Finally, I’ve used my thick boy RG405V enough to write a thorough Anbernic RG405V review. It is, at the time of writing, the most powerful vertical retro handheld emulator that can emulate up to GameCube, Wii and even PlayStation 2. However, to achieve such performance, you may wonder if there are any weaknesses that you should aware.
Anbernic and Retroid are racing against each other for a perfect retro handheld that can emulate up to PlayStation 2, with both the Anbernic RG405V and Retroid Pocket 2S on the market. Clearly, the Anbernic RG405V is the more awaited product, thanks to its unique vertical form and design.
Anbernic RG405V Review: Price
- Commonly found at: $149
- Costs 2.22 times the RG35XX
On the launching day, the Anbernic RG405V went on sale for only $130, meaning it’s up to $70 lower than the RG405M that I deemed as the best retro handheld emulator. You can think of the RG405V as a vertical RG405M in an only plastic shell but better cooling and battery life. As a result, the RG405V isn’t necessarily the lower-end model of the RG405M.
At the moment, we can say the Unisoc Tiger T618 is the most powerful mobile processor for retro handheld emulator that costs less than $200. As a result, it’s safe to pick the Anbernic RG405V, and you can tweak it a little to run the most retro systems to date. However, if you’re a realist who want the best value for your money, perhaps you should wait for 1-2 years for next-gen Unisoc processor to come out.
Getting the most powerful retro handheld emulator out there at a cheaper price than the RG405M or Retroid Pocket 3 Plus, I think the answer is clear. The only thing that can stay your hands away from this handheld is whether you prefer vertical or horizontal form. If you want a horizontal one using the same 4:3 screen, perhaps you could try the newer Retroid Pocket 2S.
As the Anbernic RG405V is a new product, I recommend to buy one on AliExpress or Ebay because they are official stores from Anbernic.
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Anbernic RG405V Review: Design and Build Quality
|Dimensions||105 mm x 145 mm x 35 mm|
|Screen||4 inch IPS, 640 x 480, 200 PPI, 4:3 aspect ratio|
|Colors||Grey, Transparent Purple, Woodgrain|
|Speaker placement||Bottom facing|
|Storage||Internal 128 GB eMMC, External microSD|
|Audio output||3.5mm headphone jack|
- Vertical form means pocketable
- Screen is widely suitable for home consoles
- Doesn’t need an external microSD
People who prefer a vertical retro handheld emulator finally have something that matches the performance of the most capable device at the moment, one that certainly is able to emulate harder systems. Anbernic had made several vertical units so far in the past, so it isn’t really a surprise to see the Anbernic RG405V, which is meant to be the great RG405M in vertical form.
It is huge, yes, in comparison to the Anbernic RG35XX and Miyoo Mini Plus that I used so many times. However, subjectively I don’t really like dual sticks on a vertical handheld, though I understand that it is needed for Nintendo 64, PlayStation Portable and later systems, I wish that at least it should have a concave sticks like the Nintendo 3DS. It is a trouble whenever I put it on a jeans’ pocket, making the device not really “pocketable” for me.
For the size, I don’t really like such a huge vertical retro handheld; but sarcastically I really enjoy the 4-inch screen of the RG405V, much more than the current 3.5-inch screen in lower-end devices of Anbernic. As a result, I see myself enjoy the RG405V a lot more, but perhaps it’s just because it’s the newest device in my collection. Do you prefer chunky devices and bigger screen, if yes this is your answer.
It is the same IPS screen which are being used in the RG405M, so perhaps the best IPS screen so far. I even prefer the 4:3 screen of the RG405M and RG405V much more than the OLED screen of the RG505, although the formers have lower resolution. For me, the retro-purist screen is the most perfect one for retro gameplay.
However, there is a fatal problem with the RG405V. Although the handheld supports better grip in the back, I always get serious hand fatigues after long gaming sessions. Perhaps the problem is because of its heavy weight, in addition to the new grip that make my finger positioning a bit higher than usual. If you’re certain to have big hands, maybe it won’t be your problem.
At the time of writing, we only have three different color options, with the woodgrain exterior being the most distant to date. Personally I don’t like the woodgrain option, and I bet it would soon need a clear stock sale, but I know many people who really love this version, which resembles the previous Anbernic RG351V. It is still plastic with woodgrain painting, but I don’t grow up playing with a handheld with such strange painting, so no nostalgia here.
For button placement, it is still the same Anbernic standard. The RG405V’s dual sticks are moved to the center, unlike the RG353V, so I don’t accidentally flick them in intense games. While I still don’t have clicky buttons for D-Pad or XYAB buttons, the dual analog sticks are using hall-trigger sensors, so in a long run it wouldn’t get drifting. I don’t use analog stick that much for retro gaming, but this additional feature doesn’t hurt to have.
Sadly, there is no mini HDMI output for the RG405V, which is a key feature to buy the RG35XX. However, you can connect to your TV with mirror casting, though you should expect laggings.
Anbernic RG405V Review: Gaming Experience
|CPU||UNISOC Tiger T618 (2 cores Cortex-A75, 6 cores Cortex-A55), 8 cores 8 threads @ 2 GHz|
|GPU||Mali-G52 MP2 @ 850 MHz|
|Memory||4 GB LPDDR4X|
|Connectivity||WiFi 5, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Cooling system||Fan, ventilation cutouts|
- Targeted system emulator: all systems below PlayStation 2
- The best experience for SNES, PSX and N64 systems
- Have great performance for big GameCube titles
- PSP work flawlessly, albeit different aspect ratio
- Targeted game genres: all game genres
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- SNES: Star Fox! Starwing
- PS1: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Metal Slug X, Bloody Roar 2
- N64: New Super Mario Bros
- PSP: God of War: Ghost of Sparta
- GameCube: Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
- Wii: Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
- PlayStation 2: God of War, God of War 2
Using the UNISOC Tiger T618, a 8-core processor being used by modern smartphones, the RG405V is expected to run perfectly every system up to Dreamcast, Nintendo 64 and PlayStation Portable. It could handle even SEGA Saturn, a system that I don’t own native games to test, but are widely accepted by other online contributors.
Price-wise, the RG405V has a similar value to most of smartphones using the same UNISOC Tiger T618 processor at the moment, for example the realme C25Y (you can check its price on Amazon, currently at $139). Yes, the RG405V doesn’t have as much memory as the smartphone, but I believe it is considered great value for money.
If you’re reading this review from the RG405M, you won’t be surprise by the capability of the RG405V. With some tweaks, the handheld can handle even the hardest retro systems like Wii, Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 2 (except the Wii U). It can also play some Nintendo Switch games, but the list is so minor and isn’t worth the trouble to dump Switch games for ROM.
There was one RG405M’s compatibility list that is applicable to the RG405V, but I recommend to read the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus’ compatibility list, as it is identical to our today unit and has more tested games. At the moment, we can expect 1 to 2 years more to fully emulate all retro systems.
If you are new to this hobby and read my review for the first time, I advise you to check the above compatibility table for the RG405V. Being C at emulating GameCube, Wii, Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 2 means most games are only playable at native resolution and with frameskip. It is highly advised to check the compatibility list to tweak settings for some games, so if you’re as lazy as myself, you should only target systems up to Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast for the best.
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A vertical handheld experience is always identical to the nostalgic Game Boy feeling, and 4:3 screen is golden ratio for playing home console systems up until sixth-gen (PlayStation 2, GameCube, Dreamcast). There is no problem with the RG405V if your targeted systems are up to fifth-gen (PlayStation 1, Nintendo 64, Saturn). I always prefer bigger screens and the 4-inch screen from RG405V could be the benchmark for retro handheld emulators. It is big enough to see, but small enough to keep the device portable.
However, I still don’t want to play Nintendo DS or Nintendo 3DS on the RG405V, because I feel the dual-screen experience can’t be replicated with only one screen. If you are looking to emulate these systems, the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus is a much nicer experience, at least in my opinion. Moreover, playing PSP in a 4:3 screen is weird so I only started one game to test the performance.
If you install GammaOS on the RG405V, you can expect to emulate the PlayStation 2 system a bit better. Being the most sold gaming console of all time, emulating PS2 on a pocketable handheld device is a dream of mine, as well as a lot of gamers. The RG405V runs Android 12 stock, which has better performance upgrades than the previous Android versions.
The RG405V has connectivity for Wi-Fi, so it’s convenient to access retro achievements, play multiplayer with friends and update firmware over-the-air. It also has Bluetooth, so you can use your true wireless earbuds without waking your wife up. For me it’s a necessity to have Bluetooth, because I don’t really like plugging wired earbuds in the darkness.
Finally, there is a fan for the RG405V. Not the best one out there, perhaps, but it helps reduce the temperature when emulating PlayStation 2 system. And you should remember that the RG405M is very hot at trying some PS2 games, so better cooling system is a right direction for any upcoming retro handheld emulators.
The RG405V upgrades battery life from the previous RG405M with a 5500-mAh battery. I used the RG405V continuously and it still hold its charges, so I believe it can last up to 10 hours. If you mainly use the RG405V for emulating PlayStation 2, however, it can still last for 4-5 hours, depending on the games you played. It is terrific, because even the Nintendo Switch OLED doesn’t have such a monstrous battery inside like the RG405V.
You can use the normal USB-C cable for the Anbernic RG405V, and it needs 3 hours to be fully charged. Fast charging can speed up the charging process, but it will degrade your battery.
Realists will wait for a better SoC processor that can cover all retro systems better than the RG405V. As a reviewer, I don’t say that I disagree with that opinion, but I still need to say at the moment this is the best retro handheld emulator available below $200. Certainly you can buy a Steam Deck and emulate everything easily, but the reason we look for an Anbernic device is because of portability. That alone is reason enough to buy the RG405V.
If you’re looking for a comparison between the RG405V vs RG405M, I believe it depends on the preferred form factor. The RG405V has better battery life as well as price, which is very important to make buying decision. However, I don’t really enjoy using a vertical handheld at the RG405V’s weight.
Still, because you rely on my review, I still need you to confirm the system that you’re targeting. The Retroid Pocket 3 Plus should be your next buy, providing that you need a remastered PSP, or you’re looking for a better NDS experience. Overall, the RG405M is still more pocketable and easier to hold than the RG405V, so again I recommend the metal-housing unit if you want a 4:3 screen.
- You like vertical form factor
- You want the most value for money using Unisoc T618 chip
- You want to target PS2 at cheaper price
- You don’t care about metal shell
- You want a horizontal device: Get the RG405M or Retroid Pocket 2S
- You want a model especially for PSP or NDS: Get the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus
- You want a cheaper model using the same form factor: Get the RG353V if you want to emulate up to PSP, or simply get the Miyoo Mini Plus for everything up to PSX