We have been reviewing handhelds for well over 4 years now, mainly within the emulation niche, but with the adaptation and constant evolution of the best handheld gaming PC’s they’re getting closer and closer to low and mid range portable emulators.
So, we thought it was about time we got our hands dirty and moved from the best retro handhelds to the best handheld gaming PC’s, giving you an interesting perspective from someone who has reviewed and tested over 200 handhelds in his time.
There seems to be more and more new devices filling up the portable PC space, some great, some not so much, so we’re only listing the best of the best and why you should snag them if you’re on the market to play your PC games on the go.
Let’s jump into my favourite handheld gaming PC’s of the year.
With the upgraded OLED display and slight power bump, this handheld is perfect for those with a large Steam library.
If you respect minimalistic design and want one of the most comfortable gaming PC’s on the market then AYANEO has you covered.
Table of Contents
1. AYANEO 2S
AYANEO 2S is by far one of the best handheld gaming PC’s on the market today and is the newer sibling to the AYANEO 2. It outperforms the Steam Deck by a long shot and has been designed to look like something from outer space.
In terms of specs, the AYANEO 2S features a Ryzen 7 7840U CPU and a Radeon 780M GPU, partnered with up to 32GB’s or DDR5 RAM.
It has up to 2TB of storage and a stunning 7” IPS touchscreen display that’s incredibly bright at 500 nits and is one of my favourite parts of the entire device, it has a resolution of 1920 x 1200 and it also has no bezels at all!
I was playing games such as God of War, Hi-Fi Rush and Destiny 2 on here, which is hard to believe but it works. It was astonishing to realise that i can now take AAA games with me wherever I want to, with great performance.
The design is close to flawless, with rounded edges, a front glass panel that wraps around the analogue sticks and action buttons alongside large back grips making it comfortable to hold for hours on end.
AYANEO are creating phenominal products, and this is one of their best. They are constantly pushing the boundaries of handheld innovation.
Yes, it’s far more expensive than the Steam Deck, but its for those that want to experience one of the best portable PCs in terms of performance.
It’s hard to compete with Steam, due to their size and strategy of making a revenue loss on the Steam Deck which they then recover from game sales, but AYANEO are certainly keeping them on their toes, that’s for sure, especially with the upcoming AYANEO Kun.
2. Steam Deck
It wouldn’t be a best handheld gaming PC’s list without the holy grail that is the Steam Deck. If anyone can build a powerhouse portable PC it’s the team behind Steam.
The Steam Deck starts at $399 and is being dripped out to customers throughout the year after their mass influx of pre-orders and again… chip shortages and shipping delays.
It’s a way to play all of your Steam games on the go in a fluid natural form that brings the best of Steam to your hands wherever you are whenever you want.
It’s big, it’s chunky but it packs a punch and the design layout even though it looks weird, kinda works.
The Steam Deck features a 4-core AMD Zen 2 CPU, an 8-core AMD RDNA GPU with 1GB video memory, 16GB of RAM, up to 512GB of storage and a 7″ 60HZ IPS display (1280 x 800).
But where it works is the fluidity between your games, and how all of the PC games work on a handheld device. Originally this would have been impossible, but today’s tech has made it a reality and playing MMORPG games on a handheld device has never felt so good.
We’ll admit some games do need more tweaking to become fully Steam Deck friendly, but as the days go by more and more games are becoming natural on this device.
You can also sync the Steam Deck with a dock that plugs directly into a display, and partner it with a great gaming mouse to turn it into an awesome portable PC.
3. Steam Deck OLED
You may be wondering why we ranked the “original” Steam Deck higher than the OLED, because lets face it the OLED display makes it far better in many ways.
But that said, the OLED is an extra $150 making it considerably more expensive, so actually for the best bang for your buck in my opinion the original is best.
However, the Steam Deck OLED is a much welcome upgrade and makes the Steam Deck close to flawless thanks to the crispy new display that adds a whole new level of immersion and a slight improvement to performance.
The performance bump won’t be overwhelming at all, and only slightly noticeable when gaming, but this adds enough features to make it a worthy upgrade should have the original and don’t mind splashing the cash.
Valve has created an incredible handheld, and we look forward to seeing ways they upgrade the Steam Deck over the coming years.
4. ROG Ally
The ROG Ally is ASUS’s take on competing with the Steam Deck, and although I personally don’t think it’s better, there’s no denying that it’s doing the rights things, especially for those that want a purely dedicated Windows Handheld Gaming PC.
It starts at around £699/$850 with impressive specs, featuring Ryzen’s new Z1 series CPU’s, a large screen 7″ FHD display at 120hz and better than average battery life.
It’s also been designed to be incredibly comfortable, while keeping the modern, hi-tech look that is typical of ASUS products while being slightly more portable than its bigger rivals.
We interviewed Casey Neistat, one of the world’s most popular YouTuber and the ROG Ally is his current go-to for multi-use gaming, proclaiming that it’s “an all-round Windows PC, allowing me to game on the go, and use it as a PC for work when docked”.
Team it up with one of the best controllers for Windows PC’s and you have an incredible gaming machine on your hands.
It does price itself out of the “affordable” market, but makes up for it in style.
5. ONEXPLAYER 2 Pro
The ONEXPlayer Pro 2 is a monstrosity… in a good way, not only because it looks like it was designed by aliens but because it packs a serious punch too.
It can play most of your AAA games thanks to the AMD® Ryzen™ 7 7840U CPU, 32GB RAM, masses of battery and a whopping 8.4″ IPS display.
It also takes respects from the Nintendo Switch because it has removable controllers allowing you to play in grip mode, docked into HDMI or using the kick stand in portable mode.
It is a little bit bigger than other handheld PC’s on this list, allowing for multiplayer sessions on the go to be more engaging thanks to the big screen.
Some may say this handheld is too big, which I can agree with, however I know some of you will happily sacrifice potability for power.
ONEXPlayer have been building handhelds for a few years now, and are certainly forcing others, including Valve to innovate in the space.
6. AYANEO Air
We were lucky enough to get early samples of the AYANEO Air, a extremely portable handheld gaming PC rocking a AMD Ryzen 7 5825U processor, making it capable of playing some AAA games on low settings.
It’s also the world’s first handheld gaming PC featuring an OLED display, and I can confirm the display is stunning, the 1080p resolution combined with the bright, crisp colours is just an absolute pleasure to play on.
The device even comes with LEDs behind the analogue sticks and a unique gradient colour across the shoulder buttons giving it a very unique look which is hard to do when it feels like a new handheld is coming out every single week.
At the thinnest point the AYANEO Air Pro is roughly 21mm thick, making it incredibly portable, as if it should be impossible to call this a “PC”, oh, and it only weighs just over 400g making it easy to play for long periods of time.
But that’s the problem, with the amount of power it requires to perform high-end gaming quality, it drinks the battery life very quickly, so quickly that when playing the latest games, it only lasts just over an hour from out testing.
This is the only downfall with this handheld. The battery life makes it less “portable” than others, but nonetheless, it’s by far the most impressive handheld gaming PC I have ever played on.
Halo Reach, on the go, on a handheld? Yep, that works, and that’s just how well thing performs.
Read our full review here: AYANEO Air Review
7. AYN Odin
A handheld that you probably wasn’t expecting to see on this list is the AYN Odin, a new handheld that was fully backed on Indiegogo within a couple of weeks, but rather targets Android emulator enthusiasts rather than PC gamers.
However, recently it has the ability to side load Windows due to the touch-screen and connected controls, but why it’s on the list comes down to power per dollar ratio.
The AYN Odin costs just $199 and packs enough power that it can emulate the best Gamecube games on the go without any trouble.
For those wanting to load up Windows on it, it still performs very well. It’s a handheld that you’d buy to play your older PC games, certainly not your newer AAA games due to the power it needs to run them well.
The AYN Odin features a 2.0GHz Dimensity D1000G CPU, a ARM Mali-G57 GPU and RG4B RAM with a 6″ 1080p IPS Display. Not the best on the list, but damn impressive when you consider the small price tag.
It also feels great in the hand, with superb controls, great battery life and cool LED’s around the handheld that you can turn on an off like Iron-Man.
If you’re looking to start dabbling in handheld gaming PC’s the AYN Odin maybe for you, but we will inform you that loading Windows on it maybe difficult for some as it comes pre-loaded with Android, not Windows.
Read our full review here: AYN Odin Handheld Review
This article may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to purchase an item we may earn a commission. Thank you for your support.
A 31 year old British fella that’s had a Gameboy ever since he was a child. Brandon is the founder of RetroDodo and has created a YouTube channel with 260,000 subscribers dedicated to retro gaming products. He now wants to create the No.1 site to showcase the latest retro products from around the globe.