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Virtual Pinball Buyer's Guide in 2024 - Game Room Shop

Ultimate Virtual Pinball Buyer's Guide 2024

Welcome to Game Room Shop, your hub for all things game room-related! Today, we're exploring into the exciting world of virtual pinball.

If you're a pinball enthusiast diving into the world of virtual pinball, navigating the market can feel like plunging into a labyrinth. With countless options, features, and price points, it's easy to get lost.

But fear not! We're here to be your guide through the maze of choices, helping you find the ultimate virtual pinball machine that's right for you.

Table of Contents:

Can you believe it’s been over 24 years since Randy Davis released the first Visual Pinball emulator on December 19, 2000? Since then, a vibrant virtual pinball hobbyist community has blossomed worldwide. Enthusiasts can recreate original pinball tables in digital formats, even utilizing the original ROMs (the firmware running on the original machines).

The Visual Pinball emulator also allows the creation of entirely new tables that never existed as physical machines. There are over 2,000 Visual Pinball tables available for free download on various forums if you search for VPX tables.

Today’s buyer guide focuses on virtual pinball hardware platforms, including the cabinet, haptic devices, and the gaming PC that makes the experience as realistic as possible.

The Rise of Virtual Pinball

Historical Context

The journey of virtual pinball began with Visual Pinball, a software emulator that allowed users to recreate and play pinball machines on their computers. The use of original ROMs brought authenticity to the gameplay, attracting a dedicated community of hobbyists and developers. Over the years, this community has contributed thousands of custom tables, expanding the virtual pinball universe beyond the confines of physical machines.

Community and Innovation

The virtual pinball community is a testament to the passion and creativity of its members. Forums and online platforms serve as hubs for sharing tables, mods, and technical advice. This collaborative environment has driven innovations in software and hardware, making virtual pinball more immersive and accessible than ever before.

Virtual Pinball Hardware

Building vs. Buying

When it comes to virtual pinball hardware, you have two main options: build your own or buy a pre-built system. Building your own can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially when it comes to installing and configuring the software. However, for those who enjoy DIY projects, resources like the Pinscape Version 2 Build Guide offer step-by-step instructions.

Building Your Own Virtual Pinball Machine

Building your own virtual pinball machine can be a rewarding but challenging endeavor. Here are the key steps and considerations:

  1. Design and Planning: Start by sketching out your design and planning the dimensions of your cabinet. Resources like the Pinscape Version 2 Build Guide can be invaluable.
  2. Sourcing Components: Gather all necessary components, including the cabinet materials, monitors, force feedback devices, and a suitable PC.
  3. Assembly: Construct the cabinet, install the monitors, and integrate the PC and feedback devices. This step requires woodworking and basic electronics skills.
  4. Software Installation: Install and configure the necessary software, such as Visual Pinball, PinballX (a front-end for managing your tables), and the appropriate ROMs.
  5. Testing and Calibration: Test all components and calibrate the force feedback and input devices to ensure a smooth and realistic gameplay experience.

Buying a Pre-Built Virtual Pinball Machine

For those who prefer a plug-and-play experience, pre-built virtual pinball machines offer a convenient solution. Here are the benefits and considerations:

  1. Vendor Selection: Choose a reputable vendor who offers high-quality machines. Ensure they provide detailed specifications and customer support.
  2. Features and Customization: Look for machines that offer a good balance of features, such as force feedback, high refresh rate monitors, and customizable controls.
  3. Warranty and Support: Ensure the machine comes with a warranty and access to technical support. This can be crucial for resolving any issues that arise.
  4. Initial Setup: While pre-built machines are generally ready to use out of the box, some initial setup may be required, such as configuring the software and installing additional tables.

Comparison Table: Building vs. Buying

Aspect Building Buying
Cost Potentially lower, depending on parts sourced Higher upfront cost
Customization High, can tailor every aspect Limited to vendor offerings
Time Investment Significant, requires research and assembly Minimal, ready to play out of the box
Skill Level Requires technical skills and patience No technical skills required
Troubleshooting Must handle issues independently Vendor provides support and warranty
Satisfaction High for DIY enthusiasts High for users preferring convenience
Upgrade Potential Easier to upgrade specific components individually May be limited by vendor design

Key Features of a High-Quality Virtual Pinball Machine

Form Factor

A good virtual pinball machine should closely resemble a traditional mechanical pinball machine. Key considerations include:

  • Size and Proportions: Ensure the cabinet is proportionate, with a backbox that isn’t too tall and a body that isn’t too short. This typically means avoiding 43-inch monitors and opting for 49-inch monitors to achieve the proper depth.
  • Monitor Quality: Use monitors with a refresh rate of 120 Hz or above, preferably industrial-grade for extended use. Avoid thick bezel monitors and aim for edgeless designs for a more authentic look.
  • Adjustable Legs: Sturdy, adjustable legs are essential for achieving the proper height and allowing for nudging the cabinet.


MDF vs Plywood - Virtual Pinball

The materials used in the construction of the cabinet greatly affect the overall experience:

  • Plywood vs. MDF: Plywood, ideally seven-layer, is preferred over MDF, strand board, or particle board due to its superior ability to reverberate force feedback.
  • Quality Construction: Look for cabinets with clean, screw-free side panels and robust build quality.

Force Feedback and Haptics

The tactile feedback in virtual pinball machines is crucial for replicating the feel of a mechanical pinball machine:

  • Solenoids: These should be strategically placed on the sidewalls or floor of the cabinet, not on crossbars. The recommended configuration is eight solenoids plus two contactors for flipper actuation.
  • Shaker Motor and Gear Motor: These should be on intensity knobs for customizable feedback. Proper placement within the cabinet is important for achieving realistic sensations.
  • Surround Sound Feedback (SSF): Ideally, two speakers in the front and two in the back, mounted away from each other, to simulate the movement of the ball.
  • Knocker and Air Fan: Include these for additional realism, especially for tables that originally featured them.

Input Devices

Accurate input devices are essential for an authentic experience:

  • Physical Tilt Bob: Prefer a physical tilt bob over digital tilting for more accurate and adjustable sensitivity.
  • Nudging: The ability to nudge the cabinet should be present, replicating the physical interactions with a mechanical machine.

Features and Functionality of a Virtual Pinball Machine

Controls and Switches

Virtual Pinball Switches

A high-quality virtual pinball machine should offer easy access to various controls and switches:

  • On/Off Switches: Individual switches for different functions (e.g., solenoids, shaker motor, gear motor) allow for customizable gameplay.
  • Intensity Knobs: For adjusting the strength of the shaker and gear motors.
  • Volume Knobs: Separate controls for main speakers, surround sound speakers, and in-game sounds.

Display and Lighting

The visual elements of a virtual pinball machine contribute significantly to the immersive experience:

  • Backlit Buttons: Large, backlit buttons on the front panel make it easy to navigate and play in the dark.
  • Programmable Buttons: These allow for customization and future-proofing of the machine.
  • Topper Monitor and LED Strips: Addressable LEDs and properly enclosed topper monitors enhance the visual appeal and ambiance.

Software Considerations

The software running the virtual pinball machine is just as important as the hardware:

  • Customization and Updates: Ensure the software is regularly updated and allows for user customization. This includes adding new tables and modifying existing ones.
  • Feature Set: Look for software that supports VR, includes arcade games, and offers a jukebox feature with music videos.
  • Support and Stability: Reliable technical support and a stable software environment are crucial for a seamless experience.

Choosing the Right Virtual Pinball Machine Vendor

Reputation and Support

When investing in a virtual pinball machine, the reputation of the vendor is paramount:

  • Customer Reviews: Read reviews and testimonials from previous customers to gauge the quality of the product and customer service.
  • Support Team: Ensure the vendor has a dedicated support team and is located within a convenient time zone for your needs.
  • Warranty and Service: Check the length and coverage of the warranty offered by the vendor. For example, Game Room Shop is an authorized dealer that embodies these qualities, providing top-notch support and reliable products.

Pricing Strategies

Understanding the pricing strategies of different vendors can help you make an informed decision:

  • Transparency: Look for vendors who list detailed PC specifications and include all necessary features in their base price.
  • Avoid Hidden Costs: Be wary of vendors who advertise low initial prices but charge extra for essential features.

Build Quality

The overall build quality of the virtual pinball machine is a critical factor:

  • PC Specifications: Ensure the gaming PC is equipped with the latest components, such as high-end graphics cards, DDR memory, and powerful CPUs.
  • Wire Management: Look for clean and organized cabling within the cabinet.
  • Monitor Quality: Prefer industrial monitors over consumer-grade ones for durability and performance.
  • Speaker Quality: Opt for brand-name speakers and down-firing subwoofers to enhance the audio experience.

Qualities to Look for in a Virtual Pinball Machine

Selecting the ideal vendor for your virtual pinball machine involves more than just picking a product; it's about finding a partner committed to quality, support, and satisfaction.

Among the reputable vendors, Game Room Shop stands out as an authorized dealer known for its dedication to customer service and top-notch products. Let's inspect three of their premier offerings:

Virtual Pinball Machine | 49" 4K-LCD Screen | 300+ Games | Full Forced Feedback | LED lights

  • Immersive Gameplay: With a full-sized standard pinball cabinet spanning 49 inches, this machine promises an authentic arcade experience.
  • Stunning Visuals: Boasting a 49" 4K LED playfield, complemented by a 32" 1080p LED backglass monitor and a full-color 15.6" LED DMD, every detail comes to life.
  • Dynamic Features: From the digital plunger system to analog nudging, enjoy precise control and realistic gameplay.
  • Sensory Feedback: Immerse yourself further with a full forced feedback package, including solenoids, a shaker motor, and ROM controlled undercab LED lights.
  • Customization Options: With over 300 games in 1 and customizable skins, tailor your gaming experience to your preferences.
Virtual Pinball Machine | 49" 4K-LCD Screen | 300+ Games | Full Forced Feedback | LED lights

Ultra VP 4K 120 HZ Premium Virtual Pinball Machine

  • Visual Excellence: Featuring an industrial 49" 4K 120Hz UHD playfield monitor, this machine sets a new standard for visual clarity and smoothness.
  • Immersive Sensations: Experience full-force feedback, digital nudging, and an analog Williams-style plunger, all designed to enhance your connection to the game.
  • Audio Immersion: Enjoy 7.1 surround sound with hi-fi speakers and transducer speakers for SSF-enabled tables, creating a truly immersive audio experience.
  • Versatile Compatibility: Compatible with thousands of tables, including Visual Pinball, Future Pinball, and Zen Studios Pinball FX, offering endless gaming possibilities.
  • Convenience and Support: Benefit from global shipping and a comprehensive 2-year factory warranty, ensuring peace of mind and support throughout your gaming journey.
Ultra VP 4K 120 HZ Premium Virtual Pinball Machine

Skillshot FX Digital Virtual Pinball Machine

  • Next-Level Visuals: Showcasing a stunning 55" 4K playfield display atop a sleek Merapi wood-grain cabinet, this pinball machine delivers an unparalleled visual experience. The 32" 4K backglass monitor further enhances the display, bringing your favorite characters to life with incredible clarity.

  • Immersive Gameplay: Enjoy authentic pinball mechanics with real mechanical flipper feedback, haptic feedback, and an authentic pinball launch and flipper buttons. Each game feels unique and realistic, ensuring an engaging experience every time you play.

  • Premium Audio Experience: Equipped with an arcade-quality sound system, the Skillshot FX offers full, interactive cabinet sound, immersing you in the action with high-fidelity audio. The under-cabinet and speaker LED “glow” lighting add to the atmosphere, making each game a sensory delight.

  • Extensive Game Library: Featuring 96 unique pinball tables powered by Pinball FX3 by Zen Studios, including favorites like Marvel and Star Wars, the Skillshot FX provides endless entertainment for players of all ages. Wi-Fi connectivity allows for multiplayer matchups, tournaments, and future updates, keeping your gaming experience fresh and exciting.

  • Convenient and Durable: Designed for indoor use, this machine runs on a standard 110v wall outlet and includes a Windows 10 license and Steam Activation Codes for full software features. Handcrafted in the USA, it comes with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty and some assembly is required, ensuring long-lasting quality and support.

Skillshot FX Digital Pinball Machine

Side-by-Side Virtual Pinball Comparison Table

Feature Virtual Pinball Machine Ultra VP 4K 120 HZ Premium Skillshot FX by Skee-Ball®
Virtual Pinball Visuals
Virtual Pinball Machine
Ultra VP Virtual Pinball Machine
Skillshot FX Digital Pinball Machine
Playfield Monitor Size 49" 4K 49" 4K 120Hz UHD 55" 4K
Playfield Monitor Form Factor Slanted Slanted Slanted
Backglass Monitor Size 32" 1080p 32" 1080p  32" 4K
Backglass Monitor Type 15.6" Full Color LED DMD 15.6" large DMD screen (Stern size DMD) Full HD with Custom Graphics
Cabinet Structure MDF Wood Laminated Marine Grade Plywood Merapi Wood Grain Finish
CPU Intel Core i3-9100F Intel i7 12700 (12th gen) AMD FX-8800P Radeon R7 processor
Graphics Card (GPU) NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 TI 4GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 - 12GB GDDR6 GT1050TI 4GB
RAM DDR 4 8G 32GB DDR5-6000 (16GBx2) 8GB DDR4
Full Forced Feedback  Integrated AccuFeel™ technology
Surround Sound 2.1 Surround Sound 7.1 Surround Sound 2.1 Surround Sound
Additional Audio Enhancements
Digital Nudging
Analog Plunger
Air Fan Fully enclosed & insulated
Solenoids & Contactors 10 Solenoids 8 Solenoids & 2 Contactors
Knocker & Shaker Motor Shaker Motor Only Knocker & Shaker Motor
Coin Door
Customizable Options Artwork Artwork & Plunger
Optional Upgrades Police Beacons / Strobes / Topper Monitor
Game Library Compatibility 300+ games in 1 Compatible with thousands of tables 96 unique pinball table games
Wi-Fi Connectivity
Ambient Lighting (LED Lights)
Warranty 2-Year Factory Warranty 2-Year Factory Warranty 1-Year Manufacturer's Warranty
Pricing Starts at $5,799.00 Starts at $8,495.00 Starts at  $5,499.00
Estimated Lead Time 9 to 12 Weeks 4 to 9 Weeks 1 to 2 Weeks

By comparing these virtual pinball machines, you can confidently select the virtual pinball machine that best suits your preferences and gaming aspirations. With Game Room Shop as your trusted partner, your journey into the world of virtual pinball promises to be nothing short of extraordinary.

Game Room Shop's Expert Recommendation:

When selecting the ideal virtual pinball machine, your choice should be based on your specific needs and preferences. Here's a summary of what each machine offers to help guide your decision:

Why Should You Choose Virtual Pinball Machine | 49" 4K-LCD Screen:

Choose this product if you are a casual enthusiast looking for a feature-rich, affordable machine.

This model combines a 49" 4K display and full forced feedback for an engaging pinball experience. While it offers customizable artwork and a moderate price point, it comes with slightly older hardware compared to the other models. It is ideal for those who want a solid, immersive pinball experience without needing the latest tech.

  • Virtual Pinball Machine Highlights:

    • Great visuals with a 49" 4K playfield.
    • Full forced feedback and digital nudging.
    • Customizable artwork options.
    • Affordable starting price.

Why Should You Choose Ultra VP 4K 120 HZ Premium Virtual Pinball Machine:

Choose this product if you are a serious pinball aficionado seeking top performance and extensive customization.

This machine stands out with its 49" 4K 120Hz UHD display, powerful Intel i7 processor, and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 GPU, ensuring superior performance and smooth gameplay. It also offers numerous customization options and compatibility with thousands of pinball tables, making it perfect for enthusiasts who demand the best.

  • Ultra VP 4K 120 HZ Premium Virtual Pinball Machine Highlights:

    • Superior performance with high-end CPU and GPU.
    • Extensive customization options (Artwork, Cabinet & Parts)
    • Compatible with a vast library of pinball tables.
    • Top-tier immersive features like 7.1 Surround Sound and AccuFeel™ technology.

Why Should You Choose Skillshot FX Digital Pinball Machine:

Choose this product if you are looking for a user-friendly, stylish machine with immediate availability.

This model features a large 55" 4K display, Wi-Fi connectivity, and a family-friendly design. It is the most affordable option and is perfect for those who want a ready-to-play machine with a quick lead time, though it has less powerful hardware and fewer customization options compared to the Ultra VP.

  • Skillshot FX Digital Pinball Machine Highlights:

    • Largest playfield monitor at 55" 4K.
    • Wi-Fi connectivity for easy updates.
    • Family-friendly design and quick lead time.
    • Most affordable starting price.

Overall Recommendation:

Each of these virtual pinball machines caters to different needs and user preferences:

  • The Virtual Pinball Machine is great for casual enthusiasts looking for a solid all-around performer that balances great visuals, authentic gameplay, and a reasonable price.
  • The Ultra VP 4K 120 HZ Premium is perfect for serious pinball aficionados who want the best performance and most realistic feel, thanks to its high refresh rate and powerful specs.
  • The Skillshot FX Digital Pinball Machine is ideal for families and those seeking quick setup and use, as well as for individuals who prefer a modern and atypical pinball design.

If you're still unsure about which machine best suits your needs, reach out to us for more expert guidance. Our team is here to help you find the perfect fit for your game room.


Buying a virtual pinball machine can be a daunting task, but understanding the key features and considerations can help you make an informed decision. From the form factor and materials to force feedback and software, every detail contributes to the overall experience.

By choosing a reputable vendor with high-quality products and reliable support, such as Game Room Shop, you can enjoy a virtual pinball machine that truly replicates the feel of a mechanical one. 

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