10 of the Best Android Emulators for Your Desktop

Are you a desktop user with a yearning to play some Android games or test out an Android-only app? With Android emulators, you don’t have to switch between your desktop OS and Android. By installing an emulator on your Mac, Linux, or Windows desktop, you can run all the latest Android games and Android-exclusives on a larger screen. Emulators can also be useful if you’re building your own mobile app and want to test the user experience on Android.

1. Bluestacks

Price: Free (Premium subscription)

Compatibility: Windows & macOS

Bluestacks is one of the most popular Android emulators for Windows and is probably the best Android emulator for macOS as well. This emulator is built primarily for mobile gamers and claims to provide a “PC-like” gaming experience for your mobile apps.

Bluestacks has full support for the keyboard and mouse and comes with a set of recommended preset controls that are also fully customizable. If you create custom controls, BlueStacks lets you easily export these settings to share them with your fellow gamers.

The Bluestacks Android emulator for macOS.

For Xbox and PS4, BlueStack offers several uses, valuable Controls, Multi-Player, Performance Mode, Trim Memory, or Native support for the controllers. BlueStacks has undergone many improvements over the years. The latest version of BlueStacks is based on Google’s Android 9 Pie, which allows you to play games like Genshin Impact on Windows.

play store in Bluestacks

The BS5 application does not require a graphics card to be used and can work with both AMD and Intel computers. BlueStacks can, therefore, be used for emulating a low-end Windows PC with an Android version. A new BlueStacks X interface is now available in the BS5 version for gamers and offers cloud gaming capabilities. BlueStacks X allows you to play more than 2 million games; the essential requirement is a reliable Internet connection with an internet speed of at least 5 Mbps.

Pros

  • Built-in App Store
  • Easy to use
  • Support other APK files
  • Advanced RAM and CPU allocation settings
  • BlueStacks Points for gift cards or a paid subscription

Cons

  • Includes Ads in the free version
  • Heavy on resources

2. Genymotion

Price: Free (Premium subscription)

Compatibility: Windows, macOS, Linux, & Web

If you’re looking to test your latest Android project, Genymotion is worth a look. This Android virtual machine is targeted at software developers, so it has everything you need to test your app across a wide range of emulated Android smartphones and tablets.

The Genymotion Android emulator, available for the Desktop and in the Cloud.

You can run Genymotion as a local app or in the Cloud. If you opt to run Genymotion on your Desktop, you can download it from the Genymotion website. Genymotion Desktop is free, although several paid licenses are available. Furthermore, you’ve got a lot of options for choosing your Android platform, from 4.1 to the most recent version of Android. By selecting a GApps Package, you can also install Google Play Store.

Genymotion Interface

One thing to note is that games like Call of Duty or PUBG will not be installed by default on your computer. The other great thing about Genymotion is that you can integrate it with Android Studio on your Windows computer. In addition, Genymotion offers a Cloud-based virtual emulator service. Genymotion Cloud enables you to perform mass testing by spawning multiple virtual machines and running them in parallel. This can significantly reduce the time it takes to test your app, although depending on your plan, you may be charged for each virtual device you create.

Pros

  • Rich Android versions compatibility
  • Easy to use
  • Emulates the whole OS
  • Custom hardware configurations

Cons

  • No Play Store included
  • Lengthy setup procedure
  • No GPS for free users

Tip: Use our guide to help you start using Genymotion on Windows.

3. Android Studio

Price: Free (Open-source)

Compatibility: Windows, macOS, Linux, and Chrome OS

Unlike the other emulators on this list, Android Studio is created by Google. This Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is aimed firmly at Android developers and has everything you need to design and build your Android applications. You can use Android Studio to create an Android Virtual Device (AVD) with the hardware and software configuration required to test your app.

Android Studio

You can then run this AVD on Android Studio’s emulator and see how your app handles this unique configuration. Rinse and repeat to test your project across dozens or even hundreds of emulated Android devices. With so many features, Android Studio isn’t the best choice for someone looking to run a few mobile games on their desktop. However, if you’re an app developer, Android Studio is a must-have tool and is considered the official development for Android.

You can use Android Studio to create a wide range of emulated devices, with different hardware and software configurations.

If you use Android Studio, it’s worth noting that the Android emulator is known for being slow. Features like Instant Run have reduced the time Android Studio takes to deploy your app, but you may still want to research ways to speed up the Android emulator.

Pros

  • Supports the newest Android OS
  • Old Android versions emulation
  • Android apps build support
  • Official Android emulator
  • Great for testing apps

Cons

  • Slow on low-end devices
  • Not meant for gaming
  • No built-in app store

4. NoxPlayer

Price: Free (Ad-Free Premium Version, $3.69/month)

Compatibility: Windows and macOS

If you are a person who is looking for an Android emulator for Windows that offers tons of other features than gaming, then Nox Player would be a perfect choice. While it used to be a bit dated, the latest version, 7.0.1.9, now supports Android 9. This makes it ideal for running newer games and makes NoxPlayer one of the most stable and accurate Android emulators around. The ability to gain root access is one factor that makes Nox Player score better than BlueStacks.

Noxplayer

There are several advantages to using NoxPlayer, compared to other Android emulators on Windows, such as that it’s not entirely tailored towards gamers and can be used by developers to test apps. It’s good enough to emulate most games (as long as they’re compatible with Android 9) and very easy to run. It’s highly customizable, and its UI does a great job of accommodating keyboard-and-mouse controls instead of touch controls. There’s even support for up to 128 GB of storage within the emulator.

Best Android Emulators For Your Desktop Noxplayer

One thing that might concern more privacy-focused users is that NoxPlayer phones home to a Chinese IP and install some of its crapware apps you can’t remove. There’s no malicious code or anything like that, but it still eliminates a degree of control from what’s otherwise one of the top Android emulators.

Pros

  • Built-in Root support
  • Tons of customization
  • Multiple Android versions support
  • Great for gamers
  • Keyboard shortcuts

Cons

  • Other programs installed during setup
  • Large initial download

5. MEmu

Price: Free

Compatibility: Windows

MEmu is explicitly designed with Android gaming in mind, so there’s ample support for keyboard and mouse controls and gamepads. Great response times make playing your favorite Android games more enjoyable on a much larger screen. A nice feature of MEmu is that you can run multiple instances simultaneously.

Memu

If you happen to have several Android accounts, you can run them all on a single screen at the same time. While this Android emulator is free, there are ads. On the other hand, DirectX 3D and OpenGL rendering effects make those small images on your Android device pop when they hit the big screen. The fact that the emulator supports both Intel and AMD chips, which is very helpful regarding compatibility concerns, is a significant feature.

Memu Interface

In addition to run Kit Kat 4.4 and Lollipop 5.1, the software runs as a default version of Android Nougat 7.1.2. You can also choose from 3 separate windows for each of the three versions of Android. Although the emulator has some significant game optimizations, it is also one of the best Android emulators for the general user. The emulator supports Intel and AMD processors so that you can run it for all Windows 7 to 10 versions.

Pros

  • Fewer features compared to BlueStacks
  • Multiple Android versions support
  • Good performance for gaming
  • Custom key mapping

Cons

  • Not suitable for low-end computers

6. Android-x86

Price: Free

Compatibility: Windows and Linux

Technically, Android-x86 doesn’t exactly run on Windows or Linux. Instead, it’s an entirely new OS based on Android. This is more like a standalone OS than a traditional Android emulator for Linux and Windows. The good news is it’s designed to work well on its own on another partition or within a virtual environment, such as VirtualBox or VMWare, so there’s no need to partition anything.

Best Android Emulators For Your Desktop Android86

It’s being actively developed, unlike some other Android emulators on this list. Don’t let the video ads on the site deter you; this is a legitimate emulator. However, as with most emulators, not all Android apps are compatible.

Pros

  • Complete port of Android to x86
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support
  • Stable device support
  • Actively developed
  • Open-source

Cons

  • Slow performance
  • The short list of supported devices

7. Bliss OS

Price: Free

Compatibility: Windows, macOS, and Linux

Bliss OS is one of several Android emulators that work as a standalone OS. It comes with a dual-boot installer, making partitioning your hard drive and getting everything set up easier. It’s designed specifically for performance and compatibility with various devices. Surprisingly, security features are also built-in, which isn’t always a strong point with Android emulator systems. Plus, you can fully customize the settings to get your desired installation.

Bliss Os

The use of that can be done in three ways. The first is an option to run it on a flash drive live. Second, it can be installed as a partition in your PC and mounted from Bliss’s operating system. Lastly, it can be installed using a virtual machine even though other options are available on the Web site. By this writing, the stable version is running on Android 9. Test builds of Android 11 are in development, and Android 12 is about to be released. This is a little newer than most emulators on this list. It should make it possible to play most, if not all, of the recent games and use nearly any available application.

Bliss15 Home

Bliss OS supports keyboard mapping, game consoles, and profiles for gamers. This makes installing and using your favorite apps simple without any extra hassle. Not only can you use this on desktop devices, but mobile devices as well.

Pros

  • Full-fledged Android OS for PC
  • Gamepads, keymapping, and more support
  • Widevine L3 license for streaming

Cons

8. LDPlayer 9

Price: Free

Compatibility: Windows

If you’re looking for a Windows 11 version of an Android emulator that can be used to play video games, LDPlayer is the latest in town. This is relatively new, but it has become very popular because of its excellent performance.

Ldplayer 9

What’s fun about LDPlayer is the other features that are not found in other emulator. You’ll see a toolbar on the right side of the screen that will allow you to take quick photographs, record videos, set up keyboard mapping, and other tools.

Ldplayer 9jpg

For the latest version of LDPlayer 9, it supports apps like Genshin Impact, Blue Archive, Epic Seven, and so on. You can also use virtualization technologies from the Settings page if you want to improve performance.

Pros

  • Support Intel and AMD PCs
  • Fast and lightweight
  • Based on Android 9
  • Relatively less bloated

Cons

  • Not as feature-rich as BlueStacks

9. Prime OS

Price: Free

Compatibility: Windows, Raspberry Pi

PrimeOS is not an emulator, but an actual OS that can replace your Windows. Suppose you’re interested in playing with Android games, this virtual device is far more suitable than installing an emulator because it runs directly on the hardware and does not require binary translation.

Prime Os

You’ll be able to play your favorite Android games on PrimeOS with the help of keyboard mapping. The Android x86 project can be considered a substitute for PrimeOS.

Prime Os desktop

There is a Google Play Store in PrimeOS, which will give you seamless installation and play of thousands of games. It has an exclusive Decapro Gaming Center that will enhance your gaming experience when you have a PC setup. It’s also easy to dual-boot PrimeOS and Windows 11 with little effort. Prime OS is the best PC operating system for playing intensive Android games.

Pros

  • Run directly on the hardware
  • Word as a separate OS
  • Dedicated gaming center
  • Dual-boot with Windows 11

Cons

  • No one-click installation

10. Anbox

Price: Free

Compatibility: Linux

Anbox, also called Android in a Box, is one of the best and fastest Android emulators for Linux. It uses a sandboxing system to safely utilize your hardware and OS resources without virtualizing anything. This leads to better overall performance.

Anbox

Since it integrates with Linux, it runs like a native app. However, you’ll need to load apps using an Android Debug Bridge. Currently, the Google Play Store isn’t supported. This can make finding and loading apps a little more complicated, but the seamless experience on Linux makes it worth it.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Easy to launch
  • Support some apps not available on other emulators
  • Zero bloatware installed

Cons

  • May crash from time to time
  • Need to install Google Play from a third party

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the Android emulators for Mac compatible with Big Sur?

Most Android emulators are compatible with macOS Big Sur. Initially, Bluestacks wasn’t, but the emulator was updated to provide compatibility. However, any older emulators that haven’t been updated in several years won’t be compatible. Check any emulator’s list of compatible systems before downloading to make sure your system is compatible.

Does Windows 11 include an Android emulator?

Windows 11 is adding support for Android apps, but it’s not available quite yet to the public, even though that was marketed as a major reason to upgrade. The Insider Build introduced the feature in October 2021. However, as expected, there were some glitches.

As far as when this will be released fully to Windows 11 users, it’s uncertain. When it does release, you’ll be able to download apps from the Amazon App Store versus Google Play. Microsoft released an official press release detailing what to expect.

Will all Android apps run in emulators?

No. First, it depends on the version of Android the emulator uses. Many apps are designed to only run on certain versions of Android due to certain features requirements of the system. Some apps are either backwards compatible or an older version is downloadable.

Some apps won’t run in any emulator, though your best chances are with an Android OS, like Bliss OS, Android-x86, or Bluestacks.

Can I run Android apps on iOS?

The best way is to simply find an iOS-compatible version of the Android app. Android emulators for iOS are difficult to install and usually need to be sideloaded. Apple can also prevent the emulator from working at any time. In this case, it’s usually easier to get a slightly older Android device, which can easily cost under $100, to use any Android-only apps.

Can I make my own Android emulator?

Are there any online Android emulators?

Genymotion offers a cloud-based, or online option, but it’s only for testing apps. Redfinger is a service that provides access to cloud-based smartphones. It works on Android, iOS, Windows, and in your browser. However, it isn’t free. Pricing starts at $9.95 for 30 days of use. While this is an emulator, it’s also considered a full cloud-based phone, so it may be more than you actually need.

Farhad Pashaei
Farhad Pashaei

As a technophile, Farhad has spent the last decade getting hands-on experience with a variety of electronic devices, including smartphones, laptops, accessories, wearables, printers, and so on.

When he isn’t writing, you can bet he’s devouring information on products making their market foray, demonstrating his unquenchable thirst for technology.

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