Winlator. Play PC games on Android with this Windows emulator

Let’s see today how to play Windows PC games on Android using the Winlator emulator, a system under development that opens up many possibilities.

In this tutorial you will learn how to install and run the Winlator application for Android. A system that allows us to run to some extent Windows games on our mobile, tablet or TV-Box. As we will see, the performance is somewhat limited and we need a fairly powerful (and expensive) hardware to have a decent performance on Android machines. But we lose nothing in trying it and see for ourselves.

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what is Winlator?

Winlator is an Android application that allows you to run Windows (x86_64) applications via Wine and Box86/Box64. Thanks to this layer of compatibility with Windows libraries and command emulation you can run games and applications natively, with certain limitations.

Winlator installation and requirements

Winlator’s compatibility with Android systems is currently not a certain science. Normally, it will run and we will be able to test it for ourselves.

Steps to install Winlator

Installing the Winlator app is very simple, we just need to download the official file of its latest version in APK format and run it on our system.

Winlator Requirements

There are no fixed requirements for Winlator because of its open nature, we recommend testing it on our Android with some simple game and draw our own conclusions

  • System: Android 11 or higher.
  • RAM: Minimum 4 GB of RAM, recommended 8 GB.
  • Storage: Fastest possible, UFS or higher.
  • Minimum for 2D, simple 3D or indie games: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855/860.
  • Recommended for demanding 3D games: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or higher.

Winlator Configuration

The Winlator system works with virtual machines that we can configure called Containers. In each of them we can configure different aspects that will influence the performance. For a first start we recommend leaving the options that come by default and test the result.

Configure Winlator container

As you will see, this emulation app requires a lot of trial and error to find the optimal configuration for the game or app we want to emulate. We are going to explain the basic concepts for you to manage.

  • Name: Where we indicate how this container is called.
  • Resolution: Depending on the game to emulate we can be more or less demanding.
  • Graphic driver: Turnip for Snapdragon SoC with Adreno GPUs / VirGL for other GPU.
  • DX Warper: DXVK graphics emulation layer, VKD3D for Vulkan, WineD3D for DirectX/OGL and CNC. for DirectDraw oriented to older games and compatibility.
  • Audio driver: ALSA or PulseAudio.

In the lower area of the container window we have different tabs with advanced settings to fine tune some aspects of the emulator.

  • WINE CONFIG: Settings for Wine emulating PC GPU and available graphic RAM.
  • WIN COMPONENTS: Emulation settings between Wine and Windows.
  • ENVIROMENT: Debug and cache settings.
  • DRIVES: Configuration of folders to save data, we recommend to change drive D: to a specific one created by us. Example \Donwload\PC.
  • ADVANCED: Compatibility defaults and active kernels settings.

Winlator environment and controls

Once we have configured our Winlator Container we can run it by clicking on the three points and run it with Run. From here we have other options such as edit, duplicate, delete or see how much it occupies.

  • NOTE: Each Winlator container occupies 600 MB by default without games.

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Winlator environment controls

When we start Winlator we can see a Windows-like desktop. By default, it starts a file explorer from where we can install apps and games. The mouse controls are tactile.

  • Left mouse click with a touch
  • Right mouse click one click and with another finger tap and hold down
  • Mousewheel with two fingers.
  • Winlator menu by clicking with Four fingers
  • Icon Start: In the inferior bar we have an access to installed applications like a minesweeper, Notepad, Internet Explorer, command line, registry, task manager and Wine settings.

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The Winlator menu that we can access by pressing with four fingers on the touch screen or back on Android offers us different useful options. We have access to the Android virtual keyboard, control settings, full screen, task manager, screen magnifier and exit the running Winlator session.

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Configuring Gamepad and other controls in Winlator

From the Winlator menu we enter the Input control menu, there we have several options to adjust the virtual controllers on screen or configure new controllers.

  • Select control: Drop-down list with available controls.
  • Show Touchstreen: enable or disable on-screen controls.
  • Gearwheel icon: Settings to manage controllers, sensitivity and new controllers.
  • Control editor: Allows to design the Virtual Gamepad on screen.
  • External controllers: Connect your Bluetooth Gamepad, click on ” ” and create a new profile. In the lower list click on the detected controller and assign the keys.

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Installing and running games in Winlator

Installing games in Winlator is quite simple if we have a copy of the game that does not depend on the internet, if the game has installer with all its files or runs directly with the EXE should have no problem.

NOTE: Winlator is not compatible with Steam or other online game stores. Neither with online games

Ways to run or install games in Winlator

  • If it is a game without installer, just run EXE.
  • Packaged games such as GoG, use the installer as on PC and run shortcut.
  • It is advisable to look for the complete game in a package or with installer without online.
  • We can create a shortcut on the Winlator desktop with auxiliary menu on the EXE using two fingers.

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Simply by double clicking on the EXE or running the desktop icon of the game we can start it. Wait for something to appear on the screen after double clicking, it is not as instantaneous as on PC.

NOTE: Loading times can be very slow depending on our internal storage type

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In games that require downloading data from the internet we will need to first install the game with the official installer and then purchase from PC the additional data packs. As can happen with Fallout 3, GTA V, Oblivion, Skyrim and similar.

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