If you’re a big fan of metal shells, then you can’t get happier after the launch of GKD350H at the end of 2019, as well as hearing the news of a metal version RG350m on its way in March 2020. Leave alone the price first, we all know they’re money killers. People keep making comparisons of these two devices for a long time ago. Thus, what we really want to figure out is how their specs and performance compete with each other? Being upgraded into metal versions, do their manufacturers upgrade other specs too?
One big obvious similarity they share is the metal case. Other than that, they are different in many aspects. An important reminder before we get started: metal GKD350H and RG350m both have their pros and cons. So it would be a matter of a personal inclination to pick up the better one.
How they feel?
Weight and Texture
Being metal versions, the last thing possible for metal GKD350H and RG350m is that they feel like cheap plastic toys, no. They are similar in weight and are quite hefty. Their aluminum alloy texture makes me feel like I’m touching on some fine postmodernism industrial art.
When I grab on GKD like this, I can feel the angular cutting on the edges. While the angular lines make GKD350H seem to be an art with outstanding individuality, RG350m is more moderate for its smooth lining and offers me a more comfortable experience.
Personally, I opt for RG350m’s build quality because GKD350h seems to be more like a handcrafted work. Anyway, they both feel premium and deluxe, no doubt.
Design and Color
GKD350H integrates its hard style by making all buttons even the analog stick in metal, whereas RG350m reducing its hardness by keeping buttons and analog stick plastic. As for the color, GKD350H gets two choices, silver, and red and gold. It is said the idea of red and gold is inspired by Iron Man. RG350m has three color options, which are metal grey, pale blue and rose gold.
Accords with minimalism, GKD350H only gets one printing down on the right bottom indicates its model number. But for RG350m, some would find the big orange “Anbernic” logo distracting down the screen.
It’s impressive to have a sunken metallic cap on GKD350H’s analog stick, which is told to be inspired by the design of Nintendo 3DS XL. This feels good, however, its single stick is inferior to RG350m’s dual Switch analog, that can do a better job in ps1 games. Also, RG350m’s rubber surface offers more friction when your fingers hold the analog.
It worth extra mentioning that the metal GKD350h now has L2/R2 buttons, compared to its plastic version with only L1/R1 buttons. The shoulder buttons are all made in metal, rising slightly from the shell but can be easily pressed. As for the d-pad and abxy buttons, they are pretty clicky and if you’re into mechanical keyboard, you might like the touch. But if I press frequently on its d-pad, it might get stuck.
The only thing I feel inconvenient about GKD is that it doesn’t have volume buttons. I haven’t figure them out yet. But as you can see, on RG350m the volume buttons are on the left-hand side of the machine, quite handy.
They both have extended TF card slot, only that GKD350H’s system card is internal and RG350m’s external. No reset button could be spotted on GKD350H, but we can see a reset button right between two TF card slots on RG350m.
Controls in Games
Now GKD has a second pair of L/R buttons that make my control in some PS1 titles more flexible. I played my favorite games Race Rash and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (of course I’m a Pixar fan) for a while, which I can’t imagine back to the days when I only own its plastic version without L2/R2. RG350m is also with two pairs of shoulder buttons and it’s hard to tell which one feels better. But I would say RG350m’s shoulder buttons are more ergonomic, with rounded edges that I can lay my fingers on them. What I really want to mention is the dual analogs on RG350m. When playing games requiring dual analogs, no doubt it can offer better controls. The characters are swift as long as my fingers can follow up the action speed (unless my brain can’t).
Unzipping the metal shells of two mechanical monsters, how well do their core support? Clearly, if you’ve been keeping up with the reviews of GKD350H and RG350 for a while, you definitely know the difference in their CPU. For those who have not, here are the statistics. GKD350H is chipped with a 1.5 GHz X1830 CPU while RG350m’s a 1.0 GHz JZ4770. They’re still the same in the metal versions. In other words, theoretically speaking, metal GKD350H still runs faster than RG350m. But we need to note that RG350m provides solid performance in the emulations it supports, such as FBA, GBA, GB, GBC, SFC, FC and so on.
Metal GKD350H is very powerful in emulating big PS1 titles. It can run them incredibly fluently, has unbelievable high frame rates and no screen tearing. If you find the display is stretched, you can adjust the ratio in settings. RG350m’s not bad in playing most of the PS1 games. But it can get stumbled in some of them when the animation becomes complicated and skipped frames will occur from time to time. We can’t be too harsh on it, after all, inside it is only a JZ4770.
Overall, in-game performance, GKD350H defeats RG350m in PS1 titles, for sure. In other emulations like SNES and GBA, I really can’t tell the difference in their performance. In other words, if you aim for PS1 games, GKD350H is the way you’ll want to go instead of RG350m.
Which One Should I Buy?
Last few words before it comes to an end. Comparing two excellent metal handhelds is not like a thing of black or white or right or wrong. After reading these gushing words, I’m sure you’ve already had your own answer on your preference. RG350m’s superb build quality and controls fares against GKD350H’s solid performance in PS1 games. If you like a handheld with ergonomic buttons and smoother control of dual shock analog stick, RG350m is the winner. But if you care for extreme fluency in big PS1 titles, GKD350H is the killer. It fully deserves the name of “the fastest retro handheld”. However, I guess the biggest question now is where to buy a metal GKD350H.
I noticed that in many players’ reviews and comments, the only thing they care about is what CPU RG350m adopts instead of the materials of RG350m. It’s so true that if RG350m runs more fluently, with its current design and features, it’s definitely invincible in the retro handheld market. GKD350H has always worked fine for people who don’t play the N64 or Dreamcast; but its build quality and button design need to be improved. It’s hard to decide, but I personally prefer RG350m for that I can live with its frame skipping and I prefer its fine build quality. Both metal GKD350H and RG350m are good choices but with their prices remaining on the high side, most users can’t stand with it. So, you hear us, manufacturers? Is it possible to make GKD350H and RG350m with all wonderful current features in a plastic shell later? As long as to keep the price the same as their normal plastic versions.
|CPU||Ingenic X1830||Ingenic JZ4770|
|Screen||3.5″ 320×240 IPS||3.5″ 640×480 IPS|
|Battery||2300 mAh||2500 mAh|
Fastest running speed
Powerful performance in PS1
Has L2/R2 buttons
Dual analog sticks
High definition display
Stable performance in games
Nice build quality
Two card slots
|Cons||D-pad sometimes gets stuck|
Feels like handcrafts
No reset and volume buttons
|Stumbles in some PS1 titles|