The Best Gaming Handhelds in 2022 [January Edition]

Ever wanted to game, but on-the-go? Need a companion for long, boring commutes? Or perhaps you need an easy, straightforward gift for the gamer or tech geek in your family. We at DroiX have prepared a round-up of the best gaming handhelds in 2021 to help you decide what is best for you. So read on to find out more!

So, what is a gaming handheld?

To play games of any substantial calibre, you will typically need at least ONE of the following:

  • A gaming console
  • A gaming PC
  • A decently powerful mobile phone

Each one of these will come with their own benefits, and also come with their own downsides as well.

A gaming handheld however, is a specialized, all-in-one device that is designed to play games from the ground-up. No extra peripherals or accessories required.

The gaming handheld scene is steadily expanding day by day. With even large companies like Valve unveiling their Steam Deck handheld, and rumors surfacing about Lenovo’s yet-to-be-officially-announced Legion Play android gaming handheld.

There are also a variety of more “budget” handhelds available on the market. These handhelds are more suited for playing retro titles (Game Boy, Genesis, and so on).

The Best Gaming Handhelds [October 2021]

Below is a list of five of the best gaming handhelds you can buy -right now-.

1. GPD WIN 3 – A Versatile Intel Gaming Handheld

GPD WIN 3 Matte Black Colour - Frontal Angle View While In Docking Station
The GPD WIN 3, resting in its signature docking station.

We’ll start our list of the best gaming handhelds with the GPD WIN 3. The GPD WIN 3 is the successor to the aptly named GPD WIN 2 – an older gaming handheld released in late 2018.

The GPD WIN 3 continues the mantra of “AAA gaming on a handheld” by featuring a powerful 11th generation Intel Core processor. This comes in one of three variations: i5-1135G7 (no longer being made – once they’re gone, they’re gone!), i7-1165G7, and the latest i7-1195G7.

Combine these cutting edge processors with the high speed RAM and NVMe SSD present in the unit, and what you have is a device that is EXTREMELY powerful for an all-in-one gaming handheld. Capable of playing many AAA titles at 60 FPS (although you will have to play with the settings briefly to optimize framerates).

In fact, if you use the Thunderbolt 4 port present on the underside of the device, you can connect an external GPU to the GPD WIN 3, turning it into a fully-fledged gaming PC.

The GPD WIN 3 features a built in touch keyboard, hidden by a sliding mechanism. Similar to those seen in turn-of-the-millennium mobile phones.

To learn more about the GPD WIN 3, we encourage you to check out our GPD Win 3 FAQ and benchmarks for the GPD WIN 3. Or if you’re already interested, you can buy a GPD WIN 3 from DroiX right now!

Summary

What we like!

  • The tactile, slide-up screen is satisfying to use.
  • High-quality analogue sticks.
  • Display is sharp and colourful.
  • Can play a variety of surprisingly demanding games.

What we don’t like!

  • The touch keyboard is a little finicky to use.
  • The display is a little small for some.

2. RG351MP – A Budget Gaming Handheld

RG351MP Mint Green Colour - Frontal Angled View
The ANBERNIC RG351MP in it’s refreshing “Mint Green” colouration.

For the second entry on our list of best gaming handhelds, we’ll take a step back price-wise and look at a more affordable gaming handheld. ANBERNIC’s recently-released RG351MP.

The RG351MP is the latest iteration in a long line of gaming handhelds created by ANBERNIC, a specialist manufacturer of budget gaming handhelds.

It is powered by a RockChip SoC (System-on-a-chip), the RK3326 and 1GB of RAM. This allows the system to handle a large variety of retro games up to and including the Playstation 1. With some other platforms (N64, PSP, etc.) being playable on a game-by-game basis.

It features a crisp 640×480 display with a 4:3 ratio, allowing for pixel-perfect scaling for most retro titles. In addition, there is a bevy of community-developed custom firmware available for the RG351MP that expands its features and improves emulation performance in a number of platforms.

If you want to know more about the RG351MP, we highly encourage you to check out our RG351MP review. Or if your heart is already set, buy an RG351MP from DroiX today.

Summary

What we like!

  • A crisp, 4:3 display allows for pixel-perfect scaling of the vast majority of retro platforms.
  • Premium, weighty feeling metal shell.

What we don’t like!

  • No internal Wi-Fi means you will need a dongle.
  • It’s a little late – with the next “generation” of handhelds being just around the corner.

3. AYA NEO 2021 – An AMD Gaming Handheld

AYA NEO 2021 Dark Star Colour - Frontal View
The AYA NEO 2021 in its “Dark Star” Colouration

The AYA NEO takes the third slot on our list of best gaming handhelds. It is a high end gaming handheld that runs Windows 10. Developed by newcomer manufacturer AYA.

Like the GPD WIN 3, the AYA NEO is more of a PC in the form of a handheld. Running Windows 10, and being able to play a number of AAA games at high framerates.

It is powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor. And thanks to AMD’s unique “APU” architecture, enjoys high graphical performance in games thanks to the integrated Vega graphics suite.

Being a crowdfunded device, the AYA NEO originally began shipping out to backers in Summer 2021. However, due to feedback from backers, the remainder of the units were delayed until late Fall 2021 as a revision of the unit was developed.

This revised unit featured improved cooling, a change from digital triggers/bumpers to analogue triggers/bumpers, and more. Personally, we think it’s a huge improvement and really makes the device a lot more comfortable to use.

To learn more about the AYA NEO, we encourage you to check out our AYA NEO FAQ, and to give our review a look. Or if you’ve already decided to buy one, you can buy an AYA NEO from DroiX today.

Summary

What we like!

  • The 2021 Revision features extremely quality-feeling controls.
  • AMD drivers provide high performance in many titles.
  • Screen is a comfortable size. Not too small or too big.

What we don’t like!

  • No physical keyboard. On-screen keyboard is unsuited for large quantities of text.

4. GPD XP – An Android Gaming King?

GPD XP Android Gaming Handheld - Frontal View
The GPD XP with it’s “Game Controller” module attached.

The GPD XP is – at the time of writing – an up-and-coming gaming handheld that is also developed by GPD. It is an Android-powered gaming handheld intended to provide high-speed mobile game performance. Because it runs Android, it can also be used to play emulators as well.

The GPD XP is a successor to the popular GPD XD Plus, a 2018 Android gaming handheld with a clamshell design.

The most stand-out feature of the GPD XP is it’s unique modular controller system. Through the use of a magnetic connection, you can freely switch the right-hand-side of the unit with one of three modules. This enables you to switch on-the-fly between whatever controls are most comfortable for your game of choice.

The GPD XP also features the ability to use mobile data, allowing to access internet-related features anywhere you can get a mobile signal. Useful for online gaming, VOIP calls, and more. You can’t take regular calls or receive SMS messages though.

The GPD XP is slated to launch in November 2021 approximately. The exact date remains to be seen, as the global supply chain issues have resulted in delays for a variety of devices.

Want to know more about the GPD XP? We’ve received a sample unit of the original Chinese version, and have gone over it in our GPD XP Review. You can also pre-order a GPD XP from DroiX.

Summary

What we like!

  • Excellent performance in android gaming and emulation alike.
  • Modular controls allow you to adapt to a variety of different games.
  • Can use mobile data so you can game online on-the-go.

What we don’t like!

  • Somewhat expensive.
  • The random inclusion of a front-facing camera is unusual.

5. OneXPlayer 1S – A Huge Display Handheld

One Netbook ONEXPLAYER Front and Rear Shoulder View
The OneXPlayer as viewed from the front and rear.

The OneXPlayer is the 5th and final entry on our best list of gaming handhelds. It is another high-end gaming handheld developed by One Netbook, another specialist manufacturer of small-form-factor laptops, and a competitor to GPD.

The OneXPlayer features an 11th generation Intel Core processor. The same one as the GPD WIN 3 in fact, being an i7-1195G7. This, combined with the RAM and storage also allows the OneXPlayer to handle AAA games at high framerates. It can also easily emulate a large variety of old consoles and handhelds.

What sets the OneXPlayer apart from its contemporaries however is its display. Clocking in at a whopping 2560x1600p, and at 8.4 inches in size, the OneXPlayer provides the best viewing experience out of all devices on this list by a good margin.

This size does bring the “handheld” part of gaming handheld into question though, so it may be more suited to lazing about in bed with rather than taking on the bus/train.

To learn more about the OneXPlayer, check out our OneXPlayer FAQ. You can also buy a OneXPlayer from DroiX, if you’re already set on buying one.

Summary

What we like!

  • Gigantic 1600p display provides excellent viewing experience.
  • High-performance in many AAA titles.
  • Surprisingly comfortable to hold, despite its size.
  • Quality-feeling controls.

What we don’t like!

  • Pushes the limits of “portable” due to its size.
  • The matte black finish feels a little rough.

Recap

Below is a list of all the handhelds listed in this article, plus a few specfications for comparison. For more about these gaming handhelds, check out their respective store pages!

Device NameProcessorRAMDisplayOperating SystemStore Page
GPD WIN 3Intel Core i5-1135G7
Intel Core i7-1165G7
Intel Core i7-1195G7
16GB LPDDR4x5.5″
1280×720
Windows 10Buy from DroiX
RG351MPRockChip RK33261GB DDR33.5″
640×480
EmuElecBuy from DroiX
AYA NEO 2021AMD Ryzen 5 4500U16GB LPDDR4x7″
1280×800
Windows 10 Buy from DroiX
GPD XPMediaTek Helio G956GB LPDDR4x6.81″
1080×2400
Android 11Buy from DroiX
OneXPlayer 1S Intel Core i7-1195G7 16GB LPDDR4x 8.4″
2560×1600
Windows 10 Buy from DroiX

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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