Steam Deck Delayed? Try out these alternatives!

Unfortunately, the Steam Deck has been delayed until early 2022. Fortunately, there are a number of alternative handhelds already available on the market. Read on to learn more about them.

The Steam Deck is Delayed?

Valve recently announced that their up-and-coming gaming handheld, the Steam Deck, has been delayed until February 2022. Citing difficulties with the global supply chain, Valve have stated that the manufacturing materials simply aren’t reaching the factories in time to meet the initial estimated release date of December 2021.

Curiously, this will fall around the time that Chinese New Year occurs. Traditionally, most of the country slows down during the first week of February thanks to a week-long public holiday. Meaning that, aside from the most essential services, all the factories and logistical services are mostly non-functional.

Assuming that Valve are operating according to the Just-In-Time philosophy, it is unlikely that the first batch of Steam Decks will be shipping until the latter half of February at the very earliest.

If you really can’t wait to sink your teeth into a handheld gaming PC, perhaps you may want to check out these great alternatives available to buy right now (from DroiX and other retailers). All of these models can run AAA games fairly similarly, so the differences lie in the details.


The GPD WIN 3

GPD WIN 3 Matte Black Colour - Frontal Angle View While In Docking Station

Who is it for? Gamers who want the absolute most portability for their pennies, and the most complete experience out-of-the-box.

How Much Is it? £900-£1200 approx.

The GPD WIN 3 is a handheld gaming PC developed by GPD, a specialist manufacturer of mini laptops and handheld gaming devices.

It is the third entry in GPD’s flagship GPD WIN line of products. Starting with the GPD WIN originally released in 2016, and culminating in the GPD WIN 3 five years later.

The GPD WIN 3 is powered by an 11th generation Intel “Rocket Lake” processor. With the ability to choose from an i5-1135G7, an i7-1165G7, and an i7-1195G7, buyers can opt for slightly more or less performance as their budget dictates.

With the Rocket Lake generation, Intel’s integrated graphics suite (now dubbed “Iris Xe“) took great strides in improving performance. And when combined with 16GB of LPDDR4x RAM (clocked at a whopping 4266MHz), the GPD WIN 3 is fully capable of playing many AAA games.

While it won’t be able to handle the NEWEST games (released within the last 1-2 years) on ultra settings. With some tweaks, it is possible to hit a stable 60FPS on a surprising number of games.

…that is, until you connect an external GPU using the Thunderbolt 4 port present on the device. By connecting to an external GPU, the GPD WIN 3 becomes what is essentially a fully-fledged gaming PC. As it is able to leverage the power of its Rocket Lake processor with a discrete GPU.

Why you should buy it

One of the most unique features of the GPD WIN 3 is the presence of a built-in keyboard. By sliding up the screen, you gain access to a physical “touch” keyboard. While not practical for extended typing sessions, it is handy for quickly inputting credentials and passwords.

The GPD WIN 3 is also easily the smallest of the handheld gaming PCs on the market nowadays. Making it that much more portable. The smaller size does mean a smaller screen however, so when you’re not gaming with it, you may find it more comfortable to connect to a docking station.

What we like!

  • Very portable
  • Built-in keyboard
  • Thunderbolt 4
  • Hardware toggle for mouse/keyboard input

What we don’t like!

  • Small enough to where some might find it uncomfortable.
  • The built-in keyboard isn’t the most comfortable
  • Face buttons are digital (“clicky”)

To learn more about the GPD WIN 3 in the advent of the Steam Deck delay, check out our GPD WIN 3 FAQ.


The AYA NEO 2021

Who is it for? People who want an AMD handheld that feels closest to the Nintendo Switch (in size)

How Much Is It? £990-£1150 approx.

The AYA NEO 2021 is a new gaming handheld produced by equally new Chinese start-up AYA.

It first previewed in early 2020 with an engineering prototype that was literally made out of (something similar to) lego. About a year later, the crowdfunding campaign was unveiled with the design we know today.

Much like the Steam Deck, the AYA NEO also uses an AMD processor as the heart of the unit. Being powered by a Ryzen 4500U. A hexa-core (6 cores) processor that can run at a frequency of up to 4.0GHz.

AMD have substantially more experience in developing (gaming) GPUs than Intel. And this shows in the the performance of their front-running “Radeon” graphics suite, which leverages the high speed of the (16 GB of) LPDDR4x RAM to get the most gaming performance possible.

Their expertise in both CPU and GPU technologies has lead AMD to develop a new architecture known as an “APU” (or: Accelerated Processing Unit). This is just a fancy name for when the functions of the GPU and CPU are combined onto one chip, and are more tightly entwined than usual.

The AYA NEO 2021 PRO

During the tail end of the crowdfunding campaign, AYA unveiled that they were developing a more powerful version of the AYA NEO 2021.

This model is in most aspects identical to the base model. Except for one key difference in that it uses a Ryzen 7 4800U instead of a Ryzen 5 4500U. This may be the closest option you can get to the Steam Deck during this delay.

Why you should buy it

Since acquiring ATI Technologies in 2006, AMD have amassed years of experience in developing gaming drivers under their belt. With mature drivers and the handy AMD Radeon Software utility making updates a breeze. The AYA NEO is excellent for those who want a reliable gaming experience.

We also personally find the AYA NEO to be the perfect size for holding. While not as portable as the GPD WIN 3, the 7-inch display is vibrant and shows just enough detail to keep both browsing and gaming comfortable.

What we like!

  • Extremely comfortable size; not too big, not too small
  • Buttons and triggers are of very high quality
  • High build quality.

What we don’t like!

  • No built-in hardware solution for mouse/keyboard input
  • Docking options are dull (no Thunderbolt 4)

To learn more about the AYA NEO, we highly encourage you to check out our AYA NEO review!

(Also check out our AYA NEO PRO review!)


The ONEXPLAYER 1S

One Netbook ONEXPLAYER Front and Rear Shoulder View

Who is it for? Gamers who prefer “XL” handhelds.

How Much Is It? £1150 approx.

The ONEXPLAYER 1S is One Netbook’s attempt at a handheld gaming PC. It was successfully crowdfunded in early 2021, and a highly capable alternative in the face of the Steam Deck delay.

Being somewhat of a rival company to GPD, One Netbook also specialized in small-form-factor laptops. With their most well-known line of devices being the One Mix family. While not their first foray into gaming-focused devices, it is their first real attempt at a gaming handheld.

“Large and in-charge” would be one way to describe this gaming handheld. The centrepiece of the ONEXPLAYER 1S is undoubtedly its sizable 8.4″ display. With it’s impressive 2560×1600 resolution, it stands head-and-shoulders over its competitors in terms of visual clarity with crisp visuals that are easy on the eyes. And is also very accommodating to other use-cases as well such as streaming.

The ONEXPLAYER 1S uses the same processor as the GPD WIN 3’s highest specification, an 11th generation Intel i7-1195G7. Because it also uses the same kind of RAM (16GB dual-channel LPDDR4x @4266MHz) and SSD (M.2 NVMe), you can expect similar performance in games and apps.

Why you should buy it

The screen! The large screen on the ONEXPLAYER makes it slightly less portable than its contemporaries, but the comfortable viewing experience and ease of holding outweighs that in our opinion.

What we like!

  • Large display
  • High-quality buttons
  • Built-in kick-stand
  • Thunderbolt 4

What we don’t like!

  • Pushes the limits of “portability”
  • Rumble is rather harsh

To learn more about the ONEXPLAYER 1S, we highly recommend you check out our ONEXPLAYER 1S FAQ.


The GPD WIN MAX 2021

Who is it for? Gamers who can’t decide if they want a gaming laptop or a gaming handheld.

How Much Is It? £1170-£1190 approx.

Rounding off our list of alternatives is the GPD WIN MAX 2021. If the Steam Deck delay has you reconsidering whether you really want to go for the handheld format or not. The WIN MAX 2021 makes an interesting option.

Unlike the other handhelds, the GPD WIN MAX 2021 comes in a clamshell-style laptop form factor. With the device resting in a “closed” position when not in use (that conveniently protects the display).

Filling the role between a gaming handheld hybrid and a gaming laptop, the GPD WIN MAX 2021 is the most suited out of all devices in this article for being a “daily driver”, with both built in gaming controls and a tolerable chiclet keyboard, it is just as comfortable to use for gaming as it is for writing notes.

Because it is larger than the WIN 3, it also has room for slightly better cooling, allowing for more stable temperatures when under load, despite running the same processor and RAM as the WIN 3.

On the device is also a dedicated gigabit ethernet port, as well as a full-sized HDMI port. Additionally, alongside the existing USB type-A and type-C ports is a Thunderbolt 4 port for enhanced connectivity (i.e., external GPUs).

You can consider it to be a “mini gaming laptop” of sorts.

Why should you buy it?

Gaming handhelds aren’t for everyone. Some prefer the reliability and familiarity of a laptop, as well the practical advantages that said form factor brings.

In addition, perhaps you don’t want to rely on docking stations and/or other peripherals in order to expand the functionality of your unit. Ironically, despite being bigger, the GPD WIN MAX 2021 is more portable in a practical sense thanks to having multiple different interfaces built in.

What we like!

  • Provides the most complete setup out-of-the-box
  • Chiclet keyboard is tolerable
  • Good thermals (relative to other handhelds)

What we don’t like!

  • Bezels are rather large
  • Noisy
  • Mildly awkward to hold

To learn more about the GPD WIN MAX 2021, we encourage you to check out our GPD WIN MAX 2021 FAQ.

benjamin
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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