Best Retro Handhelds By Price: A Handheld for Every Budget

Whether you're spending small or big, these are the consoles worth looking at.

We’re very aware of how difficult knowing the ins and outs of retro handhelds is. We’re embedded in this industry and even we sometimes lose track of how things differ. It’s hard when there’s a seemingly new handheld released every other week.

Don’t fret, though, this best retro handhelds by price guide is designed with newcomers to the retro scene in mind. We won’t be using any tech jargon and will instead focus on what makes each of these consoles great in their own right and what they’re capable of emulating.

We’ve also designed it so that regardless of how much money you’ve got spare, there’s sure to be a handheld that’ll fit in with your budget.

Best Retro Handhelds By Price

Price: $0 to $100

Miyoo Mini

The white and grey Miyoo Mini console

Price: $94

With the $0 to $100 price category, there really isn’t much to get excited about. Sad, we know! The problem is, this area is filled with cheap knock-offs designed to sell nostalgia rather than something worth gaming on. We reviewed the RetroMini previously and that console is the epitome of bad design.

That’s why the Miyoo Mini is so easy to recommend if you’re on a budget. It’s not perfect by any means, but if you want something stylish that’s powerful enough to play 8-bit and 16-bit retro games with minimal compatibility problems, it does the job and then some.

The design still feels cheap compared with the likes of the more expensive Retroid Pocket and Anbernic RG351, but at the lower end of the price scale, that’s a fair trade-off. This is one of the few actually good retro handhelds under $100, after all.

Still, if you’re after something that fits in your pocket and is ideal for 20-minute blasts of retro goodness at home or during a commute, the Miyoo Mini is the best handheld out there for under $100.

Price: $100 to $150

Retroid Pocket 3

Image of the Retroid Pocket 3 handheld console.

Price: $119

The Retroid Pocket 3 is proof you can hit an affordable price tag while still offering up a solid amount of power.

This is something Anbernic has been struggling with its consoles. If we’re talking comparisons, the Retroid Pocket 3 comes in at a lower price than the RG353 while offering up similar tech. Plus the Retroid Pocket 3 has a much easier-to-understand interface. If you’re new to retro handhelds, that’s going to be a godsend.

Granted, the Retroid Pocket 3 struggles once it hits GameCube emulation, but that’s not too bad for a handheld that costs $119, eh?

It is worth mentioning, there’s an upgraded version of the Retroid Pocket 3 available for an extra 10 bucks that’ll increase the RAM from 2GB to 3GB. Is it worth it? Yes, 100 percent. That little bit of extra juice really makes the difference when it comes to emulation performance.

Before we move on, we have to talk about that screen. We love the 4.7-inch touchscreen. In terms of size, that’s around the same as the PS Vita. If you found the Switch Lite a little too large but the Game Boy Advance too small, the Retroid Pocket 3 screen is one of the few middle grounds out there.

Most companies tend to go with either 2.5-inch or seven-inch screens in this industry, so seeing a 4.7-inch screen really offers up more choice for those looking for something in between

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Price: $150 to $200

AYN Odin Lite

White Ayn Odin Lite console

Price: $199

We’ve written about the AYN Odin a lot and that’s not going to change any time soon. It is the single best purchase going and the power-to-price ratio blows every other console out of the water.

The Odin Lite is so powerful it’s when trying to run PS2 that this console runs out of power, although some PS2 games run brilliantly.

It’s the combination of the robust Mali-G68 MC4 GPU and 4GB of RAM paired with a lush 5.98-inch IPS touchscreen that makes the Odin such a delight to play on. Visually it stuns, and the design of the console makes it comfortable to play on for long gaming sessions.

The biggest issue right now is the lack of supply. Due to the worldwide chip shortage companies are struggling to get the parts in to fulfill orders. In the case of the Odin, that means you could receive it in two weeks or two months.

Of course, if supply is the biggest problem, that goes to show how solid the console is. That said, it’s still an issue potential buyers need to factor in.

Price: $200 to $250

AYN Odin Pro

Black Ayn Odin Pro console

Price: $289

As with the Odin Lite, the Odin Pro is a killer console. We’ve previously covered the main differences between the two consoles, but the main takeaway is the Odin Pro replaces the inner tech with something even stronger.

The Mali-G68 is replaced by the Adreno 630, RAM is doubled – from 4GB to 8GB – as is the storage. The Lite ships with 64GB while the Pro comes equipped with 128GB. The Pro also features a faster processor.

In short, the Pro is stronger in every department.

The thing is, both versions of the Odin are fantastic. Yes, the Pro is faster, but if you end up going with the Odin Lite, you won’t feel like you’ve been short-changed or that it’s a worse-off console. Both rock, and whichever you choose you’ll be happy with. Just be sure to factor in the poor shipping speeds ahead of any decisions.

Price: $250 and Above

Steam Deck

Shot of the Steam Deck front on.

Price: $399

There’s a lot of tech talk surrounding the Steam Deck so let’s break it down so it makes sense.

The Steam Deck is a handheld console capable of playing a host of currently supported AAA games and can emulate all the retro systems available (up to PS3).

Yes, it’s that powerful it can run everything from the NES to the Xbox 360 and in between with ease.

If you’ve seen that there are three different Steam Deck models, don’t worry, it’s all fairly straightforward. The only difference between each of the systems is the amount of storage they come with.

The choice comes down to 64GB (eMMC), 256 GB (NVMe SSD), or 512GB (NVMe SSD). If you’re buying for emulation, the pricier versions are nice and spacious but they’re not essential to the experience. You can also open up the Steam Deck and change the storage drive to a cheaper compatible SSD if you want to save some money as well.

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Runners Up and Alternatives

Price: $0 to $100

If you’ve already got a Miyoo Mini (lots of people do), you’re probably looking for something similar that isn’t going to break the bank.

As of right now the best alternative options are the Anbernic RG280v ($79.99) and the Powkiddy v90 ($42.99), with the Powkiddy v90 being the choice of the two thanks to its low price.

When we put together our guide for the RG280v, we pointed out that 512MB of RAM isn’t much but if you’re looking to play below PS1 titles, it’s more than enough to have a decent experience.

Conversely, the clamshell Powkiddy v90, is the perfect counterpart to the Miyoo Mini. Below PS1 is where this thing shines. Don’t expect to be a handheld PS2 emulator or anything close. But as a cheap toy – maybe as a way to get the kids into retro gaming – it very much has its place.

Price: $100 to $150

This is another one that could change during a sale but as of right now, the second best option in the $100 to $150 category is the Anbernic RG351 ($110).

It’s a solid console that still sells well today. Structurally sound with a vivid screen, the RG351 is near perfect for up to PS1 emulation thanks to the now overused RK3326 chip. That chipset was everywhere for a time because of how cheap it is to source and its ability to run up to PS1 accurately.

As for the comparison, it’s not better than the Retroid Pocket 3 at all. The choice here is ‘up to and some GameCube’ versus ‘up to PS1’. Plus the Retroid Pocket 3 rocks a larger, crisper screen.

Price: $150 to $200

I would never recommend the RG353P ($159.99) over the Odin Lite. The power differences between the two are stark. The RG353P has a smaller screen, the internals offers less power, and is a copycat of the PocketGo S30.

Yes, you save 40 bucks, which may appeal to some, but if you can afford the difference, the extra power found in the Odin Lite is transformative.

While the Odin Lite can roll up to PS2, the RG353P caps out at Dreamcast and N64 – and those consoles don’t run without issues.

$200 to $250

There are other consoles in this price bracket like the Anbernic Win600, but to be honest, there isn’t anything that can hold a candle to the Odin Pro and the only change coming is another console by AYN, the AYN Loki.

The rest simply aren’t worth mentioning as alternatives because, as is the case with the WIn600, we get into pricey for the sake of being pricey. In this price bracket, either go with the Odin Pro or hold out for the AYN Loki.

$250 and Above

The AYA Neo Air ($499) is a brilliant alternative to the Steam Deck. On the power front, it’s able to emulate every retro system – just like the Steam Deck. But it’s the design of this console that truly makes this thing.

It’s much smaller than the gigantic Steam Deck, which makes it more portable and more comfortable. The screen is crisp, the sticks have the right amount of give, and the whole console feels premium.

There is a catch, though. The base model is let down by a woeful battery, but if you don’t mind being always plugged in, that’s not a massive deal.

What Can Each of the Consoles Emulate?

Below you’ll find a breakdown of what each of the consoles we’ve recommended can emulate. Do note, where it says “some” that means complete compatibility isn’t guaranteed but low-spec games for that system should be able to run in a playable state.

Miyoo Mini

  • Sega: Mega Drive/Genesis, Master System, Game Gear
  • Nintendo: GBA, GBC,GB, SFC, FC,
  • Sony: PS1
  • Misc: PC Engine, WonderSwan, Mame, FBNeo, Neo Geo

Retroid Pocket 3

  • Sega: Genesis/Mega Drive, Master System, Game Gear, SegaCD, Sega32x, Dreamcast
  • Nintendo: NES, SNES, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, DS, N64, some GameCube
  • Sony: PlayStation, PSP
  • Misc: PC Engine, WonderSwan, Mame, FBNeo, Neo Geo

AYN Odin Lite

  • Sega: Genesis/Mega Drive, Master System, Game Gear, SegaCD, Sega32x, Dreamcast
  • Nintendo: NES, SNES, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, DS, some 3DS, N64, GameCube, some Wii, some Wii U
  • Sony: PlayStation, some PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable
  • Misc: PC Engine, WonderSwan, Mame, FBNeo, Neo Geo

AYN Odin Pro

  • Sega: Genesis/Mega Drive, Master System, Game Gear, SegaCD, Sega32x, Dreamcast
  • Nintendo: NES, SNES, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, DS, some 3DS, N64, GameCube, some Wii, some Wii U
  • Sony: PlayStation, some PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable
  • Misc: PC Engine, WonderSwan, Mame, FBNeo, Neo Geo

Steam Deck

  • Sega: Genesis/Mega Drive, Master System, Game Gear, SegaCD, Sega32x, Dreamcast
  • Nintendo: NES, SNES, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, DS, 3DS, N64, GameCube, Wii, Wii U, Nintendo Switch
  • Sony: PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3
  • Microsoft: Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox Game Streaming
  • Misc: PC Engine, WonderSwan, Mame, FBNeo, Neo Geo
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Wesley Copeland

Wesley Copeland is a gaming, tech, and toys journalist with over 10 years of experience writing online. Originally starting in video games before specializing in tech and toys, you can find his bylines at IGN, VG24/7, Kotaku, Tech Radar, Games Radar, PC Gamer, Heavy, and many more. He's also highly passionate about how tech can be used to better our day-to-day lives.