Best CPU for emulation |  WePC

Best CPU for emulation | WePC

Best CPU for emulation |  WePC

What is the best CPU available for emulation?

Updated: December 13, 2022 1:14 pm

The best CPU for emulation

Retro gaming and emulation has been on the rise in recent years. This is because many people are tired of Triple-A games repeating the same formula over and over again. It’s easy for gamers to get jaded and cynical about the gaming industry in its current state, so many people are turning to retro gaming to enjoy the games of yesteryear. But is wheat the best CPU for emulation?

Now read: The best CPU for gaming.

Naturally, the debate between “the good old days” and the current state of the game is a bit controversial. That’s a story for another day entirely. Meanwhile, if you want to get into retro gaming and are turning to emulation, you might be wondering if your rig can handle it.

Most gaming PCs built in the last decade can easily handle emulators for most consoles. Even a Core i3 9100F will be able to easily handle PS2, Gamecube, Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast emulation. The problem starts when you want to emulate consoles like the PS3 and the original Xbox/Xbox 360.

For that, you’ll need a little more horsepower. Emulators usually require more CPU, so that’s what you’ll focus on. If you’re building a new gaming PC, here are the best CPUs for emulation.


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The best CPU for emulation: our top picks

Do I need a good GPU for emulation?

Depending on the capabilities of the type of emulator you want to use, the GPU may or may not matter. For rendering geometry in emulators like RPCS3 (PS3 emulator) and Xenia (Xbox 360 emulator), you will need a powerful GPU.

However, if you just want to play some old school Nintendo games from consoles like Gameboy, NES, SNES or Gamecube, you don’t need the latest and greatest GPU. Most budget Android phones can handle emulating these consoles as well, so you don’t need a high-end GPU.

Even something like an entry-level GTX 1650 Super will be more than enough for most retro games. Of course, this also depends on the type of game you are playing and the settings you want to play it on. Even then, you can play PS2 games at 4K on high settings with cheaper GPUs, so it’s all about the emulator and the game.

Best CPU for Emulation – Thorough Review

Here we’ll list our handpicked CPUs and explain why they’re a great choice.

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X – The best ever

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 1

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

In our opinion, the Ryzen 5 5600X is the best CPU for emulation. That’s not because it’s the most powerful processor out there, but it sure is highly capable. We also need to take into consideration factors such as motherboard availability and price.

The 5600X features 6 cores and 12 threads. Its relative performance in modern games is highly commendable, and it achieves it at a low TDP of 65W. For emulators, you’ll get great performance without the insane power draw of something like a Core i9 13900K.

You can expect excellent performance in most emulators. This includes Yuzu and Ryujin (Switch Emulators) as well as RPCS3 and Xenia. Pair that with a decent graphics card and you’ll be good to go. The 5600X will give you impressive performance and is a chip that will remain highly efficient for years to come.

However, there is the factor that Intel processors like 13600K and 12600K can outclass it. That said, you can usually find a 5600X and B550 combo for less, so in the end, it’s a win for AMD.