2023 is coming to a close, and the RK3566 is as popular as it has ever been, for better or for worse. Originally releasing in a select device or two, the 3566 has blossomed, appearing in WAY more devices than expected this past year. While nowhere near the popularity of the 3326, it’s an appropriate replacement and one that now comes in a number of different form factors.
That’s where I come in. I’m about to give you the best and most correct top 10 list you’ve ever seen, probably. What’s number 1? What’s number 10? What’s in the middle? You’re about to find out. This is the Top 10 list of RK3566 devices as of December 2023!
Before we get into it, all the handhelds I’ve handled in preparation for this article were purchased by me; all of these thoughts, and obviously correct rankings, are my own.
#10 The GKD Mini Plus Classic (Linked Here)
First up is the GKD Mini Plus Classic. As with every other handheld on this list, it is powered by the RK3566, with the usual 480p 3.5 inch display. All of this with the expected controls, packed into a wonderful metal shell. This sounds like the perfect vertical 3566 right? Well, no.
First off, the price is an issue. Currently to get one of these, you would have to spend upwards of $180. That makes it the most expensive handheld on this list. Being a metal device also pushes it toward being one of the heaviest devices on this list as well. Even if you could handle the price, and the weight, you’re still stuck with the poor operating system. If you haven’t been following, the GKD Mini Plus Classic (and Mini Plus) run an unofficial build of JELOS. This version of the OS is not made for the western market. This makes it hard to use, and is an experience I wouldn’t recommend. Which is why it is placed at the bottom of the list, right next to:
#9 The GKD Mini Plus (Linked Here)
The downsides of the GKD Mini Plus remain quite similar to the Classic. However, this one also has a couple other things that place it just above its bigger brother. Its smaller frame thanks to the absence of sticks makes it more portable than most devices here. Plus, you can add on a joystick attachment, though some have noted the attachment can scratch the frame of the main device.
Overall this is a lighter and cheaper version of the GKD Mini Plus Classic, and for a while you could find it for $110, though nowadays it isn’t around too much. For the price, you could save some money and buy #8 on the list.
#8 The Powkiddy X55 (Linked Here)
The Powkiddy X55. One of only two 16:9 handhelds on this list, and 1 of 3 Powkiddy releases. The X55 is a big, blue, ergonomic chunk of a 3566 device. Rocking a 5.5 inch 720p display, as well as a full 2gb of ram, the X55and its 4,000mAh battery came to run for a long time, and it does just that. This is one of the more comfortable devices I’ve used, and if it weren’t for the downsides, this would probably be much higher on the list overall.
The downsides of the X55 come from mostly the controls. The face buttons are fine, the d-pad is usable and the Switch sticks were fine, albeit nothing exceptional. Where the x55 falls flat are the menu and shoulder buttons. The shoulder buttons are LOUD. If you’ve seen any video on the x55 you’d know that it has been compared to a set of drums due to their volume. Their click to me was unsatisfying, and too loud for regular use. The JelOS firmware is decent, but unless you just want to play trigger-less games, the recommendation is to go for the other 16:9 handheld on this list.
#7 The Anbernic RG503 (Linked Here)
The RG503 was the very first RK3566 device released, all the way back in April 2022. 1gb of RAM, a 3500mAh battery, and the usual button layout from Anbernic at the time. The thing that made this special was the screen. The 4.96 inch OLED display that was also used in the PS Vita 1000. This screen looked really nice at the time, albeit a bit dim. Paired with this was OS support in the form of ArkOS, JelOS, and Retro Arena. Initially panned, the 503 has continued to receive support since.
The downsides of this device are few. The look of it is – odd. The stick placement is a bit low, and some 503’s experienced an issue where the buttons were a bit too large for their hole and would scrape paint off until they fit. The issue that puts the 503 at number 7 is the current price.
If you want one, you’ll be paying around $111, making the 503 around $20 more than the X55. At the price, there are other devices that are more worthy of consideration. I do think $111 is much better than the original $130 this device cost, but that money could be better spent on another device.
#6 The Anbernic RG353M (Linked Here)
Take everything from the 503, add hall-sensor sticks, an extra GB of RAM, and stuff it into a metal shell with a 3.5-inch screen. Oh, and give it the ability to dual boot with Android and Linux. That’s really it. The 353M took the 503 and put it all into a more traditional body for Anbernic devices. Hall-sticks on the bottom, in-line shoulder buttons, and a genuinely nice screen for a 3.5-inch device. set the M above the 503. For a metal device, the 353M was more lightweight compared to its predecessors like the 350M, 351MP, and 351M. However just as with the 503, the 353M had one major downfall: the price.
This is another one of the more expensive 3566 handhelds. At $137 currently from Anbernic’s website, not only are there better 3566 devices cheaper than this, there are also better overall devices at the same price. For $137 you can get a device that can play up to some Gamecube, or this small metal brick. At the same screen size you can easily get a plastic device for half the price.
#5 The Powkiddy RK2023 (Linked Here)
Powkiddy’s first attempt at a 3566 was met with mixed results. Yes, it’s a cheap 3566 with a really bright screen and buttons that don’t make me want to check to see if I’m getting carpal tunnel. It’s an absolutely usable device with a nice build of JelOS on it. But despite those niceties, it also comes with a couple of questionable decisions.
First up, while you could “get a professional to solder on a Wi-Fi chip” onto the original model, a model with built-in Wi-Fi came out not even 3 months later. The d-pad received mixed results depending on the user. For some it’s perfectly fine, but for others they would describe it as “too long” or “sharp,” though unlike some metal devices it won’t cut you. Overall the RK2023 comes across as the most average 3566 handheld of the bunch. A notion that makes it perfect for the middle slot.
#4 The Anbernic 353P/PS (Linked Here)
This is where things start to get a bit controversial. The Anbernic RG353P and PS I am grouping into one device, and I’m putting them in 4th place overall. For what it is, this is a really nice device: a 3566 in an SNES controller shaped shell. And believe it or not, it was excellent for SNES gameplay! Similarly to the 353M, the 353P also had access to the Android OS, a feature taken away at the release of the 353PS. Overall a solid 3566 device, though one I personally feel is beat out by the other devices left to go.
Oh and by the way, of course there is a downfall of this device: the ergonomics. While many find it to be excellent, and one of the best on the 3566 train. Others, including myself, found it to be uncomfortable to hold, with other devices feeling better by comparison. Including the next one of this list.
#3 The Anbernic ARC (Linked Here)
The Anbernic ARC is the most recent 3566 at the time of this writing. This handheld basically was made for one niche, and sticks to it incredibly well: the Sega systems. This device was basically built for the Genesis. Unfortunately, Saturn doesn’t work to well on the 3566, but what you can get out of it is really nice.
The buttons are nice, the 4-inch screen is sharp. Honestly, even the stock Anbernic OS is nice for initial users, though firmware is in the works for this already. But what’s really nice is the d-pad they designed for this handheld. It’s accurate, it has nice actuation, and personally, I might like it more than the original Genesis controller. Overall this is one of my favorite 3566 devices, but due to really being for a specific niche, I find there are other options that are are just a little more well-rounded.
#2 The Powkiddy RGB30 (Linked Here)
Up next comes the Powkiddy RGB30. A device that does a lot right, but can’t quite make it to first place. First off, the screen on this device is great. A 4 inch 1:1, 720p display that was pretty much perfect for the size of the handheld. 4:3 content? Same size as the 3.5 inch devices. Gameboy, Gameboy Color and other almost square systems? They filled up most of the screen making it a great experience for those systems. Pico-8? YES. Included Wi-Fi from the get go means you have a wonderful Splore experience with this 1:1 system. Even the price isn’t too bad with $85 being the starting point for it. So why is it number 2 rather than the top dog?
Powkiddy build quality and ergonomics mar the experience. Some people complain that the device is a bit too tall, the distance from stick to inline shoulder buttons is a bit much for some, and is a deal breaker for others. The RGB30 also experienced some charging issues, and in general you may not receive exactly what was described. In my case I received a device with two A buttons. To me this may have been my favorite 3566, but as a whole, I think there’s one device that does it just a little bit better for most other users.
#1 The Anbernic 353V/VS (Linked Here)
That’s right. The other vertical 3566, the Anbernic 353V and VS. While it may be controversial to put a vertical up top due to its own ergonomic concerns, it ends up being the most well-rounded device. It’s properly sized for portability, it has the same nice 3.5 inch display that Anbernic excels at, and it has the firmware support from multiple developers as well. If you laid out every 3566 device and told me to pick ONE I could take home with me, it would be this one.
Of course, as mentioned before, a vertical handheld is not for everyone. This is the type of handheld that can be recommended to most people. Price to performance ratio, easy of use, and overall general build quality leave the 353V and VS in the clear top position.
I know you may not agree with me, and that’s okay! If you want to share your own list, please comment down below or argue with me over on the Retro Handhelds Discord (a really cool place to be).
Personally I think we’ll be reaching the end of new RK3566 devices sooner rather than later. The Miyoo Flip and the Powkiddy RGB10 Max 3 are both 3566 handhelds on the horizon, but if you ask me, both are going to have a tough time keeping up with the scene. Plus, they may have their issues; whether that’s durability in a hinge or a poor stock OS experience is up for debate. For now, this is the list to go for, and if you want a 3566, you really can’t go wrong with any device here. Except the GKD options… please don’t buy those.
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