We have the eagerly anticipated RG552 from Anbernic review sample today. We will be unboxing it and taking a closer look at its features including the Android and Linux operating systems. Then we will run a bunch of emulators and compare the performance of them between the two OS’s.
RG552 Review Video
RG552 from Anbernic Unboxing
As always, let’s get started with the unboxing. First we have the RG552 retro gaming handheld which we will show in more detail shortly.
Next there is a US charger and UK plug adaptor. We will include a converter if you are purchasing in an EU country. Under the packaging is a USB Type-C cable for charging.
There is a user guide which is in full English and covers everything you need to get started.
There are two Micro SD Cards. The 16GB card contains the Linux operating system, and the 64GB storage card contains everything you need to get started and can go into the second card slot.
Last but not least are some screen wipes and screen protector to fit on your screen.
The Anbernic RG552 measures 7.8 x 3.3 x 0.7 inches (20 x 8.5 x 2 cm) and weighs 353 grams. The IPS touchscreen measures 5.36 inches with a resolution of 1920×1152.
On the left you can find the SELECT button, classic D-Pad and clickable Left Analogue Stick. On the right you can find the START button, four gaming buttons and clickable right analogue stick.
Along the top are Left and Right shoulder and trigger buttons. There is a mini HDMI port which you can use to connect to your TV or monitor for large screen gaming. There is a 3.5mm headphone jack and two USB Type-C ports. One is for charging and the other is for connecting peripherals to.
On the bottom you can find two speakers on either side. There are two Micro SD card slots, the left can be used for the Linux OS card, and the second for the 64GB storage. There are reset and function buttons in the middle.
On the back you can find two finger grip pads and the fan intake area. The fan is very quiet and barely noticeable even under full load with low music output.
The RG552 is available in two colours; Black and Bronze Gray.
Compared to the amazing RG351MP from Anbernic you can see that the RG552 screen is a fair bit larger.
But when compared with the GPD XP, the ultra widescreen is larger than the RG552. Personally I prefer the RG552 widescreen as it offers the best compatibility with Android games and emulators.
A very brief comparison between the RG552 and GPD XP with Geekbench 5. The RG552 scores 266 on single core and 714 on multi-core, and the GPD XP scoring 501 and 1601 on the respective cores. If you would like to see more benchmarks let us know in the comments.
RG552 Technical Specifications
|GPU||Integrated Mali T860 MP4|
|STORAGE||64GB internal eMMC (Android OS)|
16GB Micro SD Card (for Linux OS)
64GB Micro SD Card (for storage)
|BATTERY||2x 3200mAh (6400mAh). Lasts up to six hours depending on usage.|
|FAN||Fan is very quiet even while under full load.|
Dual Boot Operating Systems
There are two operating systems on the RG552. Android 7.1 is built into the storage and is booted into without the 16GB Micro SD card.
You can use the touchscreen or controls to navigate the menus. There are a bunch of emulators pre-installed which may take a little setting up initially to locate the 64GB Micro SD card and games folder. At the time of making this review, Google Play Store is not installed, but it may be added at a later date in a firmware upgrade.
The Linux operating system can be booted into with the 16GB Micro SD Card in the 1st card slot. If you are familiar with Emulation Station on other devices, then you will be right at home. The computers and consoles can be easily browsed and by default there are many set up and ready to go. Included are all the great 8 and 16bit systems and later consoles such as Dreamcast, PlayStation, Saturn and PlayStation Portable.
On to some emulator testing. Where possible we will be comparing the Android and Linux performance if there are emulators for both. If you are a true retro gaming fan then you can be assured that 8bit and 16bit classic consoles are all working great. So we will skip covering them in this RG552 review.
NOTE: In some early reviews of the sample, there was an issue with the audio lagging by around half a second on the Linux OS. This has been fixed in a firmware update for Linux OS and should already be up to date on devices sent to customers.
We start off with the SEGA Saturn and Yaba Sanshiro on Android. With no frame skipping on, Sega Rally Championship crawls at an unplayable pace. With Sexy Parodius it is far more playable, but does have some noticeable frame drops. Frame skipping didn’t seem to work for me but it should make the games more playable.
On the Linux OS, the Saturn emulator uses some frame skipping and SEGA Rally is far more playable, though you can see the frame skipping. Sexy Parodius runs great now and with less noticeable frame skipping.
Next up is N64Plus FZ on Android. We found the performance to definitely vary between which game you are playing on your retro gaming console. For example on Rampage we were in the 40 fps area. While on Road Rash 64 it was more in the 20’s to 30s. Enabling frame skipping will get it running at 60 or maybe change the emulator itself.
Linux performance seems to fare better with games running at 60 FPS for the most part. I couldn’t tell if there was a lot of frame skipping, so the performance seems to be better than the Android version.
PlayStation emulation is pretty much perfect on both Android and Linux. I did not see any frame drops while I tried out a bunch of games.
Dreamcast emulation seems to be very good on the Android OS with games running at a stable 60 frames per second. But as you will notice, if you change the resolution settings to widescreen 16:9 it will stretch the game to fit the display which looks horrible. I recommend leaving it in a 4:3 ratio.
Unfortunately on Linux, the performance takes a stumble with games running in the mid 40’s area. I would expect this to be fixed in an update to the OS.
GBA and Drastic
For the popular retro handhelds I did not have any issues with frame drops. Here we are playing Sonic Advance 3 on the GBA, it is running very well and also looks great on the screen!
And on the dual screen system we are playing FIFA 2011. Apart from not being able to switch to full screen it played very well.
Now onto the PlayStation Portable and the great PPSSPP emulator. On Android we had far greater performance thanks to Vulkan graphics support. This overall works better than OpenGL so we recommend changing to Vulkan in the settings.
Tekken 6 blazes along at mostly 50 to 60 frames per second and we did not notice any major issues. We tried a bunch of different games and got very good results.
Unfortunately God of War has still not reached 60 frames per second. We were getting from late 20’s to early 40’s depending on how busy the scene was at the time. With frame skipping enabled you can get this running at 60 and it is still very playable.
On Linux, the performance is far worse on God of War with the FPS struggling to get to the late 20’s area. Other games are more playable, but this definitely needs some improvement in a future update.
The Dolphin emulator is only available on Android. We tried a number of games and apart from some basic games we did not get near 60 frames per second. For Burnout 2 we were mostly in the 30’s with occasional low 40’s.
For Soul Calibur II we were getting mid to late 20’s for the most part. I checked the settings and couldn’t really get the performance to improve any more.
HDMI Output works in both Android and Linux. On Android it is essentially plug in and it does all the work for you. On Linux you will need to boot up, insert the HDMI cable, go into settings and change the audio to HDMI then reboot. Then change that back when you are finished using HDMI output.
Other than the Linux issue with the audio switching, HDMI output seems to work very well. It outputs to 1080p resolution maximum as we are trying on a 4K monitor. And on Android you can go into the settings to change it lower if you wanted to
So overall the Anbernic RG552 hardware is good, but far from perfect in regards to the software. I think some more care and time would have resolved a lot of these issues, especially with the Linux performance side of things. Anbernic has already fixed the audio lag issue and this should be in the final version released to customers.
We would also like to see some improvements to the Android OS.
In particular, Google Play Store to be added so you can easily add and update your apps. There is also an issue with the right analogue stick not being recognised which we have notified Anbernic about. [UPDATE 14/12/2022] Anbernic have released firmware updates for both Linux and Android OS. The audio lag in Linux is now fixed. And for Android, you can now install the Google Play Store and the issue with the right analogue stick is now resolved. This version of firmware should be in the models customers receive, but we will make RG552 firmware updates available for download on our site.
The issues are essentially software based, so we expect improvements over time from Anbernic. Or most likely from the real unsung heroes who work hard on custom firmware. I expect to see massive improvements from them in their custom firmwares.