It’s been a long time since we looked at the RG351V, which is an incredible system if you’re wanting to play the older 8-16 bit systems in a 4:3 aspect display. As it uses a Linux based system, the latency is low, and the screen was nice and bright, but there were a couple of things that annoyed me about it. It’s tiny buttons and it didn’t quite have enough power to push either Amiga or Dreamcast to my liking.
Enter the RG353P. At first glance, it looks like a bit of an eye-sore, and believe it or not, it can actually grows on you. It uses the idea of “stick a 4.3 screen on a SNES pad”, which works surprisingly better than we could have hoped for. The D-Pad is a bit more forgiving than the slightly clicky RG351V, and so are the buttons. There is a gritty texture on the buttons which may stop slipping, but we’re not a fan. 8bitdo style buttons would have worked really well on this unit.
The RG353P uses the faster quad core RK3566 clocked at 1.8ghz (over the 1.3ghz), and also has a Mali-G52 MP2, which clocks a Geekbench multi-core score of 1.99 (over 1.053 of the Mali-G32 MP2). What this means is that the RG353P can handle the systems that the RG351V struggled with, such as the Amiga, N64, and Dreamcast.
What’s new for Anbernic, is the ability to load into Android. This could be seen as a blessing, but it feels more like a lazy implementation of the idea. As if they felt pressured to add it simply because “other companies were doing it”. Touchscreen can be used here, but the screen is too small and runs in an extremely low resolution (for Android), so it’s like you’re messing on an old Android phone.
Thankfully, the system is Dual-OS, so we can slide back out, into the familiar Linux front-end (Emulation Station) of RetroArch. Something we need to mention is that it takes quite a long time to boot. Over 35 seconds from a cold boot! We do have a sleep mode though, which can boot up the device in an instant.
The whole system feels actually rather nice when we use it for the games it can support. It feels snappy and responsive. Input latency is reasonable (78ms for 1942 in MAME2003-PLUS), much lower than anything possible in Android.
As for performance, Amiga runs most things at 100% speed, and then even playing CVS2 on Naomi it’s possible to get a solid 60fps (with a couple of changes in the graphics settings).
When playing the games, we can appreciate the design. In your hands, it really does “fit”, and the screen location being in the middle brings us back to the days of the GBA. The L2 and R2 buttons are a bit odd, however- It’s much like if you sandwiched two SNES pads together. It doesn’t work as well as a PlayStation pad when it comes to the L2 R2 ergonomics.
The RG353P is an excellent system if you want to play anything with a 4:3 aspect ratio and can overlook the small, textured buttons. The touch-screen and Android feel like more of a gimmick, but outside these flaws, we can easily recommend the RG353P to any retro-gaming enthusiast.
GoGameGeek: (w/10% off): https://tinyurl.com/ggg-rg353p
Our video review: