The Steam Deck has revived interest in and demand for handheld Computers, a market that has been there for a while. This is similar to what the Nintendo Switch accomplished for consoles in 2017. Although the amount of engineering and technology that went into the Steam Deck is undoubtedly impressive, Valve’s goal to create a portable and inexpensive PC for gaming on the go means there is still room in the handheld market for something with a little more giddyup, which brings us to the Ayaneo 2.
Design: More elaborate than a Steam Deck
The Ayaneo 2 doesn’t go too far from the fundamental design of the Steam Deck, but it’s also clear right away that this isn’t some subpar copycat product either. It has a sizable 7-inch 1920 x 1200 LCD screen with strong brightness (just under 400 nits in our tests), which is surrounded by controllers set up similarly to those on an Xbox. Along with some more adjustable controls squeezed in on top that by default act as left and right mouse clicks, there are also helpful buttons on each side for accessing menus or serving as shortcuts. A great extra not present on the Steam Deck is the integrated fingerprint sensor that is even embedded into the power button.
Ayaneo’s attention to detail is one of the things that most strikes me. The entire system feels well-made. The PC’s casing is supple, strong, and has a really comforting heaviness. With cutouts for the joysticks and buttons, the system’s front is covered in a single sheet of glass, giving it a sleek, streamlined appearance. Much more care was taken by the company to ensure that no visible screws are present. But, there is a pick that is included that you may use to pry open the tiny coverings on either side if you really want to go inside. Just take care not to ruin the finish like I did.
The Ayaneo 2 has magnetic hall sensor joysticks and shoulder triggers that feel sharp and responsive, among other premium advancements over the Steam Deck. Contrary to the dead zone you get with Valve’s handheld, there is hardly none here. My favorite aspect of the Ayaneo 2’s design, though, is its bezel-free touchscreen, which has a very exquisite appearance.
Finally, even though neither device is fully pocketable in my opinion, the Ayaneo 2 is unquestionably more compact. The Steam Deck is almost a foot wide (11.7 inches), compared to the Ayaneo 2’s more manageable 10.4 inches.
Pricing and accessibility
Aya Neo is currently directly selling the Aya Neo 2. Pricing for the 16GB RAM/512GB storage option start at $1,099 (about £885/AU$1,550), go up to $1,299 (roughly £1,050/AU$1,830), and peak out at 32GB RAM/2TB storage. We’re focusing on that entry-level build for the purposes of this study, but we anticipate performance to be very comparable even up to that 32GB RAM threshold. The AyaNeo 2 is also offered by resellers like DroiX.
As of the time of writing, an IndieGoGo campaign (opens in new tab) is still active and (completely funded), allowing early adopters to purchase one of the gadgets for less than the suggested retail price.
It is therefore an expensive purchase, whether you compare it to some of the greatest gaming laptops (opens in new tab) on the market or even the entry price of Valve’s Steam Deck (beginning at $399 / £349 and going up to $649 / £569).
Performance: Zen3 has a significant impact
Raw performance is the Ayaneo 2’s second key advantage over the Steam Deck. The Ayaneo 2 features a more recent Ryzen 7 6800U CPU constructed on the Zen3+ design, whereas Valve collaborated with AMD to develop a bespoke chip based on the company’s Zen2 architecture. There is a noticeable increase in processing power.
The Ayaneo 2 scored 4,282 on the Wild Life Extreme test from 3DMark, matching or exceeding scores from comparably priced laptops like the Surface Laptop 5 (3,848) or the XPS 13 Plus (3,505). And depending on the game, the Ayaneo 2 is between 25% and 40% faster than the Steam Deck. The Ayaneo 2 averaged 54 frames per second in Shadow of the Tomb Raider at high settings while the Steam Deck only managed 40 frames per second. Even despite pushing almost twice as many pixels, the game was still able to produce a playable 35 frames per second at 1920 x 1200 (in SotTR) when I upped the resolution to make use of the Ayaneo 2’s full HD+ screen. Similar results were seen in Elden Ring, where the Ayaneo 2 averaged roughly 55 frames per second (fps) in 800p at medium settings as opposed to the Steam Deck’s 48 fps or 40 fps at 1200p.
Because of the battery life, you will need to estimate how long you can go without charging your device with caution. I managed to get about 56 minutes out of God of War with the TDP set at 33W and native resolution on the default settings. That is far less than what we obtained from the Steam Deck, but the game was also playing at a lower resolution on Valve’s device at the time. Grand Theft Auto 5 performed better at two hours and three minutes (TDP 15W, 1200p, default settings), and generally speaking, battery life will increase in accordance with those tests as the TDP is decreased. As a result, you may play independent video games for approximately five hours while using battery-saving settings and a TDP restriction of less than 8W. Given the effectiveness of something like the Nintendo Switch OLED, that’s a little disappointing. Yet, the amount of strain the AMD Ryzen 7 6800U can withstand is a logical response to its relatively short battery run-times.