How to Play PlayStation (PS1) Games on PC

Here's how to play PlayStation (PS1) games on your PC. All you need is an emulator, a PS1 BIOS, and your old PS1 games!

The original PlayStation, also known as PSX or the PS1, boasts an amazing array of games. The PS1 is long out of date, but the games are still lots of fun to play. Thankfully, if your favorite PS1 games are no longer available, you can still play them on your PC.

A PlayStation 1 emulator brings your favorite PS1 games back to life. All you need is an emulator, a PS1 BIOS, and your old PS1 games. Here's how to play PlayStation One (PS1) games on your PC!

What Is the Best PS1 Emulator?

An emulator is a type of software you install on your PC. It allows you to reproduce physical hardware in a software setting, all from the comfort of your existing computer. Emulators exist for various types of hardware and platforms.

A gaming emulator reproduces a gaming console, allowing you to play anything from a Commodore 64 to an arcade gaming cabinet, from a Nintendo 64 to a PlayStation 1, all without the need for the original console.

There are a lot of PS1 emulators out there. However, ePSXe remains the best option for performance, stability, and additional features. Updates are slow, but ePSXe has over a decade of development under its belt, which makes it a great option to start playing your old PS1 games once more.

So, let's get started with ePSXe.

How to Download ePSXe

First things first: you need to download the latest version of ePSXe.

Download: ePSXe for Windows (Free)

There is no installation process for ePSXe. You extract the files from the archive and then run ePSXe from the same folder.

Right-click the ePSXe download, select your ZIP program, and extract. Unsure what an archive and a ZIP program are? Read our guide explaining how to extract files from common archives before continuing with this tutorial.

When you run ePSXe for the first time, you may encounter a dialog box asking you to extract additional files. Extract them, then fire up ePSXe.

ePSXe BIOS Configuration

There are several steps to complete before you can play a PS1 game in the ePSXe emulator. Before anything can happen, you need a PlayStation 1 BIOS.

A BIOS is a low-level software that starts when you boot your computer and is usually associated with your PC. The BIOS your ps1 emulator for pc uses is slightly different from the one your PC uses. Your PS1 BIOS contains information relating to your PlayStation 1 hardware, such as the version, manufacturing region, and more.

ePSXe won't run without a proper PS1 BIOS. The PlayStation 1 BIOS also dictates which games you can play, depending on its geographical region (such as Europe, North America, Japan, and so on). There are simulated PS1 BIOS files, but they don't work as well as the real deal.

Disclaimer: While there are PS1 BIOS files available online, the only legal method of obtaining BIOS files is to rip the BIOS from your existing PS1. Check out the following video to understand exactly how to rip your PS1 BIOS. You rip your PS1 BIOS at your own risk.

Once you rip your PS1 BIOS, you need to copy and paste the archive into the BIOS directory. You'll find the BIOS directory in the ePSXe folder. The location of your ePSXe BIOS folder depends on where you extracted the emulator. For example, my ePSXe BIOS folder is C:\Users\Gavin\Downloads\ePSXe205\bios.

Once you paste the BIOS archive into the correct folder, you must extract the contents. The emulator cannot read the ZIP file, only its contents.

How to Set Up ePSXe

Once the BIOS is in place, you can continue setting up ePSXe.

ePSXe Graphics Configuration

You'll first come to a menu displaying different graphics options and the suggestions of the ePSXe development team. If you have an AMD or Nvidia graphics card, select Pete's OpenGL2 GPU core 2.0.0 and click Config.

There are a lot of graphics options here that you could configure. Over time, you can tweak the settings as you become more familiar with what they do. How you tweak your ePSXe experience depends on your graphics card.

Most modern computers outstrip the capabilities of the original PS1, which had a 33.0MHz CPU (yes, megahertz—it was the early 90s!), 2MB RAM, and 1MB VRAM. This means your average PC can make use of the full gamut of ePSXe graphics configuration options.

I would advise running the PlayStation 1 game you want to play first, then making graphics tweaks later. Furthermore, you could also check out our short guide to video game graphics and settings. It details how certain graphics settings affect performance and visual effects for all games, not just ePSXe.

There is an easy graphics tweak option you can make right now. In the bottom-right corner of the configuration options are the Default options. You can select Fast or Nice graphics. Here are the changes after you select Nice graphics:

The difference between the basic and nice graphics is noticeable, even on game loading screens. For example, here is the loading screen for Crash Bandicoot using the default ePSXe graphics settings:

And here is the same Crash Bandicoot loading screen using the Nice graphics options:

You can see that the logo, menu lettering, background, and game character are far smoother in the second image.

ePSXe Sound, Drive, and Controller Configuration

Now for the sound configuration. It is easiest to leave this as the default option as ePSXe handles most PS1 game sound well.

Next up is the CD-ROM plugin. If you're using Windows 10, select ePSXe CDR WNT/W2K core 2.0.0, then continue.

Finally, you can set up your controllers for use with ePSXe. ePSXe supports several controllers out of the box. Click the drop-down menu in the top-right corner to choose your input type. You can select between a keyboard, keyboard and mouse, Direct Input, and XInput.

If you're using an Xbox 360 or Xbox One controller, select XInput. It will map your controller automatically, and your game should play without fault. If you're using a PlayStation DualShock controller, check out the following guide explaining how to use a PS4 controller on a PC or Mac.

There is also a specific guide on how to connect a DualShock controller to ePSXe.

How to Get PS1 Games on to Windows 10

Now that ePSXe is ready, you can pick your favorite PS1 games and fire them up. PlayStation 1 games are freely available online. However, MakeUseOf cannot help you find them. Downloading data files for games that you do not own is piracy.

ePSXe can run files that use the extensions BIN, ISO, CUE, IMG, CD, and a few others. These files relate to the disc images that contain the PS1 game data. You can rip your original PS1 games in the same way you might rip a DVD to your computer. However, you must make sure the output file is an ISO (or one of the other PS1 game file formats ePSXe accepts) or else your PS1 game won't load.

Once you have your PS1 ISO ready, you can load it up in ePSXe. Head to File > Run ISO, then browse to the PS1 game location. Select the PS1 game file, and it will begin loading. There you have it. You're now playing a PS1 game on your PC!

Tips on Using ePSXe

From here on out, you can play your PS1 games using whatever control scheme you decide. However, here are a few tips to help your ePSXe experience run smoothly.

  • To leave ePSXe's emulation, press ESC. You'll return to the main ePSXe screen. From the main screen, you can adjust the emulation settings, controller settings, and much more. To return to the game, head to Run > Continue
  • You can save and load games from the main menu. Head to the Run menu, then Save State or Load State, depending on what you want to do. ePSXe also emulates PlayStation 1 memory cards so that you can create a save file within your game
  • If the game you are playing has multiple discs (such as Final Fantasy 7), you can switch to the next one using File > Change Disc, then selecting the next disc
  • Local multiplayer is available. You can use a combination of gamepads and your keyboard to make sure every person has a controller. ePSXe also simulates Multitap, which allows up to four local players in the same game

You can enhance ePSXe and your PS1 games with additional plugins. Figuring out which plugins work best with your setup and with whichever games you want to play is tricky at times. However, you can check out the recommended list of ePSXe plugins and figure out which plugins work with your PC

You Can Now Play the Best PS1 Games on PC

You can now cut loose and play your favorite PS1 games on your PC. The PlayStation 1 has so many classic genre-defining games. It is hard not to look back at the aging console fondly.

Still, the PlayStation 1 isn't the only old console you can emulate. When you're done with ePSXe, here's how to emulate your favorite PlayStation 2 games. Alternatively, if you prefer mobile gaming, you can also emulate Android on your PC.