Why The MiSTer Is The Best FPGA Gaming Device You Can Buy

Aside from notably improved authenticity over software emulators, MiSTer offers a much simpler and more approachable user-interface experience when loading up your console cores — that is, once you get the thing fully configured. The latter part is a bit more complicated when compared to the setup process for any regular console, especially since this FPGA device is entirely modular — after all, it is as much a console emulation device as it is a computer, and those do tend to be a bit more complicated in scope.

Modularity does come with a few benefits: you can choose how much money you’re willing to spend decking out your MiSTer FPGA device with peripherals and hardware, and you can theoretically run it from your desk without any kind of protective case, though we don’t necessarily recommend doing that for long periods of time or in environments that get a lot of static electricity. This makes it appealing to hobbyists who want to tailor the devices to meet their specific needs.

A preconfigured MiSTer bundle goes for $580 at the time of writing, but the price does seem to fluctuate. If you’d prefer to build your own MiSTer FPGA device, you can instead invest in the individual components you need based on which game console cores and controllers you expect to use. Note that you do need to purchase the DE-10 Nano (currently $230) at the bare minimum since that is essentially the “brain” of the MiSTer emulator and it can’t be swapped out for an alternative. After that, you can mod to your heart’s content, adding USB hubs, RAM, and even a real-world clock if that suits your fancy.

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