Anbernic RG351P Impression

GBAtemp_rg351p_impression.png

Anbernic’s latest handheld, the RG351P, is finally available to purchase and is a device that was quite anticipated by the retro gaming community. This is mainly due to Anbernic’s track record with robust hardware design, frequent software updates and strong community support. Their latest handheld sports the RockChip RK3326 processor which has defined the “new generation” among retro handhelds.

For more details about this specific device's specs, see below:

  • Display screen:3.5 inch OCA full fit screen IPS /320*480
  • CPU/GPU: RK3326 quad-core 1.5GHz/Mali-G31 MP2
  • RAM: DDR3L,1GB/64GB
  • Support: Support vibration motor, PSP, PS1, NDS, N64, DC, CPS1, CPS2, FBA, NEOGEO, NEOGEO POCKET, GBA, GBC, GB, SFC, FC, MD, SMS, GG, MSX, PCE, WSC, transfer games And more than 20 formats of games,
  • Support users to download games in related formats
  • Speaker function: High-quality dual-speaker stereo speakers
  • Battery: 3500 mAh good for 8 hours of play
  • TF Card: Support TF card expansion, up to 256GB
  • No WiFi function
  • Other functions : Double OTG , 3.5mm stereo headset. Double 3D stereo joystick
front.jpg

content.jpg back.jpg analog stick.jpg front facing buttons.jpg

BittBoy’s RK2020 is also based on the RK3326 chip but has several hardware issues that can’t be overlooked as I pointed out in my review. In that aspect, the RG351P is far better as Anbernic yet again makes a strong impression on the hardware front. If you’ve tried Anbernic’s previous device, the RG350P, you’ll know what to expect: face buttons with a pleasant, soft feedback; rubber grips at the back for added comfort; clicky shoulder buttons; and clicky analog sticks. However, I found the latter’s color to be a bit offset as they are white (in the “GBA Blue” model I received) while the rest of the buttons (face, shoulder, power, reset) are grey-colored (as is the side bezel). I don’t mind it much but if you’re nitpicky about the color scheme, this could bother you.

Comparing it to the RG350P, the RG351P is slightly heavier and is slightly shorter while being slightly longer than its predecessor.

rg350 vs rg35`.jpg

350 351 back.jpg 350 351 side.jpg

Thankfully, Anbernic included a retro-styled volume wheel which was missing from the RK2020 which has to rely on hotkeys. I really like the choice of a volume wheel, rather than buttons like with the RG350P, as this hardware is rather rare in handhelds these days and really adds to the nostalgia feeling. However, it’s more of a personal preference and I can see others looking for buttons instead.

volume wheel.jpg

Another deviation from Anbernic is the removal of the HDMI port. While I use these handhelds only in handheld mode, others might still want to hook up the device to an HDMI monitor to game retro on a big screen but this is a missing feature from the RG351P. Moreover, the screws aren’t regular Philips ones but Torx screws whose screwdrivers aren’t as widely adopted. I found this to be rather counterintuitive for an open-source handheld device as it hinders easy access to the internals to, say, change the buttons or analog sticks.

top no HDMI.jpg grips.jpg

One more thing to note about the hardware is that all models, except for the first batch that shipped, don’t have WiFi function. This was also an anticipated feature to allow easy ROM transfer or for multiplayer but the WiFi module was removed after the first batch (which, on the bright side, helped decrease the price).

All in all, when it comes to RK3326-based retro consoles, the RG351P offers among the best hardware, if not the best. It’s a joy to hold it and play retro games. The device feels sturdy and there’s no rattling or screen bleed as I experienced with the RK2020.

GBA.jpg

Nevertheless, the RG351P is still based on the RK3326 chip which is more of an incremental update on the previous “generation” of retro handhelds based on the JZ4770 (like the RG350P or New PocketGo V2). Officially, the device is said to support systems including the PSP but in practice, the best supported systems are PS1, N64 and most Dreamcast titles while graphically-demanding PSP games have a choppy performance. NDS games are also playable but the emulator has illegible fonts. What’s really good to play on the RG351P is GBA. This is thanks to its 480x320 resolution, which is 4 times that of the GBA (240x160).

You could tweak the settings and get better performance with each emulator as the OS is based on RetroArch but it has a significant learning curve to it. Additionally, loading ROMs is a whole process if you don’t use a Linux system. You’ll need a third-party software like DiskGenius to access the partition and transfer your ROMs. Upgrading firmware is also finicky, especially given that the RG351P, like the other RK3326 devices, has only one microSD. The RG350P on the other hand had two slots, one for ROMs and the other for the FW but with the RG351P, both FW and ROMs are on the same SD and you’ll have to backup your saves and ROMs whenever you perform a FW update.

And there will be FW updates as there are some issues with the software already. The first batch that shipped, including mine, had an issue with missed D-pad inputs. But this was fixed with an update within one day. Another issue that persists is the brightness level which only changes when it’s below 40%, and before that the brightness setting wouldn't be saved after each reboot. So I've already flashed my unit twice since receiving it and I expect to do more just so that I can really get the most of the device. Thankfully, Anbernic has a strong track record when it comes to supporting its devices and they have developers working on optimized firmware for the device, including an Android-based FW which I'm looking forward to.

n64.jpg

ps1.jpg NDS.jpg PSP.jpg

Overall, the RG351P wins it design-wise but the UX is still debatable. It’s likely that it will get better with time, so you can wait and keep track of the progress. That’s what I’ll advise, especially if you have a device in the RG350 line already. If you don’t own one but are looking into the retro handheld market, then the RG351P will deliver but keep in mind that better software will be available only later on. It is priced at $100 and is among the best RK3326 chip-based retro handhelds you'll find out there, especially on the build quality and official support fronts.

 

sloppycrap

Well-Known Member
Newcomer
Joined
Mar 28, 2017
Messages
99
Trophies
0
XP
635
Country
Afghanistan
Do these things actually play NDS and Dreamcast games well? Those are the two systems I can't emulate on my Vita that I would really like to have. A decent SNES emulator would be good, too, but I can play most of what I want on my Vita.
 

J-Machine

Self proclaimed Pog champion
Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2011
Messages
885
Trophies
0
Location
A concrete Igloo
XP
1,398
Country
Canada
Do these things actually play NDS and Dreamcast games well? Those are the two systems I can't emulate on my Vita that I would really like to have. A decent SNES emulator would be good, too, but I can play most of what I want on my Vita.
if you want ds just whip out your smart phone or tablet and DraStic for android. runs real good and you have a touch interface
 

Prans

Geek, gamer, human
OP
Editorial Team
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
2,171
Trophies
1
Location
There itself.
XP
23,799
Do these things actually play NDS and Dreamcast games well? Those are the two systems I can't emulate on my Vita that I would really like to have. A decent SNES emulator would be good, too, but I can play most of what I want on my Vita.
NDS plays well but the emulator's menu has super tiny fonts that are almost unreadable. Older systems like SNES work well and as for Dreamcast, yes, games do play but with occasional performance issues depending on which game you play. You might be able to get better performance if you tweak the settings but there's quite a learning curve to that (it's based on RetroArch, so if you're familiar with it, you can try to work it out). For Dreamcast and PSP, it's not an out-of-the-box solution unfortunately.
 

Vovajka

Banned!
Banned
Joined
Oct 16, 2020
Messages
37
Trophies
0
XP
25
Country
Ukraine
Why get a handheld with a 16:9 screen to play almost all 4*3 games? Either the games will appear stretched, or not use part of the screen.
 

Ampersound

Well-Known Member
Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2018
Messages
179
Trophies
0
Age
34
XP
920
Country
Germany
Homebrew consoles never cease to amaze me with their designs. This one definitely looks like one any hardcore gamer would want to try out.
I haven't been amazed by one so far, but i've only owned a Dingoo A320. Way too uncomfortable shoulder buttons and the headphone jack was located on the right side.... You couldn't even play properly with headphones because the cable got in the way.
 

emigre

i am a free i am not man a number
Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2009
Messages
8,439
Trophies
1
Age
31
Location
London
Website
gbatemp.net
XP
12,543
Country
United Kingdom
Do these things actually play NDS and Dreamcast games well? Those are the two systems I can't emulate on my Vita that I would really like to have. A decent SNES emulator would be good, too, but I can play most of what I want on my Vita.

This will work up to N64 at best, A lot of these chinese are peaking at N64. I have a retroid pocket 2 and that can do Dreamcast but it ain't great. MY advice is a smartphone for portable Dreamcast gamingm Redream is an excellent emulator.

I haven't been amazed by one so far, but i've only owned a Dingoo A320. Way too uncomfortable shoulder buttons and the headphone jack was located on the right side.... You couldn't even play properly with headphones because the cable got in the way.

The Dingoo is about a decade old and was pretty shit. There's solid handhelds available like the RG350. I have an Retroid Pocket 2 which is a very nice piece of kit.
 
Last edited by emigre,
  • Like
Reactions: Prans

DerpDingus

Well-Known Member
Newcomer
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
Messages
90
Trophies
0
Age
37
XP
594
Country
United States
Im starting to get jaded with these handhelds. They keep pumping out under- preforming hardware that by this point should emulate up to Dreamcast with little issues . I have a PS Vita that can do just as well if not better. I wont argue that these things are still pretty cool.. and enticing to buy
 
General chit-chat
Help Users
  • No one is chatting at the moment.
    Psionic Roshambo @ Psionic Roshambo: Like that movie The Fly where Quagmire and Herbert get combined lol