Best free Android emulators for Windows and macOS

Best free Android emulators for Windows and macOS
Did you know that with the necessary software crutches, modern day PCs and Macs can easily emulate Android. Well, of course you did! While we doubt that many are actually fans of running the touch-optimized Android OS on their much more capable computers, it's still worthy the explore what options you have.

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

Download it for: PC | macOS

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

Download it for: PC | macOS

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.

MEmu Play

Download it for: PC

While it's unavailable on Mac devices, MEmu Play is a great, no-frills Android emulator exclusive to Windows PCs. It features the good ol' tablet interface that most Android emulators flaunt and allows you to easily log in with your Google account and freely download any app or game from the Play Store. The trove of features and customization options available make it rather easy to  tailor the interface and the performance of the emulator to suit your needs. The developers of the emulator tend to heavily advertise it as one of the easiest and simultaneously best means to play PUBG Mobile on your computer, so have it it mind if you're fan of the battle royale sensation.

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16 Comments

1. adibuyono

Posts: 50; Member since: Mar 29, 2017

No love for Linux? :')

2. ahmadkun

Posts: 613; Member since: May 02, 2016

Oh man .. this Android keeps me amazed

3. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Here's another 2: - Koplayer (almost like nox clone, but less bloatware) - Android emulator (Probably the oldest of all, and it use the latest android version available, yes it's the one inside Android Studio or Android SDK :v )

4. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Or just use Bliss OS in a virtual machine

10. master-mkk

Posts: 214; Member since: Aug 27, 2014

how can I do this?

11. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Install VMPlayer on your PC, download the ISO from https://blissroms.com/ and install it under a virtual machine. It does need a pretty heavy PC though.

5. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Could anyone recommend an emulator with little lag? I have nox installed in my laptop and it tends to lag my game from time to time and it's cpu heavy. Help is much appreciated.

6. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Emulators generally cause a lot of lag if internet is slow. But I have used Bluestacks 3 and its great with little lag. However, there's no apparent button to log out of your account in it.

7. BobbySummers

Posts: 9; Member since: Apr 04, 2017

I've noticed on bluestacks 3 that terrarium is very choppy when streaming

12. peter.k

Posts: 77; Member since: Jul 05, 2017

Well, in all fairness, streaming with Terrarium is often times choppy even when using a regular Android device, let alone emulating Android with Bluestacks.

8. acme64

Posts: 128; Member since: Jul 13, 2015

why use an emulator vs a android virtual machine

13. peter.k

Posts: 77; Member since: Jul 05, 2017

VMs rock, but emulators are simpler to non tech-savvy users!

9. acme64

Posts: 128; Member since: Jul 13, 2015

why use an emulator vs a android virtual machine

14. McBurney951

Posts: 1; Member since: Jun 28, 2018

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 we’re going to take a look at the best Android emulators for PC.

15. jordanann

Posts: 2; Member since: Jan 01, 2019

Emulators generally cause a lot of lag if the internet is slow. But I have used Bluestacks 3 and its great with little lag.

16. jordanann

Posts: 2; Member since: Jan 01, 2019

Nice post

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