An Android emulator allows you to run a smartphone and play mobile games on your PC. Emulators are fun, easy to use, and quite frankly ― ingenious. If you’ve searched for how to play Android games on PC, chances are you’ve encountered BlueStacks and Nox already. The BlueStacks vs. Nox debate has been going on for a while now and that’s because these two are considered the best Android emulators today.
Honestly, it is quite a headache deciding between the two. But fret not because right after reading this article, you’ll surely have an answer to which one is the best Android emulator for PC.
What Are Android Emulators?
To emulate means to imitate or to match. If you apply this definition to operating systems, you’ll get the concept behind emulators right away. In the tech world, an emulator’s sole purpose is to house a pocket version of a specific system inside a program so that you could open it on another system.
This idea forever changed the gaming industry because it enabled old gaming consoles to be immortalized. Case in point, nowadays, you could simply load a PS1 emulator in order to play the classics that you grew up with. Not only that, but emulators are now also being used to load mobile operating systems onto PCs.
Android’s diversity and flexibility as a mobile operating system have made it a perfect target for emulator developers. Numerous Android emulators are racing to the top to be recognized as the best of their kind. However, leading the charge are two programs: BlueStacks and Nox.
BlueStacks is a software that enables users to run mobile apps on Windows and Mac. It was made primarily to provide a fullscreen experience to mobile gamers. It remains to be the standard when it comes to Android emulators ever since it was launched.
Challenging BlueStacks for the throne is NoxPlayer or Nox for short. It is an Android emulator that can be used to play mobile games, in the form of APKs, on Windows and Mac. It is a light and free emulator that can even exceed BlueStacks in terms of speed and smoothness.
What Is BlueStacks?
BlueStacks App Player was created by a technology company that goes by the same name brand. The company was founded back in 2009 by Jay Vaishnav, Suman Saraf, and Rosen Sharma. These three developers have previously worked for companies such as McAfee and Cloud.com.
BlueStacks’ first product was an app player, which was formally released in public back in 2011. This app player has become synonymous with Android emulators due to its seniority and initial stability. Needless to say, if you are looking for an emulator with a proven track record, this is the one you should be downloading now.
Running behind this software is Bluestack’s patented LayerCake application embedding technology, which pushes PC hardware to run mobile games. With this technology, BlueStacks is able to run small-system mobile games using larger and stronger desktop systems. The result is a faster gaming experience that even the bulkiest phones could not run.
Currently, BlueStacks’ free version has been downloaded over 210 million times already. Advanced features can be unlocked through monthly subscriptions, but its free version alone can run more than 150 million apps already. The latest incarnation of this program is BlueStacks 4.
The latest version of BlueStacks can run on both Windows and Mac. For Windows PCs, anything from Windows 7 to the latest OS would be able to support the software. For the processor requirement, any Intel or AMD processor would do. Of course, the better the processor, the better the performance of the game would be. For the memory, 2 GB of RAM and 5 GB of free disk space are the minima. For the best results, you should have 8 GB of RAM and an SSD. Lastly, all graphic drivers must be up to date.
On the other hand, the minimum OS required of Macs is OS Sierra. Once again, any Intel or AMD Dual-Core Processor would do the job just fine. 4 GB of RAM and 8 GB of disk space are the minimum memory requirements. Anything better than the requirements mentioned would result in better performance.
BlueStacks’ latest version is said to be six times faster than any mobile device on the market. Although this is a bold claim, everybody has a reason to believe that this legendary Android emulator is in it again for their 4th installment.
Games can be downloaded to your BlueStacks dashboard from the Play Store, but APKs can also be used. As long as the game can be played on an Android device, it could be played on BlueStacks. Although the overall gaming performance will depend on your device’s specifications, BlueStacks still has a comparable edge against other emulators because of its patented LayerCake technology.
More features will be discussed later on in this article.
What Is Nox?
Nox Limited is a Hong Kong-based team of developers that aimed to establish itself as the emulator to choose in the East. They released Nox back in 2015 and has since been used by over 150 million users across 150 countries.
Their main product, Nox Player, was released four years after BlueStacks’ first version was launched. Despite the seemingly large head start of BlueStacks, Nox was still able to catch up since it has been downloaded over 150 million times already.
The man reason behind Nox’s rapid success is its massive line of features. Despite both being Android emulators, Nox and BlueStacks have a lot of striking differences. Although Nox Limited may not be as elaborate and big of a company as BlueStacks, they still have enough in their tank to keep the BlueStacks vs Nox debate ongoing.
Nox is known for being more robust than BlueStacks. In fact, it is so light that even a Windows XP PC could run it. It is also supported by Windows Vista and every version that comes after that. For the CPU requirement, any Intel or AMD dual-core processor should be enough. Again, the better the CPU, the better the performance.
This is a very light application. In fact, one of the biggest reasons why it’s standing above other emulators is because of its memory requirement. In order to run the program, your PC must have a minimum of 1.5 GB RAM and at least 3 GB of storage. Just imagine what you could do with Nox using an 8 GB RAM and an SSD.
Nox’s Mac version is a totally different build from its Windows version. That’s because Nox was primarily made from and for Windows. The Mac version was released a year after Nox’s first Windows launch. To run it, you should have Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or higher.
Don’t let Nox’s small memory requirement discourage you from running high FPS games because it sure can handle it. In fact, you can even play up to four games simultaneously with multi-instances – a feature that will be discussed more in detail later.
Games come in preloaded with Nox, and if you want to check out what mobile games the program will come with, you can check out their official website. It is also possible to load more games via APK files. Nox also supports keypad and gamepad mapping. Customizing graphics and frame rates can also be done in the settings.
In terms of overall gaming performance, Nox hits all the checkmarks plus more.
Features of BlueStacks
BlueStacks remains to be a standard of Android emulators, which is why a lot of its features can be seen in other emulators as well. This program has revolutionized mobile gaming by being the first and one of the most stable emulators you can freely download.
Keymapping is allowed with BlueStacks. You can easily customize the controls and assign them to whichever keys you prefer. You’ll also be allowed to use the mouse, which is an important feature for those who want to perform better in FPS games. This cursor to crosshair feature can be done through BlueStacks’ feature called Smart Controls.
Playing multiple games through split-screening can also be done through BlueStacks’ Multiple Instance feature. You can also play the same game with different accounts simultaneously with that feature. Just recently, BlueStacks also added the Multi-Instance Sync sub-feature, which allows you to sync your movements across all split-screen panels.
Apart from those features, other basic things like recording and capturing screenshots are allowed. The disk cleanup function and multiple Android profile support can be both handy as well.
Features of Nox
Nox is a lot lighter compared to BlueStacks – 100 MB lighter to be exact. Despite the difference in size and memory requirement, Nox still packs in some of BlueStacks’ niftiest features. For example, much like BlueStacks, both keyboard and controller mappings are allowed with Nox.
Multi-instance gaming is also present in Nox, although multi-sync is yet to be added as an official feature for the said emulator. To make up for that, Nox has a script recording and macro recording feature. Both of the said features allow users to record operations and movements for future execution – a useful feature for strategy games.
One of Nox’s pride is its Virtualization Technology or VT. This feature allows the program to run isolated systems on single server hardware. VT is one of the main reasons why Nox is so efficient when it comes to resource utilization. To add to that, using single server hardware can speed up the performance of the games since every command is executed under one roof.
Comparison: BlueStacks vs. Nox
Here are a head-to-head comparison and discussion of BlueStacks vs. Nox in four categories: performance, user-interface, security, and legality.
The only best way to go about performance comparisons is to check out the latest benchmark scores of the device or program. Benchmarking scores for Android emulators like BlueStacks and Nox are computed by adding the scores of each program’s performances in CPU/RAM usage, FPS, loading time, and app compatibility.
As per the latest benchmarking results, BlueStacks 4 outperforms Nox in every category. However, this isn’t the end for Nox since it is a young program that has a good base. Don’t be surprised if the whole BlueStacks vs. Nox debate swings in the favor of the latter soon. According to users, Nox feels lighter and faster when you start using it.
BlueStacks packs in more features and it has a more elaborate user interface. As mentioned earlier, BlueStacks is 100 MB larger and it would require you to have at least 2 GB of RAM instead of Nox’s minimum requirement of 1 GB. A discrepancy was imminent between them, and it just so happens that BlueStacks could do more with what it requires.
However, the fact is that NoxPlayer is lighter and simpler. Compared to BlueStacks, Nox is more minimalist and, naturally, more user-friendly. The verdict for the BlueStacks vs. Nox argument when it comes to the user interface would ultimately depend on the user.
This one is a little tricky. Android emulators are not exactly fortresses when it comes to security. Everybody knows that the Android OS is loose when it comes to restrictions. People can easily give their permission and companies can easily take advantage of that. Apart from that, Android emulators use a bootleg version of Android so that may not be a good sign as well, security-wise.
Before you install BlueStacks, you would need to disable your firewall or defender first. This raises the question, is BlueStacks safe to use? On the other hand, Nox would not require you to disable any security feature prior to installing the app. With that, for the security department of the BlueStacks vs. Nox debate, Nox takes the win.
Again, this is another tricky thing to discuss. On one hand, Android emulators do not run the official version of Android and that’s because emulators are not officially under the jurisdiction of the said OS. Despite that, emulators are socially accepted and are made by gigantic teams of developers.
In that sense, Android emulators are both illegal and legal. BlueStacks and Nox are not exempted from this. Like any other emulator, these two do not have any form of special permission to operate legally. However, it is worth noting that BlueStacks is backed by companies such as Samsung and AMD, while Nox is backed by game developers such as Tencent.
BlueStacks vs. Nox: Final Verdict
Finally, the moment of truth.
Judging the whole BlueStacks vs. Nox is not easy at all. BlueStacks is a robust and reliable Android emulator that has been serving the people for almost ten years now. It has gained public trust for its performance despite the security cracks in it. On the other hand, Nox is a challenger to the throne that is quickly catching up to the success of BlueStacks. Nox is lighter and it is perfect for those who are not very meticulous about customization.
In the end, BlueStacks is still the logical option. It’s literally years ahead of Nox in terms of development and it would be hard to see its innovative nature to go away. Although Nox is catching up with its minimalistic approach to mobile gaming, BlueStacks is still the one to beat.