Updated March 06, 2019 by Christopher Thomas

The 10 Best Retro Gaming Consoles

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Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive

This wiki has been updated 12 times since it was first published in October of 2017. If you long for the days when your greatest concern was whether or not you would ever beat your big brother's top scores, then one of these retro gaming consoles will serve as a veritable time machine, whisking you back to those carefree years. Many of them can play old cartridge games, which is great if you've kept your collection, and some even have some of the most fun titles built in. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best retro gaming console on Amazon.

10. Retro-Bit Super Retro-Cade

9. Nintendo Super NES Classic

8. Retro-Bit Trio

7. Super Nintendo

6. Nintendo 64

5. Nintendo Switch

4. Commodore 64 Mini

3. NeoGeo Mini

2. Retro-Bit Duo

1. NES Classic

Editor's Notes

March 02, 2019:

With all of today's fancy, 7-nanometer transistors and high-bandwidth RAM, the plastic cartridges of yesteryear are surely obsolete... right? Well, actually, not at all, because for one thing, software emulation isn't perfect, and for another, it requires a surprising amount of processing power to simulate the proprietary hardware that classic games were specifically programmed to use. So it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that some of the best ways to play old titles are made by the systems' original manufacturers. In fact, you'll notice we included some of the very same consoles that made these games famous. While they're not the first choices to pop into people's minds, the fact is that today, since you're probably not just operating on your allowance and/or paper route money, and because many authentic cartridges aren't too costly, it's even easier now to collect the real, physical games that you once salivated over while waiting for your birthday or Christmas to roll around. And, frankly, the SNES and N64 (both of which you'll find linked here) contained literally some of the best games ever released (full disclosure: I may be biased), and the only way to fully experience the highest-rated release ever (The Ocarina of Time, according to MetaCritic) in all of its glory, is on an actual Nintendo 64. And the Switch holds a wholly unique position, in that it's the only current console that features retro games, and continues to receive new titles and old-school updates. On the other hand, third-party devices can offer big advantages. Retro-Bit makes a handful of wildly versatile units, which can accommodate cartridges from the NES, SNES, and even the Sega Genesis, a system that many developers have significant trouble emulating. Some of these models also accept software ROMs on external storage like SD cards and USB drives, however, it's important to make sure that any ROMs you have are for games you own the rights to (that is to say, you've already purchased before, or have been licensed or released for modding). Because it's never a good idea to break copyright law. And for the history students, and those who grew up with the first generation of digital entertainment, the Commodore 64 Mini and Neo Geo Mini are undeniably exhilarating call-backs to the first vestiges of console games. It has never been easier to be nostalgic, and we hope this list helps you to revisit the first golden age of gaming.


Christopher Thomas
Last updated on March 06, 2019 by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.


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