RetroPie vs Recalbox, which is better to play with my Raspberry

RetroPie vs Recalbox, which is better to play with my Raspberry

Raspberry Pi is a device that offers practically endless possibilities. One of the most common uses of this small development board is to create a retro console, which allows us to play the most classic titles in the history of video games. RetroPie and Recalbox are the two main operating systems that we can install on our Raspberry Pi to turn it into a retro game console.

Which system is better to emulate games on Raspberry Pi

Before delving into the differences between RetroPie and Recalbox, it is necessary to make a little clarification so that you can get the most out of your Raspberry Pi.

Before thinking about installing software, we need to purchase a Raspberry Pi. Raspberry Pi 4 is the latest version of this small development board that we can find for sale. It is a model that comes with a much more powerful processor than the one used in the Raspberry Pi 3, as well as a greater amount of RAM.

This means that the Raspberry Pi 4 should offer the best results when it comes to emulating classic video games. However, the thing is not really that simple.

The main problem that the Raspberry Pi 4 faces is that software developers are still in the process of adapting their products to work perfectly with this new version of the board.

Recalbox and RetroPie do not yet have an official version for the Raspberry Pi 4 . It is possible that you will find a version developed by the community, but since it is not an official product, it may contain quite a few errors that affect the user experience.

raspberry recalbox

raspberry retropie

For this reason, many experts consider that Raspberry Pi 3B + is currently the best option if you want to build a retro video game platform, using this hardware. However, the situation should change considerably, as the developers at Recalbox and RetroPie move towards a new version for the Raspberry Pi 4.

RetroPie, the most popular gaming system for Raspberry Pi


RetroPie is not the only operating system that we can install on our Raspberry Pi to emulate the most classic consoles, but it is the best known to most users. This is mainly because it was the first operating system of its kind to appear.

RetroPie uses Raspbian as its base, joined by EmulationStation and RetroArch . A very interesting advantage that RetroPie offers us is that we can install it as a single operating system on our Raspberry Pi, or we can also install it as one more Raspbian program.

retropie interface

Using the EmulationStation interface, RetroPie offers an attractive and intuitive design for gaming. On the other hand, RetroArch ensures optimal performance. RetroPie has a wide variety of themes to choose from, over 50 emulators, and built-in Kodi Media Center.

retropie interface 2

How to install RetroPie on the Raspberry Pi

The process of installing RetroPie on a Raspberry Pi in any of its versions is very simple. For this we will have to follow a series of steps that we describe below.

  1. Download RetroPie from its official website.
  2. Flash RetroPie on a microSD card with Etcher.
  3. Put the card in your Raspberry, turn it on and follow the instructions.

Once you have finished installing RetroPie, you will be able to do some additional configuration such as adding ROMs from an external hard drive over the network.

You can also install custom skins to modify the appearance of the interface, as well as specify a list of favorite emulators, and define the ROMs that you want to boot from an external drive.

Recalbox follows in the wake of RetroPie


Recalbox is an operating system to emulate retro game consoles that looks a lot like RetroPie . In fact, the appearance of both operating systems is very similar, as well as the technology underneath, since they both use EmulationStation and RetroArch.

recalbox interface

The main difference between the two systems is that Recalbox is a more recent development. The main consequence of this is that the community behind Recalbox is smaller , so it can be more difficult to get help if you need it.

recalbox 2 interface

The fact that Recalbox has a smaller community also means less availability of custom shaders, emulation settings, and more. Finally, we also point out that the number of emulators available in Recalbox is slightly lower.

How to install Recalbox on the Raspberry Pi

The installation process of Recalbox is very similar to that of RetroPie, in fact, we must follow the same basic steps in order to have this operating system running on our Raspberry Pi.

  1. Download Recalbox from its official website.
  2. Flash Recalbox on a microSD card with Etcher.
  3. Put the card in your Raspberry, turn it on and follow the instructions.

Which of the two is better to play on Raspberry?

This question is quite difficult to answer. We have two operating systems focused on video game emulation on Raspberry Pi, which are very similar to each other.

The technology that we find under the hood of RetroPie and Recalbox is exactly the same, so we can expect that both platforms work in a very similar way, with the exception that they can produce the small optimizations introduced by the developers of one or the other.

If we have to decide on one of the two systems, in our case we opted for RetroPie because it is a platform with the longest journey in time, which translates into a larger community and it won't be easier to find help if we need it. The latter is a very important point for users with little experience.

However, if Recalbox is able to release an official and stable version for the Raspberry Pi 4 before the RetroPie development team, it will become our favorite opinion without a doubt.

What is your opinion? Do you prefer Recalbox or RetroPie?