The current king of ‘gaming on the go’ is undoubtedly the Nintendo Switch but Windows contenders are lining up to take on the current light weight champion.
Two new handhelds have fought their way up from the street, made it through Kickstarter training camp and are now ready to take the fight to the champion. All in the hopes of making it to the top and fight it out for our hard earn money.
In the red corner we have the up-and-coming champion Aya Neo. This new contender has garnered a lot of attention over the last 4 months with the appearance of their Founder Edition handheld. The form factor here is pure handheld resembling a Switch Lite on steroids.
At the heart of the Neo is an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U 6 core APU with 16GB DDR4-LPDDR4X RAM and between 512GB and 1TB of storage. The 7’ IPS touch screen has a resolution of 1280×800. While connectivity includes 3 USB-C ports that allow the Neo to connect controllers and USB-C docks. Wireless connectivity is provided by Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 connections. All up the system weighs in at 650 grams.
The overall build quality and internal construction seems quite good and the price is low, expected to sell for around $699 USD, making this exceptional value. The Aya Neo will hit Indiegogo shortly and will be available in April.
GPD Win 3
In the blue corner we have the latest mobile masterpiece from the GPD, the GPD Win 3. GPD have for many years produced micro machines capable of running Windows 10. The GPD Win 3 is by far the most powerful and probably the prettiest so far. But good looks don’t win title fights.
The GPD Win 3 uses Intel’s latest Core i7-1165G7 Tiger Lake CPU with Xe integrated graphics. There is also a slightly cheaper version that runs the equivalent i5, but that won’t be taking part in this title fight. The GPD Win 3 weighs in at 560 grams.
A Thunderbolt docking station is available from GPD and it give the GPD the ability to operate as a full-blown PC with network, USB and HDMI to connect a monitor. This gives the Win 3 much flexibility and the ability to function as a daily driver PC.
The layout of the controls isn’t perfect with the dual analogue’s, D-Pad and buttons placed very close to the edges of the device. This is offset by the linear analogue triggers on L2 and R2 which provides progressive control for racing games that is a first for a handheld of this type.
A backlit keyboard lives under the slide out screen, but by all accounts, it is not the most usable keyboard, most reviewers say it is adequate for entering your password. Which is not really required as there is a fingerprint reader that works well.
The GPD Win 3 employees exceptional build quality and materials to produce a premium feel and charges a premium price expected to be around $1000 USD when it launches. Check out it’s Indiegogo page for more details. The Win 3 should be available in March.
Aya Neo V GPD Win 3
From a hardware perspective both the Aya Neo and GPD Win 3 are far more powerful than the Switch Lite and incorporate well refined controls and a convincing gaming experience.
Offering PC gamers the ability to have their entire game collection in the palm of their hands gives this new generation of handheld an advantage over the Switch, it is a very enticing option for Windows gamers.
Of the two PC contenders the winner depends on the direction you come at it from. If you want the better pure gaming experience the Aya Neo is the winner. With the larger screen, purest gamer design and more powerful hardware the Neo takes it.
If you are after a compact Windows machine that can game on the go and do double duty as a productivity machine the GPD Win 3 is for you. With a smaller screen, compromised controller layout and the most annoying keyboard ever the Win 3’s gaming credentials are little compromised. However, when you add the dock, extra port, fingerprint reader you have a powerful gaming handheld that can be your daily desktop PC as well. Also, if build quality and design are important then the GPD has the advantage.
Everyone V Switch
If it comes down to a street brawl the Windows handhelds win every time, but in a popularity competition the Switch wins hands down. But in all honesty, it comes down to the games. Do you love PC gaming or are you a fan of Nintendoes eclectic gaming experience.
The Switch also has the advantage that the games are made to be played on a handheld with joycon controllers. The biggest challenge for the Windows handhelds is the fact that PC games are typically made to be played using a keyboard and mouse. If you can handle playing your PC games using a controller then you will have a whole lot of fun with either of the Windows handhelds.
As a gaming gadget the Switch Lite is just about perfect. The hardware is just powerful enough to run the games, it has plenty of battery life and its light and extremely comfortable in the hand. From this perspective the Switch retains its ‘Gaming on the Go’ crown but the Windows Handhelds are definitely the only show in town if you want to play Windows games anywhere, anytime.