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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Top 9 Android Emulators For Gaming

I have tried many many android emulators for the PC over the last couple years, and there were a number of them on the market that I never found any mention of. So I put it upon myself to write up a review of what I found that works well for playing Android games on the my Windows tablet.

To start off with, I will not be focusing on Android-x86 variants like Console-OS, nor will I be focusing on android emulators focused on development, like the one that comes with Android Studio or Microsoft's Android emulator or browser based ones like ARC reactor,, Manymo, or xamarin. We will be focusing on the ones that work in fullscreen, and also support touch or multi-touch for Windows tablets. My test machine is a Surface Pro 3 - i3 - 4gb RAM, so it is the lower end of surface pro tablets.

#9 - Bluestacks

This was one of the first Android emulators to hit the PC, and in my opinion, has since sold out to the consumer hardware sector, and turned what could have been a great idea into a bloated, adware filled sluggish experience. This might be the most advertised solution, but it is one of the worst on this list. They do allow you to pay for a bloat free version, but it is not worth the trouble in my eyes.

#8 - YouWave

Following in the footsteps of Bluestacks, YouWave is also one of the older ones on the list, and as far as Android Emulators go, it has a lot of features, but not very well designed. This solution will also cost you around $20 too, and in my eyes is nowhere near worth that price. It looks like the developer who designed the interface is stuck in Win XP mode, and the performance reflects the same.

#7 - GenyMotion

This emulator is geared towards developers, but it can work in Fullscreen if you have a tablet device loaded up and a couple options selected. There is a wide range of different Android versions available for it, and it's overall performance is good, but on the downside, they don't have many features available at all for the free version, and the paid version will run up quite the bill at almost $35 per month!! No thanks, moving on.

#6 - Andy

This emulator does a great job at making it compatible with a wide range of Android games and apps, but it does suffer from a little lag, and very low resolution when it comes to graphics quality. The user interface is very simple and unrefined, almost looks as though it belongs on Windows Vista computers and nothing modern. This one is free for non enterprise users, and they do update it pretty often. Just not fast enough for me to use on my SP3.

#5 - Droid4X

This one is a step in the right direction, it is geared more towards gaming, and supports all the needed stuff to work on most Windows tablets/pc's, but it is a little sluggish and the options for display and performance are not where they need to be. It is however, completely free, and if you have decent machine specs, you will get by with it just fine.

#4 - Nox

This little baby is one of the new kids on the block, and is off to a great start. Still a little work needed to be done on performance and input, but the interface is well designed, and there is a pretty good flow of development going on behind the scenes. This is free, and does come with Google Play services built in. I am personally keeping an eye on this one in the future.

#3 - MEmu

This one is fast, and for the most part, it does the job well, but app compatibility is not where I think it should be, and the options available pale in comparison to some of the other Android emulators out there. It is free and should work on most machines though, so it is worth a try. It does install Oracle VM Virtualbox too, which does not un-install by it's self.

#2 - DuOS

This is a great example of how Android emulation on Windows should be done. It is fast, well designed, compatible with every app I tried, even VainGlory, and it also is the only one that allows me to let my computer go to sleep, and wake back up with the emulator still running in the background. The resolution of DuOS is also a great example of what the other guys should be doing. I love this one so much, that it was worth the $10 I paid for a full license a while ago. The only draw back I have from DuOS is that their development team could do a little better working with Windows 10. It can take quite a lot of work to get up and running. Another thing about DuOS, is that you have to install Google Apps separately, and can be a little confusing if you don't read up on it first.

#1 - Windroye

This one takes first place for fastest android emulator available now. It runs most of the apps I tried to install, but on the downside, there are still a good number of apps it doesn't support. So it's a trade off on speed vs compatibility with Windroye. They also have a couple different versions available, but Windroye is the only one that comes with Google Play services. As far as ease of use, this one is also a great choice, because I didn't have to mess with anything except for the resolution and DPI. It even fixed my SP3's issue of not having VTx enabled in bios for me. (Windows 10 locked down the SP3 bios options to not allow this any more)

In conclusion, it was a close call between DuOS and Windroye, but considering the issues my SP3 has with DuOS at random, I cannot rely on it when I want a quick gaming fix. So Windroye takes the win. There are also a number of things I did not mention about many of the emulators on this list, so if you are really curious, feel free to follow the links and check them out for yourself. Enjoy!!