Best DS Emulator for PC

Need to find the best DS emulator for PC? Keep reading you are at the right place

Over the years, Nintendo has made some amazing consoles. However, the company has also scored big with handheld devices. One of the mega-successful gaming machines was the Nintendo DS, which introduced a new level of handheld gameplay.

Many gamers want to be able to play Nintendo DS games on their PC. Of course, games were designed to play only on the DS, but there are ways to play DS games on PC. In this guide, we will discuss the best DS emulator for PC choices that are available right now.

What Is A DS Emulator?

If you are unfamiliar with emulators, they are third-party solutions that allow you to play games and content from one device on your PC. For example, an Android emulator such as BlueStacks will allow you to run Android applications on your computer. In terms of DS emulators, the concept is the same. You can run Nintendo DS games on your PC without actually needing the DS console.

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What Does an DS Emulator Do?

As you may know, Nintendo no longer makes the DS. If you don’t have an old DS lying around the only way to play games is through an emulator on your PC. When you look for the best DS emulator for PC, you should choose software that delivers the following abilities.

  1. Your emulator must support ROM versions of DS games.
  2. The emulator should have support for USB controllers
  3. A complete gaming experience should be available on the emulator, including the ability to save games at any point.
  4. An emulator where you can change screen resolutions is ideal, with the best software allowing you to have quality up to 4K.

What is the best DS emulator for PC? (Top 7)

Below is a list of the 7 best DS emulators you can download for PC. These are emulators that are dedicated to DS games, while others are emulators for a wider range of retro consoles. Before continuing, it’s important to know the emulators don’t always come with games on board. Instead, you will need to download game ROMs separately.


If you’re on either Mac or Windows, DeSmuMe is arguably the best DS emulator for PC that is available. Because this is an open source service, it receives constant updates to improve its capabilities. Whether you’re on Windows or Mac, DS games run cleanly through DeSmuMe. However, in general, you can reach peak graphical performance on Windows. With lots of customizations and other features (such as a cheat code manager), the DeSmuMe download is a very good choice.

DeSmuMe Features

  • Compatible on Windows and Mac.
  • Highly customizable graphics and emulation settings.
  • Cheat Code manager.
  • USB controller support.
  • Save slot.
Pros Cons
  • Powerful emulator
  • Lots of customization
  • Cheat code manager
  • Smooth performance
  • Maxed out graphics sometimes slow down Macs

Verdict: Proof is in the pudding with DeSmuMe, which is widely regarded as the best Nintendo DS emulator for PC.


No$GBA is a veteran of the Nintendo emulation market and started as an emulator for old Gameboy Advance (GBA) games. It has since moved to DS and remains one of the best options available. However, it also did not leave behind the GBA and still emulates GBA games and titles from the Nintendo DS Lite (DSi). That makes No$GBA one of the most versatile emulators in terms of content and it also provides excellent performance. Sadly, the emulator is only available on the Windows platform. For an all-round emulator, you should consider downloading No$GBA.

No$GBA Features

  • Emulates Gameboy Advance, DS, and DS Lite Games.
  • High-quality graphics.
  • Cheat code support.
  • Save support.
  • USB controller compatibility.
Pros Cons
  • Versatile emulations for Gameboy Advance, DS, and DS Lite
  • Excellent graphics
  • Low memory usage
  • Only available on Windows
  • Limited customization settings

Verdict: Versatility is the name of the game with No$GBA, which also allows you to play games from Gameboy Advance, and DS Lite.

Drastic DS

One relatively new DS emulator that has been growing in popularity is Drastic DS. Importantly, Drastic DS has been improving its quality over newer versions, allowing good game performance from the DS. One of the best things about this software is it’s a simplified system but still comes with several cool customization options. Perhaps the best thing about Drastic is its ability as a true cross-platform software. Drastic DS does work on PC, but it is primarily available on Android so you will need an emulator like BlueStacks to run it.

iDeaS Features

  • USB controller support.
  • Cheat codes.
  • Resolution settings.
  • Cross-platform functionality.
Pros Cons
  • Strong features like save ports
  • Efficient and good performance
  • Simple design
  • Stable performance across all DS games
  • Works across platforms
  • Only works on desktop through an emulator

Verdict: Drastic DS is one of the newest and most functional DS emulators that works across platforms, albeit with an Android emulator for PC.



If you’re looking for a complete emulation solution, RetroArch is an excellent choice if you download it. It is arguably the best DS emulator for PC. The best thing about RetroArch is it is an all-in-one emulator that emulates games from an array of retro consoles. For example, you can play titles from Nintendo machines like the NES, SNES, 3DS, and N64, while Atari consoles are also supported. RetroArch is among the most customizable emulators available and can be configured up to 4K resolution.

RetroArch Features

  • All-in-One emulator with support for multiple consoles.
  • 4K resolution support.
  • Highly customizable.
  • Save slots.
  • Screen configuration options.
  • Available across platforms on desktop and mobile.



  • Emulates games from an array of retro consoles
  • 4K resolution
  • Many settings and controls
  • Professional looking app
  • Takes a lot of resources to run
  • Settings could be intimidating for new users

Verdict: Something of a classic, RetroArch is an excellent choice if you want to also emulate games from other consoles.



As well as supporting Nintendo DS games, Citra also allows you to emulate titles from the Nintendo 3DS. In fact, it is probably the best emulator if you want to play Pokémon games on your PC. Not least because Citra works at a high level even on average computers, allowing you to run games in high resolutions. For example, you can set resolution up to 4K, bringing DS games to a new level of graphical fidelity. If you download Citra, you will have one of the best DS emulators around.

Citra Features

  • Support for 3DS games.
  • 4K resolution.
  • Wi-Fi multiplayer.
  • Included screen recorder.
  • Cheat codes.
Pros Cons
  • 3DS emulation
  • 4K resolution
  • Functional multiplayer
  • Performs well on an average system
  • Not as many games as other emulators

Verdict: Citra is a high-end DS emulator that allows some interesting features to expand your experience, such as support for 4K.



If RetroArch is taking up too much of your PC resources, OpenEMU is a good alternative. It also provides emulation for most retro Nintendo consoles, including the DS. One of the main differences between OpenEMU and RetroArch is that OpenEMU has a very simple UI and is easy to use. Furthermore, it is also only available for Mac and not supported on Windows. While the iTunes inspired UI is nice to look at, the app is missing some important features, such as no internal resolution settings.

OpenEMU Features

  • iTunes inspired UI.
  • USB controller support, including for Sony PlayStation DualShock and Switch Pro.
  • Cheat code support.
  • Screen layout options.
  • Save support.
Pros Cons
  • Supports an array of retro console games
  • Wide support for controllers
  • Simple and elegant UI design
  • Only available on Mac
  • Limited customization options

Verdict: If you crave modern usability, OpenEMU is possibly the DS emulator for your thanks to its iTunes inspired UI. You’ll be pleased to know the software also doesn’t scrimp on features.



While there are several good emulators for Nintendo DS, MelonDS is a good choice too and one of the better DS emulators for PC. Certainly, it has one benefit because it runs on Windows and Linux, bringing high-quality DS emulation to the open source platform. Unfortunately, this means there is no Mac support. However, MelonDS delivers extremely good rendering of DS games allowing you to play in the best screen quality. With OpenGL render, you can access these higher resolutions even with a low powered PC.

MelonDS Features

  • OpenGL support.
  • Local Wi-Fi support for multiplayer.
  • Compatible with Linux.
  • Layout options.
  • USB controller support.



  • OpenGL provides optimal performance
  • Play in high resolutions
  • Wi-Fi Multiplayer
  • Available on Linux
  • No Mac support
  • Wi-Fi multiplayer only works with some games

Verdict: MelonDS is often seen as the best alternative to DeSmuMe but it is not available on Apple Mac machines.

Start Using A Nintendo DS Emulator

With one of the best DS emulator for PC options above, you can play classic DS games on your computer.


What is the best DS emulator for PC?

There are several excellent DS emulators available. Some of the best options include DeSmuMe, MelonDS, a No$GBA.

Are DS emulators legal?

Yes, emulators are completely legal as they simply provide a technology solution to run software from a third-party platform on your PC.

Are DS emulators free to use?

The best DS emulator solutions are completely free and allow you to play DS games on your computer at no cost.

Can DS emulators play games from other consoles?

Some DS emulators are cross-platform emulators that also allow you to play games from other retro consoles. Other DS emulators are only for DS games.

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