Not that way back, high quality PC gaming setups have been confined to cumbersome desktop setups. Even early gaming laptops appeared extra like battle stations than modern machines. Needless to say, the panorama has modified considerably lately, and now we’re even seeing an inflow of handheld gaming PCs. Perhaps influenced by the big success of the Nintendo Switch as a hybrid console, increasingly more firms are trying to garner an viewers for moveable, palm-sized gaming PCs. While most individuals are in all probability conscious of the upcoming Steam Deck, there are others that hit the market earlier than Valve’s handheld, together with the spectacular and surprisingly highly effective Aya Neo.Successfully crowdfunded by way of Indiegogo, the Aya Neo launched final summer time, however the studio behind it shortly started work on a redesign with higher supplies. The result’s the Aya Neo 2021 and Aya Neo Pro, each of which launched late final 12 months. We received our fingers on each fashions and have been testing them for a couple of month. With a premium construct high quality and great efficiency for its measurement, the Aya Neo is a exceptional handheld PC. Though the Aya Neo is sort of pricey–models vary from $925 to north of $1,300–it might be considered an alternative choice to a mid-tier gaming laptop computer with the added bonus of being totally moveable. It’s too early to say if the Aya Neo is best than the still-unreleased Steam Deck (which is considerably inexpensive), but it surely’s an especially strong piece of tech that’s undoubtedly value contemplating if you happen to’re out there for this form of gaming machine.Note: Since efficiency is analogous throughout each units, the remainder of this evaluation applies to each fashions besides when in any other case acknowledged.What’s within the shell?The quantity of energy crammed within the Aya Neo’s comparatively modern shell is fairly astounding. The Aya Neo Pro is fitted with an AMD Ryzen 7 4800U processor (Ryzen 5 4500U within the base mannequin) and built-in AMD Radeon Graphics. These are mid-tier cell processors with low energy consumption. The processor and built-in graphics are complemented by 16GB of DDR4X RAM–more than sufficient for contemporary PC games–and a 1TB NVMe SSD (the bottom mannequin additionally is available in 512GB). The Aya Neo has a stunning 7-inch LCD IPS display that shows at 1200 x 800 decision with 215 pixels per inch.Aya Neo ProGeneral, the specs of the Aya Neo are just like the Steam Deck, with the Aya Neo providing a greater CPU (on paper) and the Steam Deck boasting a greater GPU. As a direct comparability, the 512GB Aya Neo prices $275 greater than the very best tier Steam Deck with the identical quantity of cupboard space.That mentioned, the Aya Neo can be utilized as greater than only a gaming machine. While the Steam Deck will use a proprietary Linux-based OS, the Aya Neo is a Windows PC. That means you’ll be able to join it to a monitor, sync up or join a keyboard and mouse, and use it as a machine for on a regular basis productiveness, too. Yes, most people who find themselves shopping for a handheld gaming PC are utilizing it primarily for gaming, however you may also use the Aya Neo to your different computing wants as effectively. It is true that you’ll run different working methods, together with Windows, on the Steam Deck, but it surely’s too early to say how the Steam Deck will behave when not utilizing its default OS.A Switch-like designThe first time I noticed the Aya Neo, I immediately considered the Nintendo Switch. No, it does not have removable controllers, but it surely retains the overall form that was popularized by the Switch. The Aya Neo makes use of practically an identical low-profile thumbsticks and has the identical offset format, with the left thumbstick above the D-pad and the appropriate stick beneath the face buttons. Thankfully, it has a standard directional pad that feels nice to make use of for old-school side-scrollers. Meanwhile, the face buttons (A/B/X/Y) are laid out just like the Xbox controller, which makes a ton of sense contemplating the Aya Neo can primarily perform as a transportable Game Pass machine that’s able to offline play for supported video games. The triggers have a pleasant ergonomic design which makes them really feel like a pure resting spot to your index fingers. The shoulder buttons are a tad thicker than those on the Switch Joy-Cons.As a PC, the Aya Neo additionally has a lot of different menu and settings buttons. Four buttons are positioned on all sides. The buttons on the left facet are game-focused, together with Start, Select, and a nifty button that pulls up the Xbox Game Bar. The buttons on the appropriate are PC task-focused: Windows Home, Escape, Task Manager, and an on-screen keyboard immediate.The Aya Neo has a plethora of buttons that act as shortcutsThe Aya Neo additionally has three USB-C ports, which can be utilized for charging, connecting USB peripherals with the assistance of the included adapters, and accessing exterior storage units. Stereo audio system that pack a stunning punch are positioned on the underside of the hand-held, however the 3.5mm headphone jack is on high subsequent to the amount buttons. I’m within the camp that each one headphone jacks needs to be on the underside of handhelds, but it surely’s not likely an issue right here because the Aya Neo can connect with headphones by way of Bluetooth or 2.4Ghz adapters.If you are used to holding the Nintendo Switch, the Aya Neo–and different PC handhelds–will really feel fairly heavy at first. At roughly 650 grams (1.4 kilos), the Aya Neo is roughly 50% heavier than the not too long ago launched Nintendo Switch OLED. It’s additionally thicker, as you’d count on, as a result of want of correct air flow by the bottom and high followers. That mentioned, at 10.4 x 4.17 x 0.79 inches, the Aya Neo is actually compact when you think about the elements inside. After dozens of hours of testing, I’ve by no means felt just like the Aya Neo was straining or uncomfortable to carry for lengthy intervals of time.Although it is thicker than the Switch, the Aya Neo has a surprisingly compact design.Not solely does it look nice and really feel good to play, the Aya Neo has an extremely spectacular construct high quality. Of course I can not converse for the longevity of the inner elements, however the buttons, sticks, D-pad, and shell have a premium really feel to them. The onerous plastic shell particularly is top-notch in relation to design. I’ve by no means held a handheld gaming system that felt as sturdy and easy because the Aya Neo. It could sound foolish, however whereas most handhelds–including the Nintendo Switch–feel like toys (they’re toys), the Aya Neo appears like a chunk of high-end tech that is meant for the workplace. The Aya Neo is obtainable in white, black, or a retro-themed coloration scheme.PerformanceA truckload of tech and a fancy-looking design do not matter if the efficiency does not meet expectations, although. Thankfully, the Aya Neo was able to dealing with all kinds of video games that I threw at it. It truly shocked me in some cases. With some tinkering within the settings, the Aya Neo ran Microsoft’s two greatest vacation exclusives, Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5. In Forza’s case, I used to be capable of common round 60fps with principally medium settings. Meanwhile, Halo Infinite ran nearer to 30fps, but it surely was nonetheless very playable.Just like several PC, efficiency different on a game-by-game foundation, however most of the ones I attempted have been able to operating at 40-50fps or larger, together with Doom Eternal, Psychonauts 2, Grand Theft Auto V, Kena: Bridge of Spirits, The Forgotten City, and Call of Duty: Warzone. Older AAA video games like Rage 2, The Witcher 3, Prey, and the Tomb Raider trilogy, amongst others, all ran nice, too. A variety of these video games defaulted to “high” settings, although getting the most effective mixture of visible constancy and body price required some changes to the settings. I wound up locking in at round 30-40fps to get the most effective visible efficiency attainable for lots of video games.Other video games, such because the aforementioned Halo Infinite, ran at settings that I used to be personally high quality with however may trouble some fanatic PC players. Hardware-intensive titles comparable to Control and Red Dead Redemption 2 have been solely able to roughly 30fps with low settings. If you are used to gaming on highly effective rigs or fashionable consoles, the efficiency drop shall be fairly noticeable.Aya Neo Pro operating The Gunk with excessive settings.Gallery
Despite the Aya Neo’s spectacular efficiency for a lot of video games, I do not actually view it as a substitute for a PC rig, high-end gaming laptop computer, or fashionable console. While it will get the job carried out for lots of AAA video games, as future blockbuster releases proceed to get extra graphically intensive, what’s beneath the hood right here will not sustain. That’s not a knock on the Aya Neo, although, as I think about the identical shall be true for the Steam Deck and different handheld gaming PCs. That mentioned, you may also use the Aya Neo as a cloud streaming system with providers like Xbox Cloud Gaming, Stadia, and GeForce Now. Xbox Cloud Gaming labored splendidly on the Aya Neo.Considering that the overwhelming majority of indie video games launch on PC along with varied consoles, the Aya Neo could possibly be used as an indie and Game Pass machine. The choices listed here are practically limitless, and with PC video games typically costing much less and on sale extra typically, you will get lots of bang to your buck. Not to say the free video games that the Epic Games Store provides out each week, Amazon Prime month-to-month free video games, and the huge PC Game Pass library. Essentially, even if you happen to aren’t an avid PC gamer, you’ll be able to create a comparatively large library of video games with out spending some huge cash.One of my major considerations with Aya Neo earlier than I attempted it was warmth and fan noise. Surprisingly, it runs quietly, even when it is apparent the followers are working extra time to chill down the system. The high of the console and middle of the again panel do are likely to get a tad scorching (to not the purpose it hurts) when the followers are actually operating, however the Aya Neo’s premium shell does maintain the spots the place your fingers naturally relaxation at a traditional temperature.Tiny PC woesThe practicality of the Aya Neo–and different handheld PCs–as a transportable system is actually debatable. The Aya Neo Pro is marketed to supply 5 to 6 hours of battery life. That’s a fairly first rate determine so far as fashionable handheld gaming units go, however whereas enjoying graphically intensive video games I discovered that quantity to be minimize in half. So if you happen to do plan on taking the Aya Neo on the go, you will wish to seize an appropriate moveable battery pack.There’s additionally the Windows desktop drawback. Windows for desktops wasn’t designed with handheld gaming machines in thoughts, and it actually exhibits when navigating the working system on a 7-inch touchscreen. Using the Aya Neo as a cell Windows PC is not superb with out extra peripherals. While the touchscreen is responsive, messing round with tiny activity bars and file choices is not all that intuitive and generally is a ache.The producer designed a proprietary program referred to as Aya Space that collects your video games and apps in a user-friendly type that makes it a lot simpler to make use of the Aya Neo when swapping between video games. Steam’s Big Picture mode can be nice on the Aya Neo, so I wound up launching that each time when booting the hand-held to present it a console UI really feel.Which mannequin is best for you?As talked about, there are presently two totally different fashions of the Aya Neo out there now: the 2021 and the Pro. The 2021 is obtainable in 512GB or 1TB editions, whereas the Pro is obtainable in solely 1TB. I examined each variations for this evaluation, and I discovered that the distinction was negligible for gaming. The Pro is a tad quicker in relation to loading and navigation, however in-game efficiency was about the identical. So you’d need to resolve if the extra velocity is definitely worth the worth bump. The 2021 mannequin might be the most effective worth presently contemplating that essentially the most highly effective model of the Aya Neo is not truly out but.The firm simply introduced a contemporary lineup dubbed Next. The Aya Neo Next has an AMD Ryzen 7 5800U processor, a Radeon Vega 8 GPU, and comes with as much as 32GB of RAM. Multiple variations of the Next (normal, Advance, and Pro) shall be out there to order by way of crowdfunding beginning in February. Prices will vary between $1,265 and near $1,500 for the top-tier mannequin at launch.Aya Neo ProSo, if you happen to’re concerned about any mannequin of the Aya Neo, I believe the good transfer is to both buy the Aya Neo 2021 for the worth or look forward to one of many Next fashions if you happen to’re in search of the most effective efficiency. After all, the Next’s base mannequin could be very shut in worth to the Pro.Also, if you happen to’re seeking to up the Switch-like issue, you’ll be able to seize an official Aya Neo dock to attach the hand-held to your monitor or TV. We did not have the prospect to check the dock for evaluation, however you’ll be able to merely use a USB-C to HDMI cable to play your video games on a monitor or TV. I principally used a monitor (with peripherals) when navigating the working system, however I discovered efficiency to be strong for gaming on each my 1080p 60Hz monitor and 4K OLED TV.Specifications Aya Neo 2021Aya Neo ProAya Neo NextCPUAMD Ryzen 5 4500UAMD Ryzen 7 4800UAMD Ryzen 7 5800UGPURadeon Vega 6Radeon Vega 6Radeon Vega 8RAM16GB16GBUp to 32GBStorage512GB or 1TB1TB1TB or 2TBResolution1280 x 8001280 x 8001280 x 800Display7-inch IPS touchscreen7-inch IPS touchscreen7-inch IPS touchscreenBattery life3-6 hours3-6 hoursN/APortsUSB-C x3USB-C x3USB-C x3Dimensions10.4 x 4.17 x 0.79 inches10.4 x 4.17 x 0.79 inchesN/AWeight648 grams648 gramsN/APriceStarting at $925Observing $1,215Starting at $1,265The backside lineThe Aya Neo is a well-designed handheld PC that provides strong efficiency and flexibility because of its use of Windows. With a premium construct high quality, a stunning 7-inch IPS show, and nice sticks/buttons, the Aya Neo is a superb choice for individuals who are concerned about taking the plunge into handheld PC gaming. The skill to make use of it as a standard PC with peripherals connected is a serious bonus right here. It’s undoubtedly on the pricier facet, particularly while you evaluate it to the Steam Deck, however there is no denying that it achieves what it got down to do.Steven Petite examined the Aya Neo and Aya Neo Pro for upwards of 100 hours over the course of a month. Sample models have been offered for the aim of this evaluation.