAMRUI GK3 Plus comes equipped with a substantial 16GB of RAM, which ensures that your emulation experience is smooth and responsive. Furthermore, the 512GB M.2 SSD guarantees lightning-fast data access and ample storage for a plethora of games.
In addition to emulation, the KAMRUI GK3 Plus Mini PC can also be used for a variety of other tasks, such as streaming media, browsing the web, and working on office documents. It is also very energy efficient, so you can save money on your electricity bill.
On the wireless front, the KAMRUI GK3 Plus doesn’t disappoint either. The dual Wi-Fi ensures a reliable connection even in a crowded network environment, and the Bluetooth 4.2 allows for easy pairing with a wide range of devices.
The KAMRUI GK3 Plus Mini PC stands out as an excellent choice for emulation enthusiasts, but it’s also so much more than that. Its robust specs make it a versatile machine, capable of handling a range of tasks from gaming to professional work. While there are minor cons, the pros overwhelmingly make it a strong contender for anyone in search of a powerful yet compact computing solution.
- Powerful processor for emulation
- Plenty of RAM and storage
- Energy efficient
- Small and portable
- No dedicated GPU for gaming
- Only two HDMI ports
- Limited upgrade options
Also See: Best Tablet For Emulation
2. HP Prodesk 600 G3 Micro Computer Mini PC
The HP Prodesk 600 G3 Micro Computer Mini PC is the best budget mini pc for gaming. This compact and powerful device offers a lot of features and performance for a reasonable price. Here is a brief review of this product.
The HP Prodesk 600 G3 Micro Computer Mini PC is equipped with an Intel Quad Core i5-7500T processor that runs at 2.7 GHz and can boost up to 3.3 GHz. This processor can handle multiple tasks and applications without slowing down. It also has 16 GB of DDR4 RAM that ensures smooth multitasking and gaming. The 512 GB SSD provides fast booting and loading times, as well as ample storage space for your games and files.
One of the main advantages of this mini pc is its 4K support. You can connect it to a 4K monitor or TV via the DisplayPort or the USB-C port and enjoy stunning graphics and resolution. You can also use the USB-C port to charge your devices or transfer data. The mini pc has four USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, an audio jack, and an Ethernet port for connectivity. It also has a built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for wireless connections.
With this mini pc, you can do various activities such as gaming, streaming, browsing, working, and more. You can play popular games like Fortnite, Minecraft, GTA V, and others at medium to high settings with decent frame rates. You can also watch movies and shows in 4K quality, surf the web, edit photos and videos, create documents and presentations, and more.
- Powerful Processor
- Ample Memory and Storage
- 4K Support
- Versatile Connectivity
- Compact Form Factor
- Windows 10 Pro
- Not the Latest Processor
- Limited Expandability
- Potential for Overheating
- No Included Peripherals
3. NUC 11 Mini PC Panther Canyon NUC11PAHi5
If you’re a fan of PS2 games and are looking for the best mini PC to bring them back to life, the Intel NUC 11 Mini PC is a fantastic choice. It can also handle a variety of other tasks, such as streaming media, browsing the web, and working on office documents.
This mini PC is powered by an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, which can reach speeds of up to 4.2GHz. This means it’s quick and responsive, perfect for playing your favorite PS2 games. The Intel Iris Xe Graphics make sure the games look fantastic too, so you can enjoy them just like you did back in the day.
With WiFi 6 and Thunderbolt 3, you can connect controllers, storage devices, and even play online multiplayer with older titles. But it’s not just for gaming – this mini PC is also great for tasks like content creation, video editing, and graphic design.
There are a few drawbacks, though. The small size can make it hard to upgrade later, and it might struggle to stay cool during long gaming sessions.
The Intel NUC 11 Mini PC has a built-in HDMI port, so you can easily connect it to your TV or monitor to stream movies, TV shows, and other content.
But overall, the Intel NUC 11 Mini PC is a great choice for PS2 emulation. It’s powerful, versatile, and delivers a fantastic gaming experience. So why wait? Dive back into your favorite PS2 games today.
- High Performance
- Impressive Graphics
- Modern Connectivity
- Compact and Portable
- Versatile Usage
- Limited Upgradability
- Potential Overheating
- No Included Peripherals
4. MSI PRO DP21 Mini PC
The MSI PRO DP21 Mini PC is a small computer that’s great for PS3 emulation for games and doing everyday tasks.
It has an Intel Core i3-12100 processor, which is pretty good for most games and tasks, but might struggle with really demanding ones. The Intel UHD 730 Graphics mean games look good, and it even supports two 4K screens, so you can game or work on one screen and have something else on the other.
The 250GB SSD is fast, so your games and programs will load quickly. It also has 8GB of memory, which is enough for most things. For internet and connecting devices, it has WiFi 6 and a USB Type-C port, which are both fast and reliable.
Besides gaming, it’s also great for watching movies or streaming music, thanks to its high-quality graphics and compact size.
However, the storage might not be enough if you have a lot of games or movies, and the processor isn’t the strongest available.
In short, the MSI PRO DP21 Mini PC is a solid choice for playing PS3 games and for general use, but if you need lots of storage or the highest performance, it might not be the best option.
- Compact Design
- 4K Dual Display Support
- Fast SSD Storage
- Modern Connectivity with WiFi 6 and USB Type-C
- Suitable for Multimedia Consumption
- Processor Not Optimal for Demanding Tasks
- Limited Storage Capacity
- Not Ideal for Heavy Multitasking
5. AWOW Mini PC
If you’re looking for a cheap and powerful mini PC that can do it all, then the AWOW Mini PC is a great option. It’s perfect for emulation, but it can also be used for a variety of other activities.
It has an Intel Celeron N3350 processor which can go up to 2.4 GHz. This isn’t the most powerful out there, but it’s good enough for playing older games through emulators.
The 6GB of RAM and 64GB SSD mean that games and programs load fast. Plus, it supports 4K and has two HDMI ports, so games and videos look great and you can use two screens at once.
It’s not just for gaming – you can also use it for everyday stuff like browsing the web, editing documents, and video chatting.
It’s easy to connect things to it because it has WiFi 5, Bluetooth 4.2, and Gigabit Ethernet. So, you can use wireless devices or plug in for a more stable connection.
However, it’s not perfect. The processor isn’t powerful enough for new games or heavy tasks. Also, the 64GB storage might not be enough if you have lots of games or files.
In short, the AWOW Mini PC is a solid choice for playing old games and doing everyday tasks without spending a lot. But if you need to do more demanding things or need lots of storage, it might not be the best option.
- Powerful Intel Celeron N3350 processor
- 6GB of DDR4 RAM
- 64GB of SSD storage
- Dual HDMI output
- Built-in WiFi and Bluetooth
- Affordable price
- No dedicated GPU
- Limited storage space
- Can be a bit slow for some modern games
6. CHUWI CoreBox Mini Desktop Computer
If you’re looking for a mini PC that can flawlessly emulate Wii U games, look no further than the CHUWI CoreBox. This powerful little computer is powered by an Intel 12th Gen i3-1215U processor, which is more than enough to handle even the most demanding Wii U titles. It also has 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, which means everything loads fast and runs smoothly, not just games but all kinds of programs.
For visuals, it can handle 4K, so games and videos look amazing.
But it’s not just for gaming. You can use it for all kinds of things like making videos, working with data, or just browsing the web with lots of tabs open.
It’s also got great connectivity with fast internet through Gigabit Ethernet, and it has Bluetooth 5.1 and WiFi 6 for connecting devices and transferring files quickly.
Plus, you can add extra storage with up to a 2TB hard drive if you need more space for games and files.
So, the CHUWI CoreBox Mini Desktop Computer is a great choice if you’re looking for a mini PC for playing Wii U games. But it’s also super versatile for other stuff and has lots of storage and connectivity options. Give it a try and see how it changes your gaming and computing experience.
- Powerful Intel 12th Gen i3-1215U Processor.
- Ample 16GB of RAM for smooth multitasking.
- Fast 512GB SSD for quick loading times.
- 4K decoding for high-quality visuals.
- Versatile for gaming, content creation, and general computing.
- Excellent connectivity with Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.1, and WiFi 6.
- Expandable storage
- May be overkill for users with basic computing needs.
- Not as compact as some other mini PCs.
- Price may be higher compared to less powerful alternatives.
Here is a comparison table for the products we tested earlier:
|KAMRUI GK3 Plus
|HP Prodesk 600 G3 Micro
|Intel NUC 11 Panther Canyon
|MSI PRO DP21 12M-407US
|AWOW Mini PC
|12th Gen Intel Alder Lake-N95
|Intel Quad Core i5-7500T
|Intel Core i5-1135G7
|Intel Core i3-12100
|Intel Celeron N3350
|Intel 12th Gen i3-1215U
|Clock Speed (Max)
|Up to 3.4 GHz
|Up to 4.2 GHz
|Max 2.4 GHz
|16 GB DDR4
|6 GB DDR4
|512 GB M.2 SSD
|512 GB SSD
|512 GB SSD
|250 GB M.2 SSD
|64 GB SSD
|512 GB SSD
|Intel Iris Xe Graphics
|Intel UHD 730 Graphics
|Windows 11 Pro
|Windows 10 Pro
|Windows 10 Pro
|Windows 11 Home
|Windows 10 Pro
|Gigabit Ethernet, Dual Wi-Fi, BT 4.2
|DP, USB 3.0, USB-C
|WiFi 6, Thunderbolt 3
|WiFi 6, USB Type-C
|WiFi 5, Bluetooth 4.2, Gigabit Ethernet
|Gigabit Ethernet, BT 5.1, WiFi 6
|4K Dual Display Support
|4K Dual HDMI
|PS2 Emulation, Gaming
|PS3 Emulation, Business
|Wii U Emulation, Multitasking
|Powerful CPU, Ample Storage, Windows 11
|Compact, 4K Support, Multiple Ports
|Strong CPU, WiFi 6, Thunderbolt 3
|Dual 4K Support, WiFi 6, USB Type-C
|Affordable, Dual HDMI, Compact
|Powerful CPU, Ample RAM, Expandable Storage
|Not as Compact as Other Mini PCs
|Not as Powerful as High-End Models
|Expensive, Limited Upgradability
|Limited Storage, Windows 11 Home
|Limited Storage, Less Powerful CPU
|Not as Compact as Other Mini PCs
Some of the factors to consider when buying the best mini PC for emulation are:
- The CPU performance and compatibility. You want a CPU that can run the emulator smoothly and efficiently, and that is compatible with the games you want to play. For example, some emulators may require a specific architecture (such as x86 or ARM) or instruction set (such as SSE or AVX) to work properly.
- The GPU performance and compatibility. You want a GPU that can render the graphics of the games at a high resolution and quality, and that is compatible with the emulator and the games. For example, some emulators may require a specific API (such as OpenGL or DirectX) or feature (such as shader support or texture filtering) to work properly.
- The RAM capacity and speed. You want enough RAM to store the game data and run the emulator without lagging or crashing, and you want fast RAM to transfer the data quickly and smoothly.
- Resolution Support: If you want to game in high resolution, ensure the mini PC supports 1080p, 4K, or whatever resolution you desire.
- The storage capacity and speed. You want enough storage to store the emulator and the games you want to play, and you want fast storage to load the data quickly and smoothly.
- The I/O ports and connectivity. You want enough ports to connect your peripherals (such as controllers, keyboards, mice, monitors, speakers, etc.) and your network (such as Ethernet or WiFi). You also want fast and stable connectivity to ensure a smooth gaming experience.
- The size and weight. You want a mini PC that is small and light enough to fit in your space and carry around easily. You also want a mini PC that has a good design and appearance that suits your style and preference.
In conclusion, finding the best Mini PC for emulation requires careful consideration of various factors that directly impact gaming performance and user experience. With the plethora of options available in the market, it’s essential to align your choices with your specific emulation needs and preferences.
A powerful processor is paramount, as emulation is often CPU-intensive, especially for modern gaming consoles. Coupled with a capable GPU, it ensures smooth rendering and an immersive gaming experience. Sufficient RAM is also crucial to keep your games and applications running smoothly.
Storage options, particularly SSDs, are preferable for their speed and reliability. Moreover, having ample storage space is necessary to accommodate a library of games and emulator software.
Connectivity is another critical aspect, with HDMI for display, USB ports for controllers, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for additional devices. Also, support for higher resolutions such as 1080p or 4K can significantly enhance the visual experience.
The form factor is an essential element of Mini PCs. Opt for a design that suits your workspace or entertainment area, keeping in mind the cooling solutions, as good airflow is vital for sustained performance.
Most emulators are compatible with Windows, but if you’re using a different OS, ensure that your chosen emulators will work seamlessly.
Striking a balance between cost and performance ensures value for money. Moreover, the availability of upgrades, strong community support, and positive reviews are indicators of a reliable and future-proof investment.
Ultimately, the best Mini PC for emulation is one that meets your performance requirements, fits within your budget, and offers a seamless and enjoyable gaming experience. As technology continues to evolve, staying informed about the latest models and advancements will help in making a well-informed choice that caters to both present and future emulation endeavors.
Can I play games on a mini PC?
Yes, you can play games on a mini PC. However, the type of games you can play will depend on the power of the mini PC. If you have a powerful mini PC, you’ll be able to play even the most demanding modern games. However, if you have a less powerful mini PC, you’ll be limited to older games or less demanding indie games.
Do you need a powerful PC for emulation?
The amount of power you need for emulation depends on the game you’re trying to emulate. For older games, you can get away with a less powerful PC. However, for newer games, you’ll need a more powerful PC with a good CPU and GPU.
Are mini PCs as good as desktop?
Mini PCs are not as good as desktop PCs in terms of performance, upgradeability, and customization. Desktop PCs have more space and power to accommodate more powerful and diverse components, such as CPUs, GPUs, RAMs, storages, cooling systems, etc.
Desktop PCs also have more flexibility and options to upgrade and customize their components according to your needs and preferences. Mini PCs, on the other hand, have less space and power to fit in more limited and fixed components, which may compromise their performance, upgradeability, and customization.
Additionally, Mini PCs are better than desktop PCs in terms of portability, convenience, and aesthetics. Mini PCs are easier to carry and place anywhere you want due to their small size and light weight. Mini PCs also have less cables and clutter to deal with due to their compact design. These small PCs may also look more sleek and stylish than desktop PCs due to their minimalistic appearance.