If you’re looking for the best Android TV box for emulators, this guide has got you covered.
Everyone loves retro gaming. Playing classics like Super Mario Brothers or Sonic the Hedgehog not only fills you with nostalgia, but can also offer excellent gameplay, interesting stories and memorable worlds .
Thanks to the large collection of emulators available for Android, high performance and low prices, Android boxes are excellent devices for emulation. Whether you’re wanting to play Super Mario from the Super Nintendo or Crash Bandicoot on the Playstation, Android TV boxes can make this happen for a very small cost.
After hundreds of hours of Android TV box reviews and research, I’ve picked the NVIDIA SHIELD TV as the best Android box for Emulators in 2018. The NVIDIA Shield TV is the fastest Android box, offering the best CPU and GPU performance that’s leagues ahead of other devices in the market – perfect for meeting the demands of emulation.
Table of Contents
What is an Android TV box?
Android TV boxes are set-top boxes that run Android – Google’s smartphone operating system. You can use them to watch movies on Netflix, install Kodi to stream online videos, browse the web, and of course, play retro games using emulators.
For more information on Android TV boxes, check out my introduction to Android TV boxes.
What is an Emulator?
An emulator is a piece of software that allows you to run software on a platform it wasn’t designed for. For example, playing Super Nintendo games on Android.
They run games as if they were running on the original hardware, with varying levels of accuracy.
There’s a massive collection of emulators available on the Google Play Store covering dozens of popular gaming platforms including the Super Nintendo, Sony Playstation and even the GameCube.
How I Chose the Best Android TV box for Emulators
When choosing the best Android TV box for emulators, I considered several key factors:
- Performance: Emulators need raw performance as emulating retro games can be demanding. To offer a good gaming experience using emulators, CPU and GPU performance is the most important thing to consider. That said, if you’re not wanting to emulate more demanding consoles like the PlayStation or GameCube, you may get away with a less powerful device.
- Price: It’s no good hunting for the best Android TV box for emulators if you can’t afford it. I’ve picked Android TV boxes at different price points, though generally more expensive devices offer better emulation performance.
- Customer Support/Firmware Updates: Customer Support and firmware updates are an important part of choosing an Android TV box. Android TV boxes that get regular firmware updates to fix bugs and add new features are an important factor to consider.
Best Android TV Box for Emulators 2018
1. NVIDIA SHIELD TV
Processor: Octacore Tegra X1 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 16GB (500GB for Pro model) | 4K: Yes
- Supports 4K Netflix (as well as other services)
- Excellent Media Playback and Kodi support
- Google Cast Built-In
- More expensive than other Android TV boxes
If you’re wanting the best Android TV box for emulators, the NVIDIA Shield TV is the box to get. This powerful Android TV box won the Home Theatre Life’s title of Best Android TV Box thanks to its amazing gaming performance, excellent Kodi support and media streaming capabilities.
Emulation performance is exceptional for an Android TV box, with the powerful Tegra X1 outperforming the competition. Most emulators will work without issue including graphical enhancements such as upscaling including the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation. Even some GameCube titles work using Dolphin (though GameCube emulation on Android is in its early stages).
On top of this, the NVIDIA Shield offers 4K media playback, excellent support for Kodi and built-in Chromecast support allowing you to cast media such as Netflix and more straight to your Shield.Check Price at Amazon
2. UGOOS UT3S/UT3+
Processor: Quadcore Rockchip RK3288 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB | 4K: Yes
- Custom UGOOS Kodi fork installed
- Excellent Gaming Performance
- Regular Firmware Updates
- Netflix limited to 480p
- Pricier than other Android TV boxes
The Ugoos UT3+ is the best Rockchip RK3288 Android TV box to date. Powered by the powerful RK3288, this Android TV box handles Playstation, Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast titles without issue.
PSP games in PPSSPP were game-dependant, with some titles playing well whilst more demanding titles saw framerate drops unless I lowered some of the graphics.
Native Android game performance is excellent and Kodi support is decent thanks to a custom Kodi fork. Ugoos have also released regular firmware updates that fix bugs, add unique new features and more.Check Price
3. Nexbox A95X
Processor: Quadcore Amlogic S905X | RAM: 1GB/2GB | Storage: 8GB/16GB | 4K: Yes
- Incredibly cheap (often can be picked up for around $40)
- Support for LibreELEC, the Kodi fork that greatly improves its media playback capabilites
- Average gaming performance
- No Standby mode
If you’re wanting a cheap Android TV box for emulators, the NexBox A95X is a solid choice.
Whilst the quadcore Amlogic S905X doesn’t offer the same level of performance as the above two choices, it’ll handle SNES, Gameboy and Sega Genesis games with ease.
There’s also a port of popular emulator platform Lakka for S905 devices which offers a fantastic interface for your emulators.
Lastly, it’s also possible to install LibreELEC on it, making it one of the best value Android TV boxes on the market.Check Price at GearBest
Best Android TV Box for Emulators 2018: Conclusion
Having personally reviewed dozens on Android boxes, the above list reflects the best Android TV boxes for emulation to date.
The NVIDIA SHIELD TV is definitely the best Android TV box for emulators thanks to its significant lead in performance, support and media playback capabilities.
Have a favorite that I haven’t included in here? Let me know in the comments!