Article Published:

Last Updated:

What Is The Best Atari 2600 Emulator

Atari 2600Emulators

Written by

Matt James

Photo of author

Atari 2600 emulation is super easy these days and has been well-established for many, many years.

There are essentially two main options in our view, the first is to use the standalone Atari 2600 emulator, Stella, or use the excellent Stella core in RetroArch, all perfect for playing the best Atari 2600 games.

Either way, these are both available for PC, Mac, Linux & Windows, easily making it the best Atari 2600 emulator available.

Best Atari 2600 Emulator For PC, Mac & Linux

As suggested above, the best Atari 2600 emulator for PC, Mac & Linux is Stella.

Stella has been around since 1996, so has received literally decades of updates and maintenance, ensuring it is compatible with even the latest systems.

Stella is packed with features including some really cool visual effects where you can recreate the blurry effects of older CRT screens such as a composite connection, as well as adding scanlines as the finishing touch!

Stells is highly configurable with full input configuration, emulation settings where you change emulation speed and snapshots (which are also referred to as save states) so save your progress in games, it’s everything you will ever need in an Atari 2600 emulator.

What Is The Best Atari 2600 Emulator - Stella Running Pitfall
Atari 2600 Emulator Stella Running Pitfall

Stella Features Include:-

  • Comprehensive display & audio settings
  • Cool retro TV effects – Composite, S-Video, etc
  • Scanlines
  • Adjust emulation speed
  • Turbo mode
  • Input configuration
  • Snapshots (Save states)
  • Cheat codes

Best Atari 2600 Emulator For Android

The best Atari 2600 emulator for Android is the Stella core in RetroArch.

What Is The Best Atari 2600 RetroArch Stella Core Running Mario Bros
RetroArch Stella Core Running Mario Bros

The great thing about Stella and RetroArch combined is that you benefit from the extremely mature Atari 2600 emulator Stella in RetroArch, but you also can use all of the excellent features of RetroArch to further enhance your experience.

RetroArch Features Include:-

  • Save states
  • Comprehensive shader selection
  • Retroachievements
  • Game playlists and artwork
  • Rewind gameplay
  • Netplay


So, Stella is the word when it comes to Atari 2600 emulation. There are other emulators available, but Stella has remained the only choice in our view when it comes to 2600 emulators.

The Atari 2600 is arguably the quintessential Atari console. Its success never repeated commercially, the Atari 7800 was really the next respectable console (we don’t really count the Atari 5200 since it was such as flop!) from Atari, but there’s so much nostalgia for the woodgrain original, it cannot be denied it was a pioneer at the time.

For more emulator guides and recommendations, check out our guide to emulators.