Years ago, in the heyday of the NES Classic Edition, we put together a guide to building a retro emulation box with a Raspberry Pi board, the RetroPie operating system, and a few other fun accessories. We’ve updated that guide a couple of times over the years, and a lot of the advice in it is still useful. But enough has changed in the last few years—the Pi’s hardware, the accessory ecosystem, the operating system, and even the emulators themselves—that we’re totally overhauling that guide with new product recommendations and pointers.
If you enjoy retro gaming and are looking for a winter project, building your own mini-console—or sprucing up one you built years ago with a new case and different software—is still a great way to spend a little money and time.
Raspberry Pi console bill of materials
Raspberry Pi 4 2GB
$45-60, depending on shipping
$12 for 64GB, $20 for 128GB
HDMI-to-micro-HDMI cable or adapter
$0 to use one you have, $15 for a SNES-style pad, or $60ish for a new console controller
$81 and up
When putting together our emulation box in 2016, we tried to stick as close to the $60 asking price of the NES Classic Edition as possible. Shortages of chips and other factors will make that nearly impossible in 2022, but we’ll try to keep the bill of materials under $100.