Handheld gaming consoles have been around for a pretty long time now. Back in the beginning there were the Game & Watch, Game Boy, and Sega Game Gear, then it turned into the Game Boy Advance PSP, Nintendo DS, PSVita, and now we have the Nintendo Switch at the top of handheld consoles. Even though there are these successful consoles, they’re not just powerful enough to run the best PC games, and thus the handheld PC was born.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the best handheld gaming PC that you can (probably) get right now. Let’s get started!
- Play your entire Steam Library on-the-go
- You can get a dock for occasional TV or desk sessions
- Has great components and build quality
- It’s the cheapest and arguably the best-performing handheld on this list
- Might be a bit bulky to be truly portable
- It’s hard to find and buy without waiting on a reservation list
- Screen: 7-inch touchscreen @1280×800
- Processor: AMD Zen 2 APU @ 2.4-3.5GHz
- Graphics: ARM RDNA 2
- RAM: 16GB LPDDR5
- Battery: 2-8 hours of playtime
You might see it coming, but of course, the Steam Deck is the overall best in the handheld gaming PC category, first of all, it has a great support system, second, it’s being produced and developed by a reputable company, and lastly, it has the best price out of all the handhelds that we’re going to mention today. Although the main issue here is that the Steam Deck is hard to come by, there’s still a reservation system going on since the supply just can’t keep up with the demands yet.
In terms of power, the Steam Deck isn’t the most buff chip out in the block, it has an AMD Zen 2 APU, fun fact, the PS5, and Xbox Series X/S are both based on the AMD’s Zen 2 Core architecture. Next up, the Steam Deck also has an RDNA GPU which is interestingly also the same GPU that you’ll find on the Xbox Series X/S. Lastly, we have a plentiful 16GB LPDDR5 RAM, so far we have already seen the components on the Steam Deck are based on tried and tested components, but how does it stack up on some games?
Shadow of the Tomb Raider runs pretty well here with the 30fps at the highest setting and if you fiddle with some settings, it can get to 60 FPS. Cyberpunk 2077 on high churns the Steam Deck’s GPU and outputs around 20-30 FPS. Lastly, GTA 5 runs at a stable 50-60fps on low to medium settings.
AYA Neo Air
- Price is relatively cheap
- Highly portable (similar to the size of a Nintendo Switch Lite)
- Comes with an optimized Linux-based AYA OS (soon)
- Has a great 2.2-inch 1080p OLED display
- More expensive and less powerful than the Steam Deck
- Getting it through third-party outlets can get rather expensive
- Screen: 5.5 OLED Display @1920×1080
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 5-5560U @2.3-4.0Ghz
- Graphics: Radeon 6 GPU
- RAM: 16GB LPDDR4x
- Battery: 1.5-2.5 hours of playtime
Next up we have the AYA Neo Air, and this thing is running to compete with the Steam Deck. It has a size of a Nintendo Switch Lite, it has a great 1080p 5.5-inch OLED display, and it’s truly the handheld to get if you’re so frustrated that the Nintendo Switch OLED didn’t get a power bump last year.
There’s one thing that truly makes the AYA Neo Air a Steam Deck contender, currently, it comes pre-installed with Windows and you can even change it up to other versions of Windows or Linux, but soon enough, AYA will launch their AYA OS which is based on Linux and it is said to be able to run Steam without any problems.
Here’s another thing that makes it a solid Steam Deck alternative; it has similar pricing! The one thing that plagues these handheld gaming PCs is their expensive price tags since these are more of an enthusiast-niche product. Currently, they are on Indiegogo, but they’re projected to have a retail price tag that’s as low as $499, which is huge in the cottage industry of handheld gaming PCs.
According to AYA, the AYA Neo Air can run Elden Ring at 30-50 FPS, God of War at a stable 30 FPS, Red Dead Redemption 2 at 24-30 FPS, and Forza Horizon 5 at 40-55 FPS. Keep in mind that all these games are tested at 720p with low settings, but also remember that the AYA Neo Air has a small 5.5-inch 1080P OLED screen so it won’t be as noticeable.
- Images on the high-res 8.4-inch display look beautiful and crisp
- Great build quality and ergonomic design
- Delivers great gaming performance
- Unoptimized software
- Fans are too loud
- Hefty price tag
- Screen: 8.4-inch IPS Display @2560×1600
- Processor: Intel Core i7-1195G7 @2.9-5.0GHz
- Graphics: Iris Xe Graphics 96EU
- RAM: 16GB DDR4 RAM
- Battery: Up to 3 hours of playtime
Next up we have the OneXPlayer 1S, and keep in mind that we are now stepping into Windows handheld PCs, and that means a lot of customization options!
This OneXPlayer 1S can come with an Intel Core i7-1195G7/1TB SSD which we are going to reference in this review as it is the one I’ll recommend. Other configurations include Intel I7-1195G7/2TB SSD, AMD R7-4800U/1TB SSD, AMD R7-5700U/1TB SSD, and an AMD R7-5700U/2TB SSD. All models include 16GB LPDDR4x memory.
The best thing about the OneXPlayer 1S is its comfortable design. Its size is in between the Nintendo Switch which we all know and love and the Steam Deck which some might argue is too large. It has the usual controls in a familiar Xbox-style layout, unlike the Steam Deck which put both sticks on top. It’s a bit thick, but it’s fine, it’s a breather from the Switch’s uncomfortably thin design.
It has a great 8.4-inch IPS screen that has a resolution of 2560×1600, and to top it off, it has thin bezels and it is quite a looker let me tell you that.
The OneXPlayer comes with Windows 11 pre-installed, but you can pretty much install any version of Windows you like and even run Linux-based OS. As for its gaming performance, it can run Rocket League at a stable 55-60 FPS while on Quality Graphics preset, GTA 5 on a low/mid preset can run a stable 68-75 FPS, and lastly, Cyberpunk 2077 on low settings can run at 28-34 FPS.
GPD Win 3
- Portable and lightweight while also packing a punch
- Has a fingerprint sensor so you wouldn’t need to slide the keyboard up and down to type a passcode
- Great build quality, even with moving parts
- Noisy fan
- The flat keyboard isn’t great, the joystick layout is also weird
- Hefty price tag
- Screen: 5.5-inches touchscreen @1280×720
- Processor: Intel i7-1195G7 @2.8-4.7GHz
- Graphics: Intel Iris XE Graphics
- RAM: 16GB LPDDR4x
- Battery: 1.5-2 hours of playtime
Last but not least is the GPD Win 3. Now this one is cool, the screen slides upward to reveal a screen! It gives off major PSP Go vibes for me.
Let’s start with the controls which have a lot of interesting points other than the sliding screen. First, off it has an amazing D-Pad, then it has two okay-ish thumb sticks since the layout places both thumbsticks at the top, shoulder and trigger buttons are good as well, but finally, the A, B, X, and Y buttons work well but if you look closely, there are tiny PlayStation buttons semi-hidden inside the buttons. Before I forget there are two back grip buttons that you can remap as well.
The GPD Win 3 has a 5.5-inch touch display with a resolution of 1280×720, but does the performance looks good on that screen?
Fortunately, it’s pretty great, Forza Horizon 4 runs great on standard settings outputting a smooth and tweak-free 60 FPS. GTA 5 also runs great with the standard settings at 60 FPS, docking it however seems to take away some of those frames, but it still runs fine for the most part.
The GPD Win 3 is also around the size of the Nintendo Switch Lite and it’s pretty dense at 1.21lbs, still, it’s truly portable and it only fails to beat the AYA Neo Air in the thickness category.
Lastly, if you’re not satisfied with this handheld’s power, you can get the docking station and since the GPD Win 3 itself has Thunderbolt support, you can pretty much run external GPUs with this. But then again, you know it, you hate it, the Steam Deck just makes the GPD Win 3 seem like a total waste of cash.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the PSP coming back?Not anytime soon. Despite its popularity, Sony hasn't shown any sizeable interest in competing with the Nintendo Switch, which makes handheld gaming PCs one of the few remaining alternatives.
Is there a handheld Xbox?No, nor are there any handheld versions of the PlayStation 4 and 5. The closest you can get to a powerful gaming experience on the go are with handheld gaming PCs.