The gaming community are always after the next best thing at their fingertips, and for many, that’s the best PS3 emulators.
For those new to emulation, emulators are basically a piece of software that enables you to play video game files. Emulators can be used on PC, Android Smartphones, Macs and more, but unfortunately for, you the best PS3 emulators only work on Windows PC’s.
This is simply due to the high processing power needed in order to emulate these games efficiently. Current day smartphones cannot handle PS3 games as of writing this article; that’s the cold hard truth folks!
Downloading emulators is legal, but the shady part is where you source your ROM files from (the video game files). You should only be using ROM files of games you physically own and/or have the rights to. RetroDodo does not recommend downloading ROM’s illegally.
Now, let’s take a look at three of the best PS3 emulators around. You may be wondering why we’re only featuring three, and that’s because these are the only ones that work well, and won’t give you a virus when downloaded. We’ve got your back.
RPCS3 is the most trusted PS3 emulator on the market. It’s a new “work in progress” open source emulator that attempts to create flawless gameplay for a majority of the best PS3 games.
That’s exactly what it does, and well. Because of the open source nature of this emulator it allows the community, the testers and the developers to get theirs hands dirty. More hands on deck means faster bug fixes, faster updates, and in turn, faster gameplay.
The RPCS3 have created one of the best PS3 emulators to date. They are continuously being supported by their large Patreon fanbase who help to fund their efforts to create new code in order to keep the gameplay silky smooth.
This support means they have 2 full-time staff working on the project. Heck, even the best Nintendo Switch emulator doesn’t have this level of support!
RPCS3 System Requirements
- Windows 7 or above
- 3GB of RAM
- X86-64 CPU
- GPU – OpenGL 4.3 or greater, Vulkan is recommended.
- Microsoft Visual C++ 2015 Redistributable
- PlayStation 3 .pup system software file
Overall it’s a pleasant gaming experience, it does what it’s meant to do very well. Their website looks professional, the team are incredibly supportive and the emulator allows you to do the basics like save, add cheats, load states and so on.
This is the best PS3 emulator you can get, and it’s free. All they ask is that you support them on Patreon for a bit in order to keep food on their tables.
2. ESX Emulator
ESX is another one of the best PS3 emulators, even if it’s still in beta. ESX is written in C++ and uses a decompiled PS3 XMB kernel in order to archive native emulation of PS3 games.
But because it’s in beta, the ESX PS3 emulator is limited to running only PS3 exclusive games. It will run your PS3 exclusive titles at native graphics without any audio stuttering, frame rate drops or glitches. Just remember to check the required specs below before downloading.
Once you have downloaded it you can begin setup by mapping your keys in its very useful and easy to use configuration tab. The controller will show up, you click on which button you want to map, press the key on your keyboard, and you’re ready to insert the disc.
ESX System Requirements
- Windows 7 and Later.
- 3.2 GHz Intel/AMD Quad Core CPU or higher with SSE4.
- NVIDIA GTX 660 or higher, ATI Radeon HD7870 or higher with 2GB of memory.
- 2GB RAM on Win 7/8/10 32-Bit, 4GB on Win 7/8/10 64
It’s certainly not as “flashy” as No.1 on our list, but it’s one that allows you to run native graphics and the disk you own, making it feel like the real thing.
It’s free to download and works with most quad core computers. There’s not much difference in terms of gameplay quality compared to RPCS3 but the biggest downfall is that it only plays PS3 exclusives.
3. PS Now
You’re probably thinking “Brandon, why is Playstation Now on this list?”. Well, hear me out, this is one of the best ways to play PS3 games on your PC.
PS Now has a library of over 800 games including PS2, PS3, PS4 and PS5 games. Simply connect a bluetooth controller to your PC (it can be a PS controller too), sync up your Playstation Now account and wallah, you have PS3 games on your PC!
The best thing about this is that it’s 100% legal, and you get incredible “emulation” out of it, even if its not an actual emulator. This simply streams video games to your PC via the cloud; think of it like Netflix but for Playstation games instead.
Admittedly you do have to pay a monthly fee for this service, but it’s completely worth it because the games ALWAYS run flawlessly. There’s no chance of corrupt save files, glitches or low frame rates, this is a fully functioning service.
Playstation Now PC System Requirements
- Windows 7 (SP 1), 8.1 or 10
- 3.5 GHz Intel Core i3 or 3.8 GHz AMD A10 or faster
- 300 MB or more of available storage
- 2 GB or more of RAM
- Sound card; USB port
The only downfall is that you don’t have access to every PS3 games that has ever been released, just the selection they have available at the current time. It’s the best official alternative, and althought its not technically one of the best PS3 emulators around, it’s still worth a go.
Some of you may be PS5 users and in that case, you already have access to this if you’re paying monthly to go online! They like to switch the games around every month too, so you always have a selection of the best PS2 games and beyond for you to discover.
We will update this article with more emulators once they launch, but only if they work well! Make sure to check out the best PS2 emulators if you want to play with the classics!
A 29 year old fella that’s had a Gameboy addiction ever since he was a child. Brandon is the founder of RetroDodo and created a YouTube channel with 240,000 subscribers dedicated to retro gaming products. He now wants to create the No.1 site to showcase the latest retro products from around the globe.