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The best Xbox 360 emulators for PC
While the Xbox 360 was initially something of a disaster — given how many units suffered the “red ring of death” — it’s now considered one of the best consoles ever made, with a lineup of classic games that are frequently still being played in one form or another. Just look at Grand Theft Auto V, for instance. If you’d like to try out that library for yourself, here are some of the best Xbox 360 emulators for Windows PCs, including handheld systems.
The best Xbox 360 emulators for PC
We’re not going to list too many options here, since all you need is one app that both works well and is relatively easy to use. It’s good to have fallback options however, whether for compatibility reasons, or because Microsoft might threaten legal action. Remember that emulators usually exist in a legal gray area — all it takes is exploiting one proprietary thing for a developer to be hounded by lawyers.
As of February 2024, we’ve decided to take a couple of emulators off our list. They weren’t being updated sufficiently, and the creators of one of them — VR Xbox 360 PC Emulator — simply began directing people to Xenia. The Xbox 360 emulation scene seems to have largely settled on that choice.
We’re actually cheating a little bit, because EmuDeck isn’t an emulator into itself. It may however be the only download you need to bother with, because it’s a one-stop shop that lets you install and manage multiple emulators from a central hub. At the moment its chosen Xbox 360 emulator is Xenia, which we cover as a separate download below. You can also install emulators for platforms like the PlayStation 2, Nintendo Switch, Sega Genesis, or original Xbox.
If there’s a catch, it’s that the Windows version of EmuDeck is still in beta as of this writing, so it has a few technical flaws. If you donate to the app’s Patreon fund, you can get early access to features such as save sync with other versions of the software, including the flagship release for Steam Deck. You’ll need the Windows software if you’re playing on non-Steam handhelds like the ASUS ROG Ally.
If you’re going to choose a standalone emulator, Xenia is the one to go with. It’s not spectacular, but it’s known for its reliability and solid performance, which is important given that emulating something like the Xbox 360 isn’t as easy as the Super Nintendo or Atari 2600. It’s helped in this by support for standards like variable refresh rates, AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) upscaling, and NVIDIA’s FSAA anti-aliasing.
There’s an official compatibility list for games, and we recommend checking this out before you get too excited. As a rule you’ll want to stick to games marked “state-playable,” since anything else is going to have technical problems that might mar your experience — if you can even run the game in the first place.
Like many emulators, Xenia is free and open-source.
We’re getting into more advanced territory with this one. CXBX Reloaded is hosted on a GitHub page, and its installation is a little more complicated, so you’ll need some tech savvy to get it up and running. On top of that it’s really geared toward the original Xbox, although you can play some Xbox 360 and Xbox One games. Like Xenia, be sure to check the emulator’s compatibility list before you begin loading anything, and try to stick to games marked “playable.”
One thing we appreciate about CXBX is that it’s updating pretty frequently. Whereas some emulators can languish most of a year without an update, if not many years, CXBX builds are releasing weeks or even days apart. That should, hopefully, translate into ever-improving compatibility.