Ayaneo 2S review: Evolution requires iteration

Joel Loynds
Ayaneo 2S running Xanadu Next

The latest handheld PC from Ayaneo is packed with power and comes in a wealth of options. However, what sets the 2S from the Ayaneo 2? We dig in to find out.

Ayaneo just can’t help themselves. If they’re not releasing a new system, they’re announcing a new one. If they’re not doing either, they’re teasing something else. They’re firing on all cylinders and the Ayaneo 2S, its latest refresh to the Ayaneo 2, is no different.

We received the B.Duck edition of the Ayaneo 2S, which comes with 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, and the new AMD 7840U.

So how is it? Should you be dashing out to upgrade your Ayaneo 2? Where does it stack with the Steam Deck and ROG Ally? We find out.

Key specs

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 7840U
  • GPU: AMD Radeon 780M
  • RAM: 32GB
  • Storage: 2TB NVMe SSD
  • Panel: 7-inch, 1200p panel
  • Price: Starts from $1139, $1,819 (Unit reviewed)
  • Where to buy: IndieGoGo


The Ayaneo 2S is housed in the exact same shell as its predecessor. From the top down, there’s nothing new to really report on here. It features that same lovely chunky feel, with the back sporting this delightfully smooth, but premium plastic. The top is a little odd, in that it’s a hard, reflective plastic, but it doesn’t detract from the overall device in any capacity.

Aside from the general aesthetics of the Ayaneo 2S, the B.Duck look is incredibly cute. The hot pink, with the pastel blue, really gives off the idea of a ‘fun’ device. We don’t get too many hardware options that extenuate fun anymore, with PCs and consoles looking either too utilitarian or edgy.

Ayaneo is also a victim of this, but the 2 and 2S sharing that rounded chunky look makes it seem much more inviting.

Buttons and no back paddles

No back paddles on the Ayaneo 2S

Our only major complaint is the decision to still keep the additional buttons, dubbed RC and LC, as these tiny extras, rather than expanding them out. While we get that this is a simple refresh and not a wholly new device, the 2S lacking any kind of back paddles feels like a key piece is missing.

Also after two weeks of using it, we still find the face buttons to feel stiffer than the competition, but our brains have rewired themselves to get used to it.

There’s also something to be said about Ayaneo’s general ingenuity. The company clearly understands it’s making a premium piece of hardware, and at every turn, the 2S surprised me with this foresight.

We’re also a huge fan of the little cover for the microSD card option, ensuring that no dust or debris get into the port, too.


It seems at every corner, the Ayaneo 2S was thought of as a premium option in a sea of handheld systems. The B.Duck model is fascinating in itself, offering a significant specs advantage over the competition.

Both the Steam Deck and ROG Ally top out at 512GB, which is still something we’ve deemed not enough for modern AAA games. Installing Forza Horizon 5 for benchmarking still takes up over 100GB, leaving little room for titles we’d actually like to play.

Ayaneo has your back

On the B.Duck, even after installing around 15 games, we still have a terabyte and a half left of space. It’s all the little things that Ayaneo have implemented into their different models that make the difference between it and the competition.

This includes what’s in the box. There’s a 100W GaN charger with four ports on it. You’re not left digging for another set of plugs, or an extension to charge your phone and handheld. It makes it feel like a true premium option in the heated handheld market.


The Ayaneo 2S also houses a 1200p screen screen, at 7 inches. They claim it’s bezel-less, but we think that clear plastic top might be a bezel in disguise. Rather than making a true outer rim to fill space, the whole top is the bezel.

However, it looks gorgeous. Every game we played had these deep, vibrant colors, and it just brought older titles like Fallout: New Vegas to life again. However, the odd resolution and aspect ratio (16:10) can cause some issues. In games like Dave the Diver, it took a few minutes of tinkering with the settings before it settled on a less stretched look.

None of this matters when you finally get the game to work as it should, and the bezel-less design completely absorbed us for hours at a time.

Windows rears its ugly head

Where the Ayaneo 2S falls is the same place where the ROG Ally and its compatriots also fell. Windows 11 is not a good operating system for these handhelds. While it opens massive doors locked off by developers who fear Linux, it rarely feels like it’s worth the effort.

The upcoming Ayaneo Kun will feature the missing trackpads that make navigating the Steam Deck’s desktop mode so easy, but here, it’s relegated to the sticks and buttons. It functions a little more naturally than the ROG Ally, however. The A button is your left click, and the stick-to-mouse movement doesn’t feel overtly inaccurate. We still found ourselves lurching for the touch screen at certain intervals, but it’s not the worst implementation around.

Ayaneo 2S control menu

We also appreciate that Ayaneo has its own control menu baked in, but it actively ruins the gaming experience. It also looks cobbled together, with a very “an engineer designed this” aesthetic. However, we actually preferred it over the ROG Ally’s Armory Crate settings, even if Armory Crate didn’t force most games we were playing to minimize. There’s no faff, just a pure piece of software to change how much power you’re drawing, or changing the brightness.

Windows woes

Though, through it all, it still emphasizes the importance of SteamOS. Regardless of how much power there is on board, and how easy it is to run some games on Windows in comparison, nothing beats a custom operating system. The fact we found ourselves loading up Steam Big Picture mode to attain the comfort of the Steam Deck on a frequent basis should tell you everything.

Some games when we shut the device down into sleep mode would simply crash on booting back up. This is a massive flaw in Windows on desktops, let alone a handheld portable where you might need to put the game down at a moment’s notice.

Ayaneo 2S controller and escape button

This all said, the Ayaneo 2S does have a key feature that not a lot of these devices have thought of. Next to the options button is a little button tacked onto the side. Pressing this brings you straight back to the desktop, no questions asked. The amount of times this has saved us from having to grab a keyboard or shut the device down upon a game crash exemplifies the device’s well-thought-out design.

They’ve thought of everything

Ayaneo 2S SD card slot

On top of this, we love that the 2S comes with three different USB-C ports. We’ve found each one sort of does its own thing, with one dedicated to power delivery, while the bottom one seems to be for video output. The third is for your accessories. Being able to use essentially a full kit without any dongles or risk of power running out is a joy and just a real comfort.

Weird vibrations

Ayaneo 2S top

We’re not a fan of the vibration embedded in the device though. Our time in Fallout: New Vegas, or Dave the Diver, both of which rely heavily on vibration to immerse you in the game. The device makes a terrible sound. This enormous buzzing noise goes against the premium build of the device. When playing games outside, it began to irritate those around us, making us decide that turning it off altogether is the better choice.

Game performance

No matter what we threw at the Ayaneo 2S, it managed to go above and beyond our expectations. The new AMD 7840U is absurdly powerful, but it’s not a surprise that we saw similar results to the ROG Ally. If reporting is to be believed, the Z1 Extreme and Z1 are spinoffs of the chip now favored by manufacturers.

This doesn’t mean that the battery life is good though. Gaming on the Ayaneo 2S might yield longer times than the Steam Deck, but we still only managed a couple of hours before reaching for a charger.

Power modes and the controller

The various power modes are also a good insight into just how capable the chip is, though. Of course, games ran considerably worse at 10W, but the default 22W mode is more than capable of playing games. While we preferred to use 33W almost consistently, it tanked the battery life rapidly.

We tried to do more than usual with our game testing. This included docking the 2S with the Corsair TBT200, which it accepted with no issues. A weird issue we ran into though was certain games would not acknowledge that we had a mouse and keyboard connected.

While the mouse and keyboard worked, it would routinely sling back to showing Xbox buttons. It seems like a game-to-game issue and not widespread, but not something we’ve seen before.

What games can you run?

First-person shooter games like Battlebit Remastered and Warhammer 40K: Boltgun were a pleasure, with smooth accurate movement. We never saw dips below 60FPS with Battlebit, and it even played well on a higher refresh rate monitor.

Fallout: New Vegas was easily modded – thanks to Windows – into a more functional game, and became our primary way to enjoy our replay. Meanwhile, indie games like Dave the Diver are perfect for the handheld space, and it’s a pleasure to play these games on the Ayaneo 2S screen.


3DMarkAyaneo 2S (33W)Ayaneo 2Steam Deck (Windows 11)Asus ROG Ally
Time Spy3146270016503114
Time Spy Extreme143712861481

As you can see from the benchmarks, the Ayaneo 2S is actually more powerful by a fair margin over the 2. However, this shouldn’t determine whether or not you go out and buy it. The jump between the 6000 and 7000 chips from AMD doesn’t seem to be worth it in the short term.

It’s also neat to see how it compares to the Z1 Extreme, with very minimal differences between the two.

The Verdict: 4/5

Should you run out and get the Ayaneo 2S? If you’re in the market for a budget powerhouse, we still say to look towards the Steam Deck. If you want simplicity and no hassle, we also say to go for the Steam Deck.

However, if the cash is burning a hole in your pocket, and you can’t decide between the various Windows-centric handhelds, we would firmly put the Ayaneo 2S as the top contender in that race. Especially the B.Duck model. Not only does it look cute, but it is a stacked device in the specs department and just a joy to use.

While we await a solution for Windows 11 on these types of devices, if you can get around the awkwardness, the Ayaneo 2S might be the perfect handheld for you.

About The Author

E-Commerce Editor. You can get in touch with him over email: joel.loynds@dexerto.com. He's written extensively about video games and tech for over a decade for various sites. Previously seen on Scan, WePC, PCGuide, Eurogamer, Digital Foundry and Metro.co.uk. A deep love for old tech, bad games and even jankier MTG decks.