While the Anbernic RG351MP isn’t what you should get at full price now, I will still buy another one on clear stock sale. The device is a premium product in the 351 series of Anbernic, and this is truly the handheld for home retro consoles. It shares the premium feeling of the RG351M, while extends into the so-called “retro-purist” screen. Okay, time to check it out in the Anbernic RG351MP review.
Anbernic released the final model in 351 series to find out the best recipe for a retro handheld emulator at that price point. However, due to COVID-19 pandemic, the company doesn’t pack all features into the RG351MP, and soon it was superseded by newer models.
Anbernic RG351MP Review: Price
- Commonly found at: $149
- Costs 2.22 times the RG35XX
After the RG351M’s poor sales, perhaps Anbernic knew that the 3:2 screen isn’t suitable for a retro handheld emulator at that price point. The company decided to make the RG351MP as the next premium metal-housing handheld device with a better, retro-purist 4:3 screen. At the time the RG351MP released, it was actually one of the most powerful models that can try to emulate some N64 and PSP games.
However, it isn’t a viable option at the moment, because the Anbernic RG353PS is everything a better handheld at cheaper price. That’s why I’m looking for a clear stock sale for the RG351MP, because I don’t think Anbernic is making the product anymore. If you can’t find a RG351MP at less than $89, I recommend to look for the 353 series.
It’s simple to calculate the value for money: the RG351MP costs 2.22 times the RG35XX to emulate NDS, N64, Dreamcast and PSP games that RG35XX is not easy to touch. However, these systems are emulated not well enough, so overall you have a more powerful device that can’t do the harder jobs at all. One reason to wait for a better hardware (and yes, we have the 353 series now).
Again, you can get the RG351MP officially from Anbernic store on AliExpress, but I recommend you to look for Amazon for better refund policy.
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Anbernic RG351MP Review: Design and Build Quality
|Dimensions||145 mm x 73 mm x 18 mm|
|Screen||3.5 inch IPS, 640 x 480, 228.57 PPI, 4:3 aspect ratio|
|Colors||Ocean Blue, Matte Black, Mint Green|
|Speaker placement||Bottom facing|
|Audio output||3.5mm headphone jack|
- The most pocketable, horizontal form is better for long gaming sessions
- Screen is widely suitable for retro games: SNES, PSX and even Dreamcast, N64
- Screen has highest pixel density
- Volume adjustment changes from wheel to dedicated buttons
Released late in 351 series’ life cycle, the Anbernic RG351MP is the most compact unit of the whole family, being even easier to put in pocket than the RG351V. Personally, I love the RG351MP the most, but it’s really difficult to get one secondhand. If you want to buy it new, the device is not really worth the value at the moment.
The RG351MP is not only compact and pocketable, it has the same aluminum shell as the premium RG351M, plus more color options. Basically it appears to be the better RG351M but at the same price, hence the “MP” in its name (which is thought widely as “metal pro”).
To distinguish the RG351MP from previous models, Anbernic gives the handheld a 4:3 screen, which is widely regarded as the “retro-purist” aspect ratio for retro handheld emulators. While keeping the same diagonal length to be 3.5 inches, the RG351MP has better resolution with 4:3 aspect ratio, resulting in more pixels per inch. Higher pixel density usually translates to an overall better image quality, and even to my untrained eyes, the RG351MP is clearly better than the RG351P – one handheld that I don’t really like the screen. Only one problem, the RG351MP has a smaller screen, though it keeps the same diagonal length. For me, I always prefer bigger screen to higher pixels density.
If you are considering the RG351MP vs RG351M, do you want to play retro games randomly? If you target wide range of retro systems, perhaps the 4:3 screen of the RG351MP is much better than the 3:2 screen of the RG351M. Even when emulating Game Boy Advance (natively use 3:2 screen), I still enjoy the 4:3 screen nearly as much. Because GBA is my most visited library, I think my argument using 4:3 screen is truly valid.
My only complaint with the RG351MP design is its weight. At its more compact form than usual, 271 grams will drag your hands down even more than the RG351M. It is still okay to hold (hey, the Steam Deck weighs nearly 700 grams), but other retro handheld device proves to be better.
Anbernic RG351MP Review: Gaming Experience
|CPU||RockChip RK3326 (Cortex-A35), 4 cores 4 threads @ 1.5 GHz|
|GPU||Mali-G31 MP2 @ 650 MHz|
|Memory||1 GB DDR3|
|Cooling system||Heatsink, metal case passive|
- Targeted system emulator: SNES, PSX
- Can play some PSP games well
- Targeted game genres: all game genres
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The RG351MP, despite of 1 year gap, remain the same internal hardware as the RG351P and RG351M, so we can’t expect better performance. In short, it would run everything up to PlayStation 1 flawlessly, but it struggles a lot in emulating Nintendo 64 system (using 64-bit, instead of 32-bit in PS1). It could run a few PlayStation Portable (PSP) games, as well as SEGA Dreamcast, covering some big titles like Persona 3 Portable.
So if you’re looking to buy a RG351MP for some reasons, you are certainly able to run a lot of retro systems, but don’t expect it could do the same as more modern devices like the RG353M. Problem is the Cortex-A35 RockChip RK3326 processor of the RG351MP is an older processor. You should look for a Cortex-A55 RockChip RK3566 at the moment.
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Using a 4:3 screen means the RG351MP isn’t pixel-perfect for Game Boy Advance games anymore. However, it opens a world of emulating home consoles like NES, SNES and PSX. As a gamer who is deeply in love with the GBA system and overall handheld gaming consoles, I love to use the native hardware for handheld systems. That’s why I only bought retro handheld emulators to enjoy home console systems that I don’t want to set up, for example NES, SNES, PS1 or PS2.
Yeah. That’s the whole reason why I love the RG351MP than the RG351P and RG351M. If you don’t own a Game Boy Advance, or you don’t like to miss the convenience of save states, you may want to use 3:2 screen for better GBA gameplay. Personally, I would rather using 4:3 screen to emulate GBA than using 3:2 screen to do the same work with PS1 system.
4:3 screen is okay to emulate some Nintendo DS that doesn’t require extensive uses of touchscreen, with big titles like all Pokemon games in my mind. The RG351MP’s hardware is actually capable of emulating NDS quite well, but a 3.5-inch is not much bigger than the DS Lite’s 3.25-inch screen, and displaying dual screens on one isn’t really a decent experience. Also, the RG351MP doesn’t have touchscreen, so games that require touchscreen a lot is a miss.
I also find playing PSP games on the RG351MP is decent enough, though it doesn’t have the same 16:9 screen as the PSP and internal power is just barely enough to emulate easy games. However, for a bit tweaking, the RG351MP can smoothly run PSP games that you loved. The lower placement dual thumbsticks also remind us of the PlayStation controller, and I like that placement for a handheld that I need to use D-Pad more than analog sticks.
You can try AmberELEC, ArkOS and JELOS for the Anbernic RG351MP. As the latest design using the Rockchip RK3326 made by Anbernic, the RG351MP has less issues than its brothers, most notably the RG351P and RG351M with “No GamePad Detected” issue.
But one thing that I don’t consider the RG351MP to be the pro version of the RG351M is its lacking of Wi-Fi feature. Fullbox of the RG351MP includes a Wi-Fi adapter, but I prefer built-in Wi-Fi feature for portability. The explanation of Anbernic is due to COVID-19 pandemic, the company suffered from a hardware shortage so they included a Wi-Fi dongle for all models of RG351MP. One more reason to the soon downfall of this handheld.
Again, we have the same 3500-mAh battery in the RG351MP, just like the RG351M and RG351P. So using the same internal hardware and system OS, the RG351MP is expected to last the same as its brothers, around 3-4 hours for mixed systems running, and up to 6 hours for emulating easier systems like NES or GBC.
You can use the normal USB-C cable for the Anbernic RG351MP, and it needs 3 hours to be fully charged. Fast charging can speed up the charging process, but it will degrade your battery.
Overall, the RG351MP looks like a minor update from the previous RG351M, and no built-in wireless features means you should be careful when buying one secondhand. At the moment, the RG351 series is superseded completely by the RG353 series of Anbernic, featuring newer and better internal hardware, as well as Android OS that supports touchscreen for NDS games.
Even when I really like the RG351MP’s design, form and 4:3 screen, in comparison to other RK3326 variants, I still think the RG351V as a better option. It is logically cheaper while having the same pocketable design and great display, and even better it has built-in Wi-Fi option. You can also look for the PowKiddy RGB10 Max and PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 at cheaper price, and they both offer 16:9 screens that are more suitable for some gamers’ taste.
However, if you can get one RG351MP on clear stock sale, the device is still great to own. It has a premium aluminum shell for higher durability as well as better cooling, and a 4:3 screen that is suitable for every home consoles up to N64 and Dreamcast. It will struggle a lot with N64 and Dreamcast systems, but the RG351MP is actually playable with PSP system.
- It is cheaper than asked price
- You need metal housing, but for a reason you can’t get the RG353M