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The Best Single Board Computer for Emulation

  • by Paul A.
The Best Single Board Computer for Emulation

Introduction to Single Board Computers for Emulation

Single Board Computers (SBCs) are compact, standalone computers integrated onto a single circuit board. These devices are incredibly versatile, capable of performing a variety of tasks, from running a web server to powering a home automation system. However, one of the most popular uses for SBCs is retro game emulation.

Retro game emulation allows you to play classic games from systems like the NES, Atari, and more, right on your modern hardware. SBCs are particularly well-suited for this task due to their affordability, portability, and low power consumption.

For those looking to dive into the world of retro gaming, Retropie Emulators, Kits, and Bundles offer a complete package to get you started.

Illustration of a top-down view of various single board computers

Top Picks for Best SBCs for Emulation

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

When it comes to finding the best single board computer for emulation, the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B often tops the list. Here's why:

  • Features

    • Quad-core ARM Cortex-A72 CPU
    • Up to 4GB of RAM
    • Dual HDMI ports
    • USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports
  • Performance

    • Capable of running games from systems up to the PlayStation 1 era smoothly.
    • Excellent community support for troubleshooting and optimization.

For those who are particularly interested in Raspberry Pi for their retro gaming setup, you can explore Raspberry Pi 4 collections here.

Odroid H3+

The Odroid H3+ is another strong contender in the world of SBCs for emulation.

  • Unique Features

    • Octa-core CPU
    • 4GB LPDDR4 RAM
    • Gigabit Ethernet
  • What Sets It Apart

    • Higher CPU clock speeds make it more suitable for emulating more demanding games.

Photo of a person descent setting up a single board computer for gaming emulation

Rock 5B

If you're looking for superior performance, the Rock 5B is worth considering.

  • Features

    • Hexa-core CPU
    • Up to 8GB of RAM
    • USB 3.0 and USB-C ports
  • Performance

    • Capable of running multiple emulators simultaneously without any lag.

Nvidia Jetson Nano

The Nvidia Jetson Nano is a unique entry in this list, primarily known for AI and machine learning tasks.

  • Features

    • 128-core NVIDIA Maxwell GPU
    • Quad-core ARM Cortex-A57 CPU
  • Viability for Retro Gaming

    • Its powerful GPU makes it capable of running higher-end emulated games smoothly.

Photo of a diverse group of people gathered around a table, testing various single board computers for gaming emulation

LattePanda 3 Delta

The LattePanda 3 Delta is unique for its Windows compatibility.

  • Features

    • Intel Celeron N4100
    • 4GB DDR4 RAM
  • Windows Compatibility

    • Runs Windows 10, allowing for a broader range of emulation software.

Orange Pi 5

Last but not least, the Orange Pi 5 is a budget-friendly option for retro gaming enthusiasts.

  • Features

    • Quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU
    • Mali400MP2 GPU
  • Budget-Friendly Nature

    • Priced under $50, it offers decent performance for emulating older game systems.

Photo of a close-up view of a single board computer's circuitry

By considering these options, you can make an informed decision on the best single board computer for emulation that suits your specific needs and budget.

This article serves as an introduction and a highlight of one of the top picks for the best single board computer for emulation. The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B stands out for its features and performance, making it a top choice for retro gaming enthusiasts.

By considering factors like affordability, features, and community support, you can make an informed decision on the best SBC for your emulation needs. Whether you're a casual gamer or a dedicated retro enthusiast, there's an SBC out there for you.


Can Raspberry Pi 4 run PS2 games?

While the Raspberry Pi 4 is a powerful SBC for retro gaming, it's important to note that it's not fully capable of running PS2 games smoothly. The hardware limitations make it challenging to emulate PS2 games without experiencing lag or graphical issues.

Is Odroid better than Raspberry Pi for emulation?

The Odroid series, particularly the Odroid XU4, is often considered a strong competitor to Raspberry Pi when it comes to emulation. It offers:

  • Higher CPU clock speed
  • Better GPU capabilities

However, Raspberry Pi boasts a more extensive community and better software support. Your choice between the two would depend on your specific needs and the gaming systems you wish to emulate. For a more in-depth comparison, you can check out this article.

What are the power requirements for Rock 5B?

The Rock 5B requires a 5V/3A power supply for optimal performance. It's crucial to use a reliable power source to avoid any performance issues or potential damage to the board.

Conclusion and Recommendations:


In this guide, we've explored some of the best single board computers for emulation, focusing on their unique features and performance metrics. From the versatile Raspberry Pi 4 Model B to the powerful Odroid XU4, each SBC has something unique to offer.

Final Recommendations

  • For Beginners: Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is an excellent starting point due to its affordability and extensive community support.
  • For Power Users: Odroid XU4 or Rock 5B would be more suitable for those looking for higher performance.

By considering these options and your specific needs, you can make an informed decision and dive into the exciting world of retro gaming.

This concludes our comprehensive guide on choosing the best single board computer for emulation. Whether you're new to retro gaming or a seasoned enthusiast, there's an SBC that's just right for you.


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