Consumer Electronics, Gadgets & Accessories

Steam Deck alternatives: The 5 best gaming handhelds

The world of gaming handhelds has been firmly in the hands of PC gaming since the release of the Steam Deck in 2022 at the latest. For a long time, the handheld market was dominated by console manufacturers such as Nintendo and Sony, but PC gaming handhelds have now been almost completely left behind. With the Steam Deck OLED (our test), Valve recently launched a powerful upgrade. But the competition never sleeps: we present the best Steam Deck alternatives.

ASUS ROG Ally: The most powerful gaming handheld

The idea of making PC games playable on the move is simply brilliant and has caused a genuine revolution. The biggest competitor and the best Steam Deck alternative comes from ASUS and goes by the name of ROG Ally.

The ASUS ROG Ally has the edge, especially in terms of hardware power. Under the hood is the AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme, a powerful chip that combines 8 Zen 4 computing cores with clock speeds of up to 5.10 GHz with an AMD Radeon graphics unit including 8.6 teraflops and 16 GB LPDDR5 RAM.

As a result, the gaming handheld achieves console-level quality, which is shown to its best advantage on the 7-inch IPS display with a Full HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels and a refresh rate of 120 Hertz.

The powerful hardware ensures outstanding performance in the Steam Deck alternative. Depending on the game, up to 10 frames per second (fps) more are possible than with the Valve handheld. However, the ASUS ROG Ally also runs out of breath much faster in the required Turbo mode. Depending on the game, the battery is drained in around an hour.

The ASUS ROG Ally is currently the most powerful PC gaming handheld. (Image: ASUS)

Another advantage of the handheld: The ROG Ally relies on a normal Windows 11 interface and can therefore access all stores such as Epic Games, Microsoft and others, while the Steam Deck relies exclusively on its own platform.

However, this advantage is also a disadvantage. While the Steam Deck provides a clear interface at console level, navigation under Windows on the small screen of the ASUS ROG Ally can be somewhat difficult.

Advantages of the ASUS ROG Ally:

  • Powerful hardware
  • Extensive games catalog
  • Lots of freedom thanks to Windows
  • 120 Hertz

Disadvantages ASUS ROG Ally:

  • Choppy navigation
  • Short battery life
  • IPS display only

Lenovo Legion Go: A powerful Windows handheld

Lenovo also entered the gaming handheld sector in 2023 and launched an exciting device with the Lenovo Legion Go. The device uses the same powerful AMD chip as the ASUS ROG Ally, including 16 GB of RAM, but combines it with an impressive display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels on a size of 8.8 inches and a refresh rate of a whopping 144 hertz.

Of course, this also makes the Legion Go larger and heavier than the Steam Deck and ROG Ally. Specifically, the Lenovo handheld measures 299 mm x 131 mm x 41 mm and weighs in at 852 grams.

On the other hand, the Legion Go offers a very special innovation. The two control elements to the left and right of the display are detachable, just like on the Nintendo Switch, and can be used in the hand as a controller. The right-hand controller can even be used as a mouse thanks to the base station – practical for quick shooters or similar.

Lenovo Legion Go
Special feature of the Lenovo Legion Go: The controllers are detachable. (Image: Lenovo)

Since the hardware is at the level of the ROG Ally, you will have to live with a lower frame rate in demanding games such as Cyberpunk 2077, Elden Ring or Diablo 4 at full 1600p resolution.

Alternatively, the resolution can be reduced to 1,920 x 1,200 pixels or 1,280 x 800 pixels to achieve better performance. The full 2,560 x 1,600 pixels therefore only allow a smooth gaming experience for less demanding games.

In addition, the Lenovo Legion Go also runs a normal Windows 11 interface, which has the same advantages and disadvantages as the Steam Deck alternative from ASUS. The battery life of Lenovo’s handheld is marginally better than that of the ROG Ally, which runs out after around 80 minutes of gaming.

Advantages of the Lenovo Legion Go:

  • Powerful hardware
  • Extensive games catalog
  • Detachable controller including mouse control
  • 144 Hertz

Disadvantages Lenovo Legion Go:

  • Choppy navigation
  • Short battery life
  • Performance of AAA games at full resolution
  • High price

AYA Neo / AYA Neo Next

Manufacturer AYA already offers an interesting Steam Deck alternative with the Neo. The Light model, which combines an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U (6 cores, up to 4.00 GHz clock speed) with an integrated AMD Radeon Vega 6 GPU and 16 GB LPDDR4x RAM, is particularly interesting.

It also has modern features and a 7-inch display, which – like the Steam Deck – has a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels. Technically, the device is therefore slightly weaker than the Valve handheld and, at 799.00 euros, also slightly more expensive – but you get 1 terabyte of SSD storage in return.

Thanks to the Windows interface, you can also access various game stores and use additional apps.

Tip: There are other exotic gaming handhelds, for example from GPD. However, due to the lack of availability, we have not included these in the list

The AYA Neo Next, which is slowly being delivered following successful crowdfunding via Indiegogo, also promises to be interesting. It offers more performance with an AMD Ryzen 7 5825U and is equipped with up to 2 TB of SSD storage. It also has a 7-inch display with a resolution of 1,2800 x 800 pixels, which promises a decent battery life.

The AYA Neo Next is set to become the most advanced PC gaming handheld. (Image: ANYUN INTELLIGENT TECHNOLOGY (HONG KONG) CO., LTD)

However, the AYANEO Next is not yet officially available. The handheld is likely to be difficult to obtain, especially in this country, especially as the price is quite steep at more than 1,000 euros.

Razer Edge: Gaming handheld as a streaming solution

The Razer Edge gaming handheld goes in a completely different direction, but is also an interesting Steam Deck alternative. It is essentially a compact Android tablet with a 6.8-inch OLED display that becomes a gaming handheld when combined with the Kishi V2 Pro controller.

The Razer Edge combines the advantages of a classic tablet with the ease of use of a console-level handheld. You can use it to surf the web, use normal Android apps and, of course, play games.

However, there are two sticking points, especially in the gaming area, because on the one hand you are mainly limited to Android mobile games and on the other hand setting up the controller often requires a bit of fiddling.

Razer Edge
The Razer Edge really comes into its own in games with controller support and game streaming

One advantage of the Razer Edge: The handheld relies primarily on game streaming from the cloud. Apps such as GeForce Now, Steam Link and Xbox Cloud Gaming are already pre-installed. Thanks to Wi-Fi6E, you can get started straight away. However, this only works if you have a stable internet connection.

In terms of performance, the Razer Edge can’t compete with Steam Deck and the like, but the gaming handheld is certainly suitable for relaxed gaming on the sofa. Especially as the battery life of around 6 hours of continuous gaming is significantly longer than that of more powerful devices.

Advantages of the Razer Edge:

  • Handy and lightweight
  • Excellent display
  • Long battery life
  • Can also be used as a tablet

Disadvantages of the Razer Edge:

  • Performance cannot keep up with Steam Deck and co
  • Only mobile games and cloud gaming
  • Mixed operation under Android

Nintendo Switch (OLED): Nintendo remains unique

Nintendo’s hybrid of stationary console and handheld has now been around for almost seven years and even if the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch OLED are not direct Steam Deck alternatives, the consoles can still be recommended today.

There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, the price. At a maximum of 329 euros for the OLED model and 210 euros for the Nintendo Switch Lite, which can only be used as a gaming handheld, you can enjoy Switch games at a comparatively low price.

This brings us directly to the second point, because the exclusive titles for Nintendo’s console are unique. Titles such as Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Metroid Prime Remastered and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are only available from Nintendo.

Nintendo Switch

The fact that the Switch relies on outdated hardware such as the NVIDIA Tegra X1 chip and has just 4 GB of RAM is irrelevant in our eyes. After all, Nintendo (at least at the moment) doesn’t want to play in the big graphics highlights.

Instead, the games should be convincing from a gaming perspective and the exclusive titles in particular certainly do that.

So if you’re primarily looking for gaming fun and don’t necessarily need to play the latest graphics blockbusters, the Nintendo Switch will still be a good choice in 2023. According to rumors, however, a successor could be presented as early as 2024.

Advantages of the Nintendo Switch:

  • Low price
  • Huge selection of games
  • Outstanding exclusive titles

Disadvantages Nintendo Switch:

  • Outdated, comparatively weak hardware
  • No real graphics highlights
  • Weak WLAN connection

The best Steam Deck alternatives: Conclusion

As you can see, there is a whole range of gaming handhelds that are an alternative to the Steam Deck. However, there is no such thing as the ultimate handheld PC. All of the devices we have mentioned have their own personal advantages and disadvantages.

Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself what is most important to you in a PC gaming handheld. The Stream Deck, especially the new OLED model, offers a convincing middle ground of performance, ease of use and additional functions – but it is not necessarily the right choice for you.

Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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The world of gaming handhelds has been firmly in the hands of PC gaming since the release of the Steam Deck in 2022 at the latest. For a long time, the handheld market was dominated by console manufacturers such as Nintendo and Sony, but PC gaming handhelds have now been almost completely left behind. With … (Weiterlesen...)

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