Not that long ago, quality PC gaming setups were confined to bulky desktop setups. Even early gaming laptops looked more like battle stations than sleek machines. Needless to say, the landscape has changed significantly in recent years, and now we’re even seeing an influx of handheld gaming PCs. Perhaps influenced by the enormous success of the Nintendo Switch as a hybrid console, more and more companies are attempting to garner an audience for portable, palm-sized gaming PCs. While most people are probably aware of the upcoming Steam Deck, there are others that hit the market before Valve’s handheld, including the impressive and surprisingly powerful Aya Neo.
Successfully crowdfunded via Indiegogo, the Aya Neo released last summer, but the studio behind it quickly began work on a redesign with better materials. The result is the Aya Neo 2021 and Aya Neo Pro, both of which released late last year. We got our hands on both models and have been testing them for about a month. With a premium build quality and tremendous performance for its size, the Aya Neo is a remarkable handheld PC. Though the Aya Neo is quite pricey–models range from $925 to north of $1,300–it can be thought of as an alternative to a mid-tier gaming laptop with the added bonus of being fully portable. It’s too early to say if the Aya Neo is better than the still-unreleased Steam Deck (which is significantly less expensive), but it’s an extremely solid piece of tech that is definitely worth considering if you’re in the market for this sort of gaming machine.
Note: Since performance is similar across both devices, the rest of this review applies to both models except when otherwise stated.
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Author: Steven Petite