As you may know, to play your favorite Gameboy Advance game on your device, you will need a ROM file and a suitable emulator to run the game on. Here we are going to discuss the best GBA emulators for PC and Mac. If you want to know how and where to get ROMs, you can check out this list of sites like emuparadise.
Coming back to the topic, this list contains some of the best GBA emulators for windows (some are on Mac and Linux too) that I have found when surfing the web while looking for the same question that led you here. I have tried all of the emulators that are featured here and have listed them according to their compatibility, stability and general performance.
With this said, let’s start the list. Here in this post, I am are going to cover some of the best GBA emulators for PC (Windows). If you want to check our list of best GBA emulators for Android, Mac or iOS, check our other posts.
1. Visual Boy Advance
First, on the list, we have Visual Boy Advance, it is currently the most popular GBA emulator for Windows at the movement. It is one of the most stable ones out there and runs most of the games just fine.
One feature that I really like about VBA is that with a press of a button (spacebar), you can increase the speed of the emulation to quickly get past the cut scenes or a dreary section of a game.
Along with the support for thousands of unique user-made skins, this GBA emulator for PC had to on the top of our list.
Note: If you face a “white screen” when you launch any pokemon game, try changing the save file type from ‘auto’ to ‘EEPROM,’ once done restart the emulator, and it should work just fine.
Don’t go on its small size and minimal appearance, no$GBA is a very powerful emulator, and along with GBA, it is also capable of playing Nintendo DS games, in fact, it is a top contender for the best ds emulator.
As for settings, you get two of them, one for controls and the other one for emulation. For controls, you can set custom keys for keyboard and game controller options. In emulation settings, too much stuff is available for you to change like emulation speed, renderer, video output, save file type and more.
VBA M is the same emulator as Visual Boy Advance, but unlike the original VBA which hasn’t been updated in a while, it receives constant updates and bug fixes. It has all the core features of the original Visual Boy Advance emulator but with latest patches, bug fixes and a little custom touch.
mGBA is a very powerful GBA emulator, it is based on an opensource code and is available for free just like the other emulators on this list.
It also supports local Linking allowing games like pokemon to exchange data between two player’s save files. One other thing that makes this emulator stand out from its competition is the fact that even after all these years after its initial release date, the devs still support this project and new features and regular updates are always being pushed to the emulator.
The total size of mGBA emulator comes around ~40 mb when installed, Which might look much but it is not when you consider the features and tools that it provides. Currently, you can use this emulator for Windows, Mac, and Linus (Ubuntu).
BatGBA is a simple yet powerful Gameboy advance emulator for Windows. It is easy to use, and you don’t need to change any settings to make a game run, but you may want to set the fps cap and keymapping setting. Also unlike some other emus, no bios are required.
For settings, you get a resolution scaling option, a debug windows, a couple of fps related settings, and that’s all. This emulator also gives you a couple of options take snaps of your gameplay and even allows you to record it. For some reasons drag and drop doesn’t work correctly and you will have to load the ROM via their ‘open file’ dialog box.
Rascalboy is a very small and minimal GBA emulator for pc. It can play almost all of the GBA games without any problem, and it performs very well well even on the oldest of the systems. It also has support for GBA linking, you need to download a separate plugin, install it on rascalboy and you are good to go.
One thing that I would recommend you guys to do is that to turn frameskip ‘off’ and set synch to ‘enable.’ It will make your game run more stable (~60fps) without any frame drop/spikes.
Note: Select start automatically from files>ROM to make the game load without any other action.
7. Boycott emulator
Boycott is another good if a not great piece of emulator made by a human, comment down if you are reading this.
The UI is very minimal & simple, but don’t go on looks alone as it comes with a ton on customizable settings and features.
Loading a gba game onto boycott is easy. Click on File option from the menu, then click on load ROM, from there navigate to the folder where your ROM files are and select a ROM. Now press the ‘F4’ key on your keyboard
As for the problems, the only major issue that I had with boycott was with sound. Everything worked fine for me except the sound goes off sometimes. It was a known issue of boycott that was supposably fixed in the latest update, but sadly it didn’t work for me.
Bizhawk is a cool gba emulator for windows, it has support for cheats, and unlike the other emu’s, their cheat tool works really well and I have hardly faced any problem with it.
Bizhawz allows you to select save slots from the main game window, which can be very helpful in certain situations. A couple of advanced tools like Lua tool, hex editor, macro tools, etc also come pre-installed with bizhawk.
You can also record your gameplay and take screenshots using quick settings.
9. Dream GBA
DreamGBA is a little different than other emulators on this list, The UI is very unique and and provides all the necessary setting and info on one screen which is great.
Just like the PSx/Ps2 emulators, DreamGBA requires a bios file to function properly, depending on from where you download, you may need to download bios separately or it may come with the dreamgba bundle.
One thing that I really like about the DreamGBA is that it goes full screen whenever you launch a game, meaning no disturbance and no annoying notifications. You can even select the resolution that you want to play on.
10. Higan GBA Emulator
Just like dreamGBA, this emu also needs bios files to function properly. Higan can emulate some other consoles and handhelds as well. Along with GBA, higan also supports GB, GBC and a couple of other ROM types as well. It also has a lot of settings that you can tinker in order to get the most out of it. Overall, a solid emulator which supports multiple other consoles and does a pretty good job of emulating them.
Lakka TV is a full-fledged OS specially made for emulation. The full-screen experience is awesome and it is very unique, unlike other ’emulators’ out there. It does not come pre-installed with any ROMs, you will have to side-load the ROM files to Lakka via LAN later. The full-screen experience is awesome and it is very unique, unlike other ’emulators’ out there.
It can not only play GBA but many other ROM types as well, over 50+ consoles and handheld devices can be emulated by Lakka, you just have to switch between the ‘cores’.
This OS is best suited for Raspberry PI and similar small PCs but it can run on a Windows machine as well. While it doesn’t support dual boot, it can be easily installed on a USB stick to make it portable and usable even on normal windows computers.
Retroarch is an opensource, ‘all-in-one’ emulation app, that you can install on your Windows machine to be able to enjoy games from 50+ consoles including gba, gbc, nds, nes, sega and many more. It downloads as an exe installer file that you can install on your Windows 7/8/10 computers.
You can even try Retroarch on your web browser, while the web version does have some minor bugs, it should give you a pretty good idea of what Retroarch is and what it can do.
If you want to install Retroarch as an OS in your Windows PC or want to use on a raspberry machine, you can use Lakka, an OS based Retroarch installation.
So this is it, this concludes my post on best GBA emulators for PC. I hope that you were able to find yourself a suitable emulator for your GBA ROMs.
One thing that you might want to keep in mind is that some of these players require bios file to function properly so you may have to get your hands on one in some cases.
While the ones mentioned here are some of the best GBA emulators out there, there are so many options available out there that you can try. Thank you for reading.