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The 5 Best Console Emulators for Your Mac

Although macOS isn’t for gamers, emulation allows you to enjoy a wide array of your beloved games, ranging from the latest Nintendo Switch titles to childhood classics from the Game Boy Advance era. Here, we’ll list the top console emulators you can effortlessly use on your Mac, opening up a world of gaming possibilities that cater to all your preferences and nostalgia.

1. AetherSX2: Sony PS2 Emulator

Burnout Revenge running on the AetherSX2 emulator

Sony’s PS2 is arguably the best gaming console of all time, and If you yearn to revisit the golden era of the sixth-generation consoles, the AetherSX2 emulator offers a compelling option. It comes with native Apple silicon support, ensuring outstanding performance and stability.

On my M1 MacBook Air with 8GB of unified memory (RAM), I’ve managed to play games like Burnout Revenge and Resident Evil 4 via AetherSX2, running flawlessly at a steady 60FPS with full resolution.

Although it’s currently not in active development, AetherSX2 remains recognized as one of the top PS2 emulators for macOS, making it an ideal choice for those seeking to rekindle the magic of timeless classics.

AetherSX2 is not available for Intel-based Macs.

Download: AetherSX2 (Free)

2. Ryujinx: Nintendo Switch Emulator

Ryujinx running Hades

Ryujinx is an open-source Nintendo Switch emulator that allows you to transcend the boundaries of Nintendo’s iconic handheld console and enjoy all the captivating Switch games on your Mac. It has native support for Apple silicon, meaning it takes full advantage of the hardware, and it works shockingly well, especially considering that you’re emulating a relatively modern console.

In my testing, I managed to maintain a steady 30–40FPS at 1080p while running the Nintendo Switch port of Red Dead Redemption, and I highly recommend the emulator to anyone wanting to play Nintendo Switch games on their Mac.

Download: Ryujinx (Free)

3. Dolphin Emulator: GameCube and Wii Emulator

A screenshot of Super Smash Bros Melee running through a Dolphin emulator

Dolphin Emulator lets you liberate Nintendo’s cherished GameCube and Wii classics on your Mac. The native Apple silicon version offers excellent performance, with some GameCube games even hitting 120FPS.

While the GameCube and Wii originally had a native resolution limited to 480p, the Dolphin emulator also offers the capability to enhance game visuals by upscaling them to resolutions as high as 4K.

Download: Dolphin Emulator (Free)

4. PPSSPP: PSP Emulator

PPSSPP emulating God of War on a Mac

The PSP continues to hold its status as one of the finest portable gaming consoles ever created. Thanks to the PPSSPP emulator, Mac users can now enjoy their cherished exclusives, such as Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.

Even though PSP graphics may appear somewhat outdated even when upscaled, it remains an excellent choice for revisiting nostalgic moments without the need for the original hardware. Moreover, with native support for Apple silicon, the improved frame rate ensures an objectively superior gaming experience.

Download: PPSSPP (Free)

5. OpenEmu: All-in-One Retro Console Emulator

Pokemon FireRed running on the OpenEmu emulator

For those with a primary interest in retro gaming, OpenEmu stands out as the ideal option. It supports an extensive range of consoles, encompassing systems from the Game Boy to the SNES. A more comprehensive list of supported consoles can be found on OpenEmu’s GitHub.

OpenEmu has consistently been my preferred emulator for enjoying timeless titles like Pokémon FireRed. Even when running through the Rosetta translation layer on Apple silicon Macs, it delivers impeccable performance and stability.

Download: OpenEmu (Free)

Emulate Your Favorite Consoles on a Mac

Console emulation is a captivating portal that allows you to unlock the treasures of gaming nostalgia and potential. Whether you don’t want to carry your Nintendo Switch while traveling or just want to relive the good old PS2 classics, you’ll find an emulator that suits your needs.

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