The best PS1 emulators keep some of the greatest games and characters alive in a world of next-gen gaming. This console sold over 102 million units, making it one of the most popular home consoles of all time.
The fifth-most-popular, in fact, right behind the PS4!
With stats like those, it’s no surprise that people want to know about the best PS1 emulators on the planet. Imagine taking Solid Snake on a mission while in the office or kicking back with Lara Croft on the bus.
The Sony PlayStation Classic, one of the best mini consoles, uses an open-source emulator to play its games. Bet you didn’t know that!
But how does one turn a common-old-garden laptop into a retro powerhouse? What’s the deal with emulation, and which programmers know how to turn code into a work of art?
Find out everything you need to know below!
**PLEASE READ – Sharing ROMs is illegal, and we’re very much fond of not being in jail.**
This article is purely for you to learn more about the best PS1 emulators and should be thought of as a fantasy novel, mock exam paper, or legendary scroll. Retro Dodo does not condone illegal downloading or any other naughty stuff that might get anyone (namely us) into trouble. Please check the legality of ROM downloading in your region and always follow government guidelines on both internet safety and copyright laws.
- Closed Source
- Windows, Linux, Android
First up on our list of the best PS1 emulators is ePSXe. ePSXe is hands down the best PS1 emulator on the internet with gamers, critics, and fellow developers praising the program and its features.
The thing we love most about ePSXe is that it isn’t just an emulator. It’s doesn’t just play ROM files; it also uses plugins to perfectly reproduce the inner sanctum inside a PS1. That means it can play original PS1 discs on your laptop or PC!
How cool is that!
ePSXe provides CD-Rom functions to play Sony discs. It also emulates music, sound effects, and GPU perfectly.
Fans of pretty much every operating system including Linux can enjoy this emulator at home, in the office, or on the go using smartphones. It was one of the first emulators on the scene and is still the best, with a large compatibility list and flawless gameplay.
- Paid App
FPSE takes the next spot in this list of the best PS1 emulators. It’s an Android PlayStation emulator that works on most smartphones and boasts more customisable options than a Cyberpunk 2077 character.
Anyone looking for an emulator that just works without any tricky faffing around will love FPSE. It plays all of the best PS1 games with ease and has all the usual features such as save states and controller hook-up.
Having said that, FPSE does have lots of advanced features that allow gamers to tune the program into the ultimate custom PS1 emulator. They’re not essential, but it’s a nice touch for anyone wanting to get into the depths of the program. Mess around with graphics settings and make your games look even sweeter!
Every game can be customised, though BIOS files are necessary to run the app for the first time.
- Open Source
- Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi, FreeBSD
RetroArch is one of those programs that’s a bit like The Architect on the Matrix. It’s like the local department store that professes to have everything, because it emulates everything!
We first covered RetroArch way back on our list of the best N64 emulators. It’s a brilliant program that emulates all the major consoles and handhelds, including the PS1!
Plus, it works on pretty much every operating system and device imaginable, including all of the best Retropie handhelds!
Rather than focusing on one particular console, RetroArch holds ‘cores’ that give instant access to thousands upon thousands of games. The PS1 Core is called Beetle PSX, and it’s a serious bit of kit!
BeetlePSX can easily cope with all of the classic PS1 titles such as Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Crash Bandicoot, and many more!
- Closed Source
- Windows, Android
No kids, this isn’t how you spell Zebra. It is how you spell the next program in our list of the best PS1 emulators, however!
Many players claim that XEBRA is the most compatible of all the PS1 emulators on the internet. It’s limited to Windows and Android devices and concentrates on reproducing your favourite games without making things super complicated.
Unlike FPSE, it won’t spruce up graphics or make things look as though they’ve been polished to within an inch of their lives. It will, however, play PS1 games perfectly and still holds the record for the best compatibility list.
Here’s one for the collectors – XEBRA is the only emulator in our compendium of the best PS1 emulators that can load PocketStation ROMs!
Anyone fancy a bash at Chocobo World?
- Open Source
- Windows, MacOS,
PCSX-Reloaded takes the next spot in this list of the best PS1 emulators. It’s a clean and solid emulator that can cope with all the usual titles from Crash Team Racing to Spyro.
PCSX first dropped in 2000. The developers then went on to create PCSX2, the best of the best PS2 emulators. The ‘reloaded’ PS1 program came onto the scene in 2009 after being picked up by retro gaming enthusiasts and works an absolute treat.
This emulator is a doddle to use. Plus, it can be linked up to DualShock controllers for that ultimate retro PS1 feel. An emulator that works with one of the best PS1 accessories ever made is a winner in our book!
- OpenGL Free Software
- Windows, Linux, OpenBSD
Mednafen wins the prize of being one of the best PS1 emulators with the greatest name. Instead of thinking up a title that sounded futuristic or edgy, the developer went with ‘Mednafen’.
That’s ‘My Emulator Doesn’t Need A Frickin’ Excellent Name’, which we think works an absolute treat!
Mednafen resembles RetroArch in many ways. It holds cores instead of professing to be a sole PS1 emulator and provides users with everything from Atari games to PS1 titles.
The PS1, Sega Saturn, and Apple II Plus emulators all use original cores to run, giving users a flawless experience true to the original consoles. Many PC gamers look for these qualities when picking emulators, putting Mednafen high up on many people’s wish lists.
It’s worth noting that Mednafen needs BIOS data files to run, so novice uses may want to start out with something a little simpler before moving onto this. Still, for those bored of RetroArch who can speak code like Harry Potter speaks Parseltongue, then Mednafen is the bee’s knees!
7. PlayStation Now
- Subscription Service
- PlayStation Consoles
Finally, and in the interest of keeping everything ‘above board’, we have the online subscription service PlayStation Now.
Ok, so it’s not a free emulator that players can grab from the internet, but it is the best and official way to play PlayStation games from PS1 through to PS5 without any frame-rate drop, adverts, or glitches.
And it’s 100% legal too!
If you want secure save states that won’t self delete and can’t be bothered messing around with BIOS files, then this subscription service is well worth checking out. It holds hundreds of amazing titles for all of Sony’s home consoles and offers different package prices depending on subscription length.
For a no fuss, no messing approach, PlayStation Now is the best bet. Still, it can only be used on PlayStation consoles and doesn’t work on any other devices!
What Are Emulators?
Ever wondered if it’s humanly possible to play all of your favourite games from yesteryear on your smartphone or laptop? That’s what an emulator does, and lots of people are ripping their old existing games and creating digital files to play on the go.
Like torrent clients, there are many emulators out there that are great. There’s also an equal number of pants programs out there, so knowing which ones to use can save you hours of hassle.
Summed up in a few sentences, emulators reproduce the inner workings of a games console virtually inside your laptop, phone, or handheld. It’s how many of our best retro handhelds work.
Emulators need ROMs to work. That’s the digital files pulled from original games that I was talking about earlier. Remember that sharing ROMs and downloading them from the internet is illegal.
We can’t keep bringing you exciting content from inside of Azkaban, so don’t do anything dodgy. Alright?
What Are The Benefits Of Using The Best PS1 Emulators?
The best PS1 emulators allows users to play games anytime, anywhere. Rip those files and play Tekken on the toilet or Parappa the Rapper in the park.
We’re all in lockdown at the minute (unless you’re reading this from the future, in which case, hello!), and playing PS1 games sure beats reading the same old news articles on your phone.
Spyro on the bus or reading about Covid-19 – I know which I’d prefer!
Are There Downsides To Emulating Games?
Badly ripped ROMs make me mad. Some ROMs and emulators can be real glitchy and quickly lead to me Hulk-smashing everything in sight.
The truth is that good emulators need clever coders and teams behind them. The ones that receive regular updates are the best, though some of the first programs on the scene are still the best.
It’s important to remember that emulators aren’t illegal; they’re just programs that need ROMs to make them work.
Emulators that marry up with bluetooth controls and existing peripherals are often the best. Newer computers or ‘specced-up’ devices often provide the best results too as they can cope with the extra processing power required to replicate bigger games. We’ve seen great things from the best Nintendo Switch Emulator programs and many of the best GBA emulators!
How Do I Download The Best PS1 Emulators?
PS1 emulators live on the internet. While they’re not illegal to download, we’re not going to tell you which street they live on just in case Sony come around for a visit.
It’s not hard to find them if you search for them in a search engine, for instance. Don’t coax us for any more info though; this isn’t Tom Riddle pestering Slughorn, you know!
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.