The Best Steam Deck Alternatives [October 2021]

Valve’s latest hardware venture, the Steam Deck, was a welcome surprise to many. Bringing to attention a niche that had been steadily gaining traction over the past 2-3 years. Due to overwhelming demand, pre-orders for the Steam Deck are not expected to be fulfilled until some point in 2022. For those who can’t wait for handheld PC gaming, we at DroiX present to you four great alternatives to the Steam Deck!

What is the Steam Deck?

The Steam Deck is a handheld gaming PC that is similar in design to the Nintendo Switch. Featuring a large central screen flanked on both sides by sets of dedicated game controls.

The Steam Deck is powered by a customized AMD processor. The intent behind the Steam Deck is to provide a portable gaming handheld that can support the vast majority of devices at a bare minimum of 30FPS (this includes both indie games and more demanding AAA titles).

Prior to the development of these kinds of devices, when it came to gaming on the go, there were only two real options. The first of these being retro gaming handhelds, which are very inconsistent when it comes to emulating platforms newer than the PS1. The second option being gaming laptops, which may be too large and bulky for some.

The Steam Deck will ship with an updated version of SteamOS – a linux-based operating system designed to work seamlesesly with Valve’s Steam gaming platform.

For more on the Steam Deck – check out our article covering everything you need to know about the Steam Deck.

Steam Deck Alternatives

#1: The GPD Win 3 – The All-Around Favourite

GPD WIN 3 i7 Space Grey New AAA Gaming Portable Handheld showing Mafia Game playing

The GPD WIN 3 is the first on our list of alternatives to the Steam Deck. Coming from GPD, the manufacturer behind various mini laptops, and the WIN 3’s direct predecessor, the GPD WIN 2.

Powered by an 11th generation Intel processor, the tagline for the GPD Win 3 is “The world’s 1st handheld AAA game console” and it’s claim to fame is running AAA games – which it does surprisingly well.

Despite being a handheld device, the GPD WIN 3 is truly capable of running AAA games. The caveat being, you will (and this is a common theme for all gaming handhelds), need to make some concessions in terms of visuals to get games running at higher framerates.

It makes a perfectly viable alternative to the Steam Deck thanks to its respectable performance in a variety of games, as well as the similar form-factor. It is also extremely good at emulation.

The GPD Win 3 is available to buy from DroiX, shipping worldwide from the UK. You can also check out our GPD WIN 3 review for further info.

#2: The AYA NEO – An AMD Alternative

Following the WIN 3 came the announcement of the AYA NEO. Another crowdfunded handheld gaming PC from a brand new player to the scene, AYA.

The AYA, like the WIN 3, also intends to bring the gaming PC experience into a handheld form-factor. The key difference being that the AYA NEO features an AMD processor, rather than an Intel one.

An updated version of the AYA NEO is planned, called the AYA NEO 2021. It features numerous hardware improvements made from the feedback received from the original backers of the project. There is also a more powerful version of the AYA NEO 2021 planned called the AYA NEO 2021 PRO.

For more on this handheld gaming PC, check out our guide covering everything you need to know about the AYA NEO. Check out our blog post on the AYA NEO 2021 Pro for more information on the enhanced model too.

The AYA NEO 2021 can be ordered from DroiX for £849.95. The release date for the AYA NEO 2021 Pro is yet to be announced.

#3: The OneXPlayer – Huge Screen, High Performance

ONEXPLAYER by One Netbook - Shown playing Doom

Interested in getting a piece of the gaming handheld pie, One Netbook have also produced a handheld gaming PC of their own, called the OneXPlayer.

For those unfamiliar with One Netbook, they are a manufacturer of various mini laptops, much like GPD. Most known for their One Mix line of ultrabooks, One Netbook devices are a stylish alternative to GPD’s more utilitarian aesthetics.

The OneXPlayer features similar internals to the GPD Win 3, with 11th generation i5 and i7 processor options. The key aspect that sets the OneXPlayer apart from the competition, however, is its massive 8.3 inch display with a 2560×1600 resolution.

Its performance in games is similar to the WIN 3 overall when limited to 800p. If you wish to fully utilize the full 1600p resolution, you will however be taking a noticeable performance hit.

Due to the large display, the OneXPlayer stretches the limits of what one could realistically consider “portable” (because it is not too far-off in heft from a small laptop). Regardless, it makes a great alternative to the steam deck for those who find the deck’s display to be too small.

The OneXPlayer can be ordered from DroiX, starting from £1049.

#4: The GPD Win MAX 2021 – A Handheld/Laptop Hybrid

GPD WIN MAX Showing at an angle

The WIN MAX 2021 is a revision of GPD’s popular gaming laptop/handheld hybrid, the GPD Win MAX.

Designed to fill in a space between gaming handheld and gaming laptop, the GPD WIN MAX 2021 is larger than GPD’s usual offerings.

This revision for the GPD Win Max is purely related to the internals of the device. Featuring a choice of either a Ryzen 4800U or an Intel i7-1195G67 processor. The WIN MAX 2021 promises to run a plethora of AAA games at high frame-rates.

In all other aspects outside of the processor/RAM, the WIN MAX 2021 is identical to the WIN MAX.

While we don’t have any footage of the WIN MAX at the time of writing, you can check out our blogpost containing everything you need to know about the WIN MAX 2021 for more info.

Mild-mannered support agent by daylight; even milder-mannered tech blogger under cover of night. Fond of gaming, virtual reality, and sleeping; not necessarily in that order.

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Can't wait until 2022 to scratch your handheld PC gaming itch? Check out these 4 great alternatives to the Steam Deck being released in 2021!..Read full article

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