Person playing AYANEO Air
Aya Neo

What to Look For inΒ a Handheld Gaming PC in 2022

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.

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’re looking to play on your handheld PC, be sure to spend a few minutes researching whether or not 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 head-and-shoulders above the competition. Here are five of the best handheld gaming PCs available now.

Best Handheld Gaming PC Overall: Steam Deck

A Steam Deck gaming console showing a selection of games onscreen and sitting on a tabletop.
Mr.Mikla/Shutterstock.com

Pros

  • Incredible price
  • Multiple available models
  • Customized SteamOS

Cons

  • Requires modding to access a standard Windows interface

Steam Deck is, without a doubt, the most popular handheld gaming PC available today. It has earned that title thanks to impressive specs, a slick design, and a shockingly low price tag compared to the competition. You can also purchase a docking station to connect your Steam Deck to your TV.

It’s hard to understate how well-priced this handheld PC is. Starting at just $400 for the 64GB model and maxing out at $649 for the 512GB model, you’re getting a device that can run Elden Ring, Monster Hunter Rise, The Quarry, and more hit games at playable frame rates. You’ll also benefit from a customized operating system that makes navigating your library and finding games simple.

That OS is also a bit of a drawback, as you’ll be limited to playing games found on Steam. It’s possible to get third-party titles running, but you’ll need to do some legwork and have some reasonable technical skills.

Still, the game library encompasses most of the best games on the market, and with a price tag this enticing, the Steam Deck stands out amongst expensive alternatives.

Best Handheld Gaming PC Overall

Steam Deck

With a great price and impressive performance, Steam Deck is an excellent option for just about everyone seeking a handheld gaming PC.

Best Budget Handheld Gaming PC: Ayn Odin

Ayn Odin product layout
AYN

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Bluetooth support for peripherals
  • Great for retro gaming

Cons

  • Runs on Android, but can be modded for Windows support

The Ayn Odin is a quirky little device that starts at just $279. It’s also an excellent option for retro gaming enthusiasts who want to experience the glory days of gaming without lugging around a laptop or bogging down their smartphone.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your preference), the Ayn Odin runs natively on Android. That means you won’t have access to hit PC games right out of the box. Instead, you’ll have access to various emulators and mobile games. The device can be reformatted to run PC games, or you can stream games using Moonlight or Steam Link.

If you don’t mind Android, the Ayn Odin has a lot going for it. Clocking in at hundreds less than the other options on this list and complete with an eye-catching design, it’s definitely worth considering if you find yourself playing older titles that don’t need high-end hardware.

Best Budget Handheld Gaming PC

Ayn Odin

If you don’t mind running on Android, the Ayn Odin is an affordable handheld gadget that’s perfect for retro gamers.

Best Handheld Gaming PC Running Windows 11: ONEXPLAYER Mini

OneXPlayer on purple background
OneXPlayer

Pros

  • Powerful specs
  • Windows UI standard
  • Runs games from most storefronts

Cons

  • Not all games are supported
  • Expensive

Although the ONEXPLAYER Mini is a remarkably powerful handheld that can easily run most games, you’ll pay a heftier price for that privilege. Clocking in at well over $1,200, ONE-NETBOOK spared no expense in crafting this premium handheld PC.

The ONEXPLAYER Mini is an excellent option for gaming on the go. Available with a variety of specs (Ryzen, Intel), this handheld PC can play hit games like Grand Theft Auto V and other demanding games without breaking a sweat. And even though its footprint is slim, it still features a vivid 7-inch screen with a 1920×1200 resolution.

A big selling point of the ONEXPLAYER Mini is Windows, which comes preinstalled as the default OS. This gives you the versatility of playing games across multiple storefronts, including Steam, Epic Games Store, GOG, and more.

Not everything is compatible with the device (I ran into trouble playing Warframe and Lost Ark), but there’s still a massive library of games to choose from.

Best Handheld Gaming PC Running Windows 11

ONEXPLAYER Mini

Powerful, portable, and capable of playing most PC games, the ONEXPLAYER Mini is a premium handheld with a premium price tag.

Best Handheld Gaming PC for Portability: Aya Neo AIR

Multiple AYANEO Airs
Aya Neo

Pros

  • Slim design
  • Comfortable controls
  • Great price

Cons

  • Lacks power compared to the competition

At just 18mm thick, the Aya Neo AIR is about as slim as handheld gaming PCs get. To put that in perspective, the AIR isΒ lighter than the Nintendo Switch OLED model (398 grams compared to 420 grams).

The Aya Neo AIR is also available in various colors (Polar Black, Aurora White, Sakura Pink), making this streamlined-looking product even more stunning. Unfortunately, that streamlined profile comes at the price of reduced power. The Ryzen 5 5560U isn’t quite as powerful as most of the competition—but anyone in the market for a portable device will have trouble finding something smaller than the AIR.

Toss in some comfortable controls, multiple storage options, and an impressive OLED display, and it’s easy to see why the Aya Neo AIR is winning over so many fans. As long as you don’t mind the lack of power, this truly portable PC has a lot to like.

Best Handheld Gaming PC for Portability

AYANEO AIR

Smaller than the Switch OLED, few handheld PCs offer the kind of performance and portability found in the AYANEO AIR.

Best Handheld Gaming PC with a Keyboard: GPD Win 3

GPD Win 3 on orange background
GPD

Pros

  • Striking design
  • Keyboard is surprisingly versatile
  • Available in multiple colors

Cons

  • Expensive

The GPD Win 4 should become widely available in the coming months, but for now, its predecessor, the GPD Win 3, is your best bet for a handheld gaming PC with a built-in keyboard.

Unlike most handheld PCs, which require you to hook up an external keyboard, the GPD Win 3 puts one at your fingertips. Like the stylish smartphones from the past, the GPD Win 3 features a screen that can slide out of the way to reveal a keyboard underneath. It might be small for some users, but it’s better than finding space to prop up an external keyboard.

Rounding out the GPD Win 3 feature list is a 5.5-inch display, 1280×720 resolution, Iris Xe GPU, and 16GB RAM. While a bit expensive at $1,500, it’s one of the most unique handheld gaming PCs you can buy in 2022.

Best Handheld Gaming PC with a Keyboard

GPD Win 3

Few handheld PCs feature a built-in keyboard, making the GPD Win 3 the only real option. Thankfully, it's loaded with great features that make it more than a one-trick pony.

The Best Gaming Laptops of 2022

Best Gaming Laptop Overall
Razer Blade 15
Best Budget Gaming Laptop
MSi Katana GF76
Best Gaming Laptop Under $1000
Acer Nitro 5
Best Gaming Laptop Under $500
Acer Aspire 5 Slim
Best 17-inch Laptop
Razer Blade 17 Gaming Laptop (2022)
Profile Photo for Jon Bitner Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a freelance writer who focuses on topics related to video games, science, and technology. His work can be found across the web, although he's a regular contributor to Digital Trends, Slickdeals, TVGuide, CordCuttersNews, and TheGamer. Before starting his writing career, Jon worked in the biotechnology industry, where he produced monoclonal antibodies to treat cancer patients.
Read Full Bio Β»