Before we get into the details of the Best Tablet for Emulation on platforms like Windows, Linus, iOS, Android etc let’s explore emulation briefly.
Emulators are a type of programs that allows one computer system to mimic another operating system.
This allows one to run applications that were originally designed and meant to be used for the latter, but instead can be used on the former.
It also means that you do not have to invest in a separate expensive console and can utilize the tablet you already have.
Advantages of Emulators:
- Use the application without investing in a new console
- Move save games between the devices you own
- No need of modifications
- Most emulators are open-source and freely available
- Multiple emulators can be downloaded to play/run multiple cross-platform games and apps
- Increased portability as compared to stationary consoles and devices
So without further ado, let’s get into the details of the best tablet for emulation gaming.
Best Tablet for Emulation
1. iPad Pro 11
iPad Pro 11 is by far the best gaming tablet available in the market.
It is incredibly versatile, has a vivid HDR Retina Display, as well as a minimal weight and a compact design.
It also uses the A12X Bionic chip for great power and performance, on par with the latest iPhone.
The large screen also ensures that you can even place it on stand and attach a controller to play your favourite retro console games.
It has a decent enough battery life, great speed and graphics to make it compatible and adequate for running most games.
The only drawback is that it is significantly expensive, so all you iOS users need to be vary of that. Other than that, this is your go-to IOS device.
2. Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e
The Galaxy Tab S5e is quite simply the best option in the market for gaming and emulation in terms of Android devices.
It has a great audio quality, amazing AMOLED display and incredible compatibility.
The quad stereo experience make the audio quality much more immersive and it is also very portable.
There is great value for money too because of its economical price point, as compared to the older Galaxy Tab S4 and the newer Galaxy Tab S6, which is what makes this the tablet of our choice when considering Android devices.
Only one slightly annoying feature can be its lack of headphone jack, but I guess that is a bearable concern, considering how the powerful software and hardware of this gadget makes it sufficient to run more retro games and emulation.
3. iPad 10.2 (2019)
Now while making curating this list, we understand that the iPad Pro 11 can be quite expensive and we are never doubting that.
Because of that, we bring you the great mid-range gaming tablet for the Apple users.
iPad 10.2 costs less, but has a great audio and video quality and a great compact and stylish design.
It has an Apple A10 Fusion chip to make it powerful enough to withstand the games and a Retina display to back it up too.
The issue however, is that the 3 GB RAM might not be adequate for the heaviest games out there, and its limited storage options can also be an issue for all those trying to recreate their most nostalgic memories attached to the consoles and the subsequent gaming.
4. Microsoft Surface Pro
I would not be lying if I said this was the pick for emulative gaming in particular.
Microsoft Surface Pro is not only because most emulators work the best on Windows operating systems, it is also because this device comes with numerous specifications that can be suited to your own needs.
By getting the one with the highest RAM and storage, you are getting a gadget that is your safest bet towards a great emulation experience.
Apart from its exceptionally powerful specifications, this device also has a great screen and graphics quality.
It is also compatible with additional controllers and can even run other games on Steam.
Besides, if you are going for emulation, surely you do not want to restrict yourself to just console gaming.
This gadget can run full fledged PC games, which speaks volumes about its quality.
This device is also very portable. The only drawback comes in the shape of its cost, although you have to give up on something to get this powerful gadget.
5. Asus ZenPad 3S 10
This is certainly an ideal mid-range Android device for your desired gaming.
ASUS ZenPad 3S is equipped with a brilliant screen and is a device that is incredibly fast to support your gaming.
It is a good compromised between the Samsung’s Galaxy and Apple’s iPad, at a very affordable price that can allow you to recreate your memories without breaking the bank. Its fast, powerful and great for it specs.
In terms of its cons, its battery life is not the best, meaning that heavy games can be incredibly draining on the device and can hamper your experience.
Buying Guide on Tablet for Emulation
Before we go on though, there definitely is a catch.
Since emulators as just a hack to mimic the original platform, you do need incredibly powerful specs to create a similar environment.
This means that you need to invest in a tablet with the appropriate specs, including a great internal and external memory, a RAM of preferably 8 GB or more to run the most powerful games and a durable battery too, since these emulators and the subsequent games can be incredibly draining.
Even then, not all emulators or games will run perfectly on all operating systems and devices, so your choice of tablet and its interface has to be an informed and a well-thought out one.
There are quite a few emulators available, each serves a different purpose and works for different devices and platforms.
Below, we are going to list down a few:
Available on: Windows, iOS, Android
This is without doubt on of the most powerful emulators out there. It is able to run games from pretty much all retro consoles and systems present.
The app works as an emulator with downloadable cores that mimic different consoles (more on these consoles later).
It means that newly created different emulators can be turned into cores and can then run through RetroArch.
It might take some getting used to, but it is ideal for emulating multiple consoles at the same time.
It also does not cost anything, and is full of different features, with the emulating cores working to perfection on most devices.
This emulator can work on Windows, iOS and Android devices, although the specifications needed to run the games smoothly depend on what core you are trying to use and the game you intend to play. These cores include Arcade games, Console Games, PC games and so forth.
It has over 80 updatable cores, including the Nintendo Gameboy Advance, NES, SNES, Sega Game Gear, Sega Genesis, Atari Lynx, Atari 2600, Atari Jaguar and Atari 7800, and the all-time classic the Sony PlayStation.
The relevant features also include the ability to take screenshots, using cheat codes, remapping controls, multiplayer gaming and saving profiles among other things, making it one of the best emulators out there which is compatible with most operating systems in our current discussion.
Available on: Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, macOS X
This emulator is the only one of its kind that can perform the functions of a 7th gen console i.e the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii since it works similar to the GameCube. However, it best runs the games designed for Nintendo Wii.
It has a very high compatibility rating, meaning that you will be able to run most games on it provided that the specs of your tablet match the minimum requirements for the game.
The Dolphin emulator also enables games to be run on HD even if the games did not originally support it, and with its continuous updates, including those which allows the user to access the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, a great experience can be promised.
As mentioned, it supports tablets running on iOS, Windows and Android, so compatibility should not be an issue.
For iOS, it is available on iOS 12, 13 and beyond. It also supports several dump formats including the uncompressed GCM, CISO, WBFS and CISO (important for the tech geeks). Do note that right now it does not have additional configuration options.
It supports save and load states, and other common features. With it being in active development, expect a few bugs though.
You do need your own ROMs as well. Currently, this emulator is available for free, although this can change with the increasing updates and improvements in the interface.
Available on: Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, macOS X
The PPSSPP stands for Playstation Portable Simulator Suitable For Playing Portably, and as the name suggests, is designed to play games for PSP.
It was created by one of the founders of the Dolphin emulator mentioned above, and just like it, it is fairly simple to set and up, apart from having a large library of games that can be played.
In fact, it allows you to transfer your PSP saved files and continue where you last left.
It is also under constant development so expect any bugs and errors to be fixed.
Good news for the iOS users, it works decently on both the jailbroken and the non-jailbroken devices.
It comes with user friendly interface and great features, including customizable on-screen controls, using external joystick or controllers, save and loading files, texture scaling and filtering, apart from the advantage of transferring your saved files from the PSP console.
Since it simulates the BIOS and the internal operating system, you do not have to worry about any additional files.
It widely considered to be the best PSP emulator you can get your hands on, with great stability, ROM support and updates.
Try the free version and easily upgrade it to a Pro one.
Available on: Windows, Android and Linux
It is definitely the premium choice to play PlayStation games on, flawlessly.
It does use the plug-ins for it configuration, so may want to figure that out for your device.
As compared to the other PlayStation emulators available, this is the most user friendly and easy to sure, featuring a decent virtual keyboard, hardware compatibility, easy customization and the regular save and load states features.
It is one of those emulators though, that cost money, coming in at $3.75 without any demo version.
Available on: iOS
This is a free iOS emulator designed for iOS based devices including the iPad which supports Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, GameBoy Color and the GameBoy Advance consoles.
You can connect a controller to your iPad or play using the on-screen controls.
This emulators allows the games to managed based on the platform, as well as customizable controller skins and appearances.
In addition, the Delta emulator enables you to load and save states, utilize cheats and even fast forward the gameplay, which can be very convenient for a lot of users.
It also supports Dropbox and Google Drive, making storage very easy, as well as synchronizing the games and the saved states.
Available on: Windows, Android, macOS
The last emulator we are going to talk in detail is also the newest one in terms of its release, the Citra Emulator. It is based on the Nintendo 3DS console.
It supports most standard emulator features, including load and save states, external peripherals and other thing.
It also allows to create a similar 3DS-like environment with the help of its compatibility with native 3DS features like motion control, camera and the mic.
The premium version comes with texture filtering and dark mode, among other things.
Since it is relatively new, there is room for improvement, although this is the only great 3DS option available on the market that can work on multiple platforms, so it definitely is a great tool to invest your energy (and money if you choose to buy the premium version) in to!
Other powerful and useful emulators that are worth a mention include:
|DeSmuME||Android and Windows|
|Drastic DS Emulator||Android|
|EmuBox||Windows and Android|
|FPSe||Windows and Android|
|John NESS and John GBAC||Android|
|MyBoy and My OldBoy||Android|
Here are our two cents are the end of this article.
Understand that emulation is an added bonus, it is not the primary focus when designing a tablet or any other device. There is a reason why consoles are made for that reason.
Moreover, not all devices and operating systems support all emulators.
Even if they are compatible with a certain emulator, they might not run some games at their optimal level.
With that being said, emulation on tablet is a great way of making use of a gadget and making the most of your monetary investments. Happy gaming!