There are a lot of valid reasons why someone would want to run Android emulators on their PC. App developers may be trying to test their application before shipping it out. Gamers may want to use a mouse and keyboard on their games. Maybe you just want it there to have it. In any case, Android emulation on PC is possible and it’s a lot easier than it used to be. Some old favorites either left the space or become unusable (Andy, AmiduOS, and Leapdroid), but everything else here should work okay for most people. Here are the best Android emulators for PC and Mac.
It’s also worth noting that Windows may allow for Android apps directly in Windows 10 starting in 2021. This could mean big things for the Android emulator market.
The three main uses for Android emulators
There are three main uses for emulators. The first is the most common and it’s for gaming. Gamers can use emulators on their computers to make some games easier to play. They don’t have to rely on the battery life of their devices and the existence 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 LDPlayer, 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. Fortunately, Android Studio comes with the “Android Virtual Device” (AVD) which blows all other emulators out of the water in terms of performance and functionality. The only drawback for non-developers, is that it comes with an installation of the space-hungry Android Studio and Android Software Development Kit (SDK). Of course, this is no problem for developers that already have all the necessary software on their machines.
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. Even so, in this day and age, we recommend going the Chromebook route if you want to run Android apps in a laptop or computer environment. It’s better that way.
Finally, a bit of a disclaimer. At this time, no emulators run the latest versions of Android except for ones made for developers. Luckily, most apps and games still function on older versions of Android so this shouldn’t be a big deal. However, most emulators right now run anywhere between Android 7.0 Nougat and Android 9.0 Pie.
LDPlayer is an Android emulator focusing on gaming performance. Running Android Nougat 7.1, it features the usual array of gamer-oriented features, including good keyboard mapping controls, multi-instance, macros, high FPS, and graphical support. This is one of the few emulators on the list that gets active updates to improve compatibility. It supports a wide range of games, including Garena Free Fire, Among Us, Clash of Clans, and many others. In the latest versions, LDPlayer has optimized the performance of League of Legends: Wild Rift, providing preset keymapping for different Champions and other custom features. Besides that, LDPlayer is also a well-rounded emulator for using TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.
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 / $2 per month
Bluestacks is the most mainstream of all Android emulators. There are several reasons for that. For starters, it’s compatible with Windows and Mac. It was also one of the first that worked really well that still gets regular updates. The emulator targets mobile gamers. There is a stigma with Bluestacks because it can feel a little bloated at times. Bluestacks 4 (launched in 2018) aimed to fix that with mixed results. It also includes key-mapping and settings for many games installed. That should help make things much easier. It’s one of the heaviest emulators on the list. However, it also has the most features for better or for worse. Bluestacks also made the MSI App Player, another excellent emulator that some believe works better than vanilla Bluestacks. You can try either one, they are both by Bluestacks.
Price: Free / $2.99 per month / $29.98 per year
MEmu is another of the up and coming Android emulators that seems to do quite well with gamers. One of its biggest features is support for both AMD and Intel chipsets. Most work on AMD processors, but it’s nice to see developers specifically pay attention to AMD’s platform. Additionally, it supports Android Jelly Bean, Kit Kat, and Lollipop. You can even run multiple instances at once for multiple games or testing features. It aims itself at gamers much like Bluestacks and similar emulators but it’s usable as a productivity tool too. The premium version runs for $2.99 per month and it disables ads, adds more customization options, and enables premium support options. The emulator gets updates on a fairly frequent basis. You can check out the latest releases here if you want to see the latest from this one.
Nox is another Android emulator for PC for gamers. That includes the usual stuff like key-mapping with your keyboard, actual controller support, and even the ability to key-map gesture controls. For instance, you can assign the function to swipe right to an arrow key and use that in a game without actual hardware controller support. It’s a lot of fun and seems to work rather well most of the time. It’s also entirely free and in active development. The demo video below is rather old and it definitely ran better than that on my laptop.
This is, again, a gaming-oriented Android emulator. It stands out against the average because of his lightweight and quick setup. It has some ads but not so many and it’s very simple to use.
About the price, this one doesn’t have a paid version but the free one.
Ko Player is especially stable, it’s well optimized in general and will very rarely crash while you are using it.
Their requirements are not exactly low I must say, they show on their website that you at least need 2 Gigabytes of RAM to run it so if you are on a very old PC, probably this one won’t be the one you should go to.
Having said all of this, we from APKU.US strongly believe BlueStacks is the best for overall purposes and the one you should try first. It’s most likely that you quickly find BlueStacks being the best one for common usage.
It’s also the one with the most active users every day and this is not just a simple coincidence but the fact that many people trust this software for their daily Android things. We hope we helped you make a better choice thanks to our Top 5 Android emulator for PC analysis!