PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 Review: the updated revision that is more comfortable

While on the path of finding the best design for a PSP emulator, PowKiddy came up with the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2, which is the second revision for the PowKiddy RGB10 Max that I’ve written a review. Short PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 review: while its name gives us a feeling that it is a direct upgrade from the predecessor, it’s clearly just a new design revision, nothing more.

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

powkiddy rgb10 max 2 review
PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2

Better in design, nothing more

The PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 is supposed to be the next-gen upgrade of the PowKiddy RGB10 Max (general belief), but no, it is just a revision with new design and the same performance.

PowKiddy made the fourth model using the RockChip RK3326 chipset, attempting to dominate in the retro handheld gaming market. The handheld is way cheaper than its launching price, but does it meet the buyers’ demands? Let’s find out.

PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 Review: Price

Key features

  • Commonly found at: $90
  • Costs 1.34 times the RG35XX

PowKiddy is hammering every price point and design, which is the same story with Anbernic, but the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 lacks the appealing by using the same chipset as the previous PowKiddy RGB10 Max. It is really not the same situation as the Anbernic RG351M to the RG351P, in which the later design is named as the “metal version” of the predecessor. We should blame PowKiddy marketing department for the device’s name.

It is commonly found at $90 at the moment, meaning you can find the newer RK2023 and PowKiddy RGB30 with better chipset at cheaper price. You don’t hear me wrong, the older handheld costs more than the newer ones. Even when it provides a better design than the original, it’s still a technology device under heavy competition, and I really can’t accept the price of the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2.

For most readers, I believe it’s the end of the review. However, you can sometimes find a better deal for this handheld on my website, or you can get it second hand on your local marketplace. The rest of the review is for people who get it at an okay price, and want to see how the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 fares against other RK3326 variants, most notably the Anbernic RG351P, RG351M and RG351MP.

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PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 Review: Design and Build Quality

PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2Features
Dimensions195 mm x 76 mm x 18 mm
Weight225 grams
Screen5 inch IPS, 854 x 480, 195.93 PPI, 16:9 aspect ratio
ColorsBlack, White, Rose
Speaker placementBottom facing
StorageExternal microSD
Audio output3.5mm headphone jack
Video output
Charge portUSB-C
Key features

  • Even bigger than the original, so not pocketable
  • No improvement for gripping, but better L2/R2 button placement for the size
  • Otherwise the same as the original

I’m all for choice, after all variety is the spice of life, but retro handheld gaming was still premature at the time of the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2, so we should see it struggles to carve out a space in the busy budget market. Like the previous PowKiddy RGB10 Max, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 shares the same naming convention as the famous Apple iPhone, so “Max” means “bigger”. It’s good to copy, especially when Anbernic needs to spread rumors about its naming convention. But hey, I should expect “2” to be more powerful than “1”.

But back to design section, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 really tries to improve in a better way. Because the original model isn’t pocketable, the newer RGB10 Max 2 doesn’t care to make it more portable. Instead, it is wider with a grip that resembles a controller. However, even when it’s bigger than anything sharing the same “RGB10” in name, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 is not actually a big device like the Nintendo Switch. As a result, I don’t feel the design improvement any difference from the predecessor.

What I will praise will be the L2/R2 button placement, which resembles the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus that I quite like the design. Although it’s still not perfect in both situations, as I don’t feel the same as the Nintendo Switch Lite, it’s still better than the original RGB10 Max. I bet the culprit is the shape of the retro handheld, which is small but long in horizontal line.

Sadly, the same blocking issue of SELECT and START buttons is still there, and because I’m using D-Pad way more than analog sticks, I really wish these buttons to swap with current function buttons. If you rather use the analog stick for movement, perhaps it will be better for your use case.

Build quality of the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 isn’t really an improvement over the first model, as it is only slightly heavier in my hands. The added weight gives a feeling of better durability, but I don’t recommend anyone to try drop tests. You should get a case if you value your handheld, but honestly don’t try anything strange at all. PowKiddy isn’t a brand famous for its handhelds’ durability.

We have an identical screen as the original model, which is a 5-inch IPS LCD panel with 854 x 480 px resolution. People will praise the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 to be able to 3x upscale for GBA games, and the 16:9 screen isn’t bad at all for most home consoles. However, I think 16:9 screen is only perfect for PSP emulator, and I would like a 4:3 screen a lot more, especially when I only use retro handhelds to emulate “non-handheld” home gaming consoles.

So yeah, it totally depends on your preference, but I don’t really like colors of the PowKiddy handheld screens. After all, my wife (an artist) agrees with me to a degree on this term. I would like the Miyoo Mini Plus for a better color saturation.

And yes, even on stretched size, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 only uses mono speaker. It isn’t a problem at all for anyone owning a Game Boy Advance or PlayStation Portable (these old handhelds use mono speaker anyway), but it’s not really up to other expectations.

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

PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 Review: Gaming Experience

PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2Features
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

The 1.5 GHz quad-core RockChip RK3326 chipset is certainly not plenty enough to emulate demanding systems, to the point that it isn’t worth to buy one, unless you really want a awkward PSP emulator. For better performance, the newer 1.8 GHz quad-core RockChip RK3566 and 2.0 GHz octa-core UNISOC T618 do better, of course at 5 to 30% more price.

It would touch anything up to SNES and PSX for sure, but 64-bit era is only playable with frameskip, and I don’t recommend such slow gaming experience for anyone. More detailed, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 can actually play some PlayStation Portable titles, but I recommend you read the RG351’s PSP compatibility list, which is also applicable to the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2, because they both share the same internal hardware.

Want to try Nintendo 64? I don’t want to disappoint you but the performance isn’t quite decent. You can try this 351elec RG351’s N64 compatibility list for a quick suggestion on which game works or not, but to sum up, if you’re really into this system then I don’t recommend the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2. Dreamcast system isn’t really my targeted system, but most of my tested games are not that good to bother trying.

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Gaming session

Again, the second revision of the RGB10 Max is doing okay as a PSP emulator, though for less than asked price, I find the RK2023 and PowKiddy RGB30 as more competent handhelds to try. The PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 has a quite odd design to hold, but I still consider it a better option than the small PowKiddy RGB10 or PowKiddy RGB10S (the latter is actually something I don’t like).

The internal hardware doesn’t meet the requirements for playing full PSP library, but you can still enjoy some big titles on the handheld. Actually the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 uses the same button placement as the original PSP, so you don’t find it weird to play. N64 and Dreamcast games are probably best avoided however, and lag sometimes crept in the very first scene.

It is generally believed that the 480p screen is better than the 320p ones from the original RGB10 as well as the RG351P and RG351M, with higher PPI. To my eyes, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 is good with a bigger screen, but I don’t really like black bars when playing. But hey, this isn’t annoying when I immerse in gaming, provided that the system is easy to emulate.

Similar to the PowKiddy RGB10 Max, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 has a decent performance for the NDS system. However, if you intend to play games that heavily requires touchscreen, the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 can’t do the task smoothly. Many people are okay with swapping dual screens or playing them side-by-side, but not me, I only play NDS and 3DS on their own handhelds. Actually, I prefer using the original hardware for native games.

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). It is not a surprise because the predecessor has this feature, and PowKiddy also includes a Bluetooth hardware for the device. At the moment, I still don’t find out how to connect the handheld with my true wireless earbuds and headphones using Bluetooth.

Battery life

The battery life is again very top of the road, suitable for running the handheld after 8-10 hours in real life. The average playtime for the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 is roughly 6 hours, with mixed systems emulation. It is super awesome, especially in comparison to the standard of modern handhelds.

You can use the normal USB-C cable for the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2, 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

The PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 gave us a false prediction for its name, and it costs a bit more than the first RGB10 Max at the moment, so it’s actually not a good purchase at all. But, $10 difference actually buys you a better design, though not by much in my experience. I don’t intend to use the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 as an enhanced PSP emulator, but for anything up to PlayStation 1, it is good. Problem is, you can easily get more affordable and portable device for the same purpose.

If you’re going to compare it with other RK3326 variants, actually the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 is top choice in mind with a 5-inch higher resolution screen and built-in Wi-Fi feature. I still recommend the RG351MP among other handhelds running the same processor for its 4:3 screen, but only if you can get one sub-$100. The 16:9 screen is pixel-perfect for PSP, but bear in mind that the PowKiddy RGB10 Max 2 struggles in quite many PSP titles.

Get it if

  • It is cheaper than asked price even more
  • You want the exact L2/R2 button placement
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