The best arcade cabinet can make you feel like you’ve just stepped back in time. By adding one of these cabinets to your game room, you’ll have full access to a wide range of the classic games you know and love, games you used to play at the arcade all those years ago. Many of these machines include dozens or hundreds of games, in a single cabinet. But finding the right cabinet for your home or business can require some serious research on your part.
If you’ve never bought an arcade cabinet before and you’re not sure which features to look for or how to buy the arcade cabinet of your dreams, then this guide will be invaluable. I’ve done all the research for you, testing out dozens of the leading arcade cabinets and narrowing it down to eight that have what it takes to keep the whole family entertained.
Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that includes my top eight choices and important info that will help you determine which model will be the best fit for you, your budget, and your home or business.
Arcade Cabinets Comparison Chart
|Prime Arcades Arcade Machine|
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|Chicago Gaming Company Ms. Pac-Man|
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|Arcade1Up NBA JAM Arcade Machine|
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|Creative Arcades Full Size Arcade Cabinet|
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|Arcade1Up - Marvel vs Capcom|
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|SNK MVSX Arcade Machine|
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|Creative Arcades Arcade Machine|
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|Arcade 1Up Mortal Kombat Arcade System|
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Prime Arcades Upright Arcade Machine
If you’re looking for a game that can offer the most variety, this model by Prime Acrades is it. This arcade cabinet comes with 4,708 games. This cabinet offers four-player action and weighs three hundred pounds. It’s also 70 inches tall, 34 inches long, and 37 inches wide, so you’ll need to measure carefully and ensure you have enough room in the home to accommodate this massive cabinet. The cabinet itself features beautiful, vivid graphics, so it’s sure to be the focal point of your game room.
- Includes 4,708 games
- Four players
- Vivid graphics on cabinet
- Large monitor
- Includes popular classic games
- It is expensive
- Its Size
This four-player arcade game comes loaded with all of your favorite retro games from the 80s and 90s, including The Simpsons, Golden Tee, Metal Slug Series, X Men, Street Fighter, and much more. Unlike competing models that mainly load their cabinets with generic games that no one has ever heard of, this model includes all of the classics you love and then some. You’ll never get bored with this machine, especially considering it allows you to play against up to four other players. While the price may seem steep, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another model that offers games of this quality for less.
Chicago Gaming Company Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga
This machine by Chicago Gaming comes with a total of six games, including Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, Rapid Fire Galaga, Speedy Ms. Pac-Man, Speedy Pac-Man, and traditional Pac-Man. So, if you’re a Pac-Man fan, this cabinet is definitely for you. While some potential buyers will pass this cabinet over based on the lack of variety, those who remember playing these classic games back in the 1980s and 1990s will fall in love with these six classic games. The cabinet comes equipped with real arcade controls and features a standard-sized upright cabinet design. The monitor is smaller than what competing models offer, measuring in at 24 inches. The cabinet also features a deactivated coin door and reproduction artwork, which is the same as the graphics found on the original arcade cabinet. The cabinet weighs 275 pounds and is 68 inches tall, 33.25 inches deep, and 24.5 inches wide.
- Includes six games
- Compact cabinet design
- Includes classic control design
- Vivid graphics
- The price
- Lacks game variety
If you love the Pac-Man franchise and you’re also a fan of Galaga, then this is the arcade cabinet you’ve been looking for. While it doesn’t offer much variety, outside some variations of Galaga and Pac-Man games, true fans will appreciate this beautiful reproduction of their favorite classic games. The size of the machine is also perfect for smaller homes, although you should still carefully measure the available space in your home before you buy. If you’re looking for a deal and a machine that offers the nostalgic game play you remember as a kid, hit that buy now button.
Arcade1Up NBA JAM Home Arcade Machine
Who doesn’t remember this classic basketball game? Every basketball fan will find themselves addicted to this classic as they pick and choose their teams and which NBA legend they want to be. This machine includes three games in one, NBA Hangtime, NBA Jam Tournament Edition, and NBA Jam. This model can also be connected to the internet so you can play opponents online. The monitor is 17 inches, which is smaller than some competing models and may be a drawback for some potential buyers. This is a four-player machine that includes four sets of buttons and joysticks, as well as volume controls.
- 4 player action
- Three games in one
- Can be connected to the internet
- Original artwork
- Light up marquee
- Small monitor
- Only NBA Jam game options
Fans of NBA Jams will be thrilled with the three games this cabinet offers. While the monitor is smaller than average, the smooth controls, cabinet graphics, volume controls, and light-up marquee more than make up for it. If you love basketball and want to spend countless hours playing as your favorite team and NBA legends, then NBA Jam is that classic B-Ball game you’ve been searching for.
Creative Arcades Full Size Commercial Grade Cabinet
This is a full-size upright commercial-grade arcade cabinet. It comes equipped with two joysticks and a trackball, with a 22-inch LCD monitor. The display is covered in thick tempered glass, for extra durability. The arcade cabinet comes with sixty classic games and features a plug-and-play design, no assembly is required. The machine supports both paid and free game play and is covered by a three-year warranty. This model also comes with controls for bass, balance, treble, and volume control. The cabinet measures 23 inches wide, 25 inches deep, and 71 inches tall. The manufacturer also includes two free barstools for playing comfort.
- Includes 60 games
- 22-inch monitor
- Tempered glass
- No assembly required
- Supports paid and free game play
- Includes two stools
- Feels a bit too pricey
- Stools can be difficult to assemble
This model is covered by a three-year warranty, includes a trackball, joysticks, and the classic arcade gaming experience every buyer is looking for. The sixty game options will keep you and the kids entertained hour after hour, so you won’t have to worry about the kids getting bored quickly. The cabinet’s durable design and vivid graphics also give collectors and serious arcade gamers every reason to buy.
Arcade1Up – Marvel vs Capcom
This arcade cabinet supports up to two players and features a full-color LCD monitor that’s 17 inches. This is a ¾ scale upright arcade cabinet design that’s covered in vivid graphics of your favorite Capcom and Marvel heroes. This model features five games including X-Men vs Street Fighter, Marvel Superheroes, Marvel Superheroes vs Street Fighter, and Marvel Superheroes: Wars of Gems, and Marvel vs Capcom: Clash of Heroes. The vivid LCD display provides sharp details and color with every game. The controls consist of smooth action real-feel joysticks and buttons for an authentic game-playing experience. Also included are a free stool, light-up deck protector, light-up marquee, custom matching riser, and licensed artwork.
- Includes 5 games
- LCD display
- Two players
- Light up marquee
- Custom matching riser
- Licensed artwork
- Very expensive
- Stool is difficult to assemble
This game will provide hours of entertainment for the Capcom and Marvel fan. The high-quality monitor makes the graphics and colors in each game really pop, while the smooth action controls offer the type of intense and easy game play all buyers are looking for. This system also comes with plenty of great extras that add to the arcade gaming experience, making this model a steal for the price.
SNK MVSX Arcade Machine
This arcade cabinet includes 50 popular SNK NEOGEO arcade games including King of Fighters, sports games, the Last Blade, Sengoku, World Heroes, Fatal Fury, Samurai Showdown, Metal Slug, and more. You can choose one or two players and use one of the included full-size joysticks for intense classic game play action. The game also includes volume control and a seventeen-inch monitor, USB port, stereo speakers, and a light-up marquee.
- 50 games
- Two players
- Volume control
- Light up marquee
- Compact design
- The price
- Assembly required
- Small monitor
This is the perfect classic arcade game setup. You’ll also get a light-up marquee, stereo speakers, and full-size joysticks for some serious game play action. While the cabinet is a little pricey, it does offer 50 popular fighting games, a beautiful cabinet with vivid graphics, and a compact design that makes it a good choice for smaller spaces.
Creative Arcades Full Size Arcade Machine
This commercial-grade, full-size arcade cabinet features a trackball, two joysticks, and a 32-inch LCD monitor. The monitor is covered in thick tempered glass, which adds to the monitor’s durability. The game arrives fully assembled, with a plug-and-play design, so you can set your machine up in seconds. The game is covered by a three-year warranty, features volume controls, and 3,500 classic arcade games. These games will keep you and the kids entertained for hours on end, so there’s no fear that your kids will quickly become bored with this top-of-the-line arcade cabinet.
- 4 players
- 3,500 games
- Tempered glass
- 32-inch monitor
- Includes trackball
- Three-year warranty
- Lacks extra accessories
This feature-packed arcade cabinet comes with thousands of fun arcade-style games in a wide range of genres, including adventure, sports, puzzle games, action games, and more. The three-year warranty will give any arcade lover more incentive to buy. The massive size of this machine can make it a poor choice for smaller homes, but if you have the space, you and three friends will enjoy this hot four-player arcade cabinet that offers countless hours of entertainment.
Arcade 1Up Mortal Kombat at-Home Arcade System
This model features a total of three games that Mortal Kombat fans will love: Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat 2, and Ultimate Mortal Kombat. No assembly is required, simply unpack the game and plug it in and it’s ready to go. The cabinet comes equipped with a 17-inch LCD monitor and includes authentic arcade controls. This is a smaller, more compact arcade cabinet that weighs a little over 58 pounds. The cabinet measures in at 22.75 inches deep, 19 inches wide, and 45.8 inches tall, making it a great choice for small homes.
- Compact design
- Includes three games
- Joysticks can stick at times
- Small monitor
If you love Mortal Kombat and you’re looking for a smaller arcade cabinet for your apartment or small house, then this model by Arcade 1Up is a great choice. This is a two-player cabinet that features three classic Mortal Kombat games and it comes with the classic controls, vivid graphics on the cabinet, and a clear deck protector. While it may not be quite as impressive as a full-size upright cabinet, it’s perfect for gamers who are short on space and looking for an arcade cabinet that’s built tough and covered in classic graphics.
Arcade Cabinets Buyer’s Guide
If you know anything about the history of arcade gaming, then you know that the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s were considered the golden age of arcade gaming. During this time, there were a variety of games produced to meet the rising demand for these addictive machines and the gaming experience they offered. In the early 90s, these games still enjoyed a level of popularity, but that popularity began to wane with the addition of gaming consoles.
However, if you’re a diehard arcade gaming fan, there are some benefits of purchasing an arcade cabinet and adding one to your home game or rec room, or your business.
Arcade Cabinet Benefits
Arcade games often feature short levels that increase in difficulty and speed. The arcade cabinets come with intuitive and simple controls that are easy to use. An arcade game focuses on game play instead of the story behind the game. For many people, these games were very addictive. If someone lost a game, they would keep coming back, spending hours at a time trying to pass a particularly challenging level or to beat the game’s highest score. But despite their addictive nature, playing one of these games does offer some important benefits, such as:
Playing one of these games requires the gamer to make effective and fast decisions. Most of the time, the player is forced to make a split-second decision. A player’s ability to make quick decisions can develop over time, improving a person’s critical thinking skills.
Improves Muscle Memory and Reflexes
The complex controls of a game can take some time to get used to. Over time, the player will develop muscle memory. This will improve a player’s reflexes and hand-eye coordination, which can be useful for daily activities such as typing or even driving.
Studies have even shown that regular game play can improve a person’s fine motor skills.
Improves Depression & Reduces Stress
If you’re stressed out over something, a little time with your arcade game can help minimize or relieve your stress, if you play the game long enough.
Some studies have shown that gamers that suffer from depression or anxiety usually show notable improvement after playing an arcade game daily. There are even games health professionals have developed that cater to depressed, anxious or stressed patients.
Now that you know more about the benefits of purchasing a new arcade game for your family rec room or your business, let’s learn about the different types of cabinet designs there are to choose from.
Types of Cabinet
These cabinets come in a variety of styles, such as:
The most common arcade cabinet style is the full-size upright, however, a multi-game model also works well in a compact bar-top style or cocktail style arcade game.
Companies that reproduce arcade games tend to make them smaller, making them more suitable for home use. These machines are usually built to a compact ¾ size. You may even come across coffee table units, which provide ultimate gaming comfort.
These machines are the real deal. They’re the same types of machines that are sold to arcades, commercial venues, businesses, bowling alleys, and family rec centers. Some of these models are classics that have been refurbished.
Newer arcade cabinet designs are more elaborate and larger than traditional cabinets. These may be equipped with steering wheels, guns, and suitable controls, depending on the type of game it is, such as racing or shooting. Some will come with powerful speakers or a seat.
Some arcade machines can be linked for multiplayer use. A couple of machines, placed side-by-side, are connected by a physical wire, and provide accurate, fast, multiplayer gaming. Or you’ll get a much larger, wider cabinet that comes equipped with two to four sets of controls.
You’ll also come across popular dance arcade machines that are equipped with pressure-sensitive pads on the floor. A player must follow the action on the screen and complete some fancy footwork to advance in the game.
Other Important Features
Arcade game cabinets still exist, although you won’t find the same variety and selection that you would’ve back in the 1980s. However, you can still purchase some of the recently produced or reproduced video games for your arcade experience. These days many manufacturers reproduce the classic arcade games you love, so now it’s possible for you to finally obtain the arcade games you used to enjoy years ago.
But before you purchase a cabinet, there are some factors you need to consider, such as:
- Game type/number of games
- Choosing the right game
- Display screen size
- Extra accessories
- Cabinet graphics
- Internet connection
- New or refurbished
- The Price
Game Type/Number of Games
The game or games a machine is equipped with can have an impact on the price of the cabinet. Additionally, in some cases, a cabinet that comes with a popular game, such as Asteroids, won’t come with more games, or if it does, it will only offer one or two extra games. Machines that come loaded with dozens or hundreds of games usually have games that aren’t well-known. If you’re not familiar with the games a machine has, you’re taking the risk that you’re buying a machine that has games you won’t enjoy playing. However, if game variety is more of a priority, you should have no trouble finding models that come loaded with a wide range of game genres, including action, adventure, racing, and more.
Multi-game arcade cabinets will give you and the kids much more variety, so you can play through all of the games as many times as you like. A larger game selection can also reduce the chances of the kids getting bored with the game, since they won’t have to play the same game over and over. Multi-game cabinets are designed mainly for home use, but some are suitable for businesses. These machines come loaded with select games that are usually older games from the 90s or earlier.
Choosing the Right Game
Do your research and learn about the best arcade games, the classics available, and consider the types of games you and/or the kids would enjoy. There are countless games to choose from these days. For many people, purchasing a cabinet is the realization of a lifelong dream. Now, you can own the same arcade games you spent hours playing in your youth. If you plan on buying a single-game model, then the odds are you already know which game you want.
However, on multi-game models, you can have access to a huge range of games. Take a look at the list of games a game offers before you buy.
Display Screen Size
The size of the display screen can vary from model to model. The larger the screen, the bigger the game appears on it, so if you enjoy playing video games on your large screen TV, then you’ll probably prefer an arcade cabinet that offers a bigger display.
The size of the display doesn’t always depend on the brand of arcade cabinet you buy. You can expect display sizes that range from 12 inches up to 32 inches. The wider the housing for the machine is, the bigger the screen can be, so make sure you purchase a machine that fits where you want it and provides the display size you’ll enjoy playing on.
The type of controls your game comes with will heavily depend on the type of game it is. If it’s a shooting game, it’ll come with one or two guns and a couple of buttons. Classic game controls often include a couple of joysticks and two to four buttons. A racing game will come with a steering wheel and one or two buttons.
These days, most machines designed for home use are not coin-operated. However, you will come across models that are, since these machines are also sold to businesses, which makes them a great way for a business to pull in some extra revenue. Even if you purchase a machine that’s coin-operated for home use, you can switch off the coin-operated option, or you can leave it on and use it as a way for the kids to save their money or earn time playing on the machine.
Most standard arcade cabinets are delivered complete, or they will have very minimal assembly requirements. With a model that’s fully assembled, all you’ll have to do is plug it in and turn it on. The journey the arcade cabinet has to make through your home should be considered. A standard upright model will usually fit through a standard doorway, fully assembled. A machine that’s larger will need to be disassembled and taken inside piece by piece. These larger machines should be installed by a trained arcade technician. These are the machines that are often purchased for businesses.
Some cabinets will come with some great extras that will add to the arcade gaming experience. This can include a custom riser, light-up marquee, barstools, speakers, and volume controls. These extras are often found on higher-priced models.
The graphics on the cabinet are everything. Cheap graphics, poor color, or a lack of graphics can really take away from a cabinet. Graphics can also make a cabinet stand out and easily become the focal point of any room. Take a look at the quality of a cabinet’s graphics before you buy.
Some machines may need to be connected to the internet to work. This is usually multi-play machines. An internet connection will allow you to download more games on certain models or play against online gamers. You’ll also be able to obtain updates and patches when there are issues.
On average, an arcade game can weigh around two to three hundred pounds. Weight will be an important factor to consider when you’re shopping for a machine for your home or business since you’ll need to move and position it. If you live in an upstairs apartment, then a machine that weighs hundreds of pounds can be difficult to deliver and move.
The size of an arcade cabinet is going to matter, especially if you don’t have much room to work with in the home, or you have narrow doorways. Take a close look at a machine’s dimensions before you buy. Carefully measure the available space in the home to ensure you can accommodate one of these massive machines. Keep in mind, there should also be a couple of feet of space in front of the machine, and a foot of space on both sides of the machine and the back. If you’re ordering one of the machines online, then you won’t have to worry about transporting it from a store to your home, but you will have to move it into its dedicated spot. This is definitely a two-person job.
An arcade cabinet’s warranty is one of the most important features to pay attention to since it will cover you if there are any problems with the machine. Many manufacturers that produce reproductions will cover their machines for 90 days. Because the warranty coverage is so short you need to check out your machine right away to ensure there are no problems with your unit. If you run into problems with your machine’s performance after the warranty has expired, you’ll be stuck paying for repairs out of your own pocket.
There are some manufacturers out there that offer more reasonable warranties that cover the machine for two to five years, but this type of coverage is pretty rare.
New or Refurbished?
You can find refurbished commercial arcade machines available, for the serious collector. However, purchasing a refurbished classic game is not without its problems. If something goes wrong, repairs for these games can be pricey, especially if parts need to be replaced. Additionally, you may have trouble finding someone with experience working on these classic machines.
In most cases, your best bet will be to buy a reproduction. These machines will be more affordable, may have a warranty, and you should have no trouble locating parts for it if something goes wrong.
The price of one of the machines can depend on many factors, such as whether the machine is an original or a reproduction, what game or games it offers, the number of games, and the overall quality. Typically, a reproduction will be more affordable than a vintage arcade cabinet especially if you want one of the popular arcade games, such as Pac-Man or Street Fighter 2.
RELATED: Best Mini Arcade Games: Complete Buyer’s Guide & Top 6 Models in 2021
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Most Popular Arcade Game?
Most arcade game fans can agree that the most famous arcade game of all time is Street Fighter 2, which came out back in 1991. Pac-Man comes in at number 2, followed by Space Invaders and Donkey Kong.
What is the Rarest Arcade Game?
The rarest arcade game is Sinstar, which was released in 1983. This game was discontinued because the cabinets were defective. The screen in the cabinet would pop out, easily. These days, the cabinets for this game are highly collectible.
Why Did Arcades Get Popular?
Unlike modern times, kids could only play video games at an arcade. With the introduction of arcade games in the 1970s, there was a major boom in arcade game production as kids all over the country flocked to their local arcades, spending quarter after quarter to play. Once home game consoles came out, the arcade cabinet industry was hit hard.
The best arcade cabinet can take you back to those days hanging out at the video arcade. It can also get your kids interested in playing those nostalgic games of your youth. The machines that landed on my top eight list each have something special to offer the buyer, whether it’s nostalgic game play, variety, or a new adventure, if you’re looking for the best, you’ll find your next arcade cabinet on my top eight list.