6 Best PS2 Emulators, Ranked (2023)

PS2 games in a modern way!

Milan Zagorac
Milan Zagorac
9 Min Read

The SonyPlaystation 2 is one of the best and most coveted consoles both at release and today. PS2 games are legendary and the console has made other hardware manufacturers (Sega after the Dreamcast) irrelevant in the grand scheme. But, playing PS2 games can be difficult, unless you turn to the best PS2 emulators.

Emulation is not new, especially for Sony consoles, and the PS2 is among the most frequently emulated consoles. Being so popular, it has not one PS2 emulator, but multiple, six of which are exceptional and can be used daily.



RetroArch, a multiple-system emulator, showing the PCSX2 core for the PlayStation 2.

Emulating: Multiple systems
Platform: Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android, and more
Download RetroArch, and on Steam

One cannot get away from an emulator, or rather, a platform for Libretro cores, which is able to emulate multiple consoles/systems/arcade machines. RetroArch is an amazing, cross-platform emulator, which also works perfectly as a PS2 emulator. 

Once you load a core, in this case, that of the PCSX2, one of the best PS2 emulators, you have almost perfect emulation on a multitude of platforms, desktop and mobile alike. It has a modern interface, and it is easy to navigate, though it has a mastery curve if you want to deep-dive into emulation.

RetroArch is a great PS2 emulator for PC, mobile devices, and even other consoles. It is also a great tool for collectors because you can use it to emulate other consoles, such as Nintendo, Sega, Atari, Amiga, and more which makes it one of the best PS2 emulator for PC.



PCSX2, widely considered to be the best PS2 emulator.

Emulating: PS2
Platform: Windows, Linux, and macOS
Download PCSX2

This is one of the original PS2 emulators, if not the one that started all (good) PS2 emulation. The project is about 20 years old, give or take a couple of months, and during that time, it has had many releases.

Currently, it is an open-source project that gets almost daily (unstable/developer) updates and boasts almost perfect emulation of 2667 games out of the entire PS2 library. That means you can play the games from start to finish without a single bug (other than the ones that were never fixed by the developer).

The emulator is available on Windows, Linux, and macOS. All three systems get nightly updates, which means 1-3 or more builds per day. It is a great-looking and easy-to-use emulator that everyone on the three supported systems should prioritize.



Play! is a PS2 emulator and this is its default screen.

Emulating: PS2
Platform: Windows, Linux, macOS, and as a web player
Download Play!

Play! is another PS2 emulator that is more of an ambitious project than you would guess at first, especially once you see their site, which looks like it was designed in the 2000s. That aside, it is a large project that aims to emulate the PS2, but on all the popular platforms.

As of now, it has builds for Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, and iOS. That supports almost every commercial platform that most users are on. It also aims to become a web-browser player, meaning you could technically play PS2 games in the browser, without downloads.

It requires no BIOS or additional tinkering, other than owning the game you want to play, preferably on the original CD medium. ISOs will also work. At the moment, the emulator can run 939 games without issues out of a total of 2486 games. 



AetherSX2, a closed-source PS2 emulator, running on Android.

Emulating: PS2
Platform: Android, Linux, macOS, Xbox One
Download AetherSX2

Single-platform emulators are rare nowadays, but some people like to stick with a single platform to simplify development and reduce headaches. AetherSX2 is an Android PS2 emulator with a couple of handy features that you would expect from a modern tool. There are pre-alpha builds for other platforms if you want to experiment.

It has upscaling and modern rendering, though these features come at a price. The recommended processor is at least a Snapdragon 845, which was in the flagship phones of 2018. Today’s flagships have higher specifications, but PS2 emulation on smartphones is more demanding than on desktops or laptops.

While the emulator is not in development anymore, it is still available on the Play Store and the latest update is on March 13, 2022.



DobieStation, an experimental PS2 emulator with its default screen and console.

Emulating: PS2
Platform: Windows and Linux
Download DobieStation

DobieStation is an experimental PS2 emulator that was aimed at accuracy, rather than rendering a game at speed. MAME devs have a saying that emulation accuracy is very important, and running games is a nice side-effect.

DobieStation is no longer in development, but even with that, it is better than some “emulators” that are available on the internet. You have to build it from the source code, and the latest update goes back to April 2021. While not that old in terms of emulators, do not expect to run many games or actually go through an entire one without bugs.

Try it if you want to practice compiling and testing experimental emulators.



HPS2X64, a PS2 emulator, showing its default screen and console.

Emulating: PS2
Platform: Windows, Linux, and macOS
Download HPS2X64

The name of this emulator is actually the Highly-Experimental PlayStation Simulator x64. It is a project that has been around since 2012, and even in its aptly named highly experimental state, it does a better job than most supposedly established emulators. 

It emulates the original PS and the PS2, at the moment. Its name suggests support for titles and consoles going forward. At the moment, there are regular nightly updates, so users can follow the development as it is happening.
Compared to other emulators, this one truly brings back the nostalgic experimental part of fiddling with settings until you eventually get one game to work. There is a console running in the background, alongside the graphical window, so an experienced user can immediately spot when something goes wrong.

Is The PS2 Hard to Emulate?

GTA: Vice City, running on PCSX2.

The PlayStation 2 is notable for being rather difficult to emulate. This is due to a multitude of reasons, the first being the complex design of the processor and graphics unit. 

The CPU is notably using the MIPS architecture, rather than x86, which adds complexity and layers to the emulation process. The CPU also has custom components, all of which complicate matters further. The graphics pipeline is also different from today’s cards, and when you add all of it, you get a difficult console to emulate.

Brute forcing speed with capable hardware doesn’t help as much as people would like, which is why it is essential to download the best PS2 emulators.

PCSX2 has a list of requirements that are generally used as a template for x86 emulation. This does not apply to all emulators equally (particularly mobile ones), but the performance will vary from game to game, emulator to emulator. 

Having the latest hardware will help, but not if the game and emulator combination is bad.


The PlayStation 2 is still one of the most challenging consoles to emulate, and even the best PS2 emulators struggle with some titles. The six listed here should do a good job with most of the games while covering the most frequently used platforms. 

Four of these could be used as a PS2 emulator for PC, though some are cross-platform compatible, while AetherSX2 works strictly on Android. Sticking with RetroArch and PCSX2 is recommended for the best performance and compatibility.

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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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