4 Best Nintendo Switch Emulators, Ranked (2023)

Switch it up with these Nintendo Switch emulators!

Milan Zagorac
Milan Zagorac
8 Min Read

Portable consoles have been dominating the market for a while, at least until smartphones became mainstream enough that people slowly migrated to them. The PSP and the DS were the toys of the 2000s, with the Switch being the 2010s love child. But, some people dislike the portable console experience, and they are lucky because the best Switch emulators are here to help.

The Switch is a relatively new console, being released in 2017. Even with its recent release, it has many emulators that work and some of which are actively developed projects. Those are the ones that made the list.



Ryujinx, a Switch emulator with its default window and console.

Emulating: Nintendo Switch
Platform: Windows, Linux, and macOS
Download Ryujinx

The Switch has many working emulators, but this one is at the top of the list, because it was the first to come with good emulation, and is still in development. It is an open-source project, like most good emulators are, and is available on Windows, Linux, and macOS.

The developers have tested around 4500 games, 3400 of which are considered playable. The rest have issues, but that is what active development aims to remedy. The name is that of a sea dragon or Ryujin. The NX parts of the name are from the codename of the Switch. The NX stood for Next or Nintendo Cross during the development process.

Like most good projects, you can find them on GitHub or Discord, if you want to engage with the community and report bugs.



Yuzu is a Switch emulator for multiple platforms.

Emulating: Nintendo Switch
Platform: Windows and Linux
Download Yuzu

Yuzu is a known quantity in the world of emulation, mostly due to it being made by the same team that works on Citra, a Nintendo 3DS emulator. Both projects are great and Yuzu takes after its predecessor, both code and design. 

The design is modern, or rather, functional and easy to understand as far as emulators are concerned. Most emulators are difficult for newcomers, though with good documentation and an intuitive interface, that is easily overcome. Yuzu is considered easier to set up than Ryujinx, as well as navigate and use.

The currently supported platforms are Windows, Linux, and Android. It is likely that it will be eventually available on Apple systems, having been written in C++, with portability as one of the features in mind.



Skyline is a Switch emulator for Android, with a minimalist interface.

Emulating: Nintendo Switch
Platform: Android
Download Skyline

Skyline is a Nintendo Switch emulator for Android. It is rather notorious for getting a cease & desist from Nintendo, over a tool that they use to dump keys from their Switches. Nintendo tends to be a bit on the overly protective side when it comes to emulation.

However, Skyline is a great tool if you want to play Switch games on Android devices. Development stopped in May 2023 and given the recency of the last update, it works just fine. It is simple to use and still available on their site and GitHub. 

Interestingly, the project used some parts of Yuzu to help with their own graphics rendering and the Ryujinx developers helped with the general understanding of the Switch. In the open-source community, developers tend to help one another and that leads to better, or in this case, the best Switch emulators.



Skyline Edge 69 is the latest build of Skyline, which Strato developers recommend before the first Strato build is published.

Emulating: Nintendo Switch
Platform: Android
Download Strato

Once Skyline was canceled, the developers simply opened a new GitHub and started a new project, called Strato. The GitHub more or less looks the same, and the contributors are the same, at least at the moment. Strato aims to continue the work of Skyline, but in a way that won’t earn them another cease & desist.

Something to note about both Strato and Skyline is that they are not emulators per se but compatibility layers, similar to WINE. WINE is used on Linux systems to run native Windows applications. Strato and Skyline are similar, but simplicity is more important, so they are known as the best Switch emulators for Android.

Understanding the Switch – Scarily Successful Emulation?

Compared to the PS2, Switch has had successful emulation in the first seven months after release. For comparison, the PS2 still has issues and only a couple of working emulators, after 23 years.

The core of the Switch is an Nvidia Tegra X1 SOC, which uses ARM cores and the ARM architecture. Given that Android runs on ARM, emulation is much easier. Some smartphones used the exact same SOC, which made emulation easier. ARM to x86 has also been done (there are plenty of Android emulators), which helped speed up development.

The graphics part is custom-made, but developers are familiar with such challenges from Sony’s custom parts. Given the proximity of the Switch to Android devices in terms of hardware, the emulation wasn’t as challenging as other consoles.

How to Use Switch Emulators

Using Yuzu, one of the best, if not the best Switch emulator for PC, we can emulate a game of choice following the next steps.

The Decryption Keys

Yuzu, a Switch emulator, showing its main screen and File drop down menu.

Some emulators have BIOSes and firmware. The Switch ones have decryption keys. These are obtained legally by extracting them from existing Switch devices, your own, preferably. Yuzu has a handy guide on how to install decryption keys, which is a process in itself.

The Yuzu folder contains the keys folder, where decryption keys should be stored.

The Games

Ghost Trick Phantom Detective running on Yuzu.

Switch emulators are, once more, special in this case. We are familiar with ISO, bin, chd, elf, and other similar exotic file types. Switch games come in two formats for the PC, xci, and nsp. Both are often necessary, and per Yuzu’s guide, you have to copy the files to their respective folders, that the emulator will recognize as the “Switch’s” internal memory.

But, some games are larger and will thus need to be fused, because the emulator cannot recognize split files. Once more, Yuzu explains this in detail. Or you could simply load the folder containing the game files, which also works if the files were correctly extracted.


The Nintendo Switch is a popular console, and it comes as no surprise that people have emulated it almost immediately upon release (immediately in terms of development speed). Yuzu and Ryujinx stand out as the best Switch emulators.

Either of them are good, and either could be called the best Switch emulator for PC. Skyline and its successor, Strato, are great Switch emulators for Android devices. 

Switch emulation has one of the most complex setup processes. If you master it, exclusive Switch titles become accessible on PC and Android devices.

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With over 1650 hours of Apex Legends, and 2100 of League of Legends, Milan is an avid gamer. When he's not indoors, he climbs mountains or does urban acrobatics. Add a passion for writing to the mix and you get a hopefully interesting broth.
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