RG280v: Everything You Need to Know

Thinking of picking up a new handheld? Find out everything you need to know about the Anbernic RG280v before you buy.

While Anbernic struggles to turn heads with its latest offerings, the Chinese company’s back catalogue remains a valuable source of low-cost, high-quality enjoyment.

The RG280v remains one of Anbernic’s go-to devices. Combining super-portability with a low buy-in and solid battery life, the RG280v is perfect for gamers looking to spend time playing retro games during commutes or ad breaks.

If you’re thinking of picking up the RG280v, or you’d like to see why everyone is raving about this pocket-sized handheld, read on to find out everything you need to know.

RG280v Specs

It goes without saying, the RG280v isn’t anywhere near the most powerful handheld console on the market. But then it’s not supposed to be either. For the price, I don’t think anyone is expecting AYN Odin levels of power, despite how nice that would be.

Still, there’s enough power under the very small hood to keep things moving at a timely pace. Although 512MB of RAM may not seem like much compared to modern tech like mobile phones, it’s more than enough for most people in this case. The original PlayStation, for example, shipped with just 1MB of RAM and 1MB of VRAM. The RG280v, then, is roughly 512 times more powerful. Not bad, eh?

Of course, things aren’t quite as simple as that, but for the sake of ease, let’s just say the RG280v is a very capable machine.

The only real concern on the specs front is the 16GB storage. For retro systems like the SNES or Genesis/Mega Drive, that amount should hold thousands of different games. For PS1, things can get a little snug. As a rough guide, PS1 games can range from 100MB all the way to 2GB. At 2GB a pop, that 16GB is sure to get filled fast. Thankfully, there is the option of an SD card expansion slot, and should you choose to whack in a 256GB SD card, you’ll be set for life.

  • Screen Size: 2.8-inch IPS screen
  • CPU: Dual-Core @ 1.0 GHz
  • RAM: DDR2 512MB
  • Storage: 16GB
  • Operating System: Opendingux (Linux)
  • Battery: Li-polymer 2100 mAh – around seven hours per charge
  • SD Expansion support: Up to 256GB
  • Color Options: Gold and silver

RG280v Game List: What Systems Can it Run?

It’s worth keeping in mind the limitations of this system. Not just from a technical point of view, but also from a logistical one. The RG280v will play up to PS1 with little to no issues. It is worth keeping in mind, though, the console is limited by its buttons. The lack of analogue sticks may make certain games either impossible or a pain to play. That said, if the game you’re looking to play only needs a D-pad, four face buttons, shoulder buttons, and start and select, you’re good.

For below PS1 – like the SNES, Genesis/Mega Drive, or 8-bit systems – the lack of sticks isn’t an issue at all. Same for the Game Boy eras of games as well.

As for what systems the RG280v can emulate, expect stellar speeds for NES, SNES, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Master System, Genesis/Mega Drive, Game Gear, CPS1/2/3, Neogeo, Neogeo Pocket, early PC games, and the Poke Mini.

Regarding systems like the N64, PSP, and Dreamcast, the answer is a firm no. Those systems require much more horsepower to run and if I’m being honest, the lack of anologue sticks would really hinder the enjoyment of those systems, so it’s not the end of the world.

Pokemon on RG280v

Can the RG280v Play Pokemon?

One of the big reasons many are turning to handheld emulators is the recent boom in playing Pokemon. Suffice to say, the RG280v offers up several options for Pokefans.

In terms of the main series, you’ll be able to play Pokémon Red, Pokémon Green, Pokémon Blue, and Pokémon Yellow from the Game Boy. Next up are the Game Boy Color games Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal. After that, we move on to the Game Boy Advance, namely Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, and Pokémon Emerald.

As for spin-offs, expect to see Pokémon Puzzle Challenge, Pokémon Pinball, Pokémon Trading Card Game, Pokémon Card GB2: Team Great Rocket is Here!, Pokémon Pinball: Ruby and Sapphire, and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team.

RG280v Best Firmware

The RG280v stock firmware is the Linux-based Opendingux. Price is going to factor in a lot with this handheld, so it’s safe to say it does the job for the cost. You’ll be able to find everything you need and tinker around with a handful of settings. I’d wager for most, there’s no need to think about changing the firmware at all. In fact, my RG350 still runs its original firmware, so you don’t need to upgrade if you’re happy with what it does.

If you are looking for the best RG280v firmware, or you like to push devices as far as they can go, the best option out there right now is the RG280v Adam Image.

The process is fairly straightforward and is mostly just a case of downloading the files, building the image, then flashing it to your device. But due to the possibility custom firmware can leave a device as useful as a cracked brick, we won’t be offering any specific advice here. Do so at your own risk.

RG280v vs Miyoo Mini

The other contender for the title of best pocket emulator is worth considering before you make any decisions. But first, let’s take a look at the size comparison.

  • RG280v: 89mm by 78mm by 18mm
  • Miyoo Mini: 93.5mm by 65mm by 18mm

To be honest, there isn’t much in it in the size department. The Miyoo Mini is slightly longer and slimmer, but unless looking at them side-by-side, chances are most wouldn’t spot any differences in size.

What it comes down to, really, is what’s inside. The Miyoo Mini is a much more recent product, and so, it boasts slightly better specs. Screen size is the same at 2.8-inches, and both use an IPS display. The Miyoo Mini does offer a higher resolution at 640 by 480, though.

In a similar vein, both systems run on Linux. Where things differ is the CPU speeds. While the RG280v offers a dual-core at 1.0Ghz, the Miyoo Mini opts for the more modern ARM Cortex-A7 dual-core at 1.2Ghz.

Cost

  • Anbernic RG280v: $79.99
  • Miyoo Mini: $59.99

The long and short of it is this: Both systems are great, and both perform very similarly. I’d argue the Miyoo Mini is the better system, but not by much – the blacks are deeper and performance is ever-so-slightly faster.

Either way, whichever system you pick up, you’ll come away happy with your purchase.

RG280v How to Add Games

As the console storage is but 16GB, most owners will want to upgrade that straight away. Thankfully, it’s a painless process.

  1. First, you’ll need an SD card – the Rg280v can handle SD cards up to 256GB in size, so your options here are many. Once you’ve picked out a size you’re happy with, pop it into a PC and format it to FAT32 (that’s the file system the RG280v will recognise).
  2. Next comes the easy part. Put the SD card into the RG280v and boot it up. The RG280v will take the memory card and create the folders in all the right places for you. Handy!
  3. Shutdown the RG280v and put the SD card back into the PC. Upon accessing it, you’ll see all the folders are where they should be. Now it’s just a case of copying the ROMs you want to move and pasting them into the specific, corresponding folder.
  4. When you’ve moved everything, stick the SD card back into the RG280v and the console should recognise the files and play them as it would normally.

Easy, right?

Anbernic RG280v Review – Final Thoughts

This all comes down to one question: Do you want to play retro games on a Game Boy-like device that fits in your pocket? If you answered yes, this is the device for you.

For the general populous, the more modern alternative the RG351 is more than enough. That console’s biggest problem is that it’s not quite as portable as it could be. If you’re after something to pass time on commutes or when someone’s stolen the TV, and that fits in your back pocket, the RG280v is the perfect distraction.

It’s got just enough power it needs to run the systems it can run beautifully. Sure, it’s not perfect, and could be more powerful when you compare it to modern releases. But for the price, the RG280v is a steal that’s sure to impress.

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Wesley Copeland

Wesley Copeland is a gaming and tech 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, and many more. He's also highly passionate about how tech can be used to better our day-to-day lives.