Emulators can turn your PC into a Mac, let you play games from any era, and more — here’s what you should know about the potential benefits and risks of using one

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An emulator is a computer program (or occasionally custom computer hardware) that’s designed to simulate another kind of device. 

For example, WINE is a program that allows you to run Windows software on certain Linux and Mac computers. Dolphin is an app that lets you play Nintendo GameCube and Wii games on your computer. Even Logic Pro X, the popular music recording app for Mac, lets you simulate the sound of a guitar amplifier within your computer.

These are all different types of emulators. Here’s what you should know about emulators, including why people use them, how they commonly work, and what kinds there are.

Why people use emulators 

Every kind of computer and operating system is unique. This often means that a program or app that works on one system won’t work on another.

This is especially true when comparing operating systems like Windows and MacOS, or completely different devices like a laptop and a PlayStation.

This is where emulators come in. Emulators can bridge the gap between these devices, allowing programs to work on all sorts of hardware.

For example, if you have a Windows app that you need to run on your MacBook, you can download the Parallels emulator. Parallels will, in a sense, create a Windows computer inside of your MacBook — this will let you run any Windows app you need.

Some emulators can even enhance the hardware that they’re simulating. For instance, old video games made for 4:3 televisions can be upgraded to run in widescreen resolution, as well as at a higher framerate.

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If you’re someone who likes to be able to run all their programs anywhere, at any time, then an emulator is what you need.

However, there are some risks that you should be aware of.

The downsides to emulators

Because emulators need to reproduce the behavior of an entirely different device, without having their own dedicated hardware or power source, emulators are often slower than the system they’re simulating. 

This is especially true if you’re emulating a new system. For example, nearly any computer can emulate an ’80s-era Nintendo Entertainment System without much delay. But you’ll need a powerful graphics card and CPU to emulate the Nintendo Switch, which only came out in 2017. And even then, it might be hard to make that Switch emulator run smoothly.

Users also have to be careful not to download a virus masquerading as an emulator. Be sure to only download emulators and programs from sources that you trust, and always do your research before installing anything.

Lastly, there’s also a legal risk. Although emulators are legal almost everywhere, downloading programs to use on those emulators without paying for them may not be. Look up the regulations surrounding emulated programs in your country before downloading them.

The most popular types of emulators in use today

The two most common uses for emulators are ones for playing video games, and ones for running other operating systems. Here’s a few examples of the most popular emulators around.

Video game emulators

Dolphin lets you play Nintendo GameCube and Wii games …read more

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Source:: Businessinsider – Tech


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