Opinion: Should you buy a handheld gaming PC? Probably not

If you are into PC gaming, you’ve got probably heard of the brand new gaming console from Valve – the Steam Deck. I’m personally fairly thinking about it, because it has much more potential attain than the Nintendo Switch.

Unfortunately, the Steam Deck is not obtainable in Malaysia and importing one is close to inconceivable. So, what occurs if I wish to have a handheld gaming PC? The various is to get one which runs on Windows. But might these handheld consoles change into mainstream PC gaming, and must you purchase one? I most likely will not, and under are the reason why I feel it is a unhealthy thought.


Fixed/restricted efficiency


Benchmarks for the GPD Win Max launched in 2020 in native 1280×800 decision (picture from Wccftech)

One of the largest components for that will be the efficiency or the restrictions on efficiency to take care of the shape issue. Handheld gaming PCs do not are usually highly effective. This is as a result of the {hardware} cannot be too highly effective or it might be exhausting to take care of a comparatively moveable physique. There’s additionally the difficulty of cooling, as corporations want to search out the right combination of cooling efficiency and acceptable noise degree.

It does not assist that a lot of them use chipsets that are likely to run scorching, so the cooling techniques have a tough time catching up. Some corporations are going for AMD Ryzen chips for his or her handheld consoles, as these have extra highly effective built-in GPUs. These APUs are anticipated to allow increased efficiency on handheld consoles, and won’t want as a lot cooling.

Personally, I’m eyeing the not too long ago introduced AYANEO 2. This handheld gaming PC will include an AMD Ryzen 6800U chipset, which is anticipated to ship nice efficiency. Would it show to be highly effective sufficient to make handheld Windows gaming extra interesting? Well, we’ll discover out as soon as it is out in the marketplace.


The AYANEO 2 was not too long ago introduced and appears fairly promising


Lack of customisability

Besides restricted efficiency, handheld gaming PCs have one downside that makes them lower than interesting – lack of customisability. Unlike desktop PCs, you’ll be able to’t swap out the elements in a handheld gaming PC. This implies that they lack upgradability, which is essential to maintain up with the at all times rising necessities for brand new PC video games.

Sure, you could possibly improve the storage for some fashions with microSD chips or small PCIe SSDs. But neglect about upgrading the CPU as a result of it is most likely soldered onto the circuit board. Unlike laptops, you can also’t join an exterior GPU to the gadget for additional efficiency, which is kind of a bummer.


Like most handheld gaming PCs, the ONEXPLAYER Mini lacks upgradability


Unoptimised video games and software program

One of the the reason why the Steam Deck is getting a lot curiosity is the software program. Valve has finished an important job on the Steam Deck UI, making it a comparatively clean person expertise for a handheld console. Of course, I will not say that the Steam Deck is ideal.

In reality, loads of reviewers have identified that it has software program points. But for those who ask me, the Steam Deck does properly sufficient for what it gives and the UI hardly ever provides you issues. Moreover, Valve managed to make many video games playable out of the field.


There’s a devoted compatibility web page for the Steam Deck, however handheld Windows gaming PCs do not have that

At a look, Windows-based techniques should not be all that totally different. But it has loads of points, just like the UAC (User Account Control) prompts disabling trackpads. Overall, it is loads much less optimised for handheld gaming PCs, which makes them a ache to make use of.

It does not assist that many video games aren’t appropriate or carry out worse on Windows handheld gaming PCs. I’d get a Windows OS license to go along with the gadget, which is sort of good if I additionally wish to use it as a mini PC. But that is not likely what I keep in mind.


High price


Some fashions can be found on native platforms like Shopee, at scary costs

Another massive purpose that handheld Windows gaming PCs will not work is price, extra so for Windows-based ones than the Steam Deck. For reference, the Steam Deck is USD399 (~RM1758). It’s an okay value that is considerably similar to present sport consoles, however not precisely low cost contemplating its restricted storage. And if I need extra storage, I’d need to pay extra for an extra PCIe SSD.

The Windows fashions are far more costly. For occasion, the ONEXPLAYER Mini – a decently highly effective handheld gaming PC – sits at a hefty USD1259 (~RM5546). It’s 3x dearer than the Steam Deck however solely has the show as a bonus over the latter. That Full HD+ show additionally resulted in poor battery life, so it is exhausting to name it a strong win. At this degree of pricing, I somewhat simply shell out extra money and get a desktop gaming PC.


Low availability


Some manufacturers solely have 1 or 2 fashions obtainable via native platforms

Last however not least is availability. All of those consoles, together with the Steam Deck, have restricted availability. Sure, you could possibly import a few of them through overseas e-commerce web sites like Taobao or eBay. However, you will probably need to pay exorbitant costs to scalpers. I’ve a buddy in Australia that simply purchased one from eBay, and he paid practically RM4000 for it. Yikes!

Some handheld Windows gaming PCs are extra accessible for us Malaysians. For instance, you’ll find some AYANEO or ONEXPLAYER fashions on Lazada or Shopee. However, be ready to pay RM4000-8000 for one unit, relying on the vendor. Moreover, these are imported items which can be often from China. If you run into any points, guarantee claims or repairs might take weeks if not months.



Handheld gaming PCs have plenty of issues to unravel, comparable to bizarre management schemes…

Due to the explanations above, I do not see handheld PC consoles changing into mainstream for PC players. The Steam Deck is the most suitable choice in that class, and even that console has its share of points. Would I get one if a model might resolve or handle all of the factors above? Definitely. Do PC players want that sort of portability? That’s a bit extra debatable.

But what do you concentrate on this matter? Are handheld PC gaming consoles definitely worth the cash? Share your ideas within the feedback, and keep tuned to TechNave for extra articles like this sooner or later.

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