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The 9 Best Anbernic Handheld Gaming Devices

As a long-time retro gaming enthusiast and Anbernic device owner, I‘m thrilled to see these awesome little handhelds gaining popularity. Anbernic specializes in producing miniature consoles packed with power, catering to folks like me who want to play classic games from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras (NES, SNES, Genesis, Game Boy) on the go.

In just a few short years, they‘ve built up an impressive roster of devices featuring everything from clamshell designs to landscape orientation to full QWERTY keyboards. And their frequent hardware revisions mean faster processors and better screens with each new generation.

In this guide, I‘ll be sharing my hands-on knowledge to spotlight the 9 top Anbernic models available in 2023. For each device, I‘ll summarize the specs, highlight standout features, assess performance and usability, and help you determine if it‘s a good fit.

Let‘s dive in!

1. Anbernic RG552 – Best Overall

If I had to crown a current king amongst Anbernic devices, the honor would go to the RG552. As a member of the fourth generation lineup, it‘s built on more powerful architecture than its predecessors, equipped with niceties like a high quality display, Wi-Fi connectivity, and excellent format support.

Display: 5.36′′ HD touchscreen
CPU: Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core 64-bit
Storage: 64GB eMMC + microSD card slot
Battery: 6400mAh
Formats: PS1, PSP, N64, Dreamcast, + more

For my money, the RG552 provides the best balance of power, features, and usability. That big beautiful screen makes pixel art pop while keeping text readable. The upgraded internals can handle anything from Atari 2600 to PlayStation 1 without breaking a sweat.

Better yet, it plays nice with multiple operating systems between its Android environment and various Linux firmware options. Speaking of customization, the active development scene has already started churning out mods and tweaks to enhance performance.

The full grip design fits nicely in hand, especially with aftermarket add-ons like snap-on cases and grip tape. It‘s honestly hard to find any major faults with the RG552 other than the relatively premium $200+ price tag. But for a top-of-class experience across the board, few alternatives stack up.

2. Anbernic RG351MP – Best Build Quality

The RG351MP flaunts an aluminum alloy shell that gives it a refined, sleek appearance and feel. It‘s easily the most premium device Anbernic has produced to date in terms of physical construction. The rest of the hardware also impresses:

Display: 3.5′′ IPS 640×480 touchscreen
CPU: Rockchip RK3326 quad-core 1.5GHz
Storage: 16-512GB microSD card
Battery: 3500mAh
Formats: Up to PlayStation 1

Between the sturdy metal chassis, responsive buttons and dual joysticks, gorgeous laminated screen, and long battery life, everything about the 351MP just screams quality. The excellent format compatibility and open Linux firmware cement its place as one of Anbernic‘s finest creations.

My only hang-ups relate to the modest internal specs. That 1GB of RAM can bottleneck performance on more demanding systems like N64 and PSP. But dialing back to 16-bit consoles and below provides flawless results. Considering the excellent build and polish, I‘m happy to sacrifice some overhead for this premium pocket powerhouse.

3. Anbernic RG503 – Best Mid-Range Model

As a mid-generation upgrade over the RG351 series, the RG503 delivers noticeable performance gains while retaining familiar form factor hallmarks:

Display: 4.95′′ OLED 960×544
CPU: Rockchip RK3566 quad-core 1.8GHz 64-bit
Storage: 64GB eMMC + microSD
Battery: 5000mAh
Formats: PS1, PSP, N64, Dreamcast

The vibrant OLED screen combined with powerful internals makes for Anbernic‘s best balance of affordability and capabilities. Everything up to and including Nintendo 64 and PlayStation Portable runs wonderfully while the revamped architecture provides overhead for tinkering with settings.

From a pure price-to-performance perspective, I believe the RG503 offers the best bang for your buck. It can tackle most classic gaming needs out of the box while also supporting modern creature comforts like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. And much like its siblings, firmware wizards are already cooking up customizations that unlock even more potential.

4. Anbernic RG351V – Best Game Boy Form Factor

No other model encapsulates that nostalgic early 90s Nintendo handheld feel quite like the RG351V with its PlayStation Vita-style layout:

Display 3.5′′ IPS 640×480
CPU: Rockchip RK3326 quad-core 1.5GHz
Storage: 16-512GB microSD
Battery: 3900mAh
Formats: Up to PlayStation 1

The instantly recognizable design combined with fantastic button tactility and gorgeous display offers an unparalleled Game Boy Advance-esque experience. It runs anything from the original DMG Game Boy straight through to SNES flawlessly while still packing enough oomph for select PlayStation titles.

If I close my eyes and pretend, it almost transports me back to the days of grade school recess spent huddled over Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow or Harvest Moon Friends of Mineral Town. There‘s certainly something to be said for the sheer nostalgic gravitas of form factor alone. But make no mistake, under the hood lies Anbernic‘s proven approach for delivering ample power in a petite package.

5. Anbernic RG300X – Best Pocketability

When it comes to maximum portability potential, nothing in Anbernic‘s stable can compete with the diminutive RG300X:

Display: 3′′ IPS 640×480
CPU: Ingenic XBurst JZ4770 1GHz
RAM: 256MB
Storage: 16-128GB MicroSD
Battery: 2500mAh
Formats: Up to PlayStation 1

The entire unit is only marginally larger than the screen itself. Yet it still crams in everything needed for playing classic games through the 32-bit era. That makes it the ultimate choice for taking your entire retro library out and about.

Its teeny form does necessitate some ergonomic compromises. The tiny buttons and cramped layout make marathon play sessions uncomfortable. But for quick pick-up-and-play sessions on the bus, waiting for an appointment, or during a lunch break, it handles beautifully.

Just don‘t expect Dreamcast or N64 performance without struggle. As long as you stick to consoles below that threshold, the miniscule and mighty RG300X shines. Did I mention it fits perfectly in a pocket? Because that definitely seals the mobile gaming deal for me!

6. Anbernic RG280V – Best Budget Vertical Handheld

Joining the recent crop of vertical oriented handhelds, the svelte RG280V packs a surprising amount of pixel pushing potential:

Display: 2.8′′ IPS 320×480
CPU: Ingenic JZ4770 1GHz
RAM: 512MB
Storage: 16-128GB microSD
Battery: 1500mAh
Formats: Up to PlayStation 1

The button and screen placement take a bit of adjustment coming from landscape handhelds. But the RG280V nails the form factor with stellar build construction that survives drops and dings. It also offers the cheapest entry point for Anbernic hardware while still delivering their trademark quality.

It handles 8 & 16-bit consoles masterfully and even musters passable PlayStation 1 support. But the limited RAM and middling processor give N64 and PSP too much slowdown for enjoyability. As long as kept within its performance wheelhouse, this budget vertical handheld shines.

7. Anbernic WIN600 – Best Windows Handheld

Thus far we‘ve focused exclusively on Android and Linux based Anbernic products. The WIN600 distinguishes itself by running full fledged 64-bit Windows 10:

Display: 5.94′′ HD touchscreen
CPU: AMD Athlon Silver 3050e 2.8GHz
Storage: 256GB eMMC
Battery: 5000mAh
Formats: Everything up to Dreamcast

Having Windows at your fingertips unlocks vastly more software possibilities. It serves as a miniature PC capable of handling productivity programs plus PC game launchers like Steam. Of course emulation still ranks among its strongest suits with beefy architecture to support heavier console formats.

The Roccat Vulcan key style keyboard and spacious 16:9 screen make for comfortable use cases beyond gaming. Factor in the solid construction and high capacity battery and you have an ultra portable workhorse, not just a retro game player.

Admittedly at over $700, the WIN600 costs a pretty penny. And sacred cows like Dolphin GameCube emulation still prove too demanding. But nothing else can match its versatility as a literal Windows PC condensed down into a handheld chassis.

8. Anbernic RG351P – Best Budget Model

If the goal is maximum retro gaming goodness while going easy on your wallet, the trusty RG351P fits the ticket:

Display: 3.5′′ IPS 640×480
CPU: Rockchip RK3326 quad-core 1.5GHz
Storage: 16-512GB microSD
Battery: 3500mAh
Formats: Up to PlayStation 1

Despite releasing at the tail end of 2020, the RG351P still provides a fantastic experience. That combination of display resolution, ample storage, great battery life, built-in Wi-Fi, headphone jack, and familiar form factor check all the essential boxes.

It runs anything up to PlayStation 1 beautifully while dabbling modestly into Nintendo 64 and PlayStation Portable. At the sub $100 price point backed by years of community firmware polish, it‘s hard finding a more compelling entry point into Anbernic‘s ecosystem. Beginners rejoice!

9. Anbernic RG353P – Most Stylish Retro Handheld

Okay, technically "stylish looks" have no impact on gaming competency. But I‘d be remiss not to highlight just how striking the RG353P appears modeled after the iconic Super Nintendo controller:

Display: 3.5′′ IPS 640×480
CPU: Rockchip RK3566 quad-core 1.8GHz 64-bit
Storage: 64GB eMMC + microSD card
Battery: 3500mAh
Formats: Everything 16-bit & prior, select 32-bit

Beyond killer aesthetics, it also delivers substantial power for tackling up to PlayStation 1 and PSP ROMs. N64 still proves a stretch but the vibrant screen and fantastic form factor capture that nostalgic magic beautifully. Plus it seems a given the hacking scene will eventually tame the feisty RK3566 chip to enable better Dreamcast, etc down the road.

For the price, I don’t think anything looks or feels better in hand for retro gaming than the RG353P. It manages to bottle 90s gaming memories into a charming package that backs up aesthetics with ample performance.

With so many options on the market, a common dilemma becomes choosing the right model for your needs and budget. Let‘s break down top priorities worth evaluating:

What game systems need to be supported? Are you focused strictly on 8 & 16-bit era consoles? Or do you have sights set on PlayStation 1 and PSP? Establishing format compatibility expectations helps narrow choices.

Display Quality
For pixel perfect gameplay, aim for at least a 640×480 resolution IPS panel. Bonus points for laminated screens without a gap for optimal image crispness. Avoid the rare OLED models which experience burn-in over time.

Comfort & Ergonomics
Do you want a horizontal or vertical grip? Large or petite size? Button and joystick layout plays a huge role in prolonged gaming comfort. Make sure form complements functionality.

Special Editions
Several Anbernic devices tout unique aesthetic tweaks like Game Boy or Super Nintendo styled variants. While these offer no performance edge, nostalgic designs up the desirability factor for collectors.

Accessories & Mods
From snap-on cases and screen protectors to internal SSD upgrades, the accessory scene around Anbernic products continues growing. Even better, active communities build custom firmware and software enhancing capabilities.

A common barrier of entry for first time Anbernic owners involves the tinkering nature intrinsic to these devices. Taking the time to properly configure and customize your gadget unlocks vastly more enjoyable user experiences. Here‘s tips for getting the most from your new retro machine!

Inputting Games
Adding ROMs requires connecting your Anbernic to a Windows/Mac/*nix machine via USB cable or inserting the microSD card directly if removable. Then migrate your game files into the appropriately named emulator folders.

Installing Custom Firmware
Nearly all models enjoy community driven custom firmware far outpacing stock OS performance and features. The Anbernic Discord and Reddit offer install guides and support.

Overclocking & Optimization
Tweaking hardware profiles through overclocking utilities squeezes out extra overhead ideal for bumping up resolution on demanding 3D games. But temper expectations, these remain mobile chipsets with marginal overhead.

Controller Pairing
For primary controls most seem satisfied by quality of built-in buttons and joysticks. But Bluetooth controllers greatly bolster comfort for extended play sessions. The 8BitDo Pro 2 ranks among the most popular pairings.

Accessory Recommendations
Consider picking up a protective case, screen protector, grip tape or thumb caps to enhance durability and ergonomics. Right angle charging cables prevent port damage while HDMI cables enable big screen gaming. For storage, Samsung EVO Select microSD cards work fantastically for adding games.

And that wraps up the basics for selecting and setting up the ultimate Anbernic retro gaming handheld! Want help deciding between specific models? Have questions about downloading games, updating firmware, troubleshooting issues or anything else related to these awesome devices? Feel free to reach out in the comments below or by email!