Best free Android emulators for Windows and macOS
While you might think that there are tons of Android emulators for desktop PCs and Macs out there, the reality of the situation is that the majority are either super-shady ones or don't function as intended at all. Thus, instead of going for quantity in this piece right here, we chose the other path and opted for quality instead. Hence, don't expect 10 or 15 Android emulators, but merely a few. The difference here is that all of the emulators you'll see below have been tried and proven extensively by us, for both light productivity and the occasional gaming sesh during lunchtime hours.
Bluestacks is without a doubt one of the very best Android emulators available for either Windows PCs and Mac computers. While it would certainly appear as the most-bloated one, Bluestacks is simultaneously one of the most feature-rich Android emulators. It's also one of the better-performing ones, but as all emulators do, it requires a better-than-average hardware in order to run acceptably. While the majority of regular Android emulator look and function just like any older Android tablet, Bluestacks boasts a much more modern interface that puts the Android apps and games front and first, which is a big plus in our book. Customization-wise, Bluestacks allows you to tamper with various display and performance settings. If you succeed to overlook the couple of bloat-y features here and there, Bluestacks is the Emulator with capital "E"!
Nox Player is an excellent Android emulator for either macOS or Windows-powered PCs. The feature-rich program runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat, but that's just enough for most games and apps to run as intended. Nox supports direct drag and drop from your file explorer directly to multimedia and social media apps for easier content sharing, allows the user to play with either keyboard + mouse or a gamepad, and finally, has a trove of performance settings that allow you to customize the cores of your virtual Android machine, the available RAM, display resolution, as well as choose between OpenGL and DirectX rendering. The app comes with five themes and is a self-contained package that requires almost zero input from you during the installation process. However, performance may greatly vary depending on your hardware, and a standalone graphics card is definitely a requirement if you want hassle-free 60fps gameplay.