PowKiddy RGB10 Max Review: not the best PSP emulator, but the cheapest on the market

The PowKiddy RGB10 Max is another stepping stone in the making of the best budget retro handheld emulator, offering a decent experience for PSP. It is certainly not the best one you could get, but it is the cheapest one on the market. And that alone, can persuade so many people to get them. So, let’s check out my personal experience with the PowKiddy RGB10 Max review.

PowKiddy RGB10 Max ranks C in my retro handheld emulator ranking list

PowKiddy RGB10 Max

The cheapest PSP emulator

If you want the cheapest PSP emulator on the market, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max can meet your demands with a Rockchip RK3326 processor, and it can play many big PSP titles without problem.

PowKiddy has been toe-to-toe with Anbernic since the very start of retro handheld gaming, making devices after devices using the same internal hardware. The PowKiddy RGB10 is the original device to use the Rockchip RK3326, which is considered as the best retro processor for its time.

PowKiddy RGB10 Max Review: Price

Key features

  • Commonly found at: $80
  • Costs 1.19 times the RG35XX

We may easily be lost at the maze of PowKiddy devices, as the Chinese company is flooding the market with lots of retro handheld emulators using the same internal hardware. The PowKiddy RGB10 Max, as you can guest, is the same as the PowKiddy RGB10 and PowKiddy RGB10S. There is a later successor of this device, named PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2, improved in design with better grip.

So far, PowKiddy series has been a compelling line of affordable retro handheld emulator, by trading off build quality for decent performance. Looking at the PowKiddy RGB10 Max, it’s easy to understand why it has been so well received – a decent PSP emulating performance at nearly the cost of a RG35XX. It is far from the ideal device I want for a PSP emulator, but its price is ridiculously good. Talking about the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 3 Pro, that I’m looking to try one day.

Back to the PowKiddy RGB10 Max, I think its price is good for its purpose, but I hope a better performance. At the moment, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max can emulate about 40-50% of PlayStation Portable library, sometimes with frameskip. Its 16:9 screen isn’t suitable for other home consoles, so you should look for other handhelds if N64 and Dreamcast are your things.

It isn’t the cheapest handheld using the Rockchip RK3326 processor, obviously, even among its own family. The PowKiddy RGB20S is a favorite handheld for many people, thanks to its high value for money. There are other copies of the device on AliExpress, for example the R35S handheld.

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PowKiddy RGB10 Max Review: Design and Build Quality

PowKiddy RGB10 MaxFeatures
Dimensions185 mm x 76 mm x 17 mm
Weight219 grams
Screen5 inch IPS, 854 x 480, 195.93 PPI, 16:9 aspect ratio
ColorsBlack, Orange, Panda
Speaker placementBottom facing
StorageExternal microSD
Audio output3.5mm headphone jack
Video outputβœ—
Charge portUSB-C
Key features

  • Much bigger than the original, so it isn’t pocketable
  • Both grip and L2/R2 buttons are not well placed as the RGB10 Max 2
  • Build quality is still substandard with so many issues

The PowKiddy RGB10 Max is PowKiddy’s first attempt in making a PSP emulator at very cheap price, so we should expect a premature design at most. It is a reserve and plain offering, something that I should think as a stretched PowKiddy RGB10. It is decent to hold than the original because it is a bit taller, so you don’t need to cramp your hands when using. However, due to the longer size, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max is certainly not pocketable, or at least for my average pocket size.

The front of the handheld is staple with upper placement D-Pad buttons, which I considered as gold standard for retro handheld emulator. It is also the reason why I disregard the later design of the PowKiddy RGB10S, and perhaps it was the handheld that stays with me the shortest time.

But while the design of the PowKiddy RGB10 Max is plain and simple, it isn’t as comfortable as the successor PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2. The second generation clearly set up a good design for a PSP emulator, which is improved later by the well-beloved Retroid Pocket 3 Plus. The stretched size of the PowKiddy RGB10 Max makes its L2/R2 button placement feel weird, to the point I give up using it.

Another example of misplaced buttons are SELECT and START buttons from both sides, which are blocked by dual analog sticks. I’m not really the person who criticize these buttons from being hard to press, but I don’t think I like clicky buttons from the PowKiddy RGB10 Max. It feels so cheap in comparison to the Nintendo DSi XL or New Nintendo 3DS, which I’m so in love with.

Talking about the bad build quality, which is still the present problem for every retro handheld emulator at such a cheap price, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max doesn’t improve anything from the original. So it will give the same cheap feeling as a plastic toy, one thing that I don’t intend to keep for long.

The only thing that I like about the PowKiddy RGB10 Max is its display, as it employs a 5-inch IPS LCD panel which boasts 854 x 480 px resolution. That supplies a pixel density of 195 PPI, meaning it nearly doubles the pixel density of the original PlayStation Portable. The tempered glass is OCA laminated for higher durability than the original RGB10. There is no “PowKiddy” line on the bottom of the screen, leading to the illusion that the screen is a bit bigger, although the bezel size stays the same.

Speaker placement is still bottom facing, but it must be a mono speaker. PowKiddy tried to mimic the same design of the original PlayStation Portable, so it isn’t a surprise to see mono speaker or upper placement D-Pad.

Lazy handheld man’s choice
C for Design & Feel.

PowKiddy RGB10 Max Review: Gaming Experience

PowKiddy RGB10 MaxFeatures
CPURockChip RK3326 (Cortex-A35), 4 cores 4 threads @ 1.5 GHz
GPUMali-G31 MP2 @ 650 MHz
Memory1 GB DDR3
Battery4200 mAh
ConnectivityBluetooth, Wi-Fi
Cooling systemVentilation
Key features

  • Targeted system emulator: PSP
  • SNES and PS1 work flawlessly, and 16:9 screen is okay for upscaling
  • Can play some PSP games well
  • Targeted game genres: all game genres
  • Better battery life than other RK3326 counterparts

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Tested games

  • SNES: Star Fox! Starwing
  • PS1: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Metal Slug X, Bloody Roar 2
  • NDS: New Super Mario Bros
  • PSP: Persona 3 Portable
A means all games are playable, B means most games are playable with a few exceptions, C means most games are only playable with frameskip, D means only the easiest games are playable, F means all games are unplayable

For such a modestly-priced handheld, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max is packing the same specifications as others. It’s powered by a RockChip RK3326 quad-core chipset – the same one found in the RG351 series of Anbernic – and comes with 1 GB of RAM.

The same internal hardware has been tested previously by the original PowKiddy RGB10 and Odroid Advance Go, meaning it is not capable enough to fully emulate the whole PlayStation Portable system. However, the fact doesn’t stop these Chinese manufacturers from making multiple versions of the same device, perhaps to find out the best design for each purpose.

So, if you targets anything up to SNES and PlayStation 1, you will be fine with the PowKiddy RGB10 Max. It is okay to run many big PSP titles, but don’t try something like God of War: Chain of Olympus. I recommend the RG351’s PSP compatibility list, which is also applicable to the PowKiddy RGB10 Max.

For Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast systems, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max is not a ideal handheld to try. Most games that I tried weren’t up to my standard that I’d better lazily skip them at all. If you’re willing to test the performance of the PowKiddy RGB10 Max, I recommend to read this 351elec RG351’s N64 compatibility list, which is also suitable for the PowKiddy RGB10 Max.

Since the PowKiddy RGB10 Max has a bigger screen, I think it encourages you to try emulating NDS system. Any demanding games like Pokemon will run good on the PowKiddy RGB10 Max, at 2x upscaling.

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Gaming session

The PowKiddy RGB10 Max is intended to be the real PSP emulator we want at cheap price, but right at launch it asked a much higher price than the original PowKiddy RGB10, which scared people away from trying. Because of the previous experience with devices using the RockChip RK3326 chipset, we are aware that the PowKiddy RGB10 Max is not powerful enough to fully emulate the whole PSP system, effectively destroying the main reason to get one.

Even when the device itself is marketed toward people who love enhanced PlayStation Portable display, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max still sticks with the ABXY buttons of Nintendo. Perhaps I ask too much, because certainly PowKiddy will reuse same parts from the previous RGB10, but at least that affects my gaming experience.

I’m grumpy about the whole Rockchip RK3326 lineup in general, as at this stage it doesn’t add more value than a RG35XX apart from awkward performance in demanding systems. So far, if I spend more to relive a few titles of N64 or PSP, I would rather wait for a better processor. If you are not as lazy as the author of this review, you can try to tinker a little and enjoy some games, but overall you will miss a lot from buying this handheld.

I must admit that the design affects my gaming sessions a lot, and in that case, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max has better grip than the original. Not by a mile better, but at least I don’t feel any problem in playing with the Max. Perhaps it is easier to go bigger. The weight is okay so I don’t feel any hand fatigue after long gaming sessions. It is noticeably good from a person who uses his PlayStation Vita often like me.

Talking about NDS performance, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max offers a big display that certainly is better to emulate dual screens than any 3.5-inch handheld variants you can find at this price range. Still, it doesn’t have touchscreen, so you miss a lot of Nintendo DS games that require extensive use of stylus. Moreover, I don’t like side-by-side dual screens experience for NDS system – a system that I really, really love.

Finally, the handheld has a switchable Wi-Fi button, allowing it to turn on and off Wi-Fi at will (quite similar to the original Nintendo 3DS). I don’t expect anything but the PowKiddy RGB10 has built-in Bluetooth, so you can connect wireless controllers easily. I still don’t find out how to connect the handheld with my true wireless earbuds and headphones.

Battery life

To compensate for a bigger display, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max is ready with a 4200-mAh juice pack, which is more than ample to keep the handheld going for 8-10 hours in real life. However, I found that I could get 6 hours out of the PowKiddy RGB10 Max for mixed systems emulation, which is more than enough for a modern handheld in general. Remember that most RK3326 variants can last only 4 hours.

You can use the normal USB-C cable for the PowKiddy RGB10 Max, and it needs 3 hours to be fully charged. Fast charging can speed up the charging process, but it will degrade your battery.

Lazy handheld man’s choice
C for Gaming Experience.

My verdict

Among RK3326 variants, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max tries to make difference with a 5-inch screen with 16:9 aspect ratio, which is suitable for emulating PlayStation Portable. It has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth while doesn’t cost as much as the Anbernic RG351M, so perhaps this is the best retro handheld emulator using the RK3326 processor at the moment.

However, even when you can find the handheld at cheaper price, you may probably wait for a deal of the RK2023, PowKiddy RGB10 Max 3 or RG353M that are more capable of emulating demanding systems. Maybe if the price of the PowKiddy RGB10 Max go any lower, I will consider improve its ranking.

Get it if

  • It is cheaper than asked price even more
  • You want the cheapest handheld that can play PSP in a correct aspect ratio
Don’t get it if

  • You want a smaller ‘mini’ handheld for GBA: Get the RG35XX or Miyoo Mini Plus
  • You want vertical form: Get the PowKiddy RGB20S, or RG353V
  • You want a better device: Get the RG353PS, or RG353M
  • You still want 4:3 screen: Get the RG353PS