AmberELEC Setup and Update Guide

Last updated: 13JUL2022

AmberELEC is the new custom firmware that replaced 351ELEC for devices such as the Anbernic RG351P, RG351M, RG351V, RG351MP, and RG552. This video and guide will walk you through its setup as well as showcase new features in this release.

AmberELEC webpage
AmberELEC discord server

Recommended tools

The most important aspect of getting started is to use reliable microSD cards. Often the cards that come with retro handhelds are generic cards that are prone to failure. Instead, I recommend using these cards:

16GB cards: 
SanDisk Ultra  
SanDisk Industrial (more reliable but pricey)

128GB cards:
SanDisk Extreme
Samsung EVO Select
SanDisk Ultra

256GB cards:
Samsung EVO Select
SanDisk Ultra

The RG351M, RG351V, and RG552 devices come with built-in WiFi, but the RG351P and RG351MP do not. Luckily, many sellers will bundle their RG351P with an OTG adapter (basically a USB-C to USB-A adapter) and a USB WiFi module. Together, these two adapters will allow you to connect your device to your home network and take advantage of its NetPlay, media scraping (image/boxart downloading), cheats, and Retro Achievements functions. So I recommend you check with the seller to see if your device is going to come with an OTG and WiFi adapters; if they aren’t I suggest you buy them so they’re available as soon as you open up your device.

I have personally tested the WiFi adapter linked above and can verify that it works well on the devices; it also has a nice (subtle) blinking light to let you know when it is accessing data. My other favorite WiFi adapter is this one from TP-Link, which can reach speeds of up to 5GHz on some devices.

One more accessory to consider: if you don’t have a nice microSD to USB adapter, you might want to think about getting one. A nice adapter like this one from Anker will give you the fastest transfer speeds possible, and won’t cause any corruption issues with your card.

Install AmberELEC

To install AmberELEC, head over to their Installation Page and follow the instructions (as demonstrated in the video above).

Load BIOS and game files

After you have installed AmberELEC, you will need to load the BIOS (system) files so that certain systems will run properly. Here is a recommended list of files to add to the “bios” folder on your SD card. You will likely find these files on the card that came with your device, or you may need to search the internet from them. More information can be found on the AmberELEC site.

SEGA CD:
bios_CD_E.bin
bios_CD_J.bin
bios_CD_U.bin

FAMICOM DISK SYSTEM:
disksys.rom

GAME BOY (for boot logo):
gb_bios.bin

GAME BOY COLOR (for boot logo):
gbc_bios.bin

GAME BOY ADVANCE:
gba_bios.bin

NEO GEO:
neogeo.zip

PLAYSTATION 1:
scph1001.bin

TURBOGRAFX-CD:
syscard1.pce
syscard2.pce
syscard3.pce

Once you have the BIOS files sorted, you will need to transfer game files onto your device. The primary method is to directly add your game files to the corresponding folder on the SD card. I recommend consulting the AmberELEC Systems page to find the system, then see what file types are accepted, and go from there. Additionally, you could use the LaunchBox Importer function that was recently introduced into AmberELEC, which is demonstrated in the video above.

After that, it’s time to have fun with the device. I recommend checking out the “Getting to know AmberELEC” page to show you some of the ins and outs of first getting set up.

Recommended tweaks

AmberELEC is a pre-configured operating system, which means that you don’t need to adjust any settings out of the gate. However, here are some recommended adjustments that I like to do when first setting up the system:

RG351P and RG351M:

  • For 4:3 retro home console systems like NES, Genesis, and SNES, I recommend one of the following screen settings. To set these, open the system’s game list and press SELECT, then choose “Advanced System Options”.
    • Set RGA Scaling > ON for an improved image with no performance degradation. Note this will make the pop-up notifications from RetroArch hard to read.
    • Set Shader Set > Interpolation / Sharp-Bilinear-2x-Prescale.glslp for a slightly sharper and balanced look, with little performance degradation
    • Set Bilinear Filtering > ON and Filter Set > Normal2x.filt for the most sharp and balanced look, but with a little more performance degradation
  • For GB, GBC, and GBA, make sure it is set to Integer Scaling > ON

RG351V and RG351MP:

  • For 4:3 retro home console systems like NES, Genesis, and SNES, I recommend one of the following screen settings. This will also work well with GBA. To set these, open the system’s game list and press SELECT, then choose “Advanced System Options”.
    • Set Shader Set > Interpolation / Sharp-Bilinear-2x-Prescale.glslp for a slightly sharper and balanced look, with little performance degradation
    • Set Bilinear Filtering > ON and Filter Set > Normal2x.filt for the most sharp and balanced look, but with a little more performance degradation

RG552:

  • For most systems, it’s best to keep them at Integer Scaling > ON. It will result in minimal black bars for some systems, but the image will be sharp, clear, and balanced without any need for shaders or filters.

Other resources

Your journey with AmberELEC is now ready to begin. Be sure to check out their website for even more features and fun tweaks. Here are some other guides that are mentioned in the video above:

PortMaster guide
Pico-8 guide

3 thoughts on “AmberELEC Setup and Update Guide

  1. Hey any idea which version would be compatible with the PowKiddy RGB20? I might just download them all and see what boots. I know that it is RK3266 based like all the 351 devices.

    Like

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