The Best Clone Consoles: Our Top 6 Picks

It was a great time to play Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games in the 80s. NES Classic Edition only fulfilled some of those needs, and it only played 30 games. The original NES is hard to find for a low price. NES clone consoles have been developed by third parties. We can enjoy classic games on the original cartridges with these NES clones. There are so many NES clone consoles on the market that it may be hard to choose which one is the best.

Here, we will discuss what makes a good NES clone console and what to look for. We will also elaborate on the pros and cons of each console, so you can make the right choice.

What To Look For In A Clone Console

In these days, it is becoming more difficult to find original consoles. An original NES console can be very expensive on the market. Even so, many players are turning to clones as an alternative.

It was a challenging task because they were unable to use the original blueprints of the NES. Third party companies such as Hyperkin and Analogue recreated the NES with new hardware. There are many NES clone consoles that recreate the entire console on a single chip. This is an impressive feat, but a single chip has limitations. There is a good experience in NES clone consoles.

Build Quality

Third party companies such as Hyperkin and Analogue recreate retro consoles with new hardware. Players can play their favorite 1980s video games on modern televisions. They have made a name for themselves in the retro video game market. Their goal is to replicate the same experience as the original consoles.

A good NES clone console must produce excellent audio and great graphics for players to enjoy the same experience. Furthermore, these third party companies have recreated the NES. Since they can’t use the original blueprints, this isn’t an easy task. Many NES clone consoles recreate the entire console on a single chip, which is impressive, but audio and graphics are limited on a single chip.

Controllers

You probably remember the good old NES controller. Simple in its rectangular design yet surprisingly comfortable and relatively ergonomic. It is a gaming hardware icon that, unfortunately, cannot be replicated. It is widely known that Nintendo is extremely protective of its intellectual property, and clone console manufacturers are aware of Nintendo’s reliance on cease and desist orders. However, the controllers that come with NES clone consoles still perform well. Some of the best clone consoles have better buttons, more durable controllers, and ergonomic controllers.

Game Compatibility

In this post, I mentioned that emulation can be a tricky business. If you’ve ever played classics like Super Mario Bros., Mega Man, or Battle Toads on an emulator, you may have noticed some problems. These issues can differ from one emulator to another. In addition, clone consoles are powered by emulation, so they are likely to have compatibility issues. The best clone consoles usually have a compatibility range of 95 to 98% with the existing library.

Video Quality

A game’s graphics deserve the best quality. For modern TVs, clone consoles usually include an HDMI connector, while for older TVs, an AV cable is usually included. Many clone consoles offer the option of displaying the original aspect ratio or high-definition for modern TVs. The graphics and colors on the clone console are sharp and accurate.

The Best Clone Consoles

Here are the best clone consoles on the market, ranked from best to good. All of these clone consoles can deliver a retro experience, and some clone consoles have better quality than others.

1. Analogue NT Mini

Analogue NT Mini

A strong reputation in the retro gaming space has been built by Analogue for its close-up consoles. While this means a much steeper price point, there is a lot to gain from it. With FPGA technology, the NT Mini outperforms regular emulations as well as on-chip compatibility. It has also been enhanced with features that ensure NES accessories, such as the Zapper, can be used.

Pros:
  • Includes 8Bitdo’s NES30 clone controllers
  • 1080p HD output
  • Analog signal outputs: RGB, Component, S-Video, and Composite
  • Highest image and audio quality on the market
  • It claims to be compatible with all NES, Famicom, and Famicom Disc games and accessories
  • 4 NES controller ports
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • The Design looks nothing like the classic NES

Buy on Amazon

2. RetroUsb AVS

RetroUsb AVS

The RetroUsb AVS is a modernized version of the original Nintendo Entertainment System. It has a top loader for inserting your games and has the original power and reset buttons.

In addition to having fantastic audio and graphics, RetroUsb AVS allows you to enjoy an authentic gaming experience. The RetroUsb AVS presents the games in the correct graphics, colors, and audio. The sound effects are also compatible with the original hardware.

AVS RetroUsb supports NES, Famicon, and new NES games from independent studios, which you can purchase and play on the AVS RetroUsb.

Additionally, the updates will improve RetroUsb AVS’s performance, as it needs software called Scoreboard.

Pros:
  • Compatible with NES and Famicon games
  • Software Updates
  • High image and audio quality
  • 4 NES controller ports
Cons:
  • Expensive

Buy on Amazon

3. 8-Bit HD Entertainment System

8-Bit HD Entertainment System

It plays NES games in 720p and includes two controllers, so it’s a great option for gamers on a budget. The 8-Bit HD Entertainment System plays NES games in 720p and includes two controllers.

A retro design of the 8-Bit HD Entertainment System reminds one of the New-Style NES (top loader) from 1993. The controllers have rounded edges that provide a comfortable grip.

Pros:
  • Good price for its quality
  • HD output capable of 720p
  • The console includes two controls
  • Good visuals with balanced colors
Cons:
  • Sounds effects have a higher pitch than normal

Buy on Amazon

4. Retro-Bit RES+

Retro-Bit RES+

You can enjoy multiplayer games with your friend on the Retro-Bit RES+, a clone of the NES by Retro-Bit. It has a lot of value for those on a budget.

Also, the Retro-Bit RES+ comes with a decent picture, and many games look exactly like they would on the NES.

The Retro-Bit RES+ does, however, have some flaws. The controllers have two problems. First, their design is similar to the original NES controllers. They can be uncomfortable to hold and the start and select buttons are a little high.

Pros:
  • Retro-Bit RES+ includes two controllers for multiplayer games.
  • Retro-Bit RES+ includes a USB cable for power.
  • Games have a good presentation with good colors.
Cons:
  • The controllers have an outdate design with sharp corners.
  • The select and start buttons on the controller do not have a good placement.

Buy on Amazon

5. Hyperkin Retron 1 HD

Hyperkin Retron 1 HD

The Hyperkin Retron 1 HD is one of the few clones available that manage to come close to the original NES’s design, making it a solid alternative to the official NES Mini. With high game compatibility, a solid compact build, and controllers almost identical to the originals, this American built device will give you the retro experience you’ve been craving.

Pros:
  • Good price for its quality
  • HD output capable of 720p
  • Compatible with original controllers
  •  98% game cartridge compatibility
  • Compatible with NTSC and PAL
  • Chip system for running games avoids common emulation bugs
  • Includes Micro-USB cable to receive power directly from your TV or other source
Cons:
  • Chip system doesn’t produce the best image or sound quality
  • HD output can be a little fuzzy in faster-paced games

Buy on Amazon

6. Old Skool Classiq 2 HD

Old Skool Classiq 2 HD

Although the Classiq 2 HD isn’t a pure NES console, it’s still a good buy. Old Skool’s offering of this console can also load SNES cartridges for a slightly higher price. Featuring a similar design to the Retron 1, it looks like a curvy Super Famicom, with a gray and purpose color scheme. Classiq 2 comes with two different controllers, one with the NES control scheme and one with the SNES control scheme.

Pros
  • NES/SNES combo clone consoles
  • The option to change the aspect ratio.
  • HD output at 720p
  • High NES cartridge compatibility
  • Doesn’t break the bank though slightly more expensive than the Retron 1
  • Power can be received directly from your TV via the Micro-USB cable.
  • A bit more ergonomic design is inspired by the SNES controllers
Cons
  • The audio has a higher pitch than the original audio.

Buy on Amazon

The Best Clone Console: Verdict

In terms of features, the Analogue NT Mini is the clear winner. The Analogue NT Mini offers a complete package with good sound and graphics, while the Hyperkin Retron 1 HD and Old Skool Classiq 2 HD are classic designs. Despite its price, I believe the Analogue NT Mini’s controllers and video give it an edge over its competitors.

For their asking prices, the other two consoles offer an authentic retro NES gaming experience. Choosing a clone console is all about making compromises, and ultimately it comes down to personal preference and budget constraints.

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