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Budget Emulation PC? Please Help.


New member
Hey guys

I'm sorry if this has already been asked in the past but I search and couldn't find anything. I'm looking to build my first gaming PC soon. It's gonna be used for emulation, newer games on steam, music production, and video editing once it is finished. First I want to get a basic build just for the emulation though since I can only spend about $1,000 at a time. I've tried emulation before on my old laptop that was bought in 2005, it didn't go too well as you could imagine. Here's a list of the systems I wish to emulate
Gameboy/Gameboy Advance

I don't know much about emulation so I was hoping to get some insight as to which emulator would be best for each console, and recommended specs to run them smoothly while staying under my initial $1,000 budget. My main concern for the specs is Dolphin, due to the fact I've heard that it's incredibly hard to run most of it's games smoothly. I have every console but they broke over time and now it's so hard to get certain consoles or certain accessories, and a lot of older games are becoming pretty valuable so i just feel like emulation is my best option instead of fixing the stuff I have and trying to clean the discs I ruined as a child. I want to build my first PC anyway so I just figured I'd start it as an emulation build and go from there. All I need to know is what specs I'll need to run smooth emulation of virtually any game from any console. So recommendations on CPU,GPU, & RAM are what I'm going to assume I need. Feel free to include your own specs and benchmarks so I have an idea of how it could end up. I just want to avoid dropping much below the original console's fps if at all. When I tried emulation I was trying to emulate Crash Bandicoot from the PS1 and I was at 1-2 fps constantly due to the age of the laptop I was on. I want to be able to smoothly emulate any game I choose to play.
Thank you to anyone who helps me


Sony battery
You can do a lot with $1K. If you're okay with overclocking, I'd snag either an i5-6600K or i5-7600K for a CPU since it should easily be doable with your budget. All other things being equal, go for the newer 7600K, although the 6600K should perform very similarly if overclocked to the same clock speed. (As retailers phase out the 6600K's, you may find one for a better price than the latest gen processors.) If you do go with the 7600K, make sure to grab a motherboard with the Z270 chipset since it should support Kaby Lake CPUs out of the box, and be able to overclock. If you go with the older 6600K, a motherboard with the Z170 chipset will do.

Even with a fairly modest gaming GPU, emulator performance is probably going to depend more on your CPU. With your budget, you can afford a good overclockable CPU like the ones I mentioned, so I'd go for that and ramp it's speed past what you could get with any retail CPU, and then you'll basically have the best CPU you can currently get. In my opinion the i7's aren't worth the added cost, but if you end up with $100-$150 left in your budget and you want hyperthreading, those are an option. (Probably is not going to help emulation, though it could help a little with lengthy video editing and encoding depending on your software.)

I think even most power users should get by okay with 16GB of RAM, but maybe I'm being old fashioned. You could possibly go for 32GB depending on the rest of your build. I do a lot of what you talked about and 16GB serves me fine. And I'm not a big follower of what's going on in the GPU world, but I usually peruse Tom's Hardware's latest best-GPU-for-the-buck article when I'm looking to pick a new one.

I haven't been keeping up on the state of 3DS, Dreamcast or PSP emulation, and to my knowledge, there's still not much of an Xbox emulation scene. But as long as you get a fair gaming GPU and one of the CPUs I mentioned, the PC should have no trouble handling well supported games on the other consoles. The newer PC games that you want to run will probably dictate how good of a GPU you should get. If you get more specific on that, I can probably make a component list or two if you'd like. :)


New member
Thanks, I was recommended the i7 from a friend. I don't know anything about overclocking or chipsets or any of it though. I'm fairly decent with any electronics when it comes to fixing something but I never learned much about anything PC related. Originally I had a build on PCPartPicker that I set up with parts I found on a few lists for the "best parts" it was an MSI motherboard,i don't remember the exact CPU but I remember it was 4.1ghz , either a gtx1080 or Radeon R9 GPU(those were the only options at the time for 8gb VRAM), 32gb RAM, 6tb HDD, 256gb SSD, soundblaster zxr sound card, windows 10 pro, Logitech keyboard and mouse, 2 optical drives, tower case, fans, power supply, etc. The total was about $2800. It's the build I'd ultimately like to end up with but I planned on starting small and then slowly building it to that. The modern games I'll be playing are GTA V, Payday, various racing simulators, some RPG's like Witcher, Fallout, and Skyrim, maybe Call of Duty, Battlefield, few other fps. But I want everything to look it's best. And then the programs I use are FL studio, Native Instruments Massive, and Nexus for music and for video I simply just use Sony Vegas pro. But my end result for this build I'd like it to be able to handle 4k atleast enough to render 4k video in Vegas. And be able to play any game I buy on steam atleast in 1080 at 60fps. As long as it can handle what my ps4 and Xbox one can handle but with better graphics and frame rates than I'll be happy. I mainly want this for emulators and my editing and such but for certain games that I've been told I'd prefer on PC I'd like them to run smoothly and beautifully. Another game I'll be playing a lot of is Rocksmith 2014 edition. I use it as my guitar pedal board instead of buying a bunch of pedals. Lol. But again thanks for the advice. I'll have to learn a lot more about this stuff since I know nothing about hardly any of it. Also a component list would be very helpful. I also know I probably shouldn't say this but I torrent a lot of music and movies so that's why I was looking for huge storage space also. I like having enough space for anything I need that's why I have 7tb on my Xbox one even though I know I'll probably never use more than 2.5tb