If you hate that the Nintendo Switch is underpowered — or if you hate that the new Nintendo Switch OLED didn’t have any performance boosts — you might want to look into the world of handheld PCs, more specifically, the Aya Neo.
Compared to the GPD Win3, ONEXPLAYER, and One Gx1 Pro, the Aya Neo is one of the few handheld gaming PCs that has an AMD processor and GPU. While the upcoming Steam Deck and GPD Win Max can also be had with an AMD chipset, the Aya Neo might be the most optimized yet (until the Steam Deck comes out), and the most accessible one today.
In this Aya Neo review, I’ll talk about everything that the handheld gaming PC has to offer, and how, when, and where you can get one.
A Nintendo Switch Killer
The Aya Neo is an absolute Nintendo Switch killer in terms of performance. How? The Aya Neo sports a Ryzen 5 4500U CPU which has six cores and threads and can overclock up to 4.0Ghz. I can safely say that it’s no slouch when it comes to computing power since it’s a proper laptop CPU — especially compared to the Nintendo Switch which has a custom NVIDIA mobile chipset that has some compromises when it comes to computing power. Lastly, if you get the Aya Neo 2021 Pro, it’s even better since those will come with Ryzen 7 4800 APU.
Other than a good CPU, the Aya Neo also has a good GPU with a Radeon Vega 6 running at a clock speed of 1.5Ghz. I know that might not sound like much, but this GPU is only driving a 7-inch 1280×800 IPS display (which is also a step up from Nintendo, where even the Switch OLED is still stuck at 720p).
The Aya Neo also has 16GB of RAM. That’s a lot, especially when compared to other gaming consoles. But you do have to remember that it’s running a full version of Windows, so there might be a good part of that RAM that’s dedicated to the OS.
As a handheld device running Windows, one issue you might be concerned with is bootup and game loading times. To help with that, the Aya Neo is equipped with a 512GB or 1TB NVME SSD. If you’re still not happy with that, you can easily upgrade the SSD yourself!
Unlike the Nintendo Switch or even other game consoles like the PS5 and XBX, you’ll have more flexibility with the Aya Neo’s system settings, you can set your CPU and GPU’s processing power and tweak in-game settings so you can choose to prioritize max performance or battery life.
Like the Switch, the Aya Neo consoles will include a dock. You can already output video to external monitors with any Aya Neo console, but doing that with a dock will make this a bona fide Switch contender.
Lastly, I think it’s ironic that the Aya Neo (a Nintendo Switch killer) looks a bit like a Gameboy Advance on steroids. What do you think?
One of the best features of the Aya Neo is the built-in controller. Since it doesn’t have a removable controller like the joycon, there won’t be any wiggling like with the Switch. It has joycon-style analog sticks, but it does have the L3 and R3 functionality which is much appreciated. It doesn’t have analog-style trigger buttons, though, so playing racing games here is not the best experience.
The built-in controller also has extra functionalities like a gyroscope, vibration motors, and extra buttons like ESC, Windows button, Task Manager, and a button that brings up the on-screen keyboard. Plus, this has proper D-Pads (unlike the Joycons).
If you’re still unsatisfied with the built-in controller, you can always connect an Xbox controller via Bluetooth.
When you think about the big three consoles — Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch — they all have exclusive game stores and titles, and most games will cost you $20 to $60 each which is ridiculously expensive for some people.
Considering that the Aya Neo is a small PC, and that it runs Windows, it’s going to have all the game stores that PC gamers love. Steam, Xbox, Epic Games, G2A, and much more. With that, you’ll get access to all the games you want to play. Plus if you get your games on Steam or G2A, you might get higher game discounts and sales than the ones on the Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox game stores.
Since this is a PC, you’ll also have the option to play on cloud gaming services. And if you want to play games that aren’t on sale anymore, you can put your pirate eyepatch on and emulate a ton of retro and discontinued games on the Aya Neo.
It Can Run Cyberpunk! Well, Maybe.
Yes, you read that right. It can run Cyberpunk, a game that broke a handful of PCs, and that didn’t run at all on a base version PS4. The catch is, it can only run it at a terrible 20FPS. If you do a bit of tweaking, you might be able to bring it to 30-40FPS. I know it’s anti-climactic but it’s still amazing that the Aya Neo can run it.
Here are some other games the gaming device can run, along with their respective framerates:
- Red Dead Redemption 2: 30-45FPS on Low Settings
- GTA V: 40-75FPS on Normal Settings
- Call of Duty Warzone: 35-50FPS
- Horizon Zero Dawn: 35-50FPS
- Assasin’s Creed Valhalla: 25-35FPS
And that’s just a rough idea of what the Aya Neo can do in spite of its small size.
The maker of the Aya Neo is a relatively new company, having launched in 2020. While that makes a great story, that also brings the issue of repairability. There might not be a great support system (yet) and for that reason, I could only recommend the Aya Neo to people with some experience in repairing PCs or laptops on their own. Like a normal PC, you should expect to encounter a bit of troubleshooting when playing games here.
Lastly, with the Aya Neo’s relatively high-power components all packed in a small package, I think you should expect a few cooling issues. There might be thermal throttling if you push the device too far. And if you’re gaming in handheld mode, you might have some comfort issues since this can get hot, especially with the CPU hitting temperatures of up to 84° Celsius (183 ° Fahrenheit).
While the Aya Neo has a great display that will immerse you more than the regular Nintendo Switch and other handheld PCs, it has a small speakers with a tiny sound. So you use this with a pair of headphones to avoid hearing the crappy speakers and loud fan.
And if you’re coming from something like the Nintendo Switch, you might also be displeased with the Aya Neo’s battery life of just two hours when gaming.
The Aya Neo is a fun console to have, and you can get it pretty soon since they’re just starting to mass-produce this, but is it worth the $900-$1300 price tag? Well, I really don’t think so.
Is It Worth the Money?
The Aya Neo only has one direct competitor when it comes to being a handheld PC running on an AMD chipset, and that is the Steam Deck. Of course, that will come out in a year or two. But considering the Steam Deck has more features, has more technical support, and it literally is half the price of the Aya Neo, it’s a tough decision to make. It all comes down to whether you can wait for the Steam Deck.
Thanks for reading!