Gaming is one of the past time that everyone just loves to do for whatever reason. We all love to play games, be it on PC, mobile, or gaming consoles. The gaming industry has seen a significant demand over the last couple of years with companies pushing themselves to bring next-gen titles in the market. For us and most of the gamers out there, it all started with the classic good ol’ GameBoy Advance.
For those who’re unaware, the handheld console was launched way back in 2001. Sadly, it got discontinued after bringing joy to gamers for around 10 years. Although you might now get some pretty graphics-intensive titles with next-gen mechanisms, the craze for retro titles is still present. That’s where GBA emulators come into play.
With GBA emulators, you can play classic retro titles on various platforms such as Android, Windows, Linux, and even Mac. After going through this listicle, you’ll be able to find your personal favorite GameBoy Advance emulator. Without any further ado, let’s just jump right into article and find out which are the best GBA emulators right now!
10 Best GBA Emulators in 2021
Here is a list of the best GameBoy Advance emulators for Windows PC that you can use this year. With the help of these emulators, you can easily play GBA ROMs and games on your computer. These different emulators mentioned here have some common functionalities and some differences. You may choose the one that suits your needs depending upon the pros, cons, system requirements, and the advanced features that different emulators mentioned below have to offer.
1. mGBA Emulator
mGBA is a new generation, open-source GBA emulator for PC, which is probably one of the best GBA emulators available for playing GBA games on computers. The developers developed it with the goal of being fast and being able to run on low-end hardware as well without sacrificing accuracy or portability.
Pros of mGBA:
- mGBA is extremely lightweight to run that allows you to play games smoothly even on low configuration hardware.
- This is cross-platform and free, which makes it suitable for Windows as well as Linux or Mac.
- Supports numerous GBA ROMs.
- Good color emulation of the games.
- This emulator also supports using cheat codes.
- mGBA allows you to save game progress to continue later.
Cons of mGBA:
- Lacks some features as what other emulators have.
- There are some GBA ROMs that don’t boot with the emulator.
You don’t need any high end, ultra-fast, or any graphic intensive PC for running this emulator. Even if your machine is way old and has a significant amount of RAM with a decent processor, you can easily play GBA games using this emulator on your system.
Even 1 GB of RAM paired with a Core 2 Duo processor should be able to make you play most of the GBA ROMs without any hassle. But having at least 2 GB of RAM and a significant amount of graphics memory is recommended for playing any heavy GBA ROM.
Download mGBA Emulator
2. Visual Boy Advance (VBA)
Visual Boy Advance, popularly known as VBA is one of the most popular GBA emulators that you may find in the market and there’s a reason why this is one of the most loved emulators over a course of 10 years. Apart from the plethora of options this emulator has to offer, its ability to run games at such smoothness, speed, and vast compatibility with different ROMs is what makes it remarkable.
Pros of VBA:
- Seamless compatibility with almost all of the known GBA ROMs.
- Quick Keyboard Button custom Key Mapping.
- Support for Joystick.
- Supports taking screenshots while playing games.
- Allows using cheat codes.
- Cross-Platform and free.
- Save your game progress anytime to continue from there later.
Cons of VBA:
- No con as such. It works fine even with low-end CPU systems but may crash or not work with heavy ROMs on old machines with very low computing power.
Just like mGBA, it’s a powerful yet lightweight emulator. It can work smoothly on any device running Pentium 3 or further with more than 500 MHz of CPU clock speed, and integrated graphics with Direct X shall work fine with it. Almost all the devices built in the last 10 years are all better than these specs and can very smoothly run VBA with any GBA game that’s hurled at it.
Although having at least 2 GB of RAM with 1 GB of graphic card is recommended to play any GBA ROM without any lag or FPS throttling.
Download VBA Emulator
3. No$GBA Emulator
Well, what’s the dollar sign doing in there? It just literally symbolizes that this emulator is completely free to use and play games on. There’s no money involved or no charges. This powerful and feature-packed emulator stands out by also supporting Nintendo DS games apart from GBA. It was also the first emulator to support playing multiplayer games on the same system.
Pros of No$GBA:
- Byte sized application.
- Optimized game delivery with a smooth gaming experience.
- Support for game controllers.
- Customizable key mapping.
- Support for playing multiplayer games.
- Save your game to play from the same timestamp again.
- Supports Nintendo DS along with GBA.
Cons of No$GBA:
- Not cross-platform, it lacks support for Linux and Mac.
Any industry-standard dual-core processor with 1 GB of RAM is more than enough to play any supported GBA or Nintendo DS game on No$GBA. For any graphic-heavy ROM, the specs should increase accordingly.
Download No$GBA Emulator
4. Higan GBA Emulator
You might have stumbled upon Higan while searching for the best GBA emulators since it is one of the most well known emulators out there. This emulator has a huge diversity of supporting different games on its platform.
Pros of Higan:
- Supports Windows and Linux.
- Huge list of supported GBA ROMS including all the popular ones.
- Up and running in just a few clicks.
- Custom Key Mapping.
- Save your game to play later.
Cons of Higan:
- Some ROMs may suffer boot error and audio or visual lag.
Any Core 2 Duo or equivalent AMD chip got your back for playing any supported high-speed GBA ROM on Higan but i3 or equivalent paired with at least 2 GB of RAM and 1 GB of graphics support is suggested for the best gaming experience.
Download Higan GBA Emulator
Another name in the world of GBA emulators is RetroArch. It is an open-source, free retro video game emulator for GBA with support for many operating systems.
RetroArch has this unique feature called core emulators which allows you to play a plethora of games apart from just Game Boy Advance. This just needs a core add-on for every type of game you want to play with RetroArch without having to install multiple emulators.
Pros of RetroArch:
- A cross-platform emulator that supports Windows, Linux, Mac, Android as well as iOS.
- Allows installing multiple core emulators to play all games in one place.
- Smooth Gaming Experience.
- Save your Game Progress.
- Support for keymapping and joystick.
Cons of RetroArch:
- Availability of way too many options makes the configuration a little confusing.
- Setting this up requires some time, it’s not very easy to set up.
Considering the wide variety of gaming system support, it shall demand at least 2 GB of RAM and a mid-power processor with a significant amount of graphics as well. It is recommended to use 4 GB of RAM with a Core i3 or equivalent processor with at least 1 GB of a graphics card.
Download RetroArch GBA Emulator
6. Boycott Advance
Boycott Advance is also a GBA emulator for Windows which is quite lightweight and works with many GBA ROMs. The gaming experience in this emulator is smooth and perfect. Although with some games, it shows some weird graphical patterns and the game doesn’t load.
It has some fair plus points in its favor that neutralizes the situation like having Emulator Enhancer installed with loads of features. It also supports macOS apart from Windows making it cross-platform supportive.
Pros of VBA:
- Save your game progress and play the game later.
- Extremely optimized CPU emulation for a smooth gaming experience.
- Lightweight to run.
- Simple to set up and play.
- Supports Joystick and Key Mapping.
- Supports opening recently played games quickly.
- Cross-platform – supports macOS.
Cons of VBA:
- Some known bugs.
- Few titles crash.
- Some games don’t load.
- Not available for Linux.
This emulator also doesn’t require much computing juice to work as this has been the universal common point with all the emulators mentioned here in this list. Any mid-range standard processor with 1 GB of RAM and equivalent graphics should be able to run your GBA games on this emulator smoothly.
Download Boycott Advance GBA Emulator
7. BatGBA Emulator
BatGBA emulator is another lightweight old-school emulator for playing GBA games. The UI looks quite old but apart from the looks, it is able to play almost any GBA ROMs with significant features and optimized compatibility. Apart from GBA, it also supports GB and GBC ROMs. Basically, you will be able to play any GameBoy title on this emulator.
Pros of BatGBA:
- Smooth Gameplay.
- Displays FPS while playing.
- Can play GBA, GameBoy, and GBC ROMs.
Cons of BatGBA:
- Lacks some features as compared to other emulators.
- It’s not cross-platform, only supports Windows.
- UI looks old-school.
Just like most GBA emulators in the list, this one too doesn’t demand lots of power and juice. It can run on any CPU clocked at 1 GHz or faster. Although having at least a dual-core processor is recommended. At least having 1 GB of RAM and a graphic card is recommended to avoid any visual throttling or in-game lag.
Download BatGBA Emulator
Well, what could be one of the most badass names for any GBA emulator? “Mednafen” is the one that literally stands for, “My Emulator Doesn’t Need A Frickin’ Excellent Name”.
The developers were too cool for naming the emulator. But apart from the name, Mednafen supports a huge variety of gaming systems apart from just GBA which makes it more portable and powerful. The sad part is Mednafen is a command-line emulator that supports options passed via the command line.
Pros of Mednafen:
- Supports remapping hotkeys and joystick simultaneously.
- Save your game progress up to 10 different slots.
- Stable gaming experience.
- Supports taking screenshots.
- Designed to support a variety of gaming systems like GBA, Gameboy Color, PlayStation, Virtual boy, and more.
Cons of Mednafen:
- Command Line Interface makes it hard to set up and use.
The minimum system requirements for running Mednafen Sega Saturn as mentioned on their official GitHub is at least an industry-standard quad-core intel or equivalent CPU with a good amount of RAM, a sustainable amount of graphics, and DirectX.
Download Mednafen GBA Emulator
9. GB Enhanced+
GB Enhanced Plus, or GBE+ in short, is not just only a GBA Emulator but it can also run GBC games as well as Nintendo DS. It’s a fully functional game boy emulator that supports a variety of GBA and GBC ROMs. Apart from that, GBE+ supports multiple operating environments like Windows, Linux, and Mac.
Pros of GBE+:
- Cross-platform emulator.
- Supports GBA, GBC, and Nintendo DS.
- Stable gaming experience.
- Plays a variety of games without any noticeable issues.
Cons of GBW+:
- Heavy as compared to other emulators.
- Some ROMs don’t boot, leaving a black screen.
Considering the heavy size of the emulator, at least having a quad-core CPU with 2 GB of RAM and 1 GB of graphic card is recommended to run the games on this emulator seamlessly.
Download GB Enhanced+
10. Rascal Boy Advance GBA Emulator
Among the list of best GBA emulators to play the GBA games, the last one on this list is the Rascal Boy Advance GBA emulator. This one also supports a variety of GBA ROMs and also has a multiplayer plugin that you can download as an add-on for extended multiplayer support on this emulator.
Pros of Rascal Boy Advance:
- Supports multiplayer gaming with a plugin.
- It’s a lightweight emulator.
- Supports a variety of GBA ROMs.
Cons of Rascal Boy Advance:
- No support for multiplayer over a network.
- Misleading emulator name.
- Not cross-platform only available on Windows.
Being this lightweight, this emulator can run on any standard computer system available these days with a fair processor, integrated graphics, and at least 1 GB of RAM.
Download Rascal Boy Advance
With the huge variety of emulators available out there on the internet, these were some of the best feature-packed GBA emulators you can use for playing GBA games on your Windows PC.
You can pick any emulator that suits your needs and taste. But if you want a lightweight GBA gaming solution for your system then you might want to pick either “mGBA” or “Visual Boy Advance”. These two also offer many advanced features and a seamless gaming experience even on any low configuration hardware.
But if you’re a hardcore, old school retro gamer and want to manage all your gaming systems under one roof then you might want to go with “RetroArch” that allows you to install cores of numerous other gaming systems apart from just GBA to manage all of your games and gaming systems under one application without having to install multiple GBA emulators!