10 Best Lightweight Android Emulators for PC in 2018

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 Updated: 9/9/2018  | Android Emulators give you a hang of the Android OS on your computer. The invention of Android Emulators dates back to 2010. Since then, the Android Emulators have been making it extremely easy for users to enjoy the Android OS on their personal computers. As of writing this post, there are over 15 different that exist. All the Emulators have something different to offer.

Best Lightweight Android Emulators

The Emulator you pick for your PC depends totally on what features you need. The problem that most users face while using an Android Emulator is the heavy resource utilization. These tools consume too much of your PC’s power in order to function normally. So, for the best results and flawless performance, users need a lightweight Android Emulator. I have compiled a list of 10 best lightweight Android Emulators for PC. The lightweight Android Emulators that I have picked will run on Windows and Mac OS. The list is sorted with the best lightweight emulator being on the top and the order goes downwards.

Before we take a look at the lightweight Android emulators, let’s get a good understanding of such software and why do you need one.

How Android Emulators work?

Android is an open source software. The open source nature of Android gives opportunities to the developers to mold this ecosystem the way they want. The Android Emulators are typically the Virtual Android Devices that can run on any Windows or Mac-powered computer.

Google itself provides the Android SDK Tools which have the Android Emulator inside. The basic purpose of emulating Android on a computer was to allow the app developers to test their applications. Android Virtual Device environment allows the developers to select the hardware and software environment to make suitable devices for their applications. The Android Emulators give a real-Android device experience to the developers. They can emulate incoming calls, text messages and almost every single operation that they would carry out on a real Android device.

This concept was taken up by different companies that later on came up with the emulators that required the users to do the least. One such example is the BlueStacks App Player which was released back in 2011. BlueStacks happened to be a complete package for those who just wanted a straightforward Android instance on their PCs without going through any complexity.

Now that you have understood the purpose for the existence of Android Emulators, you must be wondering why an average user needs an Android Emulator? Well, the answer lies in the evolution of the tools. Over the past decade, the Android Emulators have evolved in such a way that users now prefer to run most of their Android apps on the computer instead, and of course, they should be doing it because it’s way cool. Let’s understand how these tools can help you.

Why do you need an Android Emulator?

Here are the reasons why you would want to need an Android Emulator.

  1. You don’t have an Android phone and you want to enjoy the Android OS on your computer.
  2. There is a cool game that you want to enjoy on a bigger screen. The emulator will let you run it.
  3. Use your computer’s mouse and keyboard to play games. Especially, the FPS games are more enjoyable this way.
  4. An application that is available for Android and not for PC, you want to run it on your computer.
  5. The sound effects of a game are good enough to run it on a computer.
  6. The Android phone you’re using has a weak hardware that cannot run heavy games, on the other hand, the emulator will let you run the same game.
  7. Your Android phone is running out of storage. Use the emulator to enjoy the available space on your computer.
  8. An application or game that is worth using on a computer, can be downloaded on with the help of emulator too.
  9. You happen to be an application developer, simulating your applications on the emulator is definitely a good idea.
  10. No device compatibility or OS compatibility issues because of the flexibility of emulators.

Note: All the emulators require the virtualization technology enabled on a computer. Follow this guide to enable virtualization technology on your computer.

Best Lightweight Android Emulators for PC

BlueStacks

BlueStacks is the oldest and the best in business. The BlueStacks has been discontinued for Windows, however, it still runs on the Mac OS. It is the best emulator for Mac. The BlueStacks is like an all-in-one package for those who simply want to enjoy an Android tablet running inside their computer.

BlueStacks has a very nice UI. The moment you run BlueStacks on your Mac, you find a screen showing you the application suggestions, application tabs, and a notification bar. Users can log in using their Google Account which gives them the access to the Google Play Store. The BlueStacks supports all the applications that exist in the Google Play Store. Since the BlueStacks is pretty old, it did not have so many options like Keyboard mapping, multi-instances etc. It tops our list because it is still active for Mac and still the best in business.

BlueStacks has some hardware specifications. This is what it requires on a Mac.

  • OS: Mac OS Sierra or higher
  • RAM: 4GB RAM
  • HDD: 4GB Disk Space
  • You must be an Administrator on your PC 
  • Up to date graphics drivers from the graphics manufacturer
  • Apply latest updates from the App Store app on your Mac.
  • You may also need the latest graphics drivers from the graphics card manufacturer’s website for your Mac

BlueStacks – Download

The BlueStacks 3

BlueStacks 2 brought great improvements over the original BlueStacks. The new version of BlueStacks was released only for Windows. After the BlueStacks 2, the company launched the BlueStacks 3. While the BlueStacks 2’s focus was on the UI improvements and some new features, the BlueStacks 3 focused completely on the performance and usability. There were a few new features in this release as well, however, most of the enhancements were in the performance department.

The BlueStacks 3 introduced the multi-instance feature. This feature allowed the users to run multiple BlueStacks windows on their computers. This means you can run a number of applications in one instance of BlueStacks and a totally different number of applications in another instance of the player.

BlueStacks 3 also has the APK installation button to install the APKs directly on it. It comes with the Google Play Store preloaded. The BlueStacks 3 is way lighter than its predecessors. It is the best option if you want to play games or run communication applications like WhatsApp for PC.

BlueStacks 3 – Download

Following are the BlueStacks 3 system requirements.

BlueStacks N

BlueStacks further improved the performance of the Player in the BlueStacks N release. This new version is specifically named as BlueStacks 3N. The N is added to the name because of the software upgrade. BlueStacks 3N is based on the Android Nougat. The previous BlueStacks 3 was based on the Android Marshmallow and the original BlueStacks was based on the Android KitKat. So those of you who want to run Android Nougat on their computers can go with the BlueStacks N.

The system requirements for the BlueStacks N are similar to those for the BlueStacks 3.

BlueStacks 3N – Download

Let’ take a look at some BlueStacks alternatives now.

Nox App Player

Nox App Player by BigNox is among one of the best and lightweight tools. If you are worried about your PC hanging again and again because of the emulator, you can give a try to the Nox Player in order to get rid of such an issue. The Nox Player is based on the Android 7.1.2 Nougat. It works on both the Windows and Mac ecosystems.

Nox Player focuses on gaming. The company has optimized this player to run all the resource-heavy games. It is the best choice for FPS lovers as well. The tool allows the players to map the keys according to their liking. Nox Player allows using an external controller as well. It has the multi-instance feature if you want to operate it in several tabs.

Nox comes with the Google Play Store and all other basic Google applications pre-installed. I particularly like the Nox Player because of its Vanilla Android-like UI. It completely looks like a real Android tablet running inside your computer.

Nox for Windows and Mac – Download

Following are the system requirements for NoxPlayer.

Genymotion

The Genymotion is the best choice for App Developers. Genymotion gives the freedom to select the Android device during the setup. The application developers can emulate any Android device with the help of the Genymotion emulator. It runs Android as a service either in the cloud or right on your desktop PC.

Users can run the games on this emulator as well, but the extensive options of this emulator are best suited to the application developers.

Genymotion is free for pesonal use. The tool is premium for developers.

Genmotion system requirements can be viewed here.

MEmu OS

MEmu, as the name pretty much suggests it, is an emulator for gaming geeks. Whether you want to enjoy the HD graphics of a game, experience its sound effects on bigger speakers, or simply want to run games because you don’t have an Android phone, the MEmu is not going to disappoint you. It is a lightweight Android emulator. It is also based on the Android 7.1 Nougat.

MEmu performs up to the mark for almost all the resource-hungry games. The games like Asphalt 9, PUBG Mobile, Fortnite for Android, and Rules of Survival have been found running smoothly on this emulator.

MEmu is not available for Mac. It only works on the Windows OS. These are the official system requirements for MEmu.

MEmu – Download

Remix OS Player

Although Remix OS Player has been discontinued, it still runs well on the systems that it supported at the time of its release. The Remix OS Player by Jide was released as a stand-alone application to emulate the Remix OS on computers. The Remix OS Player was also released for the Windows only. It is also inspired by the UI of the Vanilla Android.

 

Remix OS Player was optimized for gaming. Jide designed it as a native application to run on a computer. The Remix OS Player was released running on Android Marshmallow. There was no further update for this player.

These are the Remix OS Player system requirements.

Remix OS Player – Download

Andy Android Emulator

Just like Nox Player, MEmu, and Remix OS Player, Andy’s focus is also on gaming. Andy’s mission is to give the users the best possible gaming experience on a computer. Andy utilizes the graphics of a computer to produce the best output for any game running on it. For a few years, Andy ran on one version of Android which happened to be its downside. Just in April 2018, the company updated Andy to Android Nougat.

The features that most of the Android App Players lack or they charge for them, Andy provides all of them for free. For example, take a look at this chart.

These are the system requirements to run Andy on a computer.

  • Dual-core AMD or Intel CPU with Virtualization support
  • 3Gb of RAM; Andy uses less than 1Gb while running apps
  • At least 10Gb of free disk space
  • GPU with OpenGL 2.1 support
  • Windows 7 SP1 / Windows 8.1 / Ubuntu 14.04+ / OSX 10.8+

Andy App Player – Download

KOPlayer

This is yet another player for gamers. The KOPlayer runs on the Windows operating system only. It lays out a smooth platform for all the Android games to run on your computer. The KOPlayer is built on the Android x86 Architecture. It supports OpenGL & hardware acceleration as well. The KOPlayer also runs multiple instances. It allows the users to run multiple accounts. The video recording feature in KOPlayer is one of a kind. It allows keyboard mapping and also supports a remote controller. Almost all the applications available in the Play Store run in this player.

KOPlayer system requirements:

  • Windows XP SP3 (32 or 64 bits)
  • It supports Windows Vista (32 or 64 bits)
  • Also, Windows 7 (32 or 64 bits)
  • The graphics card supports OpenGL 2.0.
  • CPU supports VT-x or AMD-V virtualization,which can be opened in BIOS.
  • At least 512MB memory.
  •  At least providing 3GB hard disk space to install KOPLAYER, and sometimes may need 8GB or more. This depends on applications you installed in the virtual machine. And a working Internet connection for installation and update.
  • The resolution of the system should not be lower than 1024×768.

KOPlayer – Download

Bliss

Bliss is not a typical Android emulator. It’s basically a completely different OS born out of a custom ROM for Android. Bliss for computers is based on the x86 architecture. It can run on any PC, Laptop or Tablet that uses the UEFI boot. The Bliss supports the devices powered by the CPUs from AMD, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Intel. The best part of this player is that it is based on the latest Android 8.0 Oreo firmware. Bliss, in fact, is the only player to be based on the Android Oreo.

To learn more about bliss, visit their official page.

Final thoughts

So, that’s all with the list of lightweight Android Emulators. The emulators mentioned above will give you the best possible performance. Another thing to keep in mind is how much trustworthy an emulator is. All the emulators mentioned in this post are hand-tested and found completely safe and sound. Enjoy the games in stunning resolution and run all of your desired applications on the computer now.

If you have any other option in mind, feel free to drop it in the comments section below. In case of queries, feel free to reach out to me.