I remember back in the late 90s (around 97 I think) I still had my Genesis and games around, until a friend told me about Genecyst. I got me a four button PC gamepad and sold my Genesis and games and saved for a PSX. I had the PSX for a few months and sold it to save for a Dreamcast. Since then I kept all my consoles.
I’d say the golden age of emulation was the late 90’s early 00’s. You may think I’m crazy but lately I’ve been feeling nostalgic about those times, when I’d find a translated game or would discover a gem and fire up KGen or ZSnes and enjoyed it on my Celeron PC.
With the modded Xbox I never thought I’d go back to the original hardware, until the nostalgia bug bit me sometime in 08 and got me a Genesis. I have the carts I like and can afford, for everything else I use flash carts.
For systems like the Saturn, the emulation never got to the level of PS1 so real hardware is the way to go. For systems like the PCE while they’re emulated pretty well, I had some curiosity as to how things worked there.
It all boils down to your preferences and budget. Personally, nothing beats the real console hooked up via composite to a CRT, just like back in the day. While RGB may look nice on a PVM, I just don’t see me going that route, I mean it’s not what I had 20+ years ago.