Ayaneo KUN review: Heavy weight, heavy price
The Ayaneo KUN is the company’s highest-end handheld yet, pushing the latest Ryzen processor further than anyone has before.
The Ayaneo KUN is no different, bringing a plethora of high-end parts to the company’s priciest handheld like hall effect sensors, a staggering 54W TDP, touchpads, and more. But is it worth the extra money? I’ve tested the device for several weeks, and it’s a thing of beauty if you’ve got the cash to splash.
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 7840U
- GPU: AMD Radeon 780M
- RAM: 64GB
- Storage: 4TB NVMe SSD
- Panel: 8.4-inch IPS
- Price: Starts from $999, $1,699 (unit reviewed)
- Where to buy: IndieGoGo
The Ayaneo KUN is by far the largest handheld I’ve ever had my hands on, the budding company knocked it out of the park with its design that really ends up being a mixture between an Ayaneo 2 and a Steam Deck.
Front and center, you’ll find an 8.4-inch IPS screen that delivers 1600p resolution at 60hz which is by far the biggest the focal point of the handheld. The KUN has staggered joysticks, with the d-pad on the left and ABXY buttons on the right. It would have been nice to see the company include a VRR display here, but that might be featured in a future handheld, the Ayaneo Flip.
You’ll also notice that Ayaneo has opted to include touchpads on the KUN, which improves the experience when navigating around Windows 11 as it’s not very touch-screen or joystick-friendly. It’s been a long time coming, and it works pretty well, and allows you to play mouse-based titles easier than ever before.
Another addition to the Ayaneo KUN is the front-facing camera that sits to the side of the left joystick. You’ll be able to use it for just about anything you can with a regular PC webcam, but it’s rather low quality. It does, however, offer support for Windows Hello which allows you to log into the device with just your face, which is a welcome boon. Just don’t expect to take any calls with it.
Up top you’ll find the fingerprint sensor/power button and a volume rocker beside a USB-C and USB-A port and the top vent for the company’s new “KUNPeng” heat distribution system. For controls, the KUN has your typical triggers and buttons on both sides.
The triggers, as well as both joysticks, use hall effect sensors. Thanks to their magnetic connection over a mechanical one, there’s less wear and tear, which means they’re virtually never going to quit working or need to be replaced.
Ayaneo added two programmable buttons to the top, called LC and RC, that provide users with quick shortcuts for more Windows-level features. Out of the box, they’re set to open up the on-screen keyboard and act as a back button. They’re slightly hard to reach without having to adjust your hand, but they come in handy quite often — especially when installing new games.
The bottom of the Ayaneo KUN has a USB-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack, which is about standard. You’ll find its four programmable buttons on the backside, and they’re extremely comfortable and easy to access while playing your favorite games.
There’s also a kickstand on the back, which hides the included MicroSD port just underneath it.
The weight is noticeable
Ayaneo solved battery woes with the inclusion of a 19,500mAh battery in the KUN, but the sheer size and weight of it is one of the KUN’s only downfalls.
The handheld weighs 950g, which converts to just over 2 lbs, and is about half of a pound heavier than the Steam Deck and Asus ROG Ally. It may not seem like much, but it quickly becomes noticeable during long playthroughs.
Aside from the weight, the KUN is extremely comfortable to use. The grips on the back of both sides allow my hands to lay perfectly when playing my favorite games, and all of the buttons are easy to access from there.
The Ayaneo KUN comes with AyaSpace 2, which gives the handheld a custom UI that loads automatically when you boot the system up. From there, it gives you a list of games you have installed as well as a plethora of options to sort through in settings.
From there you can customize your button layout, adjust the touchpads, set power options in custom presets, and more.
The addition of custom presets allows users to define specific FPS and TDP limits for different styles of games, which in turn brings better battery life and performance across the board. It’s great to see Ayaneo improve its software functions, and Ayaspace 2 feels intuitive and easy to use.
AyaSpace 2 also provides a large chunk of these features outside of the app as well through an overlay that pops up when you press the Aya button on the bottom right of the handheld. It’s quite handy to have, as this overlay allows you to customize your power profile without leaving the game.
The software is great for launching games, but managing the collection could be quite a bit smoother in my opinion. It’s quite the struggle to add games and apps that don’t come from Steam, Epic, or Xbox into the launcher, meaning you’re stuck going into the full Windows 11 interface to open these apps.
There’s no doubt that Ayaneo will continue to improve on AyaSpace, making it better and better each time, and I’m excited to see what else they have in store.
The AMD Ryzen 7 7840U is the most popular handheld chipset at the time of writing, and it’s gotten to that point for good reason. It can run just about everything you throw at it without skipping a beat.
You do have to turn the graphics down in just about every AAA game made in the last 3 years, but not so far that you won’t be able to enjoy it.
For example, Forza Horizon 5 ran at about 60 FPS on the “Medium” preset using the Ayaneo KUN’s full 1600p resolution without any issues during our testing.
What makes the KUN stand out from other handhelds is the fact that the company boosted the available TDP to 54W, adding a significant amount of power to Ayaneo’s latest device. But, it does come at a cost.
The downside to this is that it drains battery significantly faster, so it’ll be best to take advantage of it while plugged in — whether it’s via a cable by the couch or docked at your desk.
Battery life & fan noise
With high-end titles running on the Ayaneo KUN, you’re going to get around two and a half hours of battery life. Lowering the TDP to play older games, indies, or even retro titles will over double that with right around four to four and a half hours of battery. This is much better than its contemporaries like the ROG Ally and even older Ayaneo devices.
I played Annapurna’s Cocoon for around three hours, and the handheld’s fans stayed quiet while performing extremely well. Thanks to the 19,500mAh battery, I didn’t have to worry about immediately plugging it in while I perused my game library when I was done.
|Ayaneo KUN (Smart TDP)
|Ayaneo Air 1S (Smart TDP)
|Asus ROG Ally
|Time Spy Extreme
The Ayaneo KUN performed the best out of some of the most popular handhelds to date, coming closest to the Asus ROG Ally when using the company’s Smart TDP option. With SmartTDP, the handheld adjusts the wattage being used by the handheld as needed, which then offers better battery life in the process. It’s a neat feature, and we’re sure that if we whacked it up to the full 54W there’d be a slightly better result here. But, for now, the Ayaneo Kun looks like the fastest gaming handheld we have ever tested at Dexerto.
Should you buy it?
There’s no hiding the fact that the Ayaneo KUN is quite a bit more expensive than the ROG Ally and Steam Deck. Most gamers will probably choose one of those two, but the Ayaneo KUN offers more premium trimmings than you might otherwise expect. that most gamers are going for. However, the addition of hall effect sticks and triggers, a bigger screen, better battery life, and half a dozen other improvements make the handheld a rather exciting option.
But, you will absolutely be paying for the privilege.
For those looking for a Windows-based handheld that is going to offer long play sessions with some of the highest quality hardware available — the Ayaneo KUN is a solid purchase.
The Verdict – 4/5
The Ayaneo KUN is one of the best handheld gaming PCs to release in 2023. It offers plenty of hardware advantages over the more mainstream options with hall-effect sensors on the sticks and triggers and a much larger battery.
Unfortunately, its weight and size paired with price make it fall short of being perfect. While comfortable in your hand, it gets to be quite heavy after long sessions. The KUN’s sheer size makes it a pain to travel with as well, even across short distances. The $999 base model price is well worth the buy for those not planning to travel with it. However, with the $1700 price point of our reviewed unit, the line between whether or not you should buy it over a gaming laptop becomes smaller than ever. But, I can’t wait to see what’s next from Ayaneo.