There are a lot of valid reasons why someone would want to run Android emulators on their PC. Running Android games and apps on PCs have become a popular thing and there are many users that run Android emulators on their PCs just to get the Android OS on a Windows PC, complimented with a mouse and keyboard.
So, here is the list of the top 10 Android Emulators for PC. Further down the article, we’ll be discussing the pros and cons of these emulators in detail.
The Three Main Usage Of Android emulator
There are three main reasons for using emulators. First of all, it’s for gaming. Gamers use emulators on their computers to make some games easier to play. They don’t have any tension for losing battery life of their devices and the presence of macros and other tricks help the process. In most cases, these little tricks aren’t illegal (in most games) so nobody really has a problem with it. The best Android emulators for gaming include Bluestacks, MeMu, KoPlayer, and Nox.
The second most common use case is development. Android app and game developers like to test apps and games on as many devices a possible before launch. Usually, the Android Studio emulator is fine for this kind of work. However, Xamarin and Genymotion are excellent for this type of use as well.
The final main type is productivity. This isn’t nearly as common because Chromebooks are cheaper and better for using Android apps on something other than a phone and most productivity tools are cross-platform. Any gaming emulator works as a productivity emulator to an extent. However, those with hyper-specific use cases and a little knowledge can try ARChon and Bliss. The full list is below. Enjoy!
Android Studio’s emulator
Android Studio is the default development console for Android. It comes with a bunch of tools to help developers make apps and games specifically for Android. As it turns out, there is also a built-in emulator that you can use to test out your app or game. The setup is rather complicated and it can take a long time. Thus, it’s not one we would recommend for consumer-level use. However, developers can simply use this tool as their emulator for testing their apps. It also supports Kotlin in case developers want to try that out. It’s too much of a pain for regular people, but it’s excellent for developers.
ARChon isn’t a traditional emulator. You install it as a Google Chrome extension. It then gives Chrome the ability to run Android apps and games (albeit with limited support). It’s not an easy emulator to get running. You’ll have to install the thing to Chrome. From there, you have to obtain APKs and load them in. As an added rub, you may need to use a tool to change the APK in order to make it compatible. There are a lot more steps to make this work than most other Android emulators for PC. On the plus side, though, it works with any operating system that can run an instance of Chrome (Mac OS, Linux, Windows, etc). We linked to the official GitHub where you can find detailed instructions for its use.
Price: Free / Optional donations
Bliss is something a little bit different. It works as an Android emulator for PC via a virtual machine. However, it can also just flat run on your computer through a USB stick. The boot-from-USB option is definitely a power user option and not recommended for less intense use cases. As a VM install, the process is easy, but tedious if you’ve never made your own virtual machine before. The USB installation method is even more complicated, but it lets your computer actually run Android natively from the boot. That makes Bliss a super unique emulator if you can make it through the steps to the end. Of course, it only really runs well if your system is compatible so be prepared with a backup of your current operating system. The system runs Android Oreo and that’s among the newer versions of Android offered on an emulator. You can also find more info about this on its XDA-Developers thread here.
Price: Free / $2 per month
BlueStacks is probably the best known Android emulator among Android users. The emulator is preferred for gaming and is ridiculously easy to set up. Other than the Play Store, you have the option to download BlueStacks optimized apps from its own app store.
While BlueStacks supports keyboard mapping, it does not go well with gestures. A major drawback of the BlueStacks emulator is that it gets sluggish in productivity apps. Other than that, the sponsored ads make the emulator lose behind other best free Android emulators for PC.
As for gaming performance, Blustacks does outperform several other Android emulators, however, you would still notice lags, especially on underpowered PC’s. BlueStacks Android emulator is currently based on Android 7.1.2 (Nougat).
Game Loop, previously known as Tencent Gaming Buddy, recently made it to the best Android Emulators for PC, thanks to exclusive support for Call of Duty Mobile game on PC.
Before the launch of COD, the emulator for Android only supported PUBG and a bunch of gaming titles from the Tencent Developer.
GameLoop is truly dedicated to Android gaming, hence the lack of support for other Android apps. But the silver lining is GameLoop is one of the best Android emulators for Android gaming.
One thing you will notice right away is the lack of numerous good gaming titles, not to mention the Android emulator cannot be used for testing and other Android apps.
Price: Free with paid options
Genymotion is not your casual Android emulator for PC; it is only targeted at developers. The Android simulator lets you test apps on a variety of virtual devices with different versions of Android. The emulator is compatible with Android SDK and Android Studio. It even works on macOS and Linux.
Since Genymotion is inclined towards developers, it is equipped with lots of developer-friendly features. And it might not be the right choice for people looking to test Android on PC.
Best Android Emulators For PC And Mac: LDPlayer
LDPlayer is another Android emulator for gamers. It features the usual array of gamer-oriented features, including good keyboard mapping controls and support for the latest games. This is one of the few emulators on the list that gets active updates on very nearly a monthly basis. The last update fixed a bug that caused Call of Duty: Mobile to crash. It also supports a range of other games, including Clash of Clans, Brawl Stars, Black Desert Mobile, PUBG Mobile, and many others. It runs on an older version of Android so we’d like to see it get an update in that department eventually. However, it’s otherwise decently solid experience.
Best Android Emulators For PC And Mac: MEmu
MEmu is relatively a new app player in comparison to the others. Launched in 2015, the MeMu Play, again, is focused on gaming. Regarding the speed, this Android emulator gives similar results as Nox and BlueStacks.
One of the most important features of the MeMu Android emulator is its support for both AMD and Nvidia chips. It also supports different Android versions like Android Jelly Bean, Kit Kat, and Lollipop. While MeMu advocates for high-performance gaming, the graphics performance is relatively poor. I saw textures and smoothness missing in comparison to other app players.
MEmu is currently based on Android Lollipop and works top of the class with productivity apps. And if you are looking forward to playing games like Ingress or Pokémon Go, this should be your choice.
Best Android Emulators For PC And Mac: Nox
Nox Player specifically targets Android gamers. While the emulator is perfectly fine for using Android apps and enjoying the whole Android experience, it is best suited for playing massive games like PUBG or Justice League.
The Nox Player allows you to map keys of keyboard, mouse, and gamepad. You can even assign keyboard keys for gestures, for instance, mapping shortcuts or for swiping right.
Moreover, you can specify the CPU and RAM usage in the settings option to get the best gaming results. If rooting Android is your focus, Nox Player makes it easy to root the virtual device in under one minute.
One big problem with Nox is that it puts a lot of load on the system, therefore, you can’t use tons of other apps. The Android emulator is based on Android 5 Lollipop which might be a concern for many.
Over the last year, the Nox app player went from the best emulator for Android to the worst of all. While it’s still free, the emulator comes bundled with unwanted software that users have described as “difficult to delete.” Moreover, several popular antiviruses have described Nox system files as suspicious.
Best Android Emulators For PC And Mac: Phoenix OS
Phoenix OS is one of the newer best Android Emulators for PC. Like most these days, it boasts a gamer experience. However, it also boasts a desktop-like experience so it actually works pretty well for productivity as well. It has Google Play Services, although updating those services can be a bit of a pain sometimes. That means you get every app and game in the Google Play Store. Phoenix OS also runs Android 7.1 which is relatively modern for an Android emulator. You can download the emulator from its official website and its forums are housed on XDA-Developers.