Batocera Vs. Recalbox: Pros & Cons of Both for Raspberry Pi 4

Having the highest quality gaming sessions is important, especially for retro gaming fanatics. Before you can start emulating retro games on your Raspberry Pi 4, you’ll need an emulating operating system for everything to run smoothly. But, how do you know which one to use? Batocera and Recalbox are both excellent options, but both have their pros and cons.

We want you to have the best retro gaming experience, so we have condensed the information you are looking for into this article. Keep reading to find out the difference between the Batocera and Recalbox emulating software and the advantages and disadvantages of them both.

What Can You Do With Batocera and Recalbox?

Batocera and Recalbox are both retro emulating softwares, so the main function of these programs is to run retro games. Whether you want to be taken back to your childhood by playing classic retro games or you want a chance to live out a time period you didn’t get to experience, you can achieve all your retro gaming needs with Batocera or Recalbox.

However, you aren’t only limited to playing video games through this software. With either Batocera or Recalbox you can:

  • Play music
  • Watch movies and TV shows
  • Display photos onto your computer’s monitor or your TV

Likely, your setup was bought with the intention of gaming, but with these programs, your Raspberry Pi 4 is capable of a lot more than just that. Who knows, maybe this retro gaming setup might end up putting a few of your other electronics out of commission.

What Is the Difference Between Batocera and Recalbox?

Now that we know what both the Batocera and Recalbox software can do, let’s take a look into their differences.

One of the main differences between these retro gaming software is that they are powered in two separate ways. Recalbox is powered by an operating system called CNU/Linux, while Batocera is its own Linux operating system like Windows 10.

While both software run retro video games, Recalbox provides more features than Batocera. On the other hand, Batocera has a better game performance and graphics quality which may be more important to someone who plays retro games for the looks. Recalbox, however, is more popular with a more distinguished community and has more available resources.

What Are the Pros of Batocera?

Batocera is a newer version of software, so it isn’t as established as Recalbox. Still, there are some good features that Batocera has to offer.

A few things that you can look forward to when you choose Batocera to run retro games on your Raspberry Pi 4 include:

  • Batocera has the fastest boot-up time
  • You can start playing with Batocera faster than Recalbox due to its Plug and Play feature
  • You can go revert to older versions of Batocera
  • Batocera is updated more frequently
  • No wires will hold you back with Batocera’s Bluetooth controller connection

Right away, you can see that Batocera offers you some pretty positive pros. Let’s go into a little more detail on each one.

Fastest Boot-Up Time

Batocera has the fastest boot-up time on the Raspberry Pi 4, not only between itself and Recalbox but between other competitor retro game emulator software as well. This means that you can jump straight into any retro video game of your choice and enjoy your blast to the past to its fullest extent.

Less Loading Time, More Playtime

With Batocera, you get the best of both worlds! Not only does it have the fastest boot time, but it also has the fastest playtime. You don’t have to waste any time waiting for your game to start up and play smoothly throughout your retro gaming session when you are using this program on your Raspberry Pi 4. Breeze through the loading screen and play to your heart’s content.

Revert to an Older Version

If you update your Batocera software and the newer version happens to have a lot of bugs and other technical issues, you can easily revert to an older version to play smoothly again. This feature is especially useful because Batocera updates its software often as it is still a newer one. When you’re trying to play a game and it becomes buggy, just revert to an older version.

Frequent Updates

Another advantage to using the Batocera software with your Raspberry Pi 4 is that it is updated frequently, as mentioned earlier in the article.

Frequent updates are great because it is a sign that the Batocera software developers are always looking for new and improved ways of running and emulating retro games. You can be confident that the developers will take care of any problems you may face during your playtime as soon as they can.

Another thing about regular updates to the software that is beneficial to the gamers that use it is that you can expect new features to be implemented to keep you coming back for more.

Quality Video Settings

With Batocera, you can get quality video settings on your Raspberry Pi 4. For others that are more detailed, better graphics do make the experience that much better. However, good graphics aren’t always necessary when playing retro games; a very prominent feature of some older games is their pixelated structures.

Though at the end of the day, the opinion on graphics for retro games depends on the person. Just like with Recalbox, you could go into your settings and change whatever it is that you don’t like for more personalized gameplay.

What Are the Cons of Choosing Batocera?

We all love to hear the pros, but the cons are just as important. You now know the positives to choosing Batocera, but what might not be so appealing about the software?

A few cons of choosing Batocera to run retro video games on your Raspberry Pi 4 over Recalbox would be that:

  • The default user interface (UI) is boring
  • There is no network play for Batocera
  • There is also no web manager for Batocera
  • The community for Batocera is not as well developed as Recalbox

The user interface may not be as much of a problem for some people, but the smaller community could be a deal-breaker. With a smaller community, Batocera’s resources won’t be as plentiful as with Recalbox. Let’s get into the details below.

Bland Default User Interface

The default user interface for Batocera is pretty bland. Fortunately, you aren’t stuck with the user interface that comes with the operating system by default; if you go to your settings, you can change it to your liking. Locate the Download New Themes page and change the settings to personalize your Raspberry Pi 4’s user interface.

No Web Manager

Batocera’s website doesn’t have a web manager, so their website is not nearly as organized as the website for Recalbox is. Those who go to the site looking for further information about this operating system for their Raspberry Pi 4 might have a hard time locating answers because of its confusing layout.

Less Developed Community

Batocera hasn’t been around as long as Recalbox has, so it hasn’t had the time to develop a following like them. Just because the community isn’t as well developed does not mean that the software isn’t a good product, though. There’s just not going to be as much information about Batocera online as you will be able to find for Recalbox.

What Are the Pros of Recalbox?

Recalbox is a great software to use, and it’s been around longer than Batocera. Batocera is based on Recalbox, so they are quite similar to each other, but they still have some distinct differences.

Some of the reasons you may want to choose Recalbox to run retro video games on your Raspberry Pi 4 would be:

  • Recalbox has a good-looking default user interface
  • Recalbox has a NetPlay feature, so you can play online
  • Recalbox has a large community
  • You can save a games’ progress at any point
  • Recalbox supports PS3 controllers

One of the coolest features that Recalbox offers is netplay, to be able to connect with friends and strangers online just adds so much more excitement to your experience! Netplay alone is a dealmaker. You do get a lot of great features when you choose to go with Recalbox.

Attractive Default User Interface

Although we are mostly looking for function when choosing a retro gaming operating system, I don’t think any of us would complain about it having great looks. With Recalbox’s default user interface, you don’t have to change any settings or themes to get an attractive interface. You’re ready to go and looking good right out of the box.

Netplay Feature

One of the best features that Recalbox provides is NetPlay. Not only can you play your favorite retro games, but you can even play them online with other people! To set up NetPlay, you just have to go into the recalbox settings, select activate NetPlay, create a username, and get playing!

Well-Developed Community

Another positive to using Recalbox is that they have more of a following than Batocera. With a well-developed community, you will have a lot of resources to look to when you need help with using Recalbox. Not only will you have those resources readily available, but there will also be more experienced gamers who can get you the information you need.

Save Games at Any Point

With Recalbox, you can save your games’ progress at any point. Now, this is an awesome feature! Much like the Rest Mode for PlayStation 4, you can save your game at any point— even in the middle of a game— by turning off your Raspberry Pi 4 device. It will reload the next time you boot up. This will come in handy for a lot of games!

What Are the Cons of Choosing Recalbox?

So, we know Recalbox has great features to offer. But, what are some of the not-so-great features?

Some of the cons of choosing Recalbox over Batocera for playing retro games on your Raspberry Pi 4 are:

  • Recalbox does not update nearly as often
  • You aren’t able to revert to older versions of the software
  • The graphics may need to be adjusted to your preference

With Recalbox you can, unfortunately, get stuck with a buggy system for a little while if an update has issues. Recalbox also doesn’t offer the graphics or performance that you will get with Batocera.

Infrequent Updates

Because the Recalbox retro game emulating software isn’t updated as much as Batocera, running into bugs or technical issues might be a tough deal. If you run into problems such as this, you will either have to deal with the struggles or wait for it until the problem gets fixed because you also can’t revert to older versions.

Updated Versions Only

Unlike Batocera, you revert to an older version if the new one is buggy. We don’t want to sit around watching our Raspberry Pi 4 retro gaming systems collect dust, we want to be playing them! If you end up in this situation, you will just need to wait out the issue until they fix the bugs.

What Are the Pros of Both Softwares?

Batocera is based on Recalbox, so overall, they will be very similar to each other with few and far between differences.

A couple of things the two retro gaming software have in common include:

  • They are both easy to use for new retro gamers.
  • Both software are Plug and Play
  • Both software have great compatibility with different brands of controllers
  • Both software have Kodi pre-installed for streaming media
  • They both support wireless controllers

Plug and play devices are always great because, sometimes, messing with settings before you can jump into playing games can take the fun out of it. Both of these software are very beginner-friendly because of this.


Whichever software you choose, you know it will be easy to use. They are great for anyone of any skill level, but the one thing they lack is the ability to customize the software as compared to some other competitors. This is what makes them more beginner-friendly though; you don’t have to worry about learning a whole bunch of stuff just so you could get started with gaming.

Plug and Play

Who doesn’t love the nice, easy setup of a plug-and-play product? With the Batocera and Recalbox softwares, you won’t have to spend any time configuring a bunch of settings just so you could start playing games.

Extensive Controller Compatibility

Of course, the controller compatibility is super important! With both Recalbox and Batocera, you can be confident that you not only have a plug-and-play system, but if you have problems with one controller, you could just switch it out and play with a different one thanks to this feature.

Stream Movies and Music

Both software come with the Kodi media application pre-installed. So, Batocera and Recalbox are not only great for playing retro video games, but you also have a home theatre application. With Kodi, you can stream movies, TV shows, music, and even display pictures on your TV screen.

Wireless Controllers Supported

There is nothing worse than being in an intense gaming session with a wired controller and someone yanks the system off of the entertainment stand due to over-excitement. With these wireless capabilities, you don’t have to worry about breaking your Raspberry Pi 4. Recalbox also supports PlayStation 3 controllers.

What Are the Cons of Both Softwares?

As we could see, both of these softwares not only have great individual features, but they have some in common as well. What is it that both of these software lacks though? Both of these software lack one thing: and that is customization.

Lack of Customization

The biggest con for both Recalbox and Batocera is that they lack a lot of customizability that you would see with other gaming consoles. This isn’t so much of a con for someone only interested in retro gaming, but for someone who is looking for something that they can customize, this could be a big negative.

This con can be considered a pro, though, considering Recalbox was designed to be used by more beginner-level people and Batocera is based on that system. The lack of customization helps to make the experience a lot easier for someone who is just starting with using the Raspberry Pi 4. There’s nothing worse than trying to game and prerequisites are required.

Which Software Should You Use?

We know that both Recalbox and Batocera are great options for your retro gaming station, especially for beginners. Which software is the better one, though? Ultimately, that is going to come down to personal preference. Instead of saying one is better than the other, let’s cover what each software could be preferred for.


If your main concern for your retro gaming system is performance and graphics, then going with the Batocera would be for you. The Batocera offers superior performance, and the graphics are high-quality with really nice colors.


If you want to have retro gaming software with a well-developed community and lots of resources, Recalbox is the way to go. Having Recalbox is a must if you plan on going head-to-head with strangers or friends alike online.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to conclude that both of the software are going to be advantageous choices. They both offer not only all the retro gaming systems you could want to play, but they also support more retro video games than you could ever think of. What one is best depends on what factors are more important to you.

If you want to run larger games and are willing to take a lower resolution, then Recalbox would be the option for you. If you’re looking for something that is going to bring you higher performance and better graphics, then you will want to choose Batocera.

You should also consider the community that you will want to be a part of. If you’re wanting to go with the software that has a large community and a lot of resources for you to access, then going with Recalbox would be a better choice. If you want a highly responsive community, you could go with Batocera.




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