How to Play or Connect NES and SNES Classic to a Laptop

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Retro games simply remain the bomb, even in a world where modern games are up on a live stream, our passion for the older NES and SNES games never goes away! Whether it’s Super Mario, the wonderful world of Zelda, old-fashioned boxes with Punch Out, or even classic PC games such as The Sims and RuneScape, they’re all a lot of fun! Now that Nintendo has released the Classic Mini, there is an easy way to play these games on your TV again. But do you know that you can also play NES and SNES classic games on a laptop or a PC as well? Keep reading to find out more.

Also Read: How to Play, Display or Connect Wii to a Laptop

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How to Connect NES/SNES Classic to a Laptop

Connecting through an HDMI in Port

To connect a NES or SNES console to your laptop, you will need an HDMI input port. Unfortunately, 99.9% of laptops on the market only have HDMI output ports, they do not come with an input port unless you purchase a very high-end machine. The only laptop with an HDMI in that we have seen is the Alienware series. If you have one of those then you can go ahead and connect your console.

Otherwise if you try to connect via the HDMI out, your console will power on via the USB port on your laptop, but you won’t be able to display anything on your laptop screen. It’s safe to say that the HDMI input is a pretty unusual feature, and it is always present in addition to an output port. If your laptop had one then you would be aware of it 100%. Usually laptops with both would have them labelled as “HDMI in” and “HDMI out”, if you only have one HDMI port then you already know that it’s not going to work!

Also Read: How to Use My Laptop as a Monitor or Screen for Xbox One?

Fortunately, there are a few other solutions to playing your favorite NES/SNES games on your laptop. A common one is to install RetroPi on a Raspberry Pi card, but then you would need to buy a bunch of other equipment and go through a super complex process to get things to work. But what if you are on a train, for example? Then the Pi is of no use to you! There is actually a much better solution for this! You can use an emulator instead to play your favorite games on your computer.

The best thing is that you don’t need an extra device enjoy these games! You can play them straight on your laptop. It doesn’t even matter if you are a Windows or a Mac user. By using an emulator, you can easily play all your favorite games on any operating system. An emulator is actually a piece of software that can simulate the old game consoles from the past. The games can be downloaded, and the emulator ensures that everything works well on your computer.

The advantage of emulators is that they are available in many different types: the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, the Super Nintendo Classic up to a Game Boy. All you need is an emulator, a computer, and a controller. To make it extra fun, you can also buy the old retro controllers with a USB connection. I now have one of the old NES controllers, it really makes for an awesome nostalgic experience!

Also Read: How to Play or Connect your PS3 to a Laptop

how to play or connect nes and snes classic to a laptop

Turn Your PC Into a Retro Gaming Emulator

Games have changed phenomenally in the last 25 years. The current games may be much better and faster than those of the past but we humans are nostalgic creatures. In other words, those games from the past are a joy to play again! But how do you do that? Do you install an emulator for every game console in history? No, you turn your PC into one big retro game emulator.

In this article, we will show you how to install and configure the software to play older NES and SNES classic games on your laptop. The setup may seem like a bit of a hassle, but it is totally worth it, since it is a single emulator that takes care of all your gaming needs.

Also Read: How to Cool Laptop While Gaming

RetroArch and EmulationStation

To be able to play games from, for example, the Super Nintendo or the Nintendo 64 within one environment, two programs are required on your laptop, RetroArch and EmulationStation. Before I explain how to get started, it is important to know the exact functionality for each of these programs.

RetroArch is the software that takes care of the actual emulation of your gaming console. It is the power under the hood, however, it lacks an interface that lets you start the emulators and games graphically. I other words, you would have to enter a separate command for each emulator and game, which is quite inconvenient. For that reason we also install the EmulationStation. If RetroArch is the engine, EmulationStation is the rest of the car you control the engine with.

Installing and Configuring the Software

The installation of the programs is not that complicated, the configuration takes a bit more work, more about that later. You can download RetroArch here . Download the file and unzip it into a folder with WinZip on 7-Zip. You can download EmulationStation here, and then follow the steps for the installation.

If you try to configure RetroArch without a proper guide, it can be very frustrating. When you click inside the interface, it acts up funny. The reason for this is that RetroArch does not support a mouse, navigation is done using the keyboard with ‘Enter’ and ‘arrow’ keys.

If you want to play your games with a controller (for example, an old compatible SNES controller) that should work without any problems by simply plugging it into your computer. You can then control the menu with it. If not, you can easily configure this yourself by using the keyboard to navigate to Settings> Input> Input User 1 Binds> Bind All. You can then decide for yourself which function you want to associate with which button.

Also Read: How Long Does a Gaming Laptop Last?

Video Settings for RetroArch

When you have configured the controller (which is optional, you can also control games with your keyboard), it is time to adjust the video settings. These are settings that are really hard to figure out on yout own, luckily others have already done that for you.

First of all, go to Settings / Driver inside RetroArch and ensure that the GL option for the Video Driver is selected. From there you want to go to Settings / Video so you can choose the Vsync option. Finally, you also want to enable the Hard GPU syncing option! If the sync isn’t selected, go ahead and do that as well.

UPDATE: Please see our recent article which lists the Three Best N64 Emulators For PC.

how to play or connect nes and snes classic to a laptop

Final Words

NES an SNES were among the most popular gaming consoles of the 1990s alongside SEGA and PlayStation. Thanks to various emulators, games from back then are making a comeback on the computer today.

There are a number of console emulators on the internet and they all work similarly. I focused more on RetroArch because it is an all in one solution, and you get to play games regardless of the console type.  If you want to further explore emulators, you can check the following ones out:

Nintendo Entertainment System (NES): VirtuaNES and FCEUX (Windows), Nestopia and RockNES (OS X)

Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES): BSNES and SNES9x (Windows and OS X)

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