MSX emulators

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Developer Microsoft Japan, Sanyo
Type Computers
Generation Z80-based home computers
Release date 1983
Discontinued 1996

MSX is a Z80-based family of home computers, designed by Microsoft in cooperation with ASCII Corporation, which appeared in 1983. They were popular in Asian, South American and European countries as well as the former Soviet Union, but they are virtually unknown in USA.

The games came either as cassettes or floppy disks, but only the former is preserved on the No-Intro set for now. You'll also need an extensive BIOS pack, though RA's bluemsx core only requires four. There are game manager tools to help with configuring which BIOS and games come with which feature. The Japanese Wii Virtual Console also included basic MSX-2 emulation.


The MSX standard evolved in several steps, which are reflected in greater or lesser support by emulators:

  • the MSX 1 is the original 1983 machine, with a 3.58Mhz Z80, an AY 3-8910 sound chip, and a TMS video processor — it offers resolutions up to 256x192 with attribute-based colours, single-colour sprites and no hardware scrolling. This machine primarily differs from contemporaries such as the ColecoVision and Sega SC-3000 only in its sound chip;
  • the MSX 2 is a 1985 revision that significantly upgrades the video processor; the maximum resolution is now 512x212, sprites are up to 16 colour, hardware vertical scrolling is available, more normative bitmap and non-attribute-based tile colour modes are offered, and primitive graphics acceleration is available — the video processor can independently perform tasks such as drawing lines and filling rectangles. Unlike the TMS chip in the MSX 1, no other machines use this video processor, so MSX 2 emulation is attempted less often than MSX 1 emulation;
  • the MSX 2+ is a minor revision from 1988 that adds hardware support for horizontal scrolling and a few extra colour modes; some 2+ models offer an optional modest speed improvement to the Z80 to 5.37Mhz;
  • the TurboR from 1990 offers the R800 processor as an alternative to the Z80, which is an offspring of the Z800, offering Z80 backwards compatibility with significantly increased throughput.

Commercial software overwhelmingly targets the MSX 1 or MSX 2 standards, with some able to benefit from the improved horizontal scrolling of the MSX 2+. Neither the 2+ nor the TurboR sold in substantial volumes, and a proposed MSX 3 standard never reached consumers.


Name Operating System(s) Latest Version Active MSX 1 MSX 2 MSX 2+ TurboR Accuracy Libretro Core Recommended
openMSX Multi-platform 0.14.0 Very High
blueMSX Windows, Multi-platform[N 1] 2.8.2 Cycle
Pantheon Windows 9.228 ~ High ~
MSXPLAYer Windows ? ~ ~ ~ Mid
fMSX Multi-platform 5.4 Mid
CLK macOS and UNIXalikes 2020-02-12 Cycle
MAME Multi-platform 0.218 ~ ~ ~ ~ High
MSX.emu Android 1.5.34 ~ ~ ~ ~ ?
  1. Only available outside of Windows as a libretro core (e.g. RetroArch).


Another open source project in active development. In recent years, it has surpassed blueMSX in terms of accuracy and the quantity of emulated hardware.
An open source project that's cycle-accurate with very high compatibility.


External links