Steam Deck alternatives can be a wild, messy world. But, we think that we have gathered a list of contenders for the best alternatives you can get your hands on in 2023.
Given the popularity of Valve’s Steam Deck, it seems inevitable that Portable PCs would respond by arriving on shelves in a handheld shell. Companies like GPD and Ayaneo are responding to a market that demands higher performance, no matter the cost.
Given there are so many coming up from brands, it can be hard to figure out which one would actually be the best for your money. Needless to say, none of the handheld alternatives really manage to beat the Steam Deck on price, but instead focus their efforts on something else: Power.
Many of these current handhelds will be using AMD’s Zen 3 architecture, which is more powerful than the Steam Deck. However, graphics performance remains around on par with Valve’s portable powerhouse.
The Ayaneo 2 is the company’s next-generation handheld. With hall-sensing analog sticks in addition to powerful hardware under the hood, this handheld has to be one of the best ones that we’ve seen around so far. From its exquisite build quality to the power under the hood, the Ayaneo 2 has it all, if you can live without the trackpad seen on a Steam Deck.
In our testing, the handheld managed to handle all manner of games, including Cyberpunk 2077 at 60 FPS. Since it has a higher resolution than the Steam Deck, you can also run titles with gorgeous high resolution, afforded by the bezel-less IPS display. The Ayaneo can run you around $949, so you will be paying for the privilege.
Ayaneo Air Pro
The Ayaneo Air Pro isn’t as powerful as the Steam Deck, and while it does come in at $600, it provides a similar performance to its Valve counterpart. Ayaneo has a bigger range of consoles, with a far deeper user interface for gaming purposes.
What you’ll find with the Ayaneo Air Pro is a much smaller, slimmer design compared to the Steam Deck. While it might not be as powerful, it makes for an excellent Windows gaming device at 720p. It also helps that it comes equipped with a delightful OLED screen.
Yes, it was going to make an appearance as an alternative. While the Switch might be getting on in years, for those who want that same bounty of games to take with you on the go, this is the way forward.
For now, at least.
The three different versions of the Switch will all provide the same performance, but the Lite cannot be connected to the TV.
Nintendo’s current pricing is still considerably lower than Valve’s Steam Deck, with a lot of the games you’d be looking to play on the go, also available – at much worse resolutions – on the Switch.
A great benefit of buying games through the Switch’s eShop is the collection of ‘gold coins’, which you can then transfer over into your local currency to get discounts on games.
OneXPlayer has recently announced the second edition of their handheld, but that’s not to discount the current choices. The two on sale right now are the Mini editions, sporting either an Intel i7-1260P and Intel Xe graphics, or AMD 6800U with RDNA 2 graphics.
Both of these devices are absurdly powerful in what they sport outside of the specs. The USB-4, as well as supporting up to 100W GaN charging and it has Wi-Fi 6. This should ensure that transferring data, charging and even your downloads will all be excessively quick on the right hardware setup.
These devices are a little bit more expensive, but with the Steam Deck lagging behind in certain specs – namely a lack of Wi-Fi 6 – it can be a decent alternative to gun for.
Performance on these devices is exceptional, with similar performances to that of the Steam Deck, thanks to the inclusion of RDNA 2 on the AMD unit. The Xe graphics from Intel will get you into most games at a lower resolution without much hassle.
One to keep an eye on: GPD Win 4
Sporting a T-Mobile Sidekick aesthetic, with a built-in keyboard and sliding screen, the GPD Win 4 is probably one of the most anticipated of these small form factor PCs.
GPD has been trying to make the portable, gaming-focused PC work for ages. Each time, they get closer and each time, they’re breaking new ground in some respects. It is always exciting every time they come out with something new and the Win 4 seems like a great step forward.
Priced between $700 and $1200, the Win 4 will sport up to 32GB of RAM, AMD Ryzen 7 6800U, and a Radeon 680M iGPU. It’s GDP coming back for their crown and is certainly one to watch.
It launches on Indiegogo, with an intended launch date of March 2023.