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The only good PlayStation 3 emulator for PC and Mac

We do hope that a RetroArch core is made eventually.
April 15, 2023
RPCS3 screenshot 2
Joe Hindy / Android Authority

PlayStation 3 is one powerful console. It had some amazing games, and the industry was just starting to get into things like HD gaming. It can be emulate, but there are a surprisingly small number of emulators capable of doing it compared to something like Sega emulators. Luckily, the ones that do exist do a pretty good job, so we’ll talk about the best PlayStation 3 emulators for PC and Mac.

We’d also like to give an honorable mention to PlayStation Now (learn more). You can use the game streaming service to play PlayStation 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 games remotely using your PC. It’s not an emulator, but it still lets you play PlayStation games on PC or Mac.

Let's clear up some misconceptions out of the gate. There is no PlayStation 3 core for RetroArch as of this writing. You can check the list of cores if you don't believe us. There are other PlayStation 3 emulators, but we don't recommend them. Nucleus hasn't been updated in years. Short Waves and PS3F are too young to recommend. ESX is very sketchy and we don't recommend it.

The best PlayStation 3 emulator for PC and Mac

  1. RPCS3

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RPCS3 screenshot 1
Joe Hindy / Android Authority

The only competent PlayStation 3 emulator as of this writing.

  • Pricing: Free
  • Platforms: PC, Linux, and macOS (Downloads)

What we like:

  • Played most of our test games without any notable issues.
  • Includes the usual emulator things like savestates, controller remapping, and more.
  • It is free and open-source.
  • It’s in active development.

What we don’t like:

  • The setup process is brutal for first-time emulator users.

RPCS3 is the only good PlayStation 3 emulator as of this writing. It boasts decently good compatibility, although some titles still give it some issues, such as Red Dead Redemption, God of War: Ascension, and The Last of Us. In terms of usability, it’s not bad once you get it set up. However, the setup process is pretty in-depth, and we recommend following the emulator’s Quick Start Guide or perhaps a YouTube tutorial. Once you get through, though, it plays games just fine.

We tested a few games, and they did pretty well. The emulator developers have a compatibility list website that we highly recommend you check out as well. About 67% of PlayStation 3 games are playable as of this writing, and that percentage gets higher with every update. All of our test games were from the Playable list.

If we missed a good PlayStation 3 emulator, tell us about it in the comments. You can also click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists.