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The 4 Best Nintendo Switch Emulators I'm Using in 2024

Best Nintendo Switch Emulators for PC and Android in 2023

The Nintendo Switch is one of the most popular gaming consoles of all time, with a fantastic library of exclusive games. However, many gamers prefer to play Switch titles on their PC or Android device for the improved performance, customization, and flexibility emulation provides.

While console emulation exists in a legal gray area, there are ways to emulate your physical games legally. It‘s important to only use game files dumped from cartridges or digital copies you own. Downloading ROMs from the internet is illegal.

If you want to enjoy Nintendo‘s latest gaming system on your computer or phone, here are the best Switch emulators available today. I‘ll cover what makes each one unique to help you pick the right emulator for your needs.

  1. Yuzu

Yuzu is the most well-known and actively developed Switch emulator. It‘s an open-source project built from the ground up for Windows and Linux. While you can run Yuzu on Mac using a workaround, there‘s no official macOS version currently.

In terms of compatibility, Yuzu is the gold standard. The developers maintain a detailed list showing the playability status of over 3,800 commercial Switch games. At the time of writing, Yuzu can run over half the Switch library perfectly.

Yuzu also boasts excellent performance, taking advantage of multi-core CPUs to push high frame rates. It supports upscaling games far beyond the Switch‘s 720p/1080p output – some titles look phenomenal at 4K.

The main downside of Yuzu is the setup process. You need to dump system files and keys from your Switch console, then configure the emulator to your PC‘s specs, which can be tricky. Yuzu‘s Patreon supporters get access to an Early Access version with more frequent updates and features too.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows
  • Linux
  • Android (unofficial port)
  1. Ryujinx

Ryujinx is Yuzu‘s main competitor and another fantastic all-around Switch emulator. It‘s built in C# instead of C++ like Yuzu, but similarly focuses on accuracy, performance, and ease-of-use.

The biggest advantage Ryujinx has over Yuzu is official macOS support, making it the best Switch emulator for Mac users. Like Yuzu, Ryujinx is also available on Windows and Linux.

Ryujinx has tested 4,000+ Switch titles. Around 3,400 are playable from start to finish, which is mighty impressive. The developers keep an up-to-date compatibility list on their website.

Where Ryujinx falls slightly short of Yuzu is performance. It has fewer enhancement features and isn‘t quite as efficient in demanding games. However, the developers are constantly optimizing the emulator.

Ryujinx makes up for this with superior documentation and usability. Its setup guide is fantastic and the emulator has an intuitive interface. Overall, Ryujinx is a close second to Yuzu.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • Linux
  1. Skyline

Skyline is a promising up-and-coming emulator built specifically for Android. While you can run the Android versions of Yuzu and Ryujinx, they aren‘t designed for mobile chips and controls. In comparison, the developers built Skyline from the ground up for ARM-based Android devices.

Being an Android-first emulator, Skyline‘s biggest advantage is its mobile UI and touch control customization. You can create custom touch control layouts for any game. Skyline also supports many bluetooth controllers.

Since Skyline is younger than other emulators, it doesn‘t have the widest compatibility yet. It can play 2D indie titles very well but struggles with more demanding 3D games currently. The developers update it frequently though and compatibility is rapidly improving.

To use Skyline, your Android phone or tablet needs a 64-bit ARM processor. The developers recommend using a Snapdragon 845 or better for ideal performance.

If you want to play Switch games on the go and don‘t mind the smaller selection, Skyline is an excellent mobile-first option to try.

Supported platforms:

  • Android
  1. MonoNX

MonoNX is a unique emulator that runs on the web instead of being a standalone program. You can play Switch games right in your browser, no installation required. MonoNX uses WebAssembly and WebGL to emulate the Switch‘s hardware.

Being web-based makes MonoNX incredibly easy to use. Just load it up in Chrome or Firefox and you‘re good to go. Your save data is stored in your browser too. MonoNX works on any desktop OS and even some mobile devices.

However, the web-based nature of MonoNX is also its biggest limitation. Performance isn‘t as good as native emulators and compatibility is hit-or-miss. Only a handful of 2D games work currently.

MonoNX‘s simplicity makes it worth checking out if you want to emulate some basic Switch titles without any setup. Just keep your expectations in check and don‘t expect to play AAA games. Hopefully the web-based emulation improves over time.

Supported platforms:

  • Web browser (desktop & mobile)
  1. Egg NS

Egg NS is another Android-exclusive emulator. It actually came out before Skyline. While the project is on hiatus currently, the emulator still works well, especially on older/weaker devices.

The biggest selling point of Egg NS is its performance. The developers heavily optimized it to run on budget phones and tablets. If your device struggles with Skyline, give Egg NS a shot.

Egg NS also has a nice mobile-friendly UI with customizable touch controls. The virtual joysticks and buttons feel great for 2D platformers and top-down games.

However, Egg NS isn‘t as compatible as Skyline. It only supports a small selection of games currently. The pause in development means Egg NS likely won‘t improve compatibility much going forward.

If you have an older/budget Android device, Egg NS is still worth trying thanks to its optimization. Just stick to 2D games for the best experience.

Supported platforms:

  • Android
  1. RetroArch

RetroArch is a unique case, as it‘s not actually a dedicated Switch emulator. Rather, it‘s a frontend that lets you install "cores" to emulate different systems. The Switch core is called "Lakka."

RetroArch is available on pretty much every platform imaginable:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Xbox/PlayStation consoles

Being a jack-of-all-trades emulator, RetroArch doesn‘t have the best Switch compatibility or performance. It works best for 2D indie games currently.

However, RetroArch‘s main advantage is being a one-stop-shop for emulating many systems. If you want to play SNES, PS1, and Switch games in one app, it‘s a convenient choice.

RetroArch is also the only Switch emulator on iOS currently. You can install it without jailbreaking if your device runs iOS 11 or newer.

Given its flexibility and platform support, RetroArch is worth considering if you prioritize convenience and play a variety of classic systems. Just expect bugs and subpar Switch performance.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • Linux
  • Android
  • iOS
  • More

Comparison Table

Here‘s a quick overview comparing the features of each Switch emulator covered:

Emulator | Compatibility | Performance | Platforms |Active Development
— | — | — | — | —
Yuzu | Excellent | Excellent | Windows, Linux, Android | Yes
Ryujinx | Great | Great | Windows, Mac, Linux | Yes
Skyline | Good | Great | Android | Yes
MonoNX | Poor | Poor | Web browsers | Yes
Egg NS | Poor | Good | Android | No
RetroArch | Poor | Poor | Everything | Yes

What to Expect from Switch Emulation

Even with the huge strides made by developers, Switch emulation isn‘t perfect yet. You need a powerful PC or phone to run most games smoothly. Your mileage will vary heavily based on your hardware specs and configuration.

Demanding Switch games like Pokémon, Zelda, and Bayonetta may still have choppy framerates, crashes, and glitches. Less intensive indie titles typically fare much better. Audio desync/crackling is also a common emulation issue.

Furthermore, you may need to tweak emulator settings on a per-game basis for the best performance and stability. Expect to spend some time tinkering to get games running optimally.

How to Legally Obtain Switch Game Files

I want to reiterate that downloading Nintendo Switch ROMs from websites is illegal. The only way to emulate games legally is using your physical game copies. You need a modded/hacked Switch console to extract the game data.

Emulators like Yuzu and Ryujinx provide detailed guides on dumping your game files, updates, and DLC content. This process can be a bit technical, so carefully follow their instructions.

You‘ll also need to dump some of your console‘s system files and firmware for certain games/features to work. Again, the emulator sites have great tutorials for this.

Some Troubleshooting Tips

If you run into issues getting games to work, here are a few common fixes:

  • Make sure your emulator, GPU drivers, and system are fully up to date
  • Double check that you dumped the game files correctly
  • If you dumped XCI files, try converting them to NSP format
  • Try both OpenGL and Vulkan rendering to see which runs better
  • Lower resolution and disable enhancements if you have poor performance
  • Check the emulator‘s compatibility list to see if the game has any known issues
  • Look through the emulator‘s forums, subreddit, or Discord – users often post fixes

My Emulator Recommendations

If you have a powerful Windows gaming PC and want the best Switch emulation experience, I recommend Yuzu. It has the widest compatibility, most features, and frequent updates. The setup can be tricky but it‘s worth the effort.

For macOS users, Ryujinx is really your only fully-featured option. Luckily, it‘s a fantastic emulator in its own right. Definitely give it a try on Linux machines too.

Mobile gamers on Android will have the most fun with Skyline. It runs impressively well for an early release and has a great on-screen control layout. Egg NS is a good fallback for 2D games on weaker devices.

And if you want to emulate multiple systems, RetroArch covers all your bases. The Switch emulation isn‘t amazing but it works for basic titles. The convenience can‘t be beat.

No matter which emulator you choose, remember that development is still ongoing. Expect big strides in compatibility and performance over the coming months and years. It‘s an exciting time to be a Switch emulation fan!

I hope this detailed guide helps you find the best Nintendo Switch emulator for your needs. With the proper setup, you can enjoy many of the console‘s most popular games with better visuals and frame rates. Just be sure to support the hard work of emulator developers and only play games you own. Happy gaming!