The handheld gaming market is seriously starting to pop, but what are the best retro handhelds?
This is a question we get asked a lot, so we’ve put together a list showing off our favourite consoles that fit in the palm of your hand.
Now before we go anywhere, the handhelds we are talking about are emulators. That means handheld consoles that use ROMS to emulate old retro games, so there’s no 3DS or PSP being featured here.
Why are people interested in the best retro handhelds? Well, it’s simple. Retro gaming enthusiasts want more old games in their pocket, and they don’t want the hassle of having to buy them.
After all, who wants to take extra cartridges around with them or wait 20 minutes in a coffee shop for games to download?
We’ve all purchased numerous copies of Pokemon Red, so why should we buy it again? You may even still have the cartridge but don’t want to carry around your giant Gameboy DMG everywhere with you to play it!
So here is the ultimate list showcasing the top 32 best retro handhelds so that you can get your dosage of nostalgia whenever and wherever you please.
The AYN Odin handheld is a new handheld released in early 2022 that was originally launched on Kickstarter and managed to smash its target by being over funded to well over $1,000,000.
Thankfully for us we were one of the lucky few to back this project as early as possible meaning we got our hands on it before most.
It’s an Android based handheld with a Snapdragon SD845 processor, with a Ardeno 630 GPU and 7GB’s or RAM, so on paper, it’s a very powerful handheld, and due to the incredible specs it can emulate Gamecube, PSP, Dreamcast and even Playstation 2 games very well.
After testing it for a couple of weeks we were blown away with the sheer performance of the AYN Odin. We didn’t have to tweak any of our settings to get PS2 games running on this thing, a simple press of the “high performance” button and it will happily run it at 40+ FPS.
Because it uses Android 11 the setup was incredibly easy, and this feature helped it to the top of our list because traditionally retro handhelds can be a pain to setup, but not the AYN Odin.
Simply login to your Google account, download your favourite emulators from the Play Store, install ROM’s on an external SD Card slot and then you’re ready to rock and roll.
This will handle all of your favourite retro games from Crash Bandicoot on PS2, to Zelda on the Gamecube to your best Sega Saturn games.
This is an absolute beast, and it’s under $300 which is why it’s number one as the best “mid range” retro handheld out there. This handheld has completely changed up the market and other manufacturers like ANBERNIC, Powkiddy and GoRetroid should be worries.
You may have seen it in our best handheld gaming PC’s article too because you can load Windows on it to completely chance the experience!
Read our full review here: Ayn Odin Handheld Review
The RG351MP is by far our favourite affordable handheld at this moment in time. It was released in September 2021 and although it’s deemed as late to the party due to its old RKK3326 chip it still impresses us everyday.
It features a 1.5GHz CPU, 1GB RAM, 3500mah battery capacity and has a 4:3 IPS Display (640 x 480) which is perfect for playing your best retro games.
The RG351MP is an updated version of the RG351M, which is also featured on this list but this new variant has new colours and a far better, crisiper screen in a 4:3 ratio which makes it better for playing retro games at their traditional aspect ratio.
It’s made out of aluminium, has two switch Analogue sticks, USB-C charging, Wifi, and can emulate all of your retro games up to PS1 flawlessly.
N64, Dreamcast and your best PSP games will struggle on this device, but you may be able to play some of the smaller 2D games on here, larger 3D games will feature frame rate drops and audio issues.
Overall this is the best “affordable” handheld on the market in terms of build quality. ANBERNIC have nailed it on the head and it’s the King of the RK3326 chipsets. You’ll never need to upgrade, because the market is slowly moving away from it.
Read our full review here: RG351MP Review
The Analogue Pocket has to be 2021’s most anticipated handheld, even beating the OLED Switch. This is quite literally the modern day Gameboy with a twist.
FPGA is simply a technology that tries to be as identical as possible to the original hardware, that’s its only purpose, making the gameplay flawless unlike traditional emulation that may have problems.
The build quality is superb, it has 3.5″ LCD display with a PPI of 615, covered in Gorilla glass and some superb buttons that feel responsive and durable to with it.
Inserting old cartridges into a brand new handheld does feel weird at first, but give it some time and it will come naturally. The screen is so stunning and when you dive into the new AnalogueOS you can cruise through the menus and tweak settings on the fly in just a few seconds.
Analogue have really made a superb product, even if they struggled to please customers during the pre-order process, but for $219, in my personal opinion, it’s one of the best retro gaming products of 2021.
Yes, it is slightly limited to Gameboy games, but with some of their adapters you can play the best SEGA Game Gear games, Atari Lynx and Neo Geo games, all from the Analogue Pocket.
If you want a deeper look into our opinions about this handheld, be sure to check our out Analogue Pocket Review, you don’t want to miss it.
The Retroid Pocket 2+ is a newer, updated and far more powerful version of the original Retroid Pocket 2.
As of now, this is one of the best retro handhelds for under $100. It’s priced at just $99 and has moved away from the typical RK3326 chips that flooded 2021.
It was released in February 2022 and featured some pretty impressive specs. For example, it has a Unisoc Quad-Core T320 CPU, GE8300 GBPU, 2GB RAM, a 3.5″ touchscreen (640 x 480) and a 4000MAH battery capacity.
Straight out of the box the Retroid Pocket 2+ is fluid to setup because the GoRetroid team created their own launcher, taking you step by step through the handheld while using the touchscreen. They even install retro gaming emulators for you when setting up, this level of help is what helps us advise this to anyone.
For those wanting Gamecube emulation, PS2 emulation or Nintendo Wii emulation, it’s a no go, it will not emulate those consoles well, it just doesn’t have the power to do so.
But just take that in for a minute, a $99 handheld, can emulate most retro games up to and including Dreamcast! N64, PSP, PS1, Gameboy Advance, the best Sega Saturn games and more, for just $99!
That in itself is an incredible achievement and this handheld alone excites me because it’s a step in the right direction for affordable handheld emulation.
While every handheld is the size of Godzilla’s foot and needs giant biceps to even hold for more than a few minutes, the Retroid Pocket 2+ is trying to perfect a niche that will make it an incredibly popular handheld throughout 2022.
Read our full review here: Retroid Pocket 2+ Review
The Powkiddy Max 2 is a handheld that has really surprised us, not only because the original “Max” came out just a few months before, but because we really enjoy playing on it… yes, we enjoy playing on a Powkiddy product.
Typically, we don’t really like Powkiddy products, but this one here is the outcast of the bunch. It has a new ergonomic design which feels incredibly comfortable and it’s teamed up with a large, bright, saturated 5″ display.
It features a RK3326 chip, which is a little old, but it does that job and can emulate most retro consoles up to PS1 and a few N64 games should you like to tinker with the settings.
It feels like a Nintendo Switch Lite, but has the power to hold thousands upon thousands of your retro games in a clean UI with a big screen, good battery life and a well designed shell.
The new shell makes it feel far more premium as it has this tough plastic matte finish alongside perfect button placement and some of the best triggers we’ve seen on sub $130 handhelds.
If you’re looking for an affordable retro handheld with a big screen, this is the one to go for.
The RG351V was released in March of 2021, and is ANBERNIC’s best “vertical” handheld on the market currently.
The RG351V has a 3.5″ display that fits most retro games in its native resolution as it has a crisp, detailed 4:3 ratio display which is why many retro gamers absolutely love this device, even if it does look a little plain.
It comes with the RK3326 1.5GHZ Chip, and 1GB RAM meaning it can emulate everything up to N64 very smoothly, and with the large 3900MAH battery you can get a good 5 hours gameplay out of it.
What’s even better is that this console comes preloaded out of the box with thousands of games, and has Emulation Station already installed so you don’t have to setup anything.
Everything is ready out of the box, no mapping of keys, no installing firmware. Just pick up and play. It’s incredible and we love playing our rare PS1 games on it with no frame rate drops.
The RG351P is by far one of the best retro handhelds on the market. It’s the intersection of superb build quality, a trusted name and power.
It’s the newer version of the RG350P, which you will see is 3rd in our list. The RG351P was released in October 2020 and can power everything up to your average N64 game. We say average because we start to see a dip in performance when we play large N64 games like GoldenEye etc.
ANBERNIC are known for their build quality. The shell is strong, the analogue sticks used are identical to that of the Nintendo Switch, and the bright 3.5″ IPS display is gorgeous.
The main reason the RG351P is ranked so high in our list is due to the pick-up and play factor. Some handhelds on this list require lots of work. By work we mean, changing the settings to find the best quality gameplay, having to update firmware, and even installing your own ROMs.
The RG351P comes with thousands of games pre-loaded straight out of the box. The firmware doesn’t need updating, the UI is stunning, and all of the buttons are mapped already for each emulator.
So, it’s the ultimate handheld to recommend to newcomers into the scene who have no experience with handheld emulators. Heck, we would even recommend it to kids because it’s that easy to play on.
We love it, and although it can’t play Dreamcast or PSP very well, everything else is a pleasure to play on.
A worthy pick up, for sure.
Miyoo Mini is a new mini handheld that was released towards the tail end of 2021, and we managed to receive ours in January 2022.
As soon as we pulled the handheld out of the box it felt as if it was meant to be in our best retro handhelds list. The small nature of it, alongside the subtle Gameboy DMG features makes it feel like a genuine Nintendo Gameboy Mini.
The Miyo Mini features a 1.2GHZ CPU, 128MB RAM, a 2.8″ IPS display (640 x 480) and 1900mah’s of battery. On paper this is nothing special, but its a modern chip inside which allows this little thing to emulate Playstation games fairly well!
On the back it features four mini flared shoulder buttons that work well, and the screen is incredibly crispy due to the high resolution, but do take into consideration that the screen has a hazy look to it, but doesn’t really affect gameplay at all.
The firmware is a little basic but it’s incredibly easy to use, so easy in fact that we are certain you could give this to a kid and they would understand how to quickly get into games and tweak settings on the fly.
Overall it’s one of the best mini handhelds on our list, it packs a punch, looks like a mini Gameboy and is built to last. It’s one of Miyoo’s first branded handhelds, which could make them a brand to keep an eye on in the future, for example the rumoured Miyoo P60 that they may launch this year.
Update: As of mid May 2022 they have released Version 2 which comes with a couple of small upgrades.
We have been testing the PlayDate for some time now, and we were lucky enough to be one of the first gaming websites to get their hands on one.
It’s one of the most unique handhelds that we have ever tested and it’s the first handheld in the world to use a crank as a part of the gaming experience… that’s right a crank.
It is built for gamers wanting to explore games in different ways, allowing new and old indie games developers to get involved with the release of weekly games on release day of the PlayDate.
It has a lightweight but durable shell and a small super reflective (not backlit) black and white screen that reminds us of the Gameboy DMG era where you try and get the sun or any form of light to reflect off the screen in order to see it.
To some this may feel annoying, but for us it adds to the nostalgic factor of the handheld.
The games are where the magic happens, and it’s a new way to discover indie games that you have never heard of. The lineup is great, and each week two new games drop, giving you up to 24 games being download to your PlayDate (via WiFi) after the release day.
We fell in love with lots of the games that the PlayDate has to offer. It’s certainly not a handheld that you can play on for hours on end due to the form factor, and the not so comfortable crank, but it’s one we keep going back to when rendering videos, or between writing articles or even on the short bus ride into town.
This is an awesome handheld, and it’s companies like Panic that keep pushing the handheld industry forward, so for that, they have our upmost respect.
Released in May 2020, this is one of the most unique handhelds on our list. The Evercade is a cartridge-based retro handheld that’s designed to bring back the nostalgic feel of buying cartridges.
At just £49.99 in the UK, the Evercade is priced nicely and the average cartridge comes with 10 – 20 games. Each cartridge comes in at about £19.99.
The Evercade team use the real ROM files from the developers. Popular games such as Pac Man, Earthworm Jim and Centipede are amongst the few that have been chosen for the handheld.
Admittedly, the lineup isn’t perfect. We’d certainly like to see some SEGA and Nintendo games amongst the collection, but that will never happen as they all have their own handhelds and licenses,
But what is good is that Evercade is continuously launching new cartridges, so your collection can keep growing and growing.
The RGB10 Max is Powkiddy’s first dive into an affordable handheld featuring a larger 5.5″ display. In the past Powkiddy has been known for making pretty average products, but this one has suprised us.
The shell used has this rubberized matte finish to it which adds a premium feel to it, the large 5.5″ display is welcomed, even if most games don’t use its normal aspect ratio.
Around the screen Powkiddy has decided to remove its logo on the face and add very thin bezels around the edge to create a modern form factor. The analogues sticks are identical to that of a Nintendo switch, the action and DPAD buttons are bouncy, and it genuinly feels like a sturdy handheld.
Our only downfall with this handheld’s design is that the screen used is dimmer than most we are used to, and the shoulder buttons are very poor quality. They’re made of thin plastic, have very little feedback, and are just awful to use.
In terms of emulation this is using a RK3326 chip, the exact same as what many of the best retro handhelds on this list are using. It has a quad core 1.5GHZ processor, 1GB RAM, a Mali 31 GPU and 4200 MAH battery capacity.
It can emulate everything up to N64 flawlessly, with little hiccups. it’s once you start trying to emulate large N64 games, Dreamcast and PSP games when things start to get a little choppy.
This handheld. isfor those of you that want to a larger screen for older retro consoles, yes it can play Mario Kart 64, but anything heavier than that and the gaming experience gets a little unpleasant.
The RG353P was released in June 2022, and took a lot of its inspiration from the very successful PocketGO S30 which launched in early 2021.
This device from ANBERNIC looks like a SNES controller that features a large 3.5″ touch screen in the middle of it and can use Android or Linux as its operating system.
Unfortunately the touchscreen only works within the Android port, but it;s enough to play the best Nintendo DS games using the touchscreen for the second screen in game, which is a first in affordable handhelds like these.
And because of CPU power and large 2GB’s RAM it can play a handful of your Dreamcast games too! The device gets larger towards the back, allowing for more room for the 3500MAH battery and ports! There’s even a mini-hdmi out port too!
It’s not the most innovative handheld out there, but for SNES lovers and those wanting to take a look at what is the best RK3566 ANBERNIC handheld on the market at this moment in time.
The RG350P is in our best retro handheld for a wide number of reasons. Coming in at $80 it’s one of the more affordable consoles on our list and it’s certainly worth every single dime.
The RG350 was released in October 2019 and received most of its attention for the ability to play PS1 ROMs near perfectly all while having superb build quality.
But now, 9 months later they released this new handheld, with a few minor updates. These minor updates from the original RG350 makes this handheld feel incredibly polished.
The handheld feels great in the hand and comes in a wide number of different variants. It has not one but two (Nintendo Switch) analogue sticks and a large 3.5″ display that’s bright, saturated and made of glass. The screen resolution is 320 x 240.
This is the alpha male of the retro handheld world. You can just tell that ANBERNIC has invested money and time into this handheld, and that’s exactly what you want when you spend $80 on a Chinese handheld.
This product shows just how much this niche market demands a decent handheld, and their sales are going through the roof, for good reason. You can probably find it cheaper nowadays too, as the newer version the RG351P has now been released.
For those of you that want something a bit more premium, as of February 2020, the new RG350M, a metal variant of the RG350 was released. It is now, officially, our favourite Chinese handheld EVER.
It starts at $129.99 which is a little more expensive than the plastic version. But boy oh boy, does this thing feel good.
It also has a higher resolution screen of 640 x 480 making it even crispier than the RG350P. The internals are the same, so this will still be able to emulate all of your retro games up to Playstation 1 by installing your ROMS.
The metal case makes it feel as if Nintendo themselves have made it. There are grips on the back for extra comfort and the added weight makes it feel far more premium than anything else on this list.
This is our favourite handheld yet. Once you get metal, you won’t go back to plastic.
The RG280V is a new “vertical” handheld that was released in November 2020 by ANBERNIC. It was a handheld we thought we’d really dislike, but it seriously surprised us.
The RG280V has a dual core 1.0GHZ processor with 512MB RAM and a 2100MAH battery. Basically that means it can emulate everything very well up to PS1.
What makes the RG280V so great is the small, portable form factor teamed up with a large 2.8″ display with a glass cover.
ANBERNIC are renowned for doing a great job with the build quality of their products and this handheld follows suit. This is a handheld that will last for years to come and will happily take bumps and scratches along the way.
Why you’d choose this over any of the bigger ones is simply, it’s cheaper and far more portable making it a superb gameboy emulator, or for those that don’t mind playing on small handhelds.
Heck’ it’s even great for kids as the sturdy build quality will last for years, and the easy user interface is simple for them to understand. The RG280V is a great pick up for the younger retro gamers out there. For us oldies, the screen may be a little small for the tiny text in some games.
The PocketGO S30 was released in December 2020, rounding off the year with a new “affordable” handheld that can emulate everything up to PS1 and a bit of PSP.
What makes the PocketGo S30 so popular is simply that price tag, coming in at just $59.99. This combined with a 1.2GHZ processor makes it “on paper” a good bang for your buck handheld.
It’s designed to look like an original SNES controller and even a member of the 8BitDo team got involved with the design, hence naming it after their “SN30+” controller.
It houses a 2600 MAH battery which can last up to 5 hours of gameplay, and it has flared trigger buttons which are a bit different compared to others on the list, but nonetheless great.
It works well straight out of the box, and that’s why we like it. The menus are ready, games are preloaded, and the buttons are already mapped for you, meaning you can play with it as soon as you unbox it.
The 3.5″ IPS display is large, making it good for all ages and although it may look a little washed out the gameplay is fluid too. You can save games, load games, add your own ROMs, you name it.
This is the best handheld under $60 as of now, and we respect the small price tag because it opens up the best retro handhelds for an audience that perhaps can’t afford to pay $100+ for one.
The Powkiddy RGB20S is the bigger brother of the RGB20 (below), and instead of it being a compact square design, they’ve extended the height by adding more buttons, an additional analogue stick alongside more comfortable shoulder buttons.
At just $80 this handheld really surprised me. The vertical form factor is always welcome in the Retro Dodo HQ.
It features a RK3326 1.5GHZ Quad-Core CPU with 1GB RAM and a really bright, colourful 3.5″ IPS Display.
I will admit, the handheld is very crowded, and they cut corners when it comes to the quality of plastic used but overall it performs well (up to PS1) and feels very comfortable to play on.
Because it’s quite a small handheld it feels more compact, and more portable even if the analogue sticks protrude more than they should.
It’s not perfect, but it’s a comfortable handheld that works straight out of the box with naughty pre-loaded ROMs.
The Powkiddy RGB20 is the latest handheld on the list, being launched towards the tail end of November 2020.
We are surpised to put Powkiddy so high in our list, we’ve had a bad history with their handhelds but it looks as if they’re starting to learn from their mistakes as the RGB20 is a powerful pocket handheld.
When we say pocket, we actually mean backpack as this thing is quite large, and to hold in one hand needs a pretty stretched grasp, but nonetheless it’s a beef cake handheld for sure.
On paper it is powerful, with a 1.5GHZ CPU, 1GB RAM, a 3.5″ Display and 300MAH battery capacity. Put simply, this thing can play Dreamcast, N64 and even PSP games well.
The large 3.5″ Display is stunning, it has nice viewing angles and it may take up most of the handheld but that’s because it’s meant to. This is one of the first vertical handhelds to feature an analogue stick too!
Once you go from the RGB20 to number 6 on our list, you’ll soon realise how much you need a decent analogue stick to get decent game time. It might not be able to play your best Nintendo DS games well, but it can do everything older than that.
The build quality is a little sub par, it lacks volume buttons and the shoulder buttons are pretty cramped, but the power, and display somewhat makes up for that. We really like it.
The Powkiddy X18S is a newer upgrade to the X18, which is an Android based clamshell handheld on a budget.
What makes the Powkiddy X18S so wanted is the fact that it’s a clamshell Android handheld with a large screen and the ability to emulate Dreamcast and PSP games flawlessly.
We’ve tested this to the core and internally it’s an impressive handheld, especially for just $179, because it can play your favourite N64 games, Dreamcast, Gameboy, PSP and more, all in a pocket friendly Android based system.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows because the build quality is a little sub-par and the operating system used is incredibly poor, to a point where it reminded us of Windows 98.
Yes, you can modify this yourself and load up a different version of Android but for an average consumer this thing is still a little clunky and needs some TLC.
But if you’re into your Android based handhelds and don’t mind tinkering then this could be for you, just watch out for the back of the clamshell as we’ve cut our fingers open on it before.
You can either buy the DIY kit to make it yourself if you have a spare Pi3 or Pi4 lying around, or you can go fully assembled like we did that comes pre-built and pre-installed with retropie.
This makes its playable straight out of the box, but be warned this is an expensive handheld, because well… there’s basically a small PC inside. The DIY kit starts at $89.95 but you’ll need to supply everything, and the assembled kit costs $179.95.
Because it’s packed with power, it can handle anything you chuck at it. PSP, N64, Dreamcast; no problem. It even has WiFi and Bluetooth, allowing you to connect to the internet or even stream games from your PC directly to the PiBoy DMG.
This is a handheld for those of you with no budget and for those of you that like tinkering around with RetroPie.
The Gameforce handheld was released towards the middle of May 2021, and has a couple of unique features compared to many products on this best retro handhelds list.
This handheld is made by one guy known as Gao Feng who has taken many months trying to build the ultimate $95 handheld. Unfortunately for him he ran into some chip supply issues which led to the handheld coming out late and being yet another RK3326 handheld.
That problem in itself has made the Gameforce a little late to the party. But that aside it’s using a stunning 4:3 display with a resolution of 640 x 480 making it perfect for retro games.
The best feature is the fact that it has RGB lighting behind the buttons allowing you to change what colour they are in the Emuelec settings.
It can run everything up to PS1 games with a little sprinkle of N64 emulation, but that’s about it. It’s another standard handheld with average build quality and poor button quality, but the screen and RGB lighting just about keeps it high on this list.
This is a handheld for those of you that want something that “pops”, it comes in three different colours, ships pretty quickly and it looks like no other handheld on the list.
Just take into consideration that you have to install your own OS and ROMs because it doesn’t even come with an SD card for legal reasons.
The RG300X is one of ANBERNIC’s handhelds that was released in August 2021. If you’ve seen our review you’ll know that we weren’t too impressed, and that was down to the high $90 price tag for a handheld that struggled to emulate PS1 games.
But putting that aside it’s one of ANBERNIC’s most portable handhelds. It’s quite obviously gone for that Gameboy Micro look and comes in both black and red colour variants for those that want the original Famicom look.
Build quality wise, it’s pretty good, the RG300X has moved to a high gloss finish which gives it a modern sleek feel, even if it does like to collect fingerprints.
One feature which we welcome with open arms is the fact that ANBERNIC has added the Micro HDMI out port, a port which they have removed from all of their other devices but it seems that they wanted to use it as a selling point for anyone interested in playing on their TV’s.
This RG300X isn’t going to play your PS1, Dreamcast, or Nintendo DS games, but it will play your older games very well with little failure.
The only downfall is the high price tag, but because it’s an ANBERNIC product you know it will last you for years to come and if you’re a fan of the Gameboy Micro, this is one to consider.
The RG280M was released in July 2020 and is the smaller, more portable little brother to the RG350M. It comes with a crispy 2.8″ display, a 1GHZ dual-core processor, and 512MB’s of RAM.
This pocket rocket can power everything up to PS1, and because of its 320 x 480 display, Gameboy Advance games scale perfectly.
Because it has the same internals as the RG350 including the battery, this thing lasts up to 6 hours on one charge because it only has to power the small screen.
6 hours of interruption gaming… lovely!
The only downfall is that this thing costs $20 cheaper than the RG350M, which would be a no brainer! But nonetheless, a perfectly crafted metal handheld, that sits high on our list.
We struggled on where to place the Powkiddy V90. It’s a handheld that was released in June 2020, and is one of the first clamshell consoles to come out of China.
The primary reason we have rated it so high is the fact that it’s one of the only handhelds on the list that comes pre-loaded with thousands upon thousands of games, including Zelda, Pokemon, and many, many Mario games.
The clamshell design is neat too. It makes it portable and brings back memories of playing on our original Gameboy Advance SP back in the 2000’s.
It has a bright 3″ IPS display, comes with USB-C charging and only costs $39.99. That makes it an affordable handheld for your best retro handhelds collection.
This is in no way a perfect handheld as it struggles to emulate PS1 games. Anything below that, for example, Gameboy, Mega Drive, SNES, NES and Famicom will play flawlessly.
This is why you would buy the Powkiddy V90; it’s an easy ‘play out of the box’ handheld that can emulate everything from original Gameboy up to Mega Drive, all at an affordable price.
If you’re into the best retro handhelds, then you have most likely heard of Bittboy. They’re a small Chinese company making some great handhelds and one of the only companies who create new versions on a regular basis.
And as a company, they are really making the competition work in terms of upping their quality.
The Bittboy Pocket Go V2 is their latest handheld, and without a doubt is worth being in our best retro handhelds list.
The Bittboy Pocket Go is an affordable handheld coming in at just $59.99, a lot cheaper than most of its competition. It’s an incredibly small handheld and very thin too, but it has the build quality similar to that of the original Gameboys.
And the best part is that it can play most of your ROMS perfectly, even PS1 emulation!
It features a 3.5″ 320 x 240 IPS screen that screams saturation and we love it, and having such a beautiful screen on such a pocket sized retro handheld makes it a pleasure to use.
It comes with a 2000mah battery, SD card slot, four shoulder buttons and a headphone jack (bonus points). The Bittboy Pocket Go V2 is one of our best retro handhelds for quite simply being one of the best built handhelds in this price range.
It feels like an official product, made by Nintendo themselves. Pocket sized Playstation for $55? We’ll take two.
Recently the Bittboy team came out with a Metal Pocket Go following on from the RG350M success. The great handheld now feels even better.
The quality isn’t as good as the RG350M but this completely upgrades the Bittboy into a premium handheld that we can’t help but absolutely love.
If you’re looking for a slim, portable handheld with a metal shell that can handle everything up to PS1, then this is the handheld for you.
The ODROID Go Super was released in February of 2021, and was one of the first “affordable” handhelds with a large 5″ screen, and is the same size as Nintendo Switch Lite.
Many retro handheld collectors have been asking for a larger handheld with a 5″ screen, and the first company to jump on the band wagon was Hard Kernel themselves, a small sized Korean company with a history of making handhelds.
Like most on the list this is using the RK3326 chip which means its capable of emulating up to N64. The screen is superb, and the large formfactor makes it incredibly comfortable, but the build quality and the analogue sticks really let it down.
It’s as if the buttons and shoulder buttons have been made with a cheap, thin plastic that feels awful. Our first one actually bricked itself, but the second unit is going strong. It’s affordable at $80, but it does require you to install your own firmware and ROMS.
The RK2020 was released in June 2020 with the ability to emulate PSP, N64 and even Dreamcast games fluidly, with very little interuptions.
It comes with a 3.5″ display, four shoulder buttons and a whopping 1GB of RAM. It’s a power hungry handheld and it will only cost you a measly $65.
When we opened it up and turned it on, we were amazed by the beautiful UI, easy instructions and impressive gameplay. This is one of the first handhelds to be able to power Dreamcast out of the box…
… but where it excels in power it disappoints everywhere else.
The build quality is disappointing, the analogue stick sucks, and the shoulder buttons are loose, so they move around slightly when playing.
But the major downfall is that the RK2020 actually stole the firmware from the ODROID Go advance (Number 7 on our list), without their consent. So the team behind the OGA sent them some emails, and legally the RK2020 now has to ship WITHOUT firmware.
So when you turn it out of the box, it literally doesn’t work. You then have to go out and find firmware that works with this handheld, making it an unfinished product, so we can’t really advise buying this.
But we are placing it 5th because of the sheer amount of power that you get for $65. We also believe that this firmware problem will be sorted within the next few months, so hopefully, it works out of the box.
2020’s first proper handheld is here, and it’s dang impressive. The ODROID GO Advance is a handheld that you not only need to build yourself, but also install the OS, retro gaming software and flash the drive before you even turn this thing on.
It’s one of the most powerful handhelds on the list and features a 1.3 GHZ Quad Core processor. That means it can run PS1, PSP and even Nintendo 64 games very well.
But you guessed it, the lack of face buttons and just two shoulder buttons makes playing these newer games quite awkward. It’s a large handheld, with a similar size to that of a large smartphone.
Still, because it has a beautiful big 3.5″ LCD Display, it’s an absolute pleasure to play on.
Even though it can play anything you throw at it, and the fact it has an incredibly small price tag at $55, that hasn’t stopped the company from cutting a lot of corners.
The buttons are very low quality, the analogue stick is sloppy and the whole set up process is something we wouldn’t wish upon our worst enemies. It had so much potential, but Hardkernel’s lack of research made this just shy of perfect.
We were VERY lucky to get a unit from their first batch. They are so slow at making these things that their second batch isn’t due until May 2020, and by then, there will be even more competition.
If you’re wanting Nintendo 64 emulation or even want to play PSP games on a whole new handheld, then the Gameboy 1UP is for you.
Just make sure you take out a small loan because this thing starts at around $200. The Gameboy 1UP makes it as one of our best retro handhelds for a number of reasons.
Primarily, it’s because it can smash out any Nintendo 64 game you could ever dream of with very little frame rate, drops or crashes.
It’s also one of our best retropie handhelds too because this thing is running on a Raspberry Pi 3 allowing it to power even the best PSP games out there. It comes with 6 ABXY buttons, four shoulder triggers, a big 3.5″ screen, and 3000mah battery to keep you going.
It is a mighty handheld and one you might need some strong biceps for because it’s that big.
We love the fact that you can build it yourself if you wish, and also that you can plug it into your TV via HDMI. Up to four USB controls can be plugged in too, turning the handheld into an actual retro console.
Mario Kart anyone?
Yep; this is the ultimate party handheld.
The GPI Case is for the DIY fans out there.
Created by a company called RetroFlag, their aim is to bring retro gamers into the RetroPie handhelds community by providing you with a DIY Gameboy Kit. All you need to do is go out and buy a Raspberry Pi 3, stick it in, install some software and then you’re ready to go.
The shell is made to look like an original Gameboy. It’s slightly more compact and comes with a tonne of extra buttons to work with your emulators.
The screen is incredibly good too. With full brightness, you’ll have no problem seeing it in bright light or in the evening. Some say it’s slightly overpriced at $70, but we disagree. You’re buying the experience, and it’s a great introduction into building your own handheld.
Yes, the Raspberry Pi will set you back a bit, but you can bet you’ll have one of the best retro handhelds around. Plus, it will actually mean something to you because you put blood, sweat and tears into it.
Tears? Yes; unfortunately the software isn’t the easiest to install. Have a coffee while making a few Google searches and you’ll be fine.
This is one handheld console that is very hard to get hold of. Ever since it was revealed in 2018, it seems that they only produce a small quantity every couple of months. Plus, you’ll need to be fast on that buy it now button when they come back in stock if you want to get hold of one
The DigiRetroBoy is number one in our best retro handhelds list for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it’s one of the only handhelds that can play official Gameboy Advance cartridges. You may, like us, have a couple of Pokemon Cartridges and Mario games lying about your flat. Well, now is the time to use them again, and in one of the best retro handhelds on the market.
Secondly, it can emulate GBA, GBC, GB, NES, SMS, GG and PCE ROMS using the included SD card adapter that goes into a GBA cartridge that then goes into your DigiRetroBoy.
It emulates your ROMS smoothly on its 3″ display and comes with a turbo functionality. There’s cheat support, GBA link cable support, shoulder buttons, and Micro USB charging point too.
We love the fact that it comes with brightness settings, and a 1,000MAH battery that will last you at least 3 – 4 hours of game time.
The only downfall is its $100 price tag, but we think that’s a reasonable price. It’s comfortable, looks nostalgic, has a lovely bright screen and comes with an authentic GBA cartridge slot.
It’s basically like the Metal Gameboy we recently reviewed, without the metal and the $250 price tag.
The people behind this product don’t seem to exist, however. Over the past year, they haven’t replied to any of our emails, so I can’t imagine the support on this thing is any good.
Also, the fact it’s always out of stock after 10 people purchases it really annoys us! This thing is great, so make more!
The Retro Game 300 is an handheld that was released in the summer of 2019, a fairly new handheld that felt like an old Gameboy and play emulators brilliantly.
It is the smaller and cheaper brother of our Number 1 slot, the Retro Game 350. It’s one for those that prefer a vertical form factor, and don’t want PS1 emulation.
If that’s you, don’t get the 350 and get this instead; it’ll save you a good $40-$50.
It can emulate Gameboy, SNES, NES, Game Gear, Sega Mega Drive Mini games, Neo Geo, GBA and a whole lot more. The only old school emulation it can’t play is, N64, PSP, PS1 and Dreamcast, because its older and less powerful than it’s bigger brother.
But it comes with a very comfortable form factor. The triggers on the back pop out of the shell which helps with long-form gameplay, plus the screen is great. The D-PAD is responsive and the buttons… ok.
Apart from the Times New Roman font inside… we hate those buttons! Worth a pick up if you have a budget of $50!
This is possibly the most expensive product on our best retro handhelds list, coming in at $150 for the ClockworkPi Gameshell.
This product is for those of you that like to get your hands dirty. It is a modular retro handheld that you have to build yourself. The kit comes with instructions, buttons, parts, cables and more, all ready for you to play with like a kid at Christmas.
Inside the ClockworkPi Gameshell, you are greeted with a Quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU, Mali GPU, WI-FI & Bluetooth on-board, 1GB DDR3 Memory, 16GB MicroSD, Micro HDMI output and GPIOs.
One of the main features of this product is that it’s using the Linux Mainline OS, meaning it’s highly customisable. Plus, you can download and play games created by the Linux community, or if you’re techy, you can even make your own!
Hardware-wise, this thing is superb. You get a choice between two backshells, one with a literal lego design on the back allowing you to add shoulder buttons. You can also choose between red and yellow front faceplates.
Assembling this entry in our best retro handhelds list is some of the best fun you’ll ever have. And once you’ve completed the building process, this product becomes sentimental and a great addition to any retro handheld collection.
The RetroDodo team has a strong love for the Gameboy Color. It was our first games console that allowed us to really share our love for gaming with friends and family.
It was also one of the best retro handhelds of its time and the console that let us trade Pokemon with our friends using a link cable, making the moments even more special.
But the one thing that the Gameboy Color lacked was a bright screen. We all remember the classic car ride where you’d use the road lights to see what you were doing, right?
Well, if you can’t afford to add a backlight to your GBC or don’t know how to install one, then you can now buy the GB Boy, a fake Gameboy Color with a backlight display already built-in.
Plus, it can play Gameboy and Gameboy Color games using its built-in cartridge slot which plays those games perfectly, in full visibility. The build quality is fairly average; cheap buttons and a cheap shell, but it does the job.
It starts at $50 which admittedly you can get an original Gameboy Color for the same price. But again, the original has no backlight screen.
And if that wasn’t enough, if you start up the GB Boy without a cartridge inside you’ll see 66 pre-loaded games. But don’t get excited, most of them are your traditional fake games. But you do get a handful of well known titles such as Mario, Tetris, Donkey Kong, Aladdin, Contra and more.
Oh, and it uses x2 AA batteries, just like its older brother. This is a great handheld and gift for Gameboy Color lovers.
Do you fancy spending $250 on a wannabe Nintendo DS? If yes, then read on!
This is the GPD XD, one of the most expensive handhelds of our best retro handhelds list. It can handle every ROM you chuck at it and comes with a giant 4″ touch screen display, x2 analogue sticks, and it runs on an Android operating system allowing you to download Android apps too.
Imagine a 3DS with the ability to play any old school retro game you could ever think off, and even the latest games such as Fortnite? That’s the GPD XD.
This is a clam shell games console built for those that want a serious handheld to chuck in their backpack. With its 4GB RAM and 2.7GHZ processor, this will play most ROMS in a silky smooth frame rate.
The only downfall to this handheld is the mighty price tag, which as you know is the same as a Nintendo Switch. Oh, and the fact that it collects every single fingerprint you could ever imagine, but that’s us being picky and wanting a shiny new handheld all the time.
We didn’t want to add two Bittboy products to our best retro handhelds list, but we did it anyway! The original Bittboy which you are seeing here is very different to the Bittboy Pocket Go.
This is the handheld that has really started to kick-start the market into producing higher quality products. Think of it as the King of Emulating Handhelds, the prestigious one that everyone respects. It brought quality to the market, and most importantly, it brought a name that customers can trust and go to for ACTUAL support.
If the Bittboy Pocket Go is a little too big for you, then the Bittboy has that old school Gameboy feel in a much more diddy package.
It can play all of your ROM’s apart from PS1, and most of the time it comes with a SD card pre-built with games, even if that is a little naughty to do in this market. It has a beautiful bright 2.4″ screen, sleek gloss buttons and a sturdy, well-cut shell to keep it all intact.
Bittboy has already updated this product 4 times since launch two years ago; whatever the customers want, they shall receive. We remember purchasing their V1 years ago and it didn’t even have an SD card slot, then just a few months later they listened, and wallah. It turned this thing into a superb console that has to be in our best retro handhelds list.
It’s fun, it’s small, it’s cheap and its great to take with you on trips away, or if you want to smash out some Mario while you’re on the bus.
The Bittboy brand is doing great; they’re trying hard and they are continuously evolving. We respect that.
A 29 year old fella that’s had a Gameboy addiction ever since he was a child. Brandon is the founder of RetroDodo and created a YouTube channel with 240,000 subscribers dedicated to retro gaming products. He now wants to create the No.1 site to showcase the latest retro products from around the globe.