GKD Pixel Review

Buy the GKD Pixel here: https://joeysrh.link/GGG_GKDPIXEL

Looking for the setup guide for the GKD Pixel? Click here.

What is this? + Specs

Today, we’re going to be reviewing the GKD Pixel, which is this extremely tiny handheld right here, it’s smaller than a credit card. I’ll also give you some tips for setup and all that.

This retails right now for $90 US dollars through GoGameGeek, which is the company that sent me this device for review. As always, they have no input in what I say and they haven’t seen this video ahead of time, but check them out if you’re looking at buying this handheld or others.

That $90 price tag is a tough pill to swallow here as I personally don’t think it earns that price with what you’re getting, and I think you’ll see that by the end of this review.

Specs are boring, so I’ll put them on screen while I talk about what this device can and can’t do. Obviously with this screen size, you’ll want to keep all of your expectations in check and basically think of this as a little game boy machine. It can do some PlayStation 1 games, the lighter ones, but I wouldn’t bother buying this for anything above Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis and all of that. You won’t have a good time if you do.

Some neat things to point out is it has a USB C port, but the coolest part of this device besides the fact that it’s metal, is the led indicator on the side. 

It adds a bit of style to this device, and looks super cool while charging and all of that. I don’t think anyone would buy the device just because of this, but the entire look and feel of the device actually is pretty good. They did a great job on the design and the colors.

I have the blue here, but honestly, most of the colors look great. Have to praise them on that. 

One spec, or lack of I want to talk about is WiFi. There’s no WiFi in this device, and you might be thinking, well who cares? And here’s the weird thing. I can vividly remember that WiFi was advertised for this device, and the reason why is because that was the only reason I said yes to receive one for review and the only reason I was interested in it. I don’t watch others reviews before I do my own, so I had no idea that this did not have WiFi at all despite the fact that they actually promoted it as having WiFi on their Twitter, and other websites said the same. So no, there’s no WiFi, and that’s a shame, especially for how expensive this is compared to its competitors. 

Feel & Comfort

All of that aside, the feel of this handheld is actually pretty good for such a small one. Look, obviously there’s a certain segment of people that are even interested in a mini handheld like this, and you know who you are. I am not one of you, I personally don’t see a use case for these and it’s not something I would buy, but I’ll put myself in the shoes of someone who does for this video. I think overall, it’s as comfy as it can be for a device like this. It’s not going to be as good as something like the TrimUI Smart, which is probably my favorite of these small handhelds and it’s also much smaller than the Miyoo Mini, which I do prefer over this, but I wouldn’t say this is bad in its own right considering it’s just different and smaller than both of those. 

The Metal makes it feel premium, and the colors and look give it that as well. I don’t know if you’ll be shaking this device at all, but there is a rattle that you can hear if you do so, which is sort of my only knock on the build quality so far. 

On the buttons end, I’m pleasantly surprised by them, these are very clicky and loud buttons, so keep that in mind, but the actual feel to them is very tactile and good. They’re clicky, both the dpad and the face buttons. Now, being as small as it is, I did have trouble with my thumb being bigger than the buttons and so finding myself hitting buttons I didn’t want to hit during regular game play, which is kind of a given with a device this small. The L2 and R2 buttons are also very hard to hit on their own without hitting the L1 and R1 buttons.

Overall, from an ergonomics, comfort and buttons perspective, I can look at it from two ways. If you look at it from the side of, this is the size of the device and we had to cram all of this in here, then I think they did a good job and it’s as good as you’re going to get with this form factor. But if you’re here wondering if it’s comfortable, or ergonomic or anything like that in comparison to every handheld out there, then obviously the answer is no. I think they did the best they could for this form factor, but I also don’t know if this form factor needed to exist. 

Software Woes

Let’s turn on the device since that’s where everything starts to go down hill. 

First thing you’re going to notice, and this will be confusing for a lot of new handheld owners, but there’s a section for Emulators, Games and RetroArch. Your first thought is probably which one do I go into to play games, and that’s a very good question without a good answer. The Games section is ported games, so not emulated games that I could find, so you can safely ignore that if all you’re looking to do is play some Pokemon or other retro games.

So the question becomes Emulators or RetroArch, and the answer is yes. I’ve found that games run better in Emulators, which are standalone emulators, rather than in RetroArch on this device, but it’s not a blanket statement, just for the most part. For example, if you try and run Pokemon Emerald in RetroArch using gPSP, it doesn’t work. Try it using mGBA, and it runs, but the audio is hitching, so it’s not playing at full speed and this won’t be a good time for you. So you head to the standalone ReGBA emulator, and it all runs smoothly and just fine from what I could tell. Personally, I think I’m past the point where I’m spending $90 and GBA games don’t just run, but I know some of you out there like a challenge. 

I think for the most part, it’s good to just stick with the Emulators section for this device if you’ll be buying it, I had the most success overall with getting games to just run out of the box using the standalone options.


So let’s talk about some issues, besides the horrible user interface and really not beginner friendly aspect of this device, it gets even worse from here. A lot of the device isn’t translated out of the box, so be prepared for that, and a good example is if you’re in a game and push the menu button, you’ll see what’s supposed to be a shortcut image in the background, but it’s not translated. So you just have to try it out yourself and you find that it’s mostly adjusting the image and aspect ratio of the screen and all of that. 

Let me just add in here as well, there’s no actual sleep mode for this, which for a device like this, is kind of a necessity and puts it behind its competition.

Next is there’s actual sound issues, like static that you can hear with crackling and distortion, but also I’ve found the sound cuts out randomly as you’re playing. Like once every minute or so, but I didn’t time it. And plugging in headphones isn’t any better, it’s just as bad and more noticeable.

I thought it was the frame issues, because that’s another issue. Something is off with the games, they’re not as smooth as what their frame rate suggests. It’s not tearing, and I’m not sure if it’s a vsync issue, but you can feel that things are off. There’s some big framerate issues that happen randomly that I’m not able to pin down and I just don’t have the motivation to do so. This device is for sale to the general public, I’m not being paid to beta test your device for you. 

And then we come to the light bleed issues, if you’re susceptible to it, you’re not going to like this. It’s prevalent right on boot up and while you’re playing, you can see the light bleed. This is a very poor choice of display panel in all honesty, it’s not that great at all and I could have given them a pass if they weren’t charging $90 US dollars for this.

Lastly, to round out the list of issues here, the device gets significantly warmer than I expected. Not really a surprise since it’s a metal shell, but it’s definitely a scenario where it’ll get warm in your hands if you’ll be playing for a bit, although with these ergonomics, I doubt you will. I assume for most this is a pick up and play device, but without sleep mode, I’m not sure it even fits that need. 

MinUI helps a bit

So that’s my round up of issues and honestly, if you’re going to buy this device, you most likely want to install MinUI on it since that’ll be a better experience overall. It won’t solve the audio crackling, or audio issues, that still happens, and same with the framerate issues, but at least it’s a better frontend experience overall and it does have sleep mode functionality. 

Ideally, you just don’t buy this at all and buy a TrimUI Smart or Miyoo Mini if you really want a tiny handheld, but I could see the use cases for this if software improves. Man, how many times have I said that lately? RG35XX Plus, H, Gameforce, this now, even the Retroid Pocket 4 Pro had some massive issues at launch.

Finding ROMS & BIOS on the device

Anyway, if you did buy this, or are planning to, let me give you some insight into where ROMS and all of that go. Pop the SD card into your PC, and you’ll likely get a popup to format the SD card, and that happens almost all the time with these devices.

Do not format it, never format it when it asks, it’s just Windows not knowing how to handle that partition. Click cancel and ok. Now you can see the ROMS partition, and you likely can’t access the USB Drive or other partition, which is fine.

In the ROMS partition, there’s a manual, hooray. It doesn’t really tell us much, but feel free to read it if you want.

What we want is the roms folder, and inside of that is all of our system folders, so you can now easily see what games are loaded, and also add or remove games if you want. Super simple.

If you head back to the root, and then jump into the minira folder, then saves, this is where your retroarch saves will be. 

If you’re looking for standalone emulator saves, I actually couldn’t find them, which means they might be on a different partition. 

Wrap Up

But at this point, just use a different device. I think that’s my takeaway at the end of this. It’s a nice looking device, the blue and other colors are great, it’s going to look super good on my shelf, but that’s where it’s going to sit forever. I think both the Miyoo Mini and TrimUI Smart are better purchases than this in every way for a functional mini handheld, and while the design and outside of the GKD Pixel looks nice, it needs to actually work as a handheld for it to be worth a purchase, especially at the price they’re asking for it.

This is just another lazy release to add onto the pile of others that we’ve gotten recently, and while this sort of thing worked two years ago when retro handhelds was a smaller community with less options and devices, this kind of release doesn’t work in 2024 when there’s so many devices that we can choose from. Hopefully these companies start to learn that. 

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