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The Best Handheld Gaming PCs of 2024

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Steam Deck OLED.

Handheld gaming PCs offer both portability and performance so you can take your gaming sessions anywhere. Whether you’re looking for a certain operating system or an option that fits your budget, there are plenty of handheld PCs to choose from.


UPDATE: 01/02/2024

We’ve updated this buying guide with the latest and greatest handheld gaming PCs currently available. Take a look!

What to Look For in a Handheld Gaming PC in 2024

The appeal of having a legitimate gaming rig in the palm of your hand is becoming increasingly attractive to consumers. After all, handheld gaming PCs combine the portability of a Nintendo Switch with the impressive performance of a high-end gaming laptop. They feature various designs, specs, and price tags.

Now that the market has been flooded with products, it can be hard to narrow down your options. Here are some things to consider.

First, you must figure out a budget. Handheld gaming PCs run the gamut from a few hundred bucks to over $1,000—and if you don’t establish a spending limit upfront, it can be easy to let it creep out of control as you see what’s available in higher price brackets. If you’re a PC gamer looking for something reliable with enough juice to power some of today’s hottest games, expect to spend at least $600. Of course, the more you raise your budget, the more power you’ll get.

Portability is another big factor to consider. While everything in the “handheld gaming PC” category is technically a handheld device, some of them are teetering on the edge of “portable.” While many handheld PCs are remarkably slim and easy to stow away in a backpack or suitcase, some are slightly larger than the popular Nintendo Switch. Also, keep in mind that portability often comes at the expense of power. It’s not easy to cram an entire gaming PC into such a small space, and the products that do usually carry a hefty price tag.

Before purchasing, you’ll also want to determine which games the handheld PC can play. This means what its specifications allow it to play and what the operating system allows it to play. It’s one thing to have the power to play a certain game, but another if your device supports it. Some handhelds restrict you to games listed on specific storefronts. As a result, running other games requires several workarounds (or they’re simply unplayable).

If you have a few favorite games you want to play on your handheld PC, be sure to spend a few minutes researching whether they’re accessible on your prospective device. There’s no point in picking something up if you can’t play your personal favorites.

While plenty of great handheld gaming PCs are on the market, some stand above the competition. Here are five of the best handheld gaming PCs available now.

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Best Handheld Gaming PC Overall: Steam Deck OLED

Valve<\/em>“”>

Steam Deck OLED with its screen in focus, against a dark background.
Valve

Pros

Cons

✓ Competitive price with multiple models available

✗ Not the most powerful handheld gaming PC around

✓ Customized SteamOS offers console-like gaming experience

✗ Adding non-Steam games can be cumbersome

✓ Top-notch build quality and beautiful, HDR-ready OLED screen

✗ The screen doesn’t support variable refresh rate

✓ Impressive battery life

✓ Comfortable to use

The Steam Deck OLED comes with a plethora of upgrades over the original version, making it a noticeably better gaming handheld than the LCD model and the best handheld gaming PC you can get right now.

With the Steam Deck OLED, you’re not only getting a well-rounded handheld gaming PC with a top-notch software platform. You’re also getting the best screen on the market with proper HDR support and 90Hz refresh rate. There is also married to one of the longest-lasting batteries on any handheld gaming PC that can break the magical 2-hour barrier when playing games at the Deck’s max settings. Further, considering that the OLED version packs the same dimensions as the original LCD model, you’re also getting a device that already has a ton of cool accessories to choose from.

You’ve also got superb build quality, up to 1TB of fast internal storage, a high-end carrying case that comes bundled with each Deck, an impressive game library, attractive design, excellent ergonomics, capable speakers, and fast and stable Wi-Fi 6E chip that’s a massive upgrade over the OG Deck’s often problematic Wi-Fi 5 solution.

SteamOS was and still is a game changer, well suited for both people who want to play some games and for advanced users who want to get the most out of their Deck. If you want to play Steam games, you can do it without ever leaving the controller-friendly Game Mode. The interface is snappy enough and makes it simple to download and play Steam games with no fuss, even separating the Steam Deck friendly title into its own section.

On top of that, there is the Desktop Mode that turns the Deck into a regular Linux PC with just a few clicks, allowing you to add games from other launchers, install EmuDeck and turn your Deck into an emulation powerhouse, or just use your Deck for work-related purposes.

If we had to pick a downside, it would be gaming performance. While the Deck can run virtually every game you can think of, it’s less than ideal for anyone looking to play the latest and greatest AAA games. Its accelerated processing unit (APU) is getting long in the tooth, so you should look elsewhere if you want the most powerful handheld gaming PC capable of running the most demanding modern titles.

Steam Deck OLED.

The Best Handheld Gaming PCs of 2024
Steam Deck OLED

Best Handheld Gaming PC Overall

The Steam Deck OLED is a clear improvement over Valve’s original handheld console, with a larger battery, more storage, faster Wi-Fi, and more. Not to forget the bigger and better-looking OLED screen that gives the device its name.

Best Budget Handheld Gaming PC: Steam Deck LCD

The Best Handheld Gaming PCs of 2024

Pros

Cons

✓ Affordable

✗ Not the most powerful handheld gaming PC around

✓ Comes with 256GB of storage

✗ Adding non-Steam games can be cumbersome

✓ Customized SteamOS offers console-like gaming experience

✗ Average battery life

✓ Great for retro gaming

✗ Flaky wireless performance

✓ Comfortable to use and top-notch build quality

✗ Thumbsticks have zero grip

While the Steam Deck OLED is the champ of the handheld gaming PC market, the Steam Deck LCD is the perfect choice for budget-minded buyers. Packing the same level of gaming performance as its OLED successor, the Steam Deck LCD is a great deal at $399.

For the money, you’re getting 256GB of fast internal storage, great build quality, decent speakers, a solid and bright 60Hz screen that lacks color depth but is far from being a dealbreaker, and the same level of long-term support you’d get with the Steam Deck OLED.

Long-term software support is one of the most important reasons to consider a Steam Deck over the competition. While it’s no longer the company’s flagship handheld PC, you can bet Valve will support the OG Deck in years to come. Since the OLED and LCD versions share the same APU, every software update arriving to the OLED version will also find its way to the LCD model. I’ve been using my Steam Deck LCD for almost a year now, and the number of software updates, bug fixes, and improvements my Deck has gotten in that time is astounding.

Talking about negatives, there’s the screen that on its own isn’t that bad, but it pales in comparison to the Steam Deck OLED. The fan can also get quite loud at max power, and the Steam Deck LCD isn’t the best option for playing the newest AAA games. The wireless chip found in the Steam Deck OLED is yet another point of contention due to its poor performance and connection issues. Finally, the thumbsticks have zero grip and beg for grippy, silicone thumbstick covers.

Regarding alternatives, the ASUS ROG Ally that packs the regular Z1 APU costs about the same as the Steam Deck LCD but packs a much weaker iGPU. That said, if you’re interested in streaming games over the internet and locally from your PC, the ASUS ROG Ally Z1 can be a solid choice due to its Wi-Fi 6E support miles ahead of the Steam Deck LCD’s wireless chip.

steam deck original-1

The Best Handheld Gaming PCs of 2024
Valve Steam Deck

Best Budget Handheld Gaming PC

The Steam Deck LCD is, hands down, the best budget handheld gaming PC you can get, thanks to its phenomenal price, top-notch build quality, excellent software support, and pretty solid gaming performance. 

Best Handheld Gaming PC Running Windows 11: ASUS ROG Ally

ASUS ROG Ally With its Box Showing Horizon Zero Dawn on its screen
Sydney Butler / How-To Geek

Pros

Cons

✓ Powerful specs

✗ Poor battery life

✓ Runs games from most storefronts

✗ SD card slot is prone to malfunctioning

✓ Emulation powerhouse

✗ Windows 11 isn’t suited for handhelds without trackpads

✓ Lighting fast charging

✓ Best speakers on the market

While the ASUS ROG Ally was marred with software bugs and other teething pains back when it came out, I can say that ASUS did a praiseworthy job of taking care of most software-related issues as well as adding a ton of new features to the Ally. Since July 2023, we’ve gotten numerous BIOS updates that improved gaming performance and many new features that found their way to Armory Crate, the main game launcher and customization center on the Ally.

These updates include gyro support, the option to turn off CPU boost and decrease thermals and power usage when gaming, and new system info overlays. ASUS also added various bits of info to the Command Center—a quick menu for activating various options while gaming with battery info, a clock, and the option to exit any app or game with a press of a button. There is also support for a 900p resolution, which is a perfect middle ground between 1080p and 720p, retaining most of the crispness of 1080p while markedly improving game performance.

Aside from a slew of new features, Armory Crate has also received numerous updates that massively improved its performance and transformed it into a great game launcher. Right now, my ROG Ally is a joy to use for gaming. Using the ROG Ally as a regular Windows device is still finicky and frustrating sometimes without a mouse and a keyboard. The lack of a trackpad hurts here since Windows 11 isn’t well suited for the lack of a trackpad.

Aside from the commendable pace of software updates that noticeably improved the overall user experience, you’ve also got the good stuff that has been there since its release. This includes impressive build quality and best-in-class ergonomics that allow you to game on the Ally for hours on end without straining your wrists. The device also has a superb screen that, while not as good as the OLED panel on the new Steam Deck, packs 120Hz refresh rate, VRR support, excellent maximum brightness, striking motion clarity, and vibrant colors.

There’s also the Z1 Extreme APU that offers much higher gaming performance compared to the two Steam Deck variants. While not quite powerful enough to run the most demanding titles at 1080p with playable frame rates, you can get much better performance in those titles on the ROG Ally than on Steam Deck if you drop the resolution to 900p or 720p. For example, my ROG Ally runs Cyberpunk 2077 at almost locked 40fps with medium/high settings and XeSS upscaling set to 900p, which is nothing short of impressive. The device is also a proper emulation powerhouse thanks to the beastly eight-core CPU in the Z1 Extreme.

On the other hand, the ASUS ROG Ally has its share of drawbacks. The biggest one is the weak battery that, at max power levels, gives you less than an hour of playtime. The ASUS ROG Ally’s SD card slot is prone to malfunctioning, and despite recent revisions that placed a heat shield over the SD card reader assembly, the issue remains.

Still, at its current price of $600, the ASUS ROG Ally Z1 Extreme is by far the best Windows 11 handheld PC you can get. The main alternative here is the Steam Deck OLED, which could be a better choice if you don’t play the latest AAA games. Talking about Windows-based devices, the Lenovo Legion Go looks like a decent alternative, but the undercooked software, massive size, and much worse ergonomics put it behind the ASUS ROG Ally.

ASUS ROG Ally

The Best Handheld Gaming PCs of 2024
ASUS ROG Ally With AMD Z1 Extreme Processor

Best Handheld Gaming PC Running Windows 11

The ASUS ROG Ally is the best handheld gaming PC running Windows 11; it’s got a stunning screen, powerful specs, and is a joy to use despite its middling battery life and SD card reader issues. 

Best Handheld Gaming PC for Portability: Aya Neo AIR 1S

AYANEO<\/em>“”>

AYANEO Air 1S Against a pinkish background
AYANEO

Pros

Cons

✓ Slim design

✗ Expensive

✓ Comfortable controls

✗ Questionable warranty and long-term software support

✓ Great price

✗ Features Windows, which isn’t well suited for handhelds without trackpads

✓ Praiseworthy specs and brilliant AMOLED screen

✗ Fleeting battery life

✓ Hall Effect thumbsticks

The AYANEO Air 1S is a compact handheld gaming PC that delivers the goods in terms of hardware. This tiny device that has the same footprint as the Steam Deck OLED’s screen packs the Ryzen 7840U APU (basically a carbon copy of the Z1 Extreme), a 5.5-inch 1080p AMOLED screen, up to 32GB of memory, and up to 4TB of storage. Other highlights include Hall Effect thumbsticks and the well-designed AYASPACE 2 app, the default game launcher and settings hub.

The performance is on par with the bigger handhelds that pack the Ryzen 7840U and Z1 Extreme APUs, and while the Air 1S is limited to 20W when on battery and 25W when hooked to a charger, 20W of power is enough to let the APU shine and achieve excellent gaming performance. 18W-20W is the sweet spot for the Ryzen 7840U and Z1 Extreme APUs, meaning that the smaller size and power constraints that come with it won’t severely impair your gaming experience.

The Air 1S’s 5.5-inch screen looks sharp even at 720p, meaning you can play all your games at 720p and get a better experience than you’d get at 1080p on bigger handhelds packing the Ryzen 7840U or the Z1 Extreme.

The compact design puts the AYANEO Air 1S at about the same size as the Nintendo Switch Lite, meaning the device isn’t exactly pocketable. With that said, it’s much more compact than most other handheld gaming PCs that pack similar hardware. Overall, you won’t find the same size or smaller device that can reach these levels of gaming performance. At only 450 grams, the Air 1S is a joy to use when lying down in bed or on a couch and a much better choice for gaming while lying down than any other handheld gaming PC.

Concerning shortcomings, the main issue is the weak battery that can barely cross the one-hour mark at max power. Then we have the $900 price point of the base version, which is way higher than what you’d pay for the 1TB Steam Deck OLED, the ROG Ally, or the Lenovo Legion Go. There’s also the warranty issue—since AYANEO doesn’t have a worldwide presence, you’ll need to ship your device to China if something goes wrong. Lastly, AYANEO isn’t known for its long-term software support, so don’t expect the same level of support you’d get from Valve or ASUS.

The Ayn Loki Max presents a fine alternative. It isn’t as compact as the Air 1S with its 6-inch screen, and it packs a slightly slower Ryzen 6800U APU —about 25% slower on average— but it also costs about a third less than the Air 1S while offering the same level of ergonomics and a bigger battery.

AYANEO Air 1S

The Best Handheld Gaming PCs of 2024
Ayaneo Air 1S

Best Handheld Gaming PC for Portability

Few handheld PCs offer the kind of performance and portability found in the AYANEO AIR 1S. Despite its tiny footprint, the Air 1S packs the same hardware as its larger cousins, as well as a stunning AMOLED screen.

GPD<\/em>“”>

GPD Win 4 Ryzen 7840U Edition against a blue background
GPD

Pros

Cons

✓ Striking design reminiscent of the PS Vita

✗ Pricey

✓ Keyboard is surprisingly versatile

✗ Questionable warranty and long-term software support

✓ Available in multiple colors

✗ Concave thumbsticks lack grip

✓ Powerful hardware

✗ Average battery life

✓ Includes an optical trackpad

If a physical keyboard sits at the top of your priority list, consider getting the updated Ryzen 7840U edition of the GPD WIN 4. This compact, Windows-based, sliding handheld offers plenty of gaming performance, a pretty good screen, and a neat physical keyboard.

Performance-wise, the GPD WIN 4 7840U edition packs the same punch as most other Ryzen 7840U and Z1 Extreme handhelds. In other words, there’s plenty of power to run virtually every current game at playable frame rates at 1080p, 900p, or 720p, depending on the specific title.

The PS Vita-like design looks as slick as in 2011 when the Vita came out, with a 6-inch 1080p screen at the heart that reveals a compact physical keyboard once slid upwards. The keyboard features a 65% design with dedicated arrow keys and FN keys available as secondary functions of the number row. Overall, the keyboard is comfortable and is much better than virtual keyboards in most other handheld gaming PCs.

Despite its compact design, the GPD WIN 4 is thick and heavy. At just under 600 grams, it is about as heavy as the ROG Ally while being noticeably smaller, resulting in great ergonomics, especially when gaming while lying down. The smaller size didn’t harm the thermals and maximum power envelope, with the GPD WIN 4 maxing out at 35W of power.

Other stuff we like about the GPD WIN 4 7840U edition include surprisingly loud speakers, an Oculink port allowing you to connect any external GPU to the device, and two USB-C ports, one on the bottom for easily charging the device while gaming. Another major plus is the tiny optical trackpad on the lower right side that massively improves the experience of navigating Windows.

On the other hand, there’s the average battery life, concave thumbsticks lacking grip, and a barebones software control center that is useful but not on par with what you get on most other handheld gaming PCs. Additionally, there’s the high price, questionable warranty, and long-term software support.

Regarding alternatives, there’s the GPD Win Mini, a newly released clamshell-style handheld with an even better keyboard but is also very hard to get at the moment. The GPD WIN 4 is also available with the Ryzen 7640U APU and 16GB of RAM. The Ryzen 7640U version is about $300 more affordable and about 15%-25% slower than the Ryzen 7840U edition, making it a solid alternative if you’re okay with running most games at 720p or 900p resolutions.

GPD Win 4 Ryzen 7840U Edition

The Best Handheld Gaming PCs of 2024
GPD Win 4

Best Handheld Gaming PC with a Keyboard

The GPD WIN 4 is a compact yet powerful handheld gaming PC with a surprisingly versatile keyboard that is a joy to use. If you’re looking for a high-end handheld gaming PC that packs a physical keyboard, this is the one to get. 

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