Anbernic RG353M Review & Guide

Another month, another Anbernic handheld, right? The new RG353M surprised me with some overdue component upgrades and a wonderfully compact and thin design. On top of that, it stands on the shoulders of all their other products to finally be a 4:3 retro handheld that does everything just right without any glaring issues.

Buy one here

Timestamps:
00:00 introduction
01:46 tech specs
03:32 unboxing and impressions
07:12 comparison with other handhelds
09:52 software experience
11:03 Linux performance testing
15:00 Bluetooth, HDMI testing
15:53 Android experience and streaming
18:20 JELOS and ArkOS testing
20:26 summary (likes and dislikes)
22:44 conclusion

Moonlight streaming. Here is my guide to get PC streaming set up:

Also consider using Castor, a way to stream from your PC that won’t take up your whole PC at the same time:

PortMaster. This tool will allow you to play some select PC ports directly on your retro handheld, including the RG353M:

Also check out my Ports category on this website for game-specific instructions.

Custom firmwares:

ArkOS: To get started, download the RG353V build of ArkOS from the link near the bottom of their wiki frontpage. Flash that firmware to a microSD card (16GB is recommended) using tools like Rufus or Balena Etcher. Once the card is flashed, re-insert it into your PC and you should see a “BOOT” partition. Within there, find the file named rk3566-oc.dtb and copy it to your PC (on your Desktop, for example) as a backup. Next, download this replacement file (right-click and select “Save As”), unzip it, and replace the rk3566-oc.dtb file on your card. Eject the card from your PC, insert it into your RG353M, and it should boot properly. For more information about how to get started with ArkOS, refer to their wiki page.

JELOS: To get started, download the RG353P build of JELOS from their latest release page (you may need to click on the “show all assets” hyperlink to find the build). Be sure to use the .img build and not the .tar file. . Flash that firmware to a microSD card (16GB is recommended) using tools like Rufus or Balena Etcher. Eject the card from your PC, insert it into your RG353M, and it should boot properly. For more information about how to get started with JELOS, refer to their wiki page.

10 thoughts on “Anbernic RG353M Review & Guide

  1. Curious to have a comparison with ODROID GO Ultra on the hardware point of view (and why not on the software but I think it’s not very OK for this part on Odroid :p )

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    1. It’s difficult to compare the two. The S922X chip in the OGU is much more powerful, but the device doesn’t have any OS that can take advantage of that power right now. In terms of build quality, the RG353M wins hands down. The screen is bigger on the OGU but it doesn’t have touch capability like the RG353M. So right now, I’d rather use the RG353M because of the mature software. Six months down the road? We’ll see.

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  2. Hey Russ, thanks for doing this. I’m not quite understanding what you’re saying regarding the touch controls. Does the touchscreen work using the default Batocera settings? Is this something that will be fixed in an update down the road? I’d love to play DS games, but it sounded like (again, apologies if I misunderstood) we need to boot into a special app to play those games.

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    1. Yes, for now the touchscreen doesn’t work properly in the Linux/Batocera operating system. It is something that Batocera has been working on so if Anbernic forks a more recent version of their OS in the future it might be a possibility. But for now, the best way to play touchscreen DS games will be through the Android side, using the Drastic emulator that comes pre-installed on the system.

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  3. Thanks for this review Russ! I received my RG 353M recently and needed a slim protective case for it. I discovered that dimensionally the 353M is almost the same size as a GBA, just a little less tall and thick. The GBA neoprene sleve that RetroModding sells for <$12 is a perfect fit for the 353M. Photos of the fitment: https://www.instagram.com/p/ClSLD03PgAf/

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