The Best Steam Deck Alternatives That Also Deliver Big Screen Handheld Gaming

The Best Steam Deck Alternatives That Also Deliver Big Screen Handheld Gaming

Our days of staring at tiny screens on-the-go are over.

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Image: Valve, Ayaneo, Anbernic, Logitech, ONEXPlayer

The Nintendo Switch was a renaissance for handheld gaming, but Valve’s Steam Deck took the idea of making AAA titles playable on-the-go to the next level, with support for graphically intense games usually reserved for PCs. The only problem? It’s expensive, and still hard to get your hands on if you’re not already on a waiting list.

It turns out the Switch and the Deck aren’t your only two options, though. There are actually lots of companies making Steam Deck-alike consoles that can play popular games and even AAA titles, both natively and through the magic of game streaming. They’re not always cheaper than the Steam Deck, but most don’t come with months long wait lists.

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Ayaneo Next Pro

Ayaneo Next Pro

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Image: Ayaneo

If a budget isn’t part of your decision making process, look no further than the Ayaneo Next Pro. Powered by an AMD Ryzen 7 5825U 8-core processor, it runs Windows 10 and will set you back $1,565 when spec’d with 16GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD. Helping to further justify that steep price tag is a 7-inch 1280 x 800 touchscreen display, magnetic hall effect joysticks and triggers that should never exhibit drift, and two full function USB-C ports so you can attach displays and keyboards and use this thing as a full-on PC.

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Ayaneo Air

Ayaneo Air

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Image: Ayaneo

If you want to sacrifice a bit of performance for a cheaper price tag and improved portability, the Ayaneo Air packs an AMD Ryzen 7 5825U processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD inside a Windows-capable handheld that’s just 18-millimeters thick at its thinnest point. You’ll lose some screen real estate compared to the Ayaneo Next Pro, but the Air’s 5.5-inch OLED might actually be easier on the eyes, with better contrast, color, and a 1920 x 1080 resolution.

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Logitech G Cloud

Logitech G Cloud

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Image: Logitech

Announced just a few days ago, Logitech teamed up with the Chinese company Tencent to create the G Cloud handheld, which has a 7-inch, 1920 x 1080 display and an impressive 12 hours of battery life thanks to a mobile Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G processor running Android. That makes playing AAA titles natively out of the question on the G Cloud, but that’s not why Logitech created it. The G Cloud, as the name implies, is for game streaming through services like Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce Now, although it can certainly run mobile games from the Google Play Store, too.

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ONEXPlayer

ONEXPlayer

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Image: ONEXPlayer

Stretching the definition of a handheld console, the ONEXPlayer features a massive 8.4-inch screen pushing 2K resolutions and an Intel Tiger Lake i7-1195G7 processor, plus 16GB of RAM and up to 2TB of SSD storage. Its $1,600 price tag eclipses the Steam Deck, and some would argue at this size and price point, you’re better off buying a laptop and connecting a wireless gamepad to it. But this is slightly more portable, even if it’s far from pocketable, and packs a 15,300 mAh rechargeable battery so your gaming session isn’t over in just a few hours.

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GPD Win 4

GPD Win 4

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Image: GPD

If your biggest complaint about the Steam Deck is its lack of a cramped physical QWERTY keyboard, consider the new GPD Win 4. The company has long been known for its laptop/handheld console hybrids, and the GPD Win 4 is one of its most powerful yet. It still maintains a compact, pocket friendly design thanks to a sliding 6-inch 1920 x 1080 screen that reveals a keypad hidden beneath when deployed. Dig even deeper, and you’ll find an AMD Ryzen 7 6800U processor and support for up to 32GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD. Given that the last version, the GPD Win 3, still sells for well over $1,000 with less powerful specs, you can expect this recently announced upgrade to be significantly more expensive.

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AYN Odin Pro

AYN Odin Pro

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Image: AYN

Worth considering for the splash of color provided by the clear purple case option alone, the AYN Odin Pro is a bit of a wild card as a Steam Deck alternative, because unlike most of the options suggested here, it runs Android instead of Windows. That, and its Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor paired with 8GB of RAM, certainly limits the types of games the AYN Odin Pro can play, particularly native AAA titles. But like the Logitech G Cloud, it’s a great option for game streaming or running emulators, if you’re looking to enjoy the retro games you grew up with. It’s also quite compact, with a 5.98-inch, 1920 x 1080 screen. But its biggest selling point is a price that starts at $239.

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Anbernic WIN600

Anbernic WIN600

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Image: Anbernic

In recent years, Anbernic is best known for an ever-growing collection of handheld emulators running Linux-based operating systems that put thousands of retro games in your pocket. The WIN600 is the company’s first attempt to up the ante, being a $475 handheld that powers Windows with a 2.8 GHz AMD Athlon Silver 3050e Dali APU processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD. It packs a 5.94-inch 1280 x 720 screen, and while it’s much smaller and lighter than the Steam Deck, it’s also far less powerful. So instead of focusing on natively playing AAA titles on this one, you might want to stick to game streaming instead.

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Backbone One iPhone or Android Smartphone Controller

Backbone One iPhone or Android Smartphone Controller

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Image: Backbone

It probably comes as no surprise that many of us already have access to an extremely capable portable gaming device— it just needs a bit of help when it comes to controls, as touchscreen gaming is cruel and unusual punishment for most bigger games. Lots of companies make snap-on gamepads for your smartphone, but the Backbone One is easily the best, with a rigid but extendable bridge on the back for adapting to devices of various sizes, great feeling buttons, a headphone jack pass through, and a price tag of just $100.

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Tassei PC Stream Card For the Nintendo Switch

Tassei PC Stream Card For the Nintendo Switch

Stream Card:Strayで遅延を確認

As incredibly successful as the Switch has been, it’s still completely locked down by Nintendo, who ultimately decides what games can be played on the console. But, hacks aside, it might not always be that way. At the recent 2022 Tokyo Game Show, a company called Tassei was demonstrating a new product called the PC Stream Card, designed for the Switch. As the name implies, it allows games running on a PC to be played on the Switch through streaming, although full details on how it works, when it will be available, and how it interfaces with the console through its cartridge slot, remain unknown.

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