What are the best retro handhelds to buy right now?
Handheld gaming has surged in popularity with consoles like the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 2DS, making it possible to play some of the best games on the go.
However, loads of retro gaming handhelds helped pave the way for modern consoles, and sometimes you just want to emulate that old-school feeling.
Whether you want to relive the nostalgia of your favorite childhood handhelds or wish to experience retro games the way they were made to be played, we’ve got you covered with our inclusive list.
The Best Retro Handhelds To Buy
We’ve chosen each of these consoles based on their build quality, the games they can play, and how well they can emulate classic titles. This way, you can be sure you’re getting the best retro gaming experience possible.
Here’s our list of the 15 best retro handhelds to buy:
15. Powkiddy V90
Kicking off our list, we have the Powkiddy V90, a small but powerful handheld emulator that comes pre-loaded with some of the best retro games ever released.
Debuting in China in 2020, this portable handheld is one of the few that comes ready to play with Pokemon, Zelda, numerous Mario games, and tons of others.
There are thousands of games pre-loaded on the Powkiddy V90 ranging from the Neo Geo to the Gameboy and PS1, though PS1 games are noted to have framerate issues on this device.
All other games play flawlessly on this handheld emulator, just as they did when they were first released.
You can even transfer the ROMS to other emulators to play them on multiple devices, though we discourage sharing the files since this verges into legally troublesome territory.
However, in terms of being ready to play right out of the box, this retro handheld is one of the best you can find today, and it is certainly worth considering if you want to play some of the best Pokémon games of all time on a sleek retro console.
14. Powkiddy X18S
Created as an upgrade to the Powkiddy X18, this clamshell Android-based handheld console has a huge screen which we absolutely love.
Although the overall build quality is lower than some of the other handheld consoles on our list, we like this one due to its ability to be modified by users who don’t mind tinkering.
While it can play PSP and Dreamcast games flawlessly on its own, you can always load up some of the best PSP emulators using a different version of Android to improve your overall experience.
Despite being more geared towards android fans who are knowledgeable about customization, the Powkiddy X18S definitely has a lot of potential and for that reason, it deserves mention.
13. Powkiddy RGB20
The Powkiddy RGB20 is larger than many other handhelds on our list, but it packs a lot of power and looks great.
Capable of playing loads of classic games from the Dreamcast, N64, and PSP flawlessly, this handheld has 1GB RAM, a large 3.5″ display, and a 1.5GHz CPU.
One feature that we really love is the abundance of buttons and quality analog stick that make it easy to play games without it feeling awkward.
While its overall quality may not be the highest, that doesn’t mean it won’t last, and its generous display coupled with its processing power make it one of the best retro consoles for emulation you can buy today.
12. Anbernic RG280M
The Anbernic RG280M has a fantastic ergonomic design that rivals even the Nintendo Switch.
While its screen is a bit smaller than others, it packs one hell of a punch when it comes to emulating the retro gaming experience.
This handheld has nearly full-speed support for PS1 games, and its battery can last up to six hours before needing to be charged.
It is also one of the few handhelds to have a metal case, which makes it more durable than those made from plastic.
Although its small size may be a downside for some users, we love the portability that it provides, and you can easily put the RG280M in your pocket and not worry about it falling out.
11. Anbernic RG300X
Released in 2021 by Anbernic, the RG300X looks a bit like the Gameboy Micro and stands out as one of the most portable consoles from the company.
Although it does struggle with PS1 games, more so than other emulator handhelds on our list, it comes with additional perks worth considering.
For example, it comes with a micro HDMI that allows you to hook it up to your TV or computer, which is something that has been removed from other Anbernic products.
Despite not being the best pick for PS1 players, this handheld can still play Neo Geo, Super Nintendo, SEGA, and Gameboy games with fantastic quality.
We’d even go so far as to say it has the potential to be one of the best Neo Geo emulators you can find in a handheld without having to install the software yourself.
10. Anbernic RG280V
This flat vertical handheld has a fast dual-core 1.0GHz processor and 512MB RAM that can emulate consoles all the way up to the PS1 effortlessly.
Anbernic takes a lot of spots on our list for their great handhelds, and the RG280V is no exception.
Its build quality is superb and durable enough to last for years, and its large 2.8″ screen makes it easy to admire your favorite retro games.
We love that this handheld isn’t overly large, so you can hold it comfortably even if you have smaller hands.
Even kids can easily play with the RG280V, and its durability ensures you won’t have to worry about them breaking it easily.
9. PocketGo S30
Created to mimic the appearance of the original SNES controller, the PocketGo S30 supports up to five hours of gaming and comes ready to roll right out of the box.
This handheld emulator is extremely popular due to its small size and affordable price tag, but fans also love that they can start playing ASAP without any tedious setup.
With the ability to play anything up to the PS1, all menus and buttons come pre-mapped and installed, though you can add your own games if you want.
Its 3.5″ screen is also large enough for almost everyone to enjoy the gameplay, even though we wish it had an HDMI to TV option.
However, seeing as so many games come pre-installed with this retro gaming console, we really can’t complain since it makes reliving our childhood favorites easier than ever.
8. Anbernic RG350P
Released in 2019, the Anbernic RG350P is one of the most affordable handhelds on our list, and it delivers a fantastic gaming experience despite its low price.
Able to play ROMS up to the PS1 effortlessly, the RG250P has had a few minor updates that have made gameplay impressively smooth, while its build quality makes it extremely long-lasting.
Furthermore, it comes with two Nintendo Switch-type analog sticks which make it easy to get used to.
While it isn’t the most comprehensive or powerful handheld, it is still one of the most popular options for retro gamers who want an affordable console that will not sacrifice gameplay quality.
7. GPD XD Plus
The GPD XD Plus is one of the most expensive retro consoles on our list, but we have to argue that its hefty price tag is warranted for everything it can deliver.
Boasting 4GB of RAM and an Android operating system, the GPD XD Plus lets you download numerous emulators right from the Google Play Store, including RetroArch, which lets users play almost anything, including PS2, GameCube, and Wii games.
The build quality of this handheld is also top-notch, and nothing about it feels cheap or lackluster.
Its overall design also looks like it could have come straight from Nintendo, and it is easy to use, with a large screen that makes admiring your favorite games easier than ever.
While it does have a high cost, considering that it makes accessing some of the best PS2 emulators of all time extremely easy, we think this handheld is definitely worth every penny.
6. Powkiddy Max 2
The Powkiddy Max 2 looks and feels a bit like the Nintendo Switch Lite, and playing it is just as fun.
Because of its RK3326 chip, this handheld console can play games up to the PS1 and house thousands of games while maintaining excellent battery life.
While it does have a plastic shell, it is well designed and sturdy with a matte finish and comfortable button placement that makes gaming for hours easy.
We love how large the screen is, as well as how modern the design is despite being created to play retro games.
It is an excellent fusion of modern hardware and retro gaming, which comes together to deliver a phenomenal gaming experience.
5. Miyoo Mini
The Miyoo Mini is an amazingly small handheld emulator that reminds us of the Gameboy Mini.
Its 2.8″ IPS display makes it easy to see and play your favorite games, while its 1.2GHz CPU and 128MB RAM allow it to play many classic games with ease.
However, we think that the Miyoo Mini is perfect for kids due to its incredibly small size and easy-to-use firmware, which make it simple to play games without hassle.
While it is great for gamers of any age, we could see this being a great way to introduce your kids to retro gaming in an easy-to-understand way, and it gives you a chance to share your childhood favorites with your own kids.
Considering that this is one of Miyoo’s first-ever handhelds, we’re certainly looking forward to seeing what this brand comes up with next.
They may even rise to design one of the best PSP emulators of all time if the quality and functionality of the Miyoo Mini is any indication of what we can expect in the future.
4. Anbernic RG351V
Released in 2021, this vertical handheld console emulator may look plain, but it has quickly become a favorite of retro gamers.
It has a moderate screen of 3.5″, allowing most retro games to be viewed crisply in their original resolutions, and a long-lasting battery that can keep you playing for up to five hours.
Best of all, this console comes fully loaded with thousands of games, which is totally a massive bonus for gamers who just want to unbox it and start playing the best Super Mario games of all time without having to import them manually.
If you’re a fan of vertical handhelds, the RG351V is very nearly the perfect console.
3. Anbernic RG351P
The Anbernic RG351P comes packed with many of the same features as the RG351V, but instead of being vertically oriented, it is horizontal.
This makes it perfect for those who want the convenience of the pre-loaded RG351V but prefer a horizontal setup.
It can be easy to mistake this console for an official Nintendo release due to how great it looks, and it definitely lives up to the hype with how smooth it handles retro games.
Whether you want to play PSP or Dreamcast titles, this handheld can deliver a superior experience that does your favorite games the justice they deserve.
2. Anbernic RG351MP
Despite sharing the same RK3326 chip as many other consoles on our list, the RG351MP earns our number two spot for its large display, ergonomic buttons, and gameplay quality.
It has an aluminum casing that makes it sleek and durable, and it even supports WiFi connectivity and USB-C charging.
Although some PSP games struggle on this device, smaller 2D PSP games play with relative ease.
The RG35MP has our vote for the best retro handheld that uses the RK3326 chip in terms of playability, build quality and ease of use.
1. Retroid Pocket 2+
Taking our top spot, we have a phenomenal handheld that utilizes a Unisoc quad-core T320 CPU with 2GB of RAM instead of the standard RK3326 chip.
The Retroid Pocket 2+ has a large 3.5″ touch screen and an extremely long-lasting 4000MAH battery.
Because GoRetroid has created its own launcher for this console, setup is done step-by-step in a simple and straightforward way that anyone can understand.
This handheld is powerful enough to emulate even the most intensive PSP games, as well as games from the PS1, Dreamcast, SEGA Saturn, and Gameboy Advance.
Better yet, despite its incredible emulation abilities, this console is really affordable, which makes it an excellent handheld for almost everyone!
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best retro handhelds to buy!
There are a lot of great handheld console emulators on the market today, but these 15 are the best you can currently add to your collection. They definitely make it easier than ever to replay some of your favorite retro games!
Here’s a quick recap of the 15 best retro handhelds to buy:
- Retroid Pocket 2+
- Anbernic RG351MP
- Anbernic RG351P
- Anbernic RG351V
- Miyoo Mini
- Powkiddy Max 2
- GPD XD Plus
- Anbernic RG350P
- PocketGo S30
- Anbernic RG280V
- Anbernic RG300X
- Anbernic RG280M
- Powkiddy RGB20
- Powkiddy X18S
- Powkiddy V90
What’s the best retro handheld, in your opinion? Leave a comment below.
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