The Best RetroPie Handheld Consoles For Nostalgic Gaming (All Reviewed)

best retropie handhelds

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Retropie handhelds are becoming a more popular purchase for those who want to play their old retro games on the go, especially the newer consoles such as the PlayStation 1 and the Nintendo 64.

The reason why these are selling well is because some of the Chinese handhelds that are out there can’t handle what the Raspberry Pi-powered handhelds can.

This is just due to the power behind the Raspberry Pi CPU and because it’s so cheap to buy, many can afford to add it into a hand to make it one of the best retro handhelds around with the ability to outpower other cheaper handhelds at a higher frame rate.

But we’ll admit, because most RetroPi handhelds are not mass-produced they are a lot more expensive than most handhelds on the market.

We advise buying a DIY kit or building your own to keep the costs down, but buying one straight out is easier for those who don’t know how or don’t have the time to build one.

So, below are the best retropie handhelds for us nostalgia nerds.

1. PiBoy DMG

piboy dmg

This is one of the latest retropie handhelds on our list and it’s called the PiBoy DMG by Experimental Pi. It originally started on Kickstarter as a handheld backed by retro gamers, and of course, it smashed its funding goals.

Now months later it is finally here in our hands, and its packing a new Rasberry Pi 4 inside, so you can be certain this thing can handle most of the ROMs you chuck at it.

If you’re looking to play any games for the Neo Geo, or even the greatest titles for my the mighty Nintendo 64 on a handheld much like the original Gameboy DMG, then this is for you.

You can pick up the DIY kit for $119, that’s without the Pi 4, or go all out with the fully assembled handheld which will cost just $179.

It’s an incredibly powerful handheld that’s easy to set up, it comes with enough buttons and sticks to play all of your games perfectly, and it even comes with a built-in fan to keep your handheld from overheating.

This thing will last you for years to come.

2. Retroflag GPI Case

GPI Case

The GPI case is one of the most popular Retropie handhelds on our list, and it’s not just because it resembles the classic Gameboy, but because it’s physically easy to put together and somewhat cheap. This is because Retroflag gets you to build it yourself instead of them building everyone they ship.

This device allows you to drop in a Raspberry Pi Zero (or Zero W) and emulate all of the major retro consoles we love.

Before the GPI Case, modders in the PI Gaming community were building PI GameBoys out of official GameBoy shells, this involved monumental amounts of soldering, plastic cutting and hot gluing.

gpi case gameboy

That pain is no longer, the guys over at Retroflag have decided to make this a lot easier for you, with a kit that allows you to assemble it yourself in under 30 minutes.

It comes with a 2.8”, 320×240 IPS display, injection moulded buttons and a slightly smaller Gameboy aesthetic.

The only slight downfall with this Retropie handheld is the fact that it needs some tricky software installation; it’ll take time to do and some coding knowledge will help.

But that aside a great way to introduce yourself into the retropie world with an affordable DIY project!

Check out my review of the Retroflag GPI Case to solve the case as to whether you should buy one or not!

3. Retro GP430

retro gp430

The Retro GP430 is a handheld released in September 2020 based on the CM3 Raspberry Pi. As much as it might be a bit expensive and runs on an old CM3 chip, it’s one of the most comfortable handhelds to come out of China.

It has a huge 4.3″ IPS with a resolution of 800×480, perfect for PlayStation 1 games. It can’t run Dreamcast or PSP games, but it can run anything up to PS1 perfectly.

We loved playing all of the top-ranking MAME games on here too. The best bit is that this thing comes pre-loaded with over 15,000 games, ready for you to play.

The shell and ergonomics of this Retropie handheld are near perfect, but it just needs some better analogue sticks and removing of the back sticker to make it look and feel much better!

Read my review of the Retro GP430 to get the complete lowdown.

4. Retro CM3

retro cm3 handheld

This is one of the most popular Retropie handhelds known as the Retro CM3 and is for those of you who want to buy a pre-built games console that you can pick up and play straight out of the box.

No soldering, screwing, or installing is needed; just turn it on and you’re ready to play your favourite retro games.

The Retro CM3 is a new handheld, one that we scored 7/10 in our full review, not bad, but not perfect. The handheld works great, and can handle any game you chuck at it, but it does lack N64 emulation, and for $150 this may pull customers back from purchasing.

The shell is made out of injection moulded plastic which sounds great, but in reality it still feels like a cheap Chinese console.

However, putting that aside, it has a great screen, strong shoulder buttons, and superb emulation.

If you are looking for a handheld that rarely drops frames, has no screen tearing, and can play all the Playstation ROMS you have ever dreamed of then this Retropie handheld is for you.

It’s just a shame that the build quality doesn’t follow its emulation quality.

I should also point out that when I ordered this product it didn’t come in a box, it was just in a low-quality case surrounded by bubble wrap. That wasn’t something we expected after spending $150.

Read my review of the Retro CM3 to find out more.

5. Gameboy 1UP XL

Gameboy 1UP next to a Pokedex and Pokeball

The big boy. The 1UP XL. The small loan handheld. Whatever you want to call it, this is a beastly handheld and one that we’ve used for a few months now.

This Retropie handheld is for those of you out there that have no budget but want something that just POPS.

The Gameboy 1UP XL handheld is a superb handheld that can be either pre-built or delivered as a kit for you to build yourself. This is one of the best handhelds out there to run your Nintendo 64 games while you’re travelling.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, you can get this on a plane; I’ve done it twice and no questions were asked, even if it does look a little like a spy device.

It’s a large, heavy handheld I’ll freely admit, and although it’s not comfortable for long periods of play time, it is very immersive with its Bright 3.5-inch HD IPS wide-angle display that can handle 60-FPS image quality. If you sync it up to your TV via the HDMI out port you’ll get a 1080p resolution.

We basically used this is a portable N64 player most of the time, and used the included USB ports with our controllers, and boom, you got yourself Pokemon Stadium or Mario Kart 64 on the bring screen with your friends.

It’s not the “cleanest” of handhelds, but I love the transparent aesthetic. It makes it look different to everything else on the market.

Just make sure you’ve got some strong biceps, because after an hour of use it will feel like you’ve been repping a car.

6. Gameboy Color Mini

Pink Game Boy colour 9cm tall with a Raspberry Pi inside, playing Pokemon Emerald

Have you ever wanted a Gameboy Mini? So have I, and for many years I’ve wanted a remake, but nothing has ever arrived.

Nintendo are nowhere near releasing another Gameboy, so what better way than to turn an old 2000 Burger King Toy into one of the best handhelds for Hobbits?

It was created by Liam Phillimore, who has crammed a Raspberry Pi Zero inside this iddy biddy toy. Not only that, he has also installed back triggers, allowing you to play your beloved Gameboy Advance games on the go.

It’s also weird to think that it’s an official Nintendo shell. This thing was genuinly built by nintendo, and with some clipping, snapping and popping, you get the Gameboy Color Mini.

Now it’s not powerful, and not very comfortable, but it makes a great addition to any retro handheld collection, and it looks awesome when you’re gaming on the go.

A worthy pick up for you Gameboy addicts out ther!

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