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The best Switch emulators for Windows PCs

All of the apps listed here are free to use.
March 22, 2023
dock nintendo switch
Curtis Joe / Android Authority

While the most portable a PC gets is a laptop or a Steam Deck, using one for Nintendo Switch games has some advantages, such as improved graphics, easier access to downloads, and as many controller options as you can imagine. We’ve got a selection of emulators to check out below.

The best Switch emulators for Windows PCs

There aren’t that many emulators out there, for the obvious reason that they take some effort to make, and can’t be sold at a profit — Nintendo’s lawyers would have something to say about that. But you do have choices, and since they’re all free you can experiment to find the one you like most.


Yuzu seems to be the most popular option on the PC, to the point that it influences other emulators. You can enable Vulkan graphics rendering for the best performance, and there’s a convenient installer that simplifies setup. Patreon backers can access early builds with the latest fixes and enhancements.

Perhaps most importantly, the software is updated pretty frequently and supports a host of high-profile games. Some examples include  Super Mario Odyssey, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.


Metroid Dread

Ryujinx has a few notable features, such as a choice of Vulkan or OpenGL rendering, and built-in support for mods, cheats, and motion controls. It can even emulate Amiibos in games where that matters, and offer online play with other Ryujinx users. You may however need a hacked Switch to make it work, since that’s a way of dumping keys and firmware files.

Game compatibility could be another issue for some people. While about 2,700 titles are playable, such as Metroid Dread and Bayonetta 2, there are notable exceptions — the biggest being Breath of the Wild. Check the official compatibility list first.


Cemu is technically a Wii U emulator, but it can run some Switch games like Breath of the Wild, so it might be a viable option if Yuzu and Ryujinx don’t do it for you. It emulates motion controls, and both Vulkan and OpenGL rendering are available. Note though that if you’re on a system with AMD or Intel graphics, you’ll have to use Vulkan, and Intel GPU support is described as “limited.”

Like Ryujinx, there’s a compatibility list if you want to check whether something will run. You’ll want to limit your playtime to titles marked “perfect” or “playable” — anything else can’t be played to completion.