Last updated: 21JAN2021 (see Changelog for details)
Finding the right place to buy a retro handheld gaming device can be somewhat confusing. There are a ton of options out there, and each have their own benefits. So I’ve put together a list of my recommended stores, along with pros and cons for each of them, and a totally arbitrary scoring system. This guide is written with the United States in mind, but many of these suggestions are applicable for those around the world.
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Table of Contents: Online retailers Direct vendors Modding resources microSD cards USB microSD card reader OTG adapter and WiFi USB module Anbernic RG351P accessories pack Retro handheld stand Changelog
There are many places where you can buy retro handheld consoles online, with varying prices and shipping models. Here are all of the shops that I recommend:
Amazon is a reliable retailer around the world, and many companies will carry retro handheld inventory on the site. These options are attractive because they feature Amazon Prime shipping, so you can get them closer to your door. Moreover, items shipped via Amazon Prime are protected by Prime’s returns policy, with no-frills return options in case your device is defective (or not the right fit for you).
Some of the vendors will charge a bit more than the shops based out of China, but it’s a small price to pay for faster (and free with Prime!) shipping and a good return policy. Because these third-party vendors have to get inventory before selling on Amazon, they won’t have pre-order or day-one options for most devices. Instead, you’ll have to wait a few weeks after the device has released before they’ll appear on Amazon.
My two preferred Amazon retro game vendors are MJKJ and BAORUITENG. I have used them both with no issues.
RG350: MJKJ // BAORUITENG
RG350P: MJKJ // BAORUITENG
RG350M: MJKJ // BAORUITENG
RG351P: MJKJ // BAORUITENG
Pros: fast shipping, buyer protection, free and easy returns
Cons: may be more expensive than other options, no day-one options
AliExpress is the largest China-based retailer for retro game handhelds. They often have coupons and other sales, which can make their prices very competitive. Many retro console manufacturers have official storefronts within the site, but there are also quite a lot of shady resellers. I recommend you stick with the official stores, and check the store ratings/reviews before making a purchase. AliExpress has a dispute resolution system, but it is not as robust or easy to use as those found on Amazon and eBay. For example, I bought a unit from an unofficial store once, and they shipped it to some random address on the other side of the country. I had to wait an additional two weeks from the day it was “delivered” to open a dispute, and even then it took quite a while to finally receive my refund. Conversely, I bought from the official Anbernic store and their rep was communicative and helpful — I got my device in about 10 days altogether, right after it had first launched.
My preferred official stores are the Anbernic and PowKiddy stores. They often have stock available in the US and Europe, which drastically reduces the shipping time.
Pros: great deals, lots of options
Cons: some stores are not reliable
TomTop is another Chinese retailer that acts as a single storefront, like Amazon. Their video game section contains a lot of Chinese handhelds (mostly from PowKiddy and Anbernic) as competitive prices. They have a habit of inflating their prices and then offering steep “discounts” to their actual retail value. It’s a little annoying but if you do price comparison you can often find good deals here. This site is pretty good with customer service and shipping has been relatively fast (considering that most items ship from China).
Pros: good shipping time and decent customer service
Cons: hard to discern good deals
In addition to retailers, some manufacturers and handheld vendors have their own website and storefront. Here are some of the better ones out there:
RetroMiMi is an online store that specializes in retro handheld consoles from Anbernic, PowKiddy, LDK, and more. They carry a wide variety of devices, and also offer helpful accessories like external controllers, cases, and more. They also frequently put their products on sale, so it’s a good idea to check their site often in case they have an offer that you cannot pass up. They ship from China, so the shipping time may be longer than via Amazon Prime.
Pros: wide variety, frequent sales
Cons: long ship time
DroiX is a UK-based store that offers a selection of retro handheld gaming devices. If you are in the UK or Europe, this may be your fastest choice in getting your hands on a device.
Pros: fair pricing, fast shipping
Cons: UK and Europe only, not a ton of variety
For the time being, the only place to buy a Retroid Pocket 2 is through the Retroid store. Unfortunately, due to higher-than-expected demand, and supply chain challenges, the company has had a hard time keeping up with the demand for this console, and the wait time is currently up to two months from the time you order the device. For the sake of transparency, they do offer a “delivery dashboard” that will give you an indication of when to expect your device to ship.
Pros: you can buy a Retroid Pocket 2
Cons: potential shipping delays
If you’re interested in improving the look and feel of your favorite handheld device, I highly recommend you check out this very helpful website, My Retro Game Case. Here you can find new and upgraded speakers, batteries, sticks, screen covers, and even shells for some popular handheld devices. The items ship from Malaysia, so expect a bit of a wait. Thankfully, both shipping options available on the site are backed by DHL so you can rest assured that your package will likely make it to you. And the prices are more than fair; I often find myself browsing this site just for ideas to improve my current device collection.
Pros: Lots of variety, good prices
Cons: Potential shipping wait time
Anbernic’s official AliExpress store also sells RG350 and RG351 replacement parts for your device, including screens, buttons, motherboards, and joysticks. So if you get a busted part, this is the place to go. Simply head over to their Console Parts page and see the available options (listed under “Colors”). If they don’t have your desired part listed, be sure to contact the store to see if they can hook you up.
One thing all retro handheld devices have in common is that they use SD cards to store their operating system and/or game files. So it’s a good idea to become familiar with the microSD cards out there, and where to find the best deals (hint: Amazon).
Most devices come with a generic microSD card, and they are often prone to failure. Your safest bet is to replace it with a microSD card from a well-known brand (don’t worry, I’ll show you how to do that below). I recommend you store that original card somewhere safe in case you run into any issues in the future, and buy a new SD card from a reputable brand like SanDisk or Samsung to use in your device.
In general, I recommend the cards listed below, in order or preference. The prices fluctuate all the time, so keep an eye out for deals. In general, I would expect to pay $20 for a 128GB card and $30 for a 256GB card. A 128GB card will allow you to load EVERY 8-bit and 16-bit game out there, all of the arcade games that work, and quite a few PS1, Dreamcast, PSP, and Sega CD games (those systems have the largest file sizes). A 256GB card will allow you to store even more of those larger games. Many devices (like the RG350 and RG280 lines) use a separate card for the operating system; for those devices, I recommend a 16GB card (usually around $7).
16GB cards: SanDisk Ultra SanDisk Industrial (more reliable but pricey) 128GB cards: SanDisk Extreme Samsung EVO Select Samsung Pro Endurance (more reliable but pricey) SanDisk Ultra 256GB cards: Samsung EVO Select SanDisk Ultra
USB microSD card reader
Many retro devices come with a cheap USB SD card reader. I have about half a dozen of them, and only a couple of them actually work. So I think it’s worth it to invest in a solid, fast USB 3.0 SD card reader for your computer. You’ll be able to transfer your game files onto your SD card that much fast, and you don’t have to worry about corrupting your card.
I recommend this USB 3.0 SD card reader from Anker.
OTG adapter and WiFi USB module
As you may have heard, the RG351P was supposed to come with built-in WiFi, but then Anbernic pulled the WiFi antennas from the devices after their first week of production due to static noise issues. So what this means is that there are several really awesome networking features in the device, and you won’t be able to access them.
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 RG351P; it also has a nice (subtle) blinking light to let you know when it is accessing data.
In general, you should be looking for WiFi adapters that use a MediaTek mt7601u or Realtek RTL8188EUS chipset.
WiFi USB modules that are confirmed compatible with the RG351P: Plugable WiFi module Edimax EW-7611ULB ODROID WiFi Module 0 TP-Link TL-WN725N TP-Link AC600
Anbernic RG351P accessories pack
If you happened to buy an Anbernic RG351P from Amazon or other retailer, and it didn’t come with a screen protector, OTG adapter, or WiFi module, Anbernic sells this handy combo pack for $8 via their official AliExpress store. Note that stock for this kit is only in China, so shipping might take a while. I have confirmed that this OTG adapter and WiFi module work with all RG351P operating systems (stock, 351ELEC, and ArkOS).
Retro handheld stand
If you start to amass a collection of handheld devices, like mine above, then you may want to invest in this handy mail sorter to hold all of your devices. You could even line it with some thin felt to prevent any scratching!
– added Modding resources section
– added TomTop as vendor
– added retro handheld stand
– added Anbernic replacement parts
– added Anbernic RG351P accessories pack
– removed eBay as store option; Anbernic store no longer has any listings. Will add it back if it becomes a viable option again.
– created Changelog