The 7 Best Chromebook Emulators for 2019

Transform your Chromebook into just about anything

Screenshot of Chromebook, with DraStic emulator, PPSSPP Gold emulator, and Commodore 64 emulator displayed.
PRODUCT DISCLOSURE $

Chromebooks not only deliver a quick-to-boot browser, but also let you install and run Android apps. You can run many apps for older platforms within the Chrome browser, and the combination of Android apps and browser access opens up a huge world of Chromebook emulators.

Unfortunately, not every Chromebook can run Android apps. You can check to see the status of Android app support for your device at Chromium.org. However, if you received your Chromebook from school or work, an administrator may manage or limit which apps you may install or access.

01
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Nintendo 64: Mupen64Plus (N64 Emulator)

Screenshot of Mupen64 with left-side settings menus displayed

What We Like

  • Links to setup and controller mapping guides.

  • Access to many adjustable settings.

What We Don't Like

  • Different profiles may be needed for different games.

  • App status listed as “beta version”.

The Mupen64Plus app lets you run many Nintendo 64 games. It offers many controls you may customize, as well as links to a few guides that walk you through setup and configuration. 

02
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Play NES or SNES Games: John NESS

Screenshot of John NESS (NES and SNES) emulator, with left-side menus open

What We Like

  • Access to two emulators within the app.

  • Manageable number of settings.

What We Don't Like

  • Updated version added ads.

  • Key mappings can be complicated to configure.

John NESS delivers an emulator intended to work with both Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) games. The app includes ads, which may be removed with an optional upgrade.

03
of 07

Play GBA or GBC Games: John GBAC

Screenshot of John GBAC app, with left menus open showing GBC and GBA emulator options

What We Like

  • Access to two emulators within the app.

  • Settings offer several options.

What We Don't Like

  • Lacks multiplayer support.

  • Not all games and controllers work on all systems.

Like its counterpart listed above, John GBAC delivers an emulator for both Game Boy Advance (GBA) and Gameboy Color (GBC) games. You may use the app for free with ads, or pay a one-time fee to remove them. 

04
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A Free PSP Emulator: PPSSPP - PSP Emulator

Screenshot of PPSSPP app, with “Homebrew & Demos” tab open

What We Like

  • Useful and detailed product support site.

  • Updates tend to fix many specific issues.

What We Don't Like

  • Some settings can cause graphics or audio issues.

  • Updates not as frequent as some people might prefer.

Unlike many PlayStation Portable (PSP) emulators, the free PPSSPP - PSP emulator includes easy access to a variety of homebrew apps and demos you may download, all for free. Of course, you can use your own files, too. The app lets you adjust a huge number of graphics, audio, networking, and other system settings.

A paid version of the PPSSPP emulator allows you to support the developers who maintain this emulator. For anyone who uses the app that can afford it, this provides a financial incentive to the developers to fix bugs, improve compatibility, and continue to maintain the app.

05
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Play Nintendo DS Games: DraStic DS Emulator

Screenshot of DraStic emulator main menu (“continue”, “load new game”, “change options” or “exit DraStic”)

What We Like

  • Plenty of configuration options.

  • Detailed help and instructions.

What We Don't Like

  • No WiFi or multiplayer support.

  • No free trial or test version.

This paid Nintendo DS emulator offers some customization, so you may adjust and play games at larger-than-original resolution. The app supports many custom video, audio, and controller settings you can adjust, and allows you to enable support for cheat codes.

06
of 07

Best Commodore 64 Emulator: Mobile C64

Screenshot of Mobile64 app, with Commodore 64 Basic V2 displayed

What We Like

  • Can type in programs with Commodore 64 Basic.

  • Easy-to-access overlay controls for gaming.

What We Don't Like

  • Keyboard doesn’t remap modern layout to Commodore 64 settings (e.g., quote key is Shift-2 as it was on the C64).

  • Commodore 64 style function keys not native on Chromebooks.

Mobile C64 lets you type in and run Commodore 64 Basic apps, as well as load and run any Commodore 64 games you may have. The app includes a few large overlay areas for controls, and settings for emulated storage, so you don’t have to search for now hard-to-find 5-¼” floppy disks.

07
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Desktop as a Service: Amazon WorkSpaces - Hosted Windows Desktop

Screenshot of Amazon WorkSpaces sign in screen with detailed options (resolution, scroll settings, and more)

What We Like

  • Full access to a remote Windows system.

  • Can install many Windows apps.

What We Don't Like

  • Reasonably fast internet connection needed.

  • Cost may be a barrier for some people.

Amazon WorkSpaces delivers cloud desktops, which means you can sign up for the service, then access your WorkSpace from a Chromebook, or almost any mobile, tablet, or desktop computer.

You can install and configure Windows apps in your WorkSpace, and while most apps and games work, some with specific graphics requirements may either require customization or just not work. Amazon offers both usage-based and monthly pricing for a huge range of remote computer configurations.