Top 10 Handheld Gaming Consoles Worth Buying

Top 10 Handheld Gaming Consoles Worth Buying

The emergence of Steam Deck, following Nintendo Switch, spurred various manufacturers to introduce their portable consoles. Over the past year, numerous models from different companies have flooded the market. Asus, notably, joined the trend with their ROG Ally. Amidst this abundance of options, selecting the perfect handheld console can pose a challenge. Hence, here are the top 10 handheld gaming consoles available for purchase:

1. Steam Deck

Specifications Details
Display 16:10 7-inch 1200x800p IPS @ 60Hz
Storage and RAM 64GB eMMC, 256GB, 512GB NVMe M.2 2230; 16GB LPDDR5 RAM
GPU AMD Aerith Custom APU (4-15W)
Operating System Steam OS by default; Windows compatible
Hall Triggers / Joysticks No/No
Battery 40Wh
I/O 1 x Type-C USB 3.2 Gen 2, microSD slot, 3.5mm headphone jack
Price $399, $549, $649

The handheld gaming console industry appeared nearly defunct, overshadowed by Nintendo Switch, until Valve introduced the Steam Deck. While some scrutinized its technical specifications, many were drawn to its remarkably low price, starting at just $399. Valve openly acknowledged selling the console at a loss, offsetting it through game sales commissions on the Steam Store. A strategic move indeed.

Valve teamed up with AMD to develop the Steam Deck’s APU, striking an optimal balance between performance and efficiency, surpassing later competitors’ handhelds. Unsurprisingly, Valve has sold 3 million units and continues to enhance the Deck.

Steam Deck runs Arch Linux; not every game might run. If you don’t like OS tinkering, it may not be for you. However, for Linux enthusiasts and dreamt-of Linux gamers, it’s a perfect handheld-cum-computer.

Pros Cons
Incredibly value for money Cannot play all Steam library games
Can play AAA titles with ease The display isn’t great
Decent battery life
Highly repairable

2. Asus ROG Ally

Specifications Details
Display 16:9 7-inch 1080p IPS @ 120Hz
Storage and RAM 512GB, 1TB NVMe; 16GB LPDDR5 RAM
GPU AMD Z1/Extreme APU
Operating System Windows
Hall Triggers / Hall Joysticks Yes/No
Battery NA
I/O Type-C USB 4 with ASUS’s eGPU connector, microSD card slot, headphone jack
Price $599, $699 (Rumored)

Many manufacturers dubbed their handheld consoles as Steam Deck killers, but none rival gaming on the Steam Deck like the ROG Ally. We’d argue that Ally even outperforms the Deck in some scenarios, but its major flaw is battery life. The ROG Ally features a 1080p 7-inch IPS touchscreen display with a 120Hz refresh rate, AMD Ryzen Z1 and Z1 Extreme processors with RDNA 3 graphics, 16GB RAM, and 512GB storage in the base variant. Additionally, it runs Windows 11 with ASUS’s ROG gaming aesthetics layered on top.

Similar to the Steam Deck, it’s a portable computer with attached controls. AMD’s Z1 Extreme, designed specifically for handhelds rather than notebooks, is anticipated to outperform Steam Deck’s Aerith APU at various TDP levels. Unlike the Steam Deck, it will support a broader range of games at launch due to its Windows 11 compatibility. With the official price of ROG Ally 2 now at $700, the Steam Deck appears to offer better value.

Ayaneo 2: Streamlined Excellence

Pros Cons
Seamless AAA Gaming Pricey
Wide Game Compatibility No Trackpads
High Refresh Rate Display 


Category Details
Display 16:9 7-inch 1200p IPS @ 60Hz
Storage/RAM PCIe 4.0 512GB, 1TB, 2TB NVMe; 16/32GB LPDDR5
GPU AMD Radeon 680M
Operating System Windows/Ayaneo OS
Hall Triggers/Joysticks Yes
Battery 50.25Wh
I/O 2 x Type-C USB 4, microSD slot, headphone jack
Price $1099-$1499

Ayaneo pioneered alternatives to Steam Deck, starting with the original model in 2021. Since then, the company has introduced various portable consoles, including the Ayaneo Air, Air Pro, Next, and more. The latest addition, Ayaneo 2, largely impresses with its exceptional build quality.

Powered by the AMD Ryzen 7 6800U with Radeon 680M graphics, the console supports gaming at 1080P in low to medium settings. It outpaces Steam Deck’s Aerith APU slightly, thanks to higher compute unit clock speeds (2.2GHz vs 1.6GHz). Additionally, it boasts a higher TDP of up to 25W, fueled by a 50Whr battery.

The Ayaneo 2 base variant offers 16GB LPDDR5 6400MHz RAM and a 512GB PCIe NVMe drive, expandable via M.2 2280. Priced at $1,100, it may not be affordable. Experts may prefer the Steam Deck. However, if you can afford it, you won’t regret the purchase.

What sets the Ayaneo 2 apart are its features: hall joysticks and triggers, glass front, eGPU support via USB 4, a 1200p display, haptics akin to the Nintendo Switch, and a bezel-less display, all justifying the price.

AyaNeo Geek Review

Pros Cons
Plays AAA titles effortlessly Costlier compared to alternatives
Windows supports non-Steam games
AyaSpace offers unique software features
Includes hall effect joysticks and triggers
Features faster RAM, eGPU support via USB 4, and a 1200p screen


Top 10 Handheld Gaming Consoles Worth Buying
Category Details
Display 16:9 7-inch 800/1200p IPS @ 60Hz
Storage and RAM PCIe 3.0 512GB, 1TB, 2TB NVMe; 16/32GB LPDDR5
GPU AMD Radeon 680M
Operating System Windows/AyaNeo OS
Hall Triggers / Joysticks Yes
Battery 50.25Wh
I/O 2 x Type-C USB 4, microSD slot, headphone jack
Price $949 – $1369

The Ayaneo Geek shares the same processor as the Ayaneo 2 but with a few distinctions. It comes in 1200p/800p variants, lacks the two-axis haptic motor, and supports PCIe 3.0 standard, unlike the Ayaneo 2’s PCIe 4.0 standard. The Geek is thicker and taller compared to the Ayaneo 2.

Ayaneo markets it as a budget option, priced at $949 for the base variant featuring an 800p screen, 16GB RAM, and 512GB memory, which is reasonable. The $100 price gap means sacrificing PCIe 4.0 and a Full-HD screen. Considering this, investing $100 more for the Ayaneo 2 handheld gaming console seems worthwhile. Nevertheless, if your budget is capped at sub-$1,000 and you don’t require a Steam Deck, the Ayaneo Geek is worth considering.

Pros Cons
Can play AAA titles easily Costlier than counterparts
Windows supports non-Steam games from other launchers PCIe 3.0 instead of 4.0
AyaSpace offers unique software features Base variant has 800p screen
Hall Effect Joysticks and Triggers
Faster RAM, eGPU support via USB 4

5. OneXPlayer 2 – AMD

Specifications Details
Display 16:9 8.4-inch 2.5k IPS @ 60Hz
Storage and RAM PCIe 3.0 512GB, 1TB, 2TB NVMe; 16/32GB LPDDR5 RAM
GPU AMD Radeon 680M
Operating System Windows
Hall Triggers / Joysticks Yes
Battery 65.5Wh
I/O 1 x Type-C USB 4, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 1 x USB-A 3.0, microSD card slot, headphone jack
Price $1099, $1199, $1299, $1499

OneXPlayer sells its second-gen handheld console for $1,099 with Ryzen 7 6800U. Like the Nintendo Switch, you can detach the joysticks, attach a keyboard, and use it as a laptop. Additionally, you can use the official dock for a fully-fledged console-like experience or as a tablet. It boasts a larger 65.5Wh battery to power its 2.5k 8.4-inch display. For its price, the OneXPlayer 2 is probably worth choosing over the Ayaneo Geek or Ayaneo 2.

The company also offers the OneXPlayer Mini Pro AMD, another console powered by the Ryzen 7 6800u and Radeon 680M. It features a 7-inch 1200p display, 16GB DDR5 RAM at 6400MHz, PCIe 3.0 M.2 2280 SSD slot, Hall joysticks and triggers, a 48Whr battery, and USB 4.0.

In terms of features, OneXPlayer closely resembles the Ayaneo Geek but boasts a 1200p display. Additionally, OneXPlayer provides a variant equipped with an Intel Core i7-1260P, although we advise against purchasing it unless you strongly prefer Intel over AMD. Priced at $1049, it matches the cost of the Ayaneo 2, which provides superior features and delivers a more enjoyable handheld gaming experience.

Pros Cons
Plays all AAA titles easily Costlier than counterparts
8-inch 2.5k display Shorter battery life
Windows supports non-Steam games Uses PCIe 3.0 instead of 4.0
Detachable controllers for flexibility 
Hall Effect Joysticks and Triggers 
Faster RAM, eGPU support via USB 4, 1200p screen 

GPD Win Max 2 2023

Specifications Details
Display 16:9 10.1-inch 1080p/2.5k IPS @ 60Hz
Storage and RAM PCIe 4.0 1TB, 2TB NVMe; 16/32/64GB LPDDR5x RAM. 2 x PCIe 4.0 slots.
GPU AMD Radeon 760M, 780M
Operating System Windows
Hall Triggers / Joysticks Yes
Battery 67Wh
I/O 1 x Type-C USB 4, 2 x USB-A 3.0, microSD card slot, headphone jack, Oculink slot for eGPU
Price $799, $1049, $1199

Launched in 2022, the Win Max 2 2022 was a unique handheld console. The Max 2 2023 improves specifications, featuring AMD’s latest RDNA 3 graphics in the 7000 series U chipsets. It offers two variants: one with a Ryzen 5 7640u and Radeon 760M, and the other with a Ryzen 7 7840U and Radeon 780M. The 760M has 512 shaders, compared to 768 shaders in Radeon 680M, but boasts a higher max boost clock at 2.8GHz versus 2.4GHz. Meanwhile, the 780M represents a significant upgrade from the 680M.

The Win Max 2 boasts 16GB of LPDDR5x RAM, clocked at 7500 mt/s (not MHz). It supports two M.2 SSDs (1x 2280, 1x 2230), one PCIe 4.0. With a 10.1-inch IPS display, USB 4, 67Wh battery, full QWERTY keyboard, SD card slot, and “highly efficient” cooling system, it’s feature-rich. Additionally, it integrates built-in hall joysticks, triggers, and a central trackpad.

Funded recently, the Win Max 2 isn’t immediately available for purchase but will soon be offered by official GPD e-commerce sellers. Priced at $1,200, it offers great value for those seeking both productivity and gaming on-the-go.

Pros Cons
Plays AAA titles easily Expensive
Windows enables playing non-Steam games from other launchers 
Functions as a laptop with a full keyboard 
Hall Effect Joysticks and Triggers 
Fast RAM, eGPU support via USB 4, 1080p screen 
Dual SSD slots for added storage

Buy GPD Win Max 2 2023 ($1,199)

7. Nintendo Switch

Specifications Details
Display 16:9 7-inch 720p IPS @ 60Hz
Storage and RAM 32GB eMMC; 4GB RAM
Operating System Nintendo Switch OS
Hall Triggers / Joysticks No
Battery 16Wh
I/O 1 x Type-C, microSD, headphone jack
Price $349

Nintendo Switch, second only to Nintendo DS, reigns as the top-selling handheld gaming console. Despite its nearly six-year tenure, Nintendo revitalized it with the introduction of an OLED variant last year. Renowned for its exclusive titles from franchises like Pokemon, Legends of Zelda, and Super Mario, the Switch maintains its allure.

The Switch runs on the venerable NVIDIA Tegra X1 chipset, still remarkably capable for gaming thanks to developer optimizations. They can’t afford to skip bringing their games to a platform as vast as the Switch. However, the Tegra X1 is nearing obsolescence, struggling with current PC and Nintendo titles. Recent rumors hint at Nintendo unveiling or teasing the Switch’s successor this year.

The original Nintendo Switch is priced at $250, while the OLED model is priced at $360. The OLED model offers significant improvements over the original Switch. If you’ve decided to purchase a Switch, opting for the OLED variant is recommended. However, if you lean towards PC gaming and lack interest in Switch titles, the Steam Deck, priced at $399, is a more cost-effective option. It allows you to emulate Switch games and offers better value for money.

Pros Cons
Games on the OLED version look great The Tegra X1 is outdated
Nintendo exclusives are top-notch Slower eMMC storage and RAM
Detachable Joycons offer flexibility Nintendo exclusives can be expensive

Buy on Amazon ($340)
Buy on Best Buy ($350)

8. Nintendo Switch Lite

Specifications Details
Display 16:9 5.5-inch 720p IPS @ 60Hz
Storage & RAM 32GB eMMC; 4GB RAM
Operating System Nintendo Switch OS
Hall Triggers / Joysticks No/No
Battery 13.6Wh
I/O 1 x Type-C

For those desiring to play Switch titles without affording the Switch, Nintendo Switch Lite offers a solution. Featuring the same Tegra X1 chipset and screen resolution as the Switch, it boasts a smaller, lighter, and more portable design. It lacks detachable joy-cons, meaning you cannot detach the joysticks to play games on a TV.

However, at an asking price of $169, it offers great value. It’s a decent console, especially for those interested in playing Switch-exclusive games. The Lite’s battery is slightly smaller than the Switch, providing 3-5 hours of playtime compared to 4-7 hours on the Switch. Overall, it stands as one of the best and most affordable handheld gaming consoles available.

Pros Cons
Nintendo console budget Tegra X1 outdated
Nintendo exclusives top-tier Slow eMMC storage, RAM
Can’t run latest PC titles; Nintendo exclusives costly
Less battery life than Switch
Non-detachable Joycons

Buy on Amazon ($196.99)
Buy on Best Buy ($199.99)

9. Retroid Pocket 3

Specifications Details
Display 7-inch 720p IPS @ 60Hz
Storage & RAM 32GB eMMC; 4GB RAM
GPU Unisoc Tiger T310 SoC
Operating System Android 9.0
Hall Triggers / Joysticks No
Battery 4000mAh
I/O 1 x Type-C

The Retroid Pocket 3, an Android-based console, excels in emulation. Sporting a 4.7-inch 720p display and a 4,000mAh battery, it offers a single 3+32GB variant. Powered by a basic Unisoc T310 processor, it features built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, all fueled by a 4000mAh battery.

While not designed for AAA titles, the Pocket 3 handles retro games from platforms like PSP, PS2, Nintendo Wii, and DS. Running on Android, it supports emulators such as Dolphin, Citra, and PPSSPP. At just above $100, it’s a budget-friendly choice. However, if you already own a modern Android phone, purchasing the Pocket 3 may be redundant.

Pros Cons
Android-based, versatile gaming emulation Subpar hardware
Decent display Slow eMMC storage and RAM
Ideal for casual, retro gaming Inadequate for running older demanding titles

10. Playdate

Specifications Details
Display 1-bit 400×200 black and white display
Storage and RAM 4GB eMMC; 16MB RAM
GPU 168MHz Cortex M7
Operating System
Hall Triggers / Joysticks No
Battery 8 hours continuous usage, 14 hours standby
I/O 1 x Type-C,

Warning! If you adore spending money on adorable items, you’d find it hard to resist Playdate’s charm and design. Although the handheld is currently unavailable and scheduled to ship in late 2023, preorders are open. The console offers over 20 unique games, Wi-Fi connectivity, and requires an external USB power source.

Featuring a crank on the side for game control, alongside a D-pad and buttons A and B, the console boasts a non-backlit black-and-white screen, consuming minimal power. It operates on what’s termed “Seasons,” delivering two new games weekly for 12 weeks upon setup.

In the future, the manufacturer will also sell a stereo dock for your Playdate, enabling it to function as a clock, speaker, and pen holder. While not the top gaming handheld available, it’s excellent hardware for moments of relaxation, prompting reflection on gaming’s evolution.

Pros Cons
Unique pocketable console Expensive relative to its offerings
Sleek design
Includes free games with weekly additions

Buy Playdate ($199)

Bonus: Razer Kishi V2 for Android

The Kishi V2 isn’t a handheld gaming console, but it can convert your phone into one. Gaming phones are still trending, and not everyone can afford them. If you already own a capable phone like Nubia Red Magic or Xiaomi Black Shark, it wouldn’t be wise to spend more money on redundant features when you can opt for the Razer Kishi V2 to experience console-like gaming. It offers a universal fit, compatible with any phone featuring a USB type-C port.

A passthrough type-C port charges your phone during gameplay, and the app lets you browse games, record them, and customize the Kishi V2. If your phone is under 11.5 mm thick (including the camera) and under 170mm long, the Kishi V2 fits with no issues. At $99, it’s a great gadget for your Android device, transforming it into a fully-fledged gaming console. If you seek a more affordable option, consider the GameSir X2 Pro ($80, Buy on Amazon), equally impressive.

Pros Cons
Portable Somewhat pricey
Intuitive controls
Compatible with various Android devices via Type-C port

Have we overlooked any handheld gaming consoles you believe should be added? Share your suggestions in the comments below.