Review cover Anbernic RG351MP (Hardware)
Official GBAtemp Review

As 2021 enters its last stretch, Anbernic are back for what is hopefully a finally showing for the RK3326 chipset. In a fancy new shell with a fancy new screen, is this emulation handheld one worth picking up?

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At this point, Anbernic is well know. Since their early days they've gained a reputation for delivering on quality handheld after quality handheld, setting an incredible standard for the market of emulation systems. With the RG351 already having been released as the P, M, and V model, let's first have a brief look at this series of handhelds and how the MP differs to those before it.

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As a site, we've actually covered each of the previous 351 models. The P, the original handheld in the series, was the first Anbernic system to sport the RK3326. Enabling solid PS1 emulation, as well as light N64 and PSP action, it was the chip to have when it launched back in 2020. The P model featured a 480x320 display, coming in at a 3:2 aspect ratio, and housed in a plastic shell. Though early models featured a WiFi chip, it was later removed due to issues with speaker noise. All things considered it was a great device and a perfect fit for GBA emulation thanks to its display.

Next on the block was the M model. Rocking largely the same internals as the P before it, the M came encased in a metal shell along with a now-fixed internal WiFi module. You have the same RK3326 and the same 480x320 display, the same layout, and the same controls. Though the metal shell is the major selling point here, giving an already-premium handheld a stellar finish, the fixed WiFi module is something that shouldn't be overlooked. Due to the device having a single Micro SD slot, transferring games can be a pain with Windows not recognising cards formatted for Linux operating systems. Add to this the ability to use RetroAchievements, and you have a relatively solid upgrade to the base hardware.

Featuring again the RK3326 this time in a form factor closer to the original GameBoy, the V model is probably the most interesting deviation in the series. Maintaining the WiFi module of the M model, the V features a more universally retro-suited 4:3 display, as well as a dual Micro SD setup. Outside of the obvious form factor changes, the biggest leap here is allowing you to use two Micro SD cards in the system. Completely skirting the pain of Linux partitions, you're able to keep one card formatted as an easier to manage Fat32 drive. It's also worth mentioning that due to limitations in the design, you're stuck with one analogue stick. This could get in the way of fully appreciating the improved PS1 and N64 performance that would really shine on the 640x480 display.

If you're interested in reading more about the previous models, you can check out our more in-depth coverage below:

With the history lesson over, we can now come to appreciate exactly what the MP brings to the table. Interestingly, you end up with a strange hybrid console, bringing together the pros and cons of its predecessors. At a surface level, you have the same basic layout as the M and P models. Where this differs from these is mostly in its display, packing the same 640x480 screen we enjoyed on the V model. Also coming from the V model is the dual Micro SD support, which is something I really can't praise enough having fought with Windows and Linux-formatted partitions in the past.

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The build quality lives up to everything I've heard about Anbernic. It's phenomenal, and the metalic ocean blue colour that debuted with the MP model is something that looks a lot better in person than in any of their promotional images. Each button has a reasonable amount of resistance and no part of it feels mushy or cheap. As is common with emulation handhelds, you have two analogue sticks of the same variety as the Nintendo Switch's Joy Cons. While this does mean they may be prone to some of the same issues down the line, it is worth saying you're unlikely to be relying on them as much with retro titles. In use they do however feel great, and it's nice to use the left analogue as a D-Pad alternative from time to time.

Setup on the MP is almost as simple as plug and play. If you're happy with the included EmuELEC operating system and are happy to rely on their generic cards, you can stick some games on the second card and get on with what you bought it for. Not a fan of EmuELEC myself and somewhat untrusting of generic cards, I opted to grab a 16GB and 64GB Sandisk card for the OS and games respectively. Instead of EmuELEC, I downloaded the appropriate distribution of Lakka, wrote it to the smaller card, and was good to go. As operating systems go, Lakka is about as pure a RetroArch experience as you can get. I was first introduced to it with the various efforts to port it to the Switch and it's not let me down since. The UI looks fantastic on the display, and adding games is as simple as scanning the card. It is worth noting that some ROM hacks and translations won't be picked up though, so you may need to get comfortable with editing the playlist JSON files to add in games for yourself. It's not a complicated process, and you'll only need to mess with it when adding non-standard games.

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Probably the standout of the unit, the 640x480 display is absolutely gorgeous. Thanks to that 4:3 aspect ratio, you're getting an optimal experience with the good majority of home retro consoles. Having mostly used the unit for SNES titles, I can't fault it. It is worth adding that black bars haven't ruined anything for me, if you were cautious of trying GameBoy or GBA games. Both of these systems still look great, but if GBA is your focus, the M model may be a better fit thanks to its 3:2 screen. Looking past the screen, there's only really one standout difference left between the M and MP models, and it's unfortunately not a good one. The internal WiFi module has once again been removed. 

The MP ticks every other box brilliantly, which is why the lack of built-in WiFi is such a shame. To give credit to Anbernic, the system does ship with a USB C adapter and a USB A WiFi dongle but it's clunky at best, and far from ideal for people wanting access to RetroAchievements for every play session. I don't think this would be quite as much of a problem if there were a USB C WiFi dongle that sits a little closer to the system. Thanks to the MP having a separate OTG and DC USB C port, you at least aren't limited to WiFi when the system isn't charging. For me at least, achievements aren't something I look for, and the dongle did fine for the initial setup and FTP test. Regardless it just doesn't seem an ideal solution for the wider market.

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As a slight aside here, it is possible to get a replacement for the bundled dongle and adapter should you end up relying on them and lose them, as well as the included screen protector via Anbernic's official Aliexpress store. Having messed up my initial screen protector installation I decided to give it a shot, and for around £10 I had it in the UK within a week. I can't really fault the service, which gives me confidence in their store should replacement parts become available in future, or if I just decide to try something else from their range.

I'm not going to go into too much detail as to what this handheld can and can't run to avoid covering the same stuff again. From a capability standpoint, it's exactly on par with its predecessors in the 351 series, and many other handhelds out there running the same chip. I've had absolutely no issues running NES, SNES, GB(C), and GBA titles. On top of this, a few N64 titles like Mario 64 run great, but going beyond that you're likely to encounter issues.

If like me you're only really wanting a handheld to push as far as the SNES and GBA, the RK3326 chip still holds strong. If these really are all you're after, along with a nice screen and a fantastic build quality, the 351MP is a solid choice. With emulation handhelds, there's always something on the horizon however, and you should always be aware of the fact something better is likely right around the corner. This is true now more than ever with the RK3326 at the end of its era, hopefully soon to step aside to a new generation. Whether you choose to wait or jump in now, I can't recommend Anbernic's handheld enough.

Verdict

What We Liked ...
  • Fantastic 4:3 display
  • Standard Anbernic build quality
  • Dual Micro SD support
  • Dual USB C support
  • Great feeling controls
What We Didn't Like ...
  • No built-in WiFi
  • RK3326 on show again
9.2
out of 10

Overall

The RG351MP is a fantastic device to see the RK3326 chipset off into the sunset. Allowing for stellar performance across a great number of retro consoles on a fantastic 4:3 display, it's a premium pick for the enthusiasts among us. Though it could be worth waiting for whatever's coming next, I can't recommend this enough for anybody happy with what the RK3326 can do.
you really need to add a price and technical specifications sheet somewhere on the reviews
Yeah, a price is very important. A review is completely meaningless without knowing the price. This could be a 15/10 but if it costs $5000 it's not worth it, meanwhile it could be a 1/10 but if it's only 10 bucks, why the hell not, pick one up to entertain yourself. You really can't review a product without judging its value.
 
Yeah, a price is very important. A review is completely meaningless without knowing the price. This could be a 15/10 but if it costs $5000 it's not worth it, meanwhile it could be a 1/10 but if it's only 10 bucks, why the hell not, pick one up to entertain yourself. You really can't review a product without judging its value.

It seems to be $150. I've always assumed when reviews here don't mention price, it's probably cause the provider of the product or sponsor doesn't want it to be talked about, but only to have the store link like it is here at the top of the page.
 
It seems to be $150. I've always assumed when reviews here don't mention price, it's probably cause the provider of the product or sponsor doesn't want it to be talked about, but only to have the store link like it is here at the top of the page.
Indeed, which is often an indicator that it's too expensive. Otherwise they wouldn't want the price to be hidden. Is $150 a good price for this?
 
Indeed, which is often an indicator that it's too expensive. Otherwise they wouldn't want the price to be hidden. Is $150 a good price for this?

For me personally, no. $150 is way too much for an underpowered retro handheld. It's really good build quality wise and ergonomics, but I wouldn't want to spend $150 just for that when I could use a telescopic controller on my phone that can play much more demanding emulators with a better screen. $75 is probably the highest I'd pay for this.
 
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Indeed, which is often an indicator that it's too expensive. Otherwise they wouldn't want the price to be hidden. Is $150 a good price for this?
at this point, no it isn't. have a look at the retroid pocket 2+ instead. $40 cheaper and a lot more powerful. there are plenty of other more powerful handhelds coming soon too, including one from anbernic.
 
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The rk3326 is from q1 2018. At this price/performance point I think you'd be better building a retro Emulation console with a raspberry pi 4 or compute module 4 as it's core.
 
at this point, no it isn't. have a look at the retroid pocket 2+ instead. $40 cheaper and a lot more powerful. there are plenty of other more powerful handhelds coming soon too, including one from anbernic.
I passed on the original Retroid Pocket 2, but the RP2+, the price and specs is very appealing, so I put my through my order the other day.
 
It seems to be $150. I've always assumed when reviews here don't mention price, it's probably cause the provider of the product or sponsor doesn't want it to be talked about, but only to have the store link like it is here at the top of the page.
For what it's worth, it's generally because I forget. I'll make a few edits later today.

tl;dr though you do get what you pay for. The system feels premium and like something you want to display and use.
 
It feels like these emulation handhelds are a scam, using ancient/slow chips
It just depends what you're wanting from them. GBA and SNES are pretty much all I'd play anyway so this model is ideal. With some new great stuff around the corner, more should be possible at a similar price for those who wait. That's kinda just how it is.

Alternatively you can always use your phone with a controller grip, though I'm not fond of how long the screens are with 4:3 titles.
 
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Nice review! Regarding the buttons, do you think they are of "metal dome"-type (like GBA SP, DSi, 3DS/2DS XL/Vita)? Or based on the simpler option with rubber pads pressing directly against PCB pads (like DS Lite)?
 
Nice review! Regarding the buttons, do you think they are of "metal dome"-type (like GBA SP, DSi, 3DS/2DS XL/Vita)? Or based on the simpler option with rubber pads pressing directly against PCB pads (like DS Lite)?
I'm fairly sure they're rubber pads. They don't necessarily feel mushy, but they're definitely not clicky.
 
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For me is ok, but as always price for those Chinese emulators is always to high. For 60-70$ it could be nice device, at 150$ it's to close to Switch Lite/PS Vita or even cheap phone that can emulate games better.

"New" Retroid Pocket 2+ is for 99$ now and it's way better.
 
For me personally, no. $150 is way too much for an underpowered retro handheld. It's really good build quality wise and ergonomics, but I wouldn't want to spend $150 just for that when I could use a telescopic controller on my phone that can play much more demanding emulators with a better screen. $75 is probably the highest I'd pay for this.

at this point, no it isn't. have a look at the retroid pocket 2+ instead. $40 cheaper and a lot more powerful. there are plenty of other more powerful handhelds coming soon too, including one from anbernic.
Exactly my point. As well, I also typed about just using a telescopic controller for your phone which will be more powerful but I removed that in hopes that someone would mention it to reinforce my point, so I'm glad you did haha. Yeah this is just overpriced for what it is. Whenever there's a review with no mention of the price, I automatically dismiss it as being overpriced.
 
hOW mUCH >?<>?<
looks kinda cool i would have killed someone for something like this in the 90's!
 
Have you tried the Pocket 2? The D-pad is streets behind the Abernic. The entire quality can not be compared.
According to people on the subreddit, the RP2+ has better feeling buttons, and tbh I didn't mind the D-pad, but the digital stick was a major issue for me.
At least the emulation capability is far better on the RP2+ for a neat $99 price point, and at last the screen is touch capable (great for some Android games). Anbernic usually does excellent hardware with mediocre specs, while Retroid does average quality hardware with kinda more promissing specs. And having Android is always a bonus.
Tbh I was gonna go with a RG351MP until I've heard about the RP2+, and after having good experiences with the original model and the more affordable price tag for me (is around $50 better considering shipping and tax fees) I'm opting on the RP2+.
 
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If you want to compare something with the nSwitch or PS Vita then what you should be looking at is the AYN Odin w/ a SD-845 or Dimensity 900. The D900 is much more modern, energy efficient, but also has less platform support than the SD CPUs. There's the Renegade project for running Windows on Android for the SD-845 (Base/Pro Odins) and using Windows Emulators.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/odin-the-ultimate-gaming-handheld#/
https://www.reddit.com/r/OdinHandheld/comments/pzjy41

The D900 is $200 (vs. a used nSwitch/PS Vita ~ 200-250) vs. the 250 / SD 845 ($250/290). Android is a pretty capable emulation platform for everything with the exception of PS2. Gamecube via Dolphin & 3DS via Critra are entirely possible. The value proposition will vary from gamer to gamer based on game quantity vs. game enjoyment of prior systems.

From what I've seen of the Switch/Vita their implementation of RetroArch is a bit spotty. It works for the more retro-stuff, but when you start pushing into PS1/N64/3DS/Dolphin it seems to be more proof of concept (if not an outright hassle).
 
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Very nice. Small correction though, an OLED Vita can be had for about $110 in very good condition on ebay. Still for the price a SD 845 or whatever that other CPU is is pretty astonishing, I hope the campaign will be a success and not have any elements of scamming as usual.
 
Very nice. Small correction though, an OLED Vita can be had for about $110 in very good condition on ebay. Still for the price a SD 845 or whatever that other CPU is is pretty astonishing, I hope the campaign will be a success and not have any elements of scamming as usual.
It's not too unbelievable. You can get a Razer Phone 2 that interestingly also has a nice 16:9 screen and SD845 for a similar price to what the Odin is being marketed at. You'd have to shell out an extra £50 or so on top for a grip but it should give some hope to people at least.
 
It's not too unbelievable. You can get a Razer Phone 2 that interestingly also has a nice 16:9 screen and SD845 for a similar price to what the Odin is being marketed at. You'd have to shell out an extra £50 or so on top for a grip but it should give some hope to people at least.

Not really, iirc there are costs involved in getting to adopt a SD chip, which Razer can easily do. And didn't the Razer Phone 2 retail for about $800? Maybe you can find one cheaper used, but it can't be compared to this that way.
 
Not really, iirc there are costs involved in getting to adopt a SD chip, which Razer can easily do. And didn't the Razer Phone 2 retail for about $800? Maybe you can find one cheaper used, but it can't be compared to this that way.
Fair point I suppose. Well if it all does fall through, there's a decent fallback there lol
 
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Emulation handhelds are so nice looking, and they're very novel. Until I realize my phone smokes them in any emulation test, and I have a grip.

Yet I still want it...
 
Emulation handhelds are so nice looking, and they're very novel. Until I realize my phone smokes them in any emulation test, and I have a grip.

Yet I still want it...
Tbh, you'll be wait for a long time or you will have to get a crappy phone then.
Although maybe expensive (compared to this consoles), for $300 USD you can get a Poco X3 Pro that has top of the line mid-specs and can even emulate Switch to some degree, and of course it works as a standard phone and by the bigger screen can be a productivity device for modifying some spreadsheets and answering Zoom calls with a good quality and speed.
 
Emulation handhelds are so nice looking, and they're very novel. Until I realize my phone smokes them in any emulation test, and I have a grip.

Yet I still want it...

I'm sure we all do haha, explains why the raffles were really popular here. No one would not want it, just that it's difficult to justify getting it yourself. 😄
 
Love your review for RG351MP, so I bought one! But I have a question, Could you tell me what image flashing tool you use? Whats the SD card brand? I use a 128GB Samsung EVO sd card, and I use balenaEtcher to flash the card. But it can not even be able to boot.
 
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Love your review for RG351MP, so I bought one! But I have a question, Could you tell me what image flashing tool you use? Whats the SD card brand? I use a 128GB Samsung EVO sd card, and I use balenaEtcher to flash the card. But it can not even be able to boot.
I grabbed two cheap SanDisk cards and used the same flashing tool. Maybe try a smaller capacity card for the OS since you really don't need that much room. A 16gb did me fine, then I used the bigger one for ROM storage.
 
I grabbed two cheap SanDisk cards and used the same flashing tool. Maybe try a smaller capacity card for the OS since you really don't need that much room. A 16gb did me fine, then I used the bigger one for ROM storage.
I dont know, I tried 16GB sandik SD card, Lakka is nightly 20211108 or offical 3.5.2 version, it can have the start flower logo, then reboot, it will crash to lots of command line. Which Lakka version you use?
 
I dont know, I tried 16GB sandik SD card, Lakka is nightly 20211108 or offical 3.5.2 version, it can have the start flower logo, then reboot, it will crash to lots of command line. Which Lakka version you use?
Have you tried 351Elec? Its been very stable for me. I can't post a link cause I'm very new but if you google 351Elec Beta Github you will find it.
 
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