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Mar 17, 2023 11 min read

AYANEO 2 and Geek - Who are these for?

AYANEO 2 and Geek - Who are these for?
Table of Contents

Ayaneo has released two handheld gaming PCs that outpace the Steam Deck, except in cost.

A far bigger price tag, smaller form factor, higher resolution, and buggy software. But it can natively run Fortnite.

Ever since gamers glanced at Alienware's Project UFO back at CES 2020, the thrill of playing a full-fledged PC game just in the palm of your hands has been the craze of many enthusiastic gamers. While Alienware's prototype never came to market, it wouldn't be long until companies took the concept and proceeded to bring their Nintendo Switch-styled portable PCs to market. One of the first companies to try to fully realize Alienware's ambitious project was Ayaneo, which launched in early 2021.

Alienware's UFO Prototype Handheld Gaming PC from CES 2020.

The original Ayaneo beat the Steam Deck to the hands of most gamers by almost a year before the Steam Deck started shipping in February 2022. However, by the time were receiving the original and the Steam Deck, two more Ayaneos called the Ayaneo Next and Next Pro were announced and released in 2022. If that wasn't enough, smaller Ayaneos then got announced that had a form factor similar to the Switch Lite, appropriately called the Ayaneo Air, and Air Pro. All of these models have different sizes and varying performances that are either better or worse than the Steam Deck, which thankfully only has one model with just three different storage spaces.

Hardware Features

Ayaneo's official spec comparison between the AYANEO 2 and the Geek.

Now to add more confusion to the parade of Ayaneo Windows handheld PCs come the AYANEO 2 and the AYANEO Geek, which are both nearly identical except the Ayaneo Geek offers both 1200p and 800p screen options, whereas the Ayaneo 2 only offers a 1200p screen– exceeding the Steam Deck's 800p screen.

The Ayaneo 2's screen also doesn't have black bezels like the Switch and Steam Deck, whereas the Geek has a surrounding black bezel border. The AYANEO 2's offers a beautiful bezel-less screen, surrounded by a body of glass that makes these units sleek and more attractive than the Steam Deck's plastic housing.  

Aside from its LCD screen differences, the Ayaneo 2 is also equipped with similar technology to the HD rumble found in Nintendo Switch Joycons, while the Geek only offers rumble more in line with an average smartphone.

Both units offer gyroscopic motion controls, but only the Ayaneo 2 has an additional sensor inside of the handles to pick up more subtle movement that's perfect for delicate aiming in shooters.

Inside the newest AYANEO models are AMD 6800U APUs. With 8 cores and 16 threads and a boost clock of up to 4.7 GHz, Ayaneo is absolutely stomping on the Steam Deck's 4 Core, an 8-thread processor that caps out at 3.5 GHz.

Every model of AYANEO Geek contains 16GBs of LPDDR5 RAM while the AYANEO 2 has an option for up to 32GBs of LPDDR5 RAM, but only if you are willing to start paying upwards of $1500. Unfortunately, the RAM is soldered-on, so you won't be swapping RAM sticks to cheat your way into an upgrade for cheaper. That's fewer tabs you can have open in Chrome. Not to worry, as most games don't need more than 16GBs of RAM currently, such as The Last of Us Part I, to run at a 720p resolution.

Ayaneo 2 Review - IGN
The Ayaneo 2 is a major step forward from the Ayaneo Next and Steam Deck, and it feels almost as good as it plays. It’s expensive but excellent.
As we do not have a model in hand to review, we recommend IGN's review for more details on performance numbers in-game. 

To get more in-depth of game performance, it's best to take a look at some reviews such as Chris Coke's review on IGN. They loved the device over at IGN and gave great reasons to. The biggest takeaway seems to be the fact that while you can purchase a 1200p unit, most games are only going to be best played at 800p from IGN's findings. Framerates will dip considerably when maxing out the resolution. While the device can play Doom Eternal at a buttery smooth 1200p at Medium settings, not all games are as optimized as Doom Eternal is, as Doom Eternal can even do ray-tracing on a Steam Deck at a playable performance.

The bottom line is if you aren't going to be watching videos or movies on the device, the 1200p might be restricting your gaming performance, even on such a beefy handheld. Yet when you dial the AYANEO 2 back to 800p, the device is in a different class compared to the Steam Deck.


But regardless of which of the six different units of Ayaneo you buy over the past two years, all of Ayaneo's software isn't quite ready for prime time. Users were unable to adjust the sensitivity of the analog sticks or fully adjust controls like the Steam Deck. Questionable localization also makes the Aya Space application difficult for non-Chinese readers outside of seemingly shoddy option adjustments that may or may not work as described or expected.

Questionable localization aside, it does offer advantages over even the Steam Deck by its choice of OS. The Steam Deck is not a Windows machine out-of-the-box. Sure, the Steam Deck is a PC and can install Windows, but Valve has yet to truly innovate software that is catered to the Steam Deck on Windows. Whereas Ayaneo has an out-of-the-box experience with their Aya Space app. With a push of a dedicated physical button, similar to Valve's "..." button, an overlay menu pops up on the right-hand side of the screen to offer users quick control of their AYANEO such as setting how much energy is consumed in order to prefer battery life to performance, reassign buttons, and change Windows' resolution on the fly between 1200p*, 1080p*, 800p, and 720p.

*Only for models with a 1200p resolution screen.

Other important buttons appear in the Aya Space overlay such as the Windows key, Escape key, and sleep button. You can even add additional commands like toggling Wi-Fi to this quick access bar. The Steam Deck instead uses a combination of using the Steam button and pressing another button but is a static and uniform list of commands that are admittedly hard to remember for more casual usage of the Steam Deck.

Holding the Aya button on the right-hand side of the AYANEO 2 gets you access to the full Aya Space launcher of all of the games scanned on the device, including customizing controls. Though several games including Portal 2 have some quirks and don't always like to work correctly by launching through Aya Space. This means you might need to open Steam and lose your dedicated button remappings if this happens. Other features include the software needed to customize the device's RGB LEDs to your liking– including turning the RGB lights off.


The best way to summarize these charts is:

  • An AYANEO Geek retails between $949-1369
  • An AYANEO 2 retails between $1099-1550
  • A Steam Deck retails between $399-649

The biggest hurdle that every handheld PC has is the reality that these companies do not have the same revenue streams as Valve does to fall back on. Unlike Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, and Valve, Ayaneo does not have many other options to generate revenue outside of selling portable PC hardware and accessories yet. While on paper Ayaneo's newest devices excel in a multitude of ways past Valve's Steam Deck, the fact of the matter is the price of purchasing the lowest-end AYANEO 2 or an AYANEO Geek starts higher than the highest-end Steam Deck, and more than double the price of the cheapest Steam Deck. With such a high asking price, someone purchasing an AYANEO 2 has to be searching past the price and need something the Steam Deck cannot do.

What is amazing is the ease of taking apart and getting to the NVMe SSD. You can read more about that here. Given the SSD market is so affordable now, Ayaneo could consider offering an NVMe-less option with a Windows key and a nearly assembled unit that just needs an SSD and its six screws, and a USB-C flash drive full of drivers. Even so, the price is difficult for these companies to nail without the fallback of being able to supplement losses with perpetual software sales.

That being said, it might be best to just choose between whether or not the bezel-less screen and which resolution is important to you, then grab your own heavily discounted NVMe SSD from Amazon if you want more storage.

Hardware Advantages

Valve, it's time for you to take notes. Outside of the back buttons and trackpads on the Steam Deck, there are several advantages Ayaneo has over the Steam Deck. The biggest is USB 4. Not only is the Ayaneo equipped with USB 4 instead of USB 3, but the newest Ayaneo device has three USB-C's– two of the three are USB4.  

A GPU inside of an external GPU enclosure.
Image Source: AYANEO

The increased speed allows you to dock an external GPU to the Ayaneo 2 and Geek. The AYANEO 2 and Geek offer a seamless dockable and portable entertainment experience that has an easier time playing just about anything that was built for Windows.

For those who don't wish to solder to their Steam Deck, all models of these new Ayaneo devices are equipped with Hall Effect joysticks. These magnetic joysticks are reliable to ensure users will never need to worry about joysticks suddenly drifting like what is common with Nintendo's Joycon joysticks.

Who is this for?

If you were looking for the best portable to play recent Call of Duty games, Fortnite, and other popular Windows-only games that cannot be played on a stock Steam Deck, there is no better device than the AYANEO 2. You will get no better performance than any other device when it comes to performance and resolution. Even with its shortcomings in terms of software, it's a better Windows experience than the Steam Deck offers. Again, if you want a hybrid handheld device that has the capability of replacing a desktop PC, buy an Ayaneo 2 now. Price aside, the AYANEO Geek and AYANEO 2 bring the best Windows handheld PC experience on the market.

Objectively, the AYANEO Geek alone beats the Steam Deck in every way, minus the lack of controls such as the back buttons. trackpads, and very shoddy localization efforts in the Aya Space app. That said, Windows is also a far more compatible OS currently across games. While default Windows and Linux desktops are not ideal for most handhelds, the Aya Space app and overlay at least give some leverage to navigating the OS without a physical keyboard and mouse. Plus, the Ayaneo does have more USB-C ports.

But this keeps coming back to the price. If you can afford to pay closer to $1,000-$1,500 rather than $400-600 for a portable gaming handheld PC. You also are not getting double the performance for double the price here. There are a lot of reasons Valve chose the parts they did with the Steam Deck, and that was to create a capable device for a reasonable price. Valve has been proven to also deliver fixes to software bugs in their custom Steam OS at a reasonable pace. Plus you are at the mercy of Microsoft pushing a Windows 11 update that could break features for this device in the future if it is not properly maintained.

The Ayaneo is far from a budget device. If that price doesn't matter to you, and you only want the best handheld on the market today, this one is for you. If you want a budget device, go with the Steam Deck.

AYANEO 2 and the AYANEO Geek can be purchased for a discounted price on IndieGoGo or on Ayaneo's official website.

The Osborne Effect

There's a history lesson Ayaneo critically needs to review. A product that already is publicly known and announced for release in the near future with specs that will quickly make the Ayaneo 2 obsolete is already being teased and marketed. It's called the AYANEO Next II which uses a 7000 series AMD processor and an undisclosed dedicated graphics processor. So while we recommend the AYANEO 2 or AYANEO Geek for those who have the money and only want the best, would it be better to skip the current AYANEO models and wait for more information on the AYANEO Next II? Arguably that takes away sales from the current model and thus funding for the AYANEO Next II, but here in lies the problem of the rapid release of these handheld PCs.

This is the same phenomenon, in the same industry the Osborne Computer Corporation suffered its fate.

To summarize, the Osborne Computer Company sold through and delivered 11,000 units of its Osborne 1 computer and had yet to fulfill 50,000 units on backorder. However, the Osborne Computer Corporation grew too fast and failed to wait for stock of the Osborne 1 backorder to sell through and announced the Osborne Executive– the cost of which would have been paid for by the money those 50,000 backorders were generating. The Osborne Executive had more power than the original Osborne 1. As a result, the majority of people who were waiting on their Osborne 1's backorder canceled their order to buy an Osborne Executive instead.

This left the Osborne company with too many unsold units of the Osborne 1 that nobody wanted anymore that the costs of the unsold units, plus the excessive growth the Osborne Computer Corporation underwent after launching the Osborne 1, meant the Osborne Executive never saw the light of day and the Osborne Computer Corporation shut down. So while it would be great to say it's safe to just skip these Ayaneo units and wait a few months for an AYANEO Next II, what trust should the consumer have in Ayaneo being around if this fifth and sixth units of a similar device as its previous units are already obsolete so quickly? If the brand ceases to exist as a result of the overabundance of products released, will software updates and promises of its own AYANEO OS actually come to fruition?

As the fifth and sixth products for Ayaneo just come to light, the seventh model is already on the horizon. All of this is happening while you can still buy unsold stock from the first Ayaneo from 2021 for $1015 which is inferior to newer and cheaper models Ayaneo introduced both in this new product line and prior iterations, over the span of only two years.

The Ayaneo 2 is great on paper and is a great handheld PC alternative to the Steam Deck, but the products can only continue to be supported and updated only if the products are selling.

For more AYANEO 2 coverage, check out Linus Media Group's impressions.

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