A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Install Emulators on Steam Deck


In the realm of portable , Valve's Steam Deck has made waves as a powerful device capable of running a plethora of games from the vast Steam library. Yet, did you know that you can further expand its usability with the use of emulators? By utilizing one simple process, your Steam Deck can become a time machine to a wealth of classic games. This article intends to provide a detailed guide on how to install emulators on your Steam Deck, allowing you to play games originally designed for different platforms.

Now, what are emulators? In essence, an emulator is a type of that enables one computer system to mimic or 'emulate' the functions of another. In the realm of gaming, this allows us to play games designed for one platform, say SNES or Sega Genesis, on an entirely different device.

Exciting, isn't it? follow through as we explore the process of transforming your Steam Deck into an all-encompassing powerhouse of gaming history.

Steam Deck and the Emulation Capability

The Steam Deck differs from other handheld gaming devices on the market in its capabilities and robustness. Its hardware elements—like the custom APU designed for handheld gaming, an impressive controller with trackpads, and the full-sized environment of the Steam OS—set it apart from traditional choices.

What truly puts the icing on the cake, though, is the Steam Deck's impressive emulation capabilities. Due to its robust construction and open-ended design, it's ideally suited to run an assortment of emulators, making it a veritable retro gaming behemoth.

How to Install Emulators on Steam Deck

Before proceeding, please be aware that while installing emulators is perfectly legal, the use of certain ROMS or games can infringe upon copyright laws. Always ensure you are legally allowed to use games before proceeding.

About the installation,

here is a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you navigate.

The first thing you need to do is install Proton, a compatibility layer that lets you install and run -based software on Linux systems. Once that's done, you're ready to install your chosen emulator.

Different Types of Emulators:



A versatile all-in-one emulator that can run games from a wide variety of classic platforms. To install, download the Linux version from the RetroArch's website, run the installer and follow the on-screen instructions.



A PSP emulator that can let you relive those wonderful PSP memories on your Steam Deck. Download the Linux version from the PPSSPP's website, run the installer and follow the on-screen prompts.



A Nintendo Gamecube and Wii emulator. To begin, download the Linux version from the Dolphin's website, and rinse and repeat as with the previous two.

Remember, while installing these emulators, don't forget to read the instructions carefully, each one may differ slightly from the others.

Optimizing Emulators on Steam Deck

Once the emulators are installed, optimization becomes the next challenge. To ensure optimal performance and to enhance your gaming experience, adjustments to the emulator's settings are necessary.

An important tip is to make use of the vast online gamer community. Forums, groups, and blog posts are full of specific tips for each emulator.

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Also, adjusting graphics settings for better performance may vary based on the emulator you choose. It's always good to experiment to find the optimal settings for each game.

Legal Implications of Using Emulators

Emulation is legal. However, distributing copyrighted ROMs online is not. Therefore, always ensure you emulate responsibly. Be respectful of all copyright rules, and never distribute any copyrighted material.


Installing emulators on your Steam Deck opens up a whole new world of gaming possibilities, allowing you to relive classic games or experience ones you missed out on. Always remember to use emulation in a lawful and ethical manner.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the best emulators for the Steam Deck?

Is using emulators on the Steam Deck legal?

Do emulators affect the performance of my Steam Deck?

Can all games be emulated on the Steam Deck?

What are the risks associated with using emulators?

Can I get help from Steam Support if I encounter problems with my emulator?

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