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Building a retro-gaming super-console with $100 and a Raspberry Pi: 2022 edition

Enlarge / Raspberry Pi cases like the Argon One won’t look out of place underneath your TV or next to your gaming PC. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

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.

The essentials

Raspberry Pi console bill of materials

Raspberry Pi 4 2GB
$45-60, depending on shipping


Power adapter

microSD card
$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.

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