Which AYANEO device should you buy? With so many options, go with the less expensive option and upgrade it.
This echoes many opinions from people who purchased 64GB Steam Decks, but the sentiment is true with the AYANEO 2 and Geek units.
As of writing, the AYANEO 2 and Geek are still available on IndieGoGo. No matter which model you choose, each one will offer superior performance over a Steam Deck. But to shell out up to $1500 for extra storage is a complete waste of money when you can get buy a 4TB NVMe SSD and still pay less than the highest-offered 2TB storage option.
Companies like iFixit have teamed up with Valve to provide guides and sell official replacement parts and kits so ambitious users can open and tinker with their Steam Deck, AYANEO seems to be matching some of the efforts by simplifying the process to access the internal SSD even further. It's much cheaper and easier than upgrading a Steam Deck.
If you don't have an iFixit kit yet and don't want to pay the premium, a similar kit on Amazon will do the trick for this project.
You will want to make sure you get the Windows activation key from your AYANEO device so you don't have to purchase another key, and a USB Type-C Flash Drive to re-install Windows with after swapping drives if you don't have a device to clone the internal SSD to the new drive.
The AYANEO 2 hides four screws on the side of the unit and two additional screws underneath the triggers on the top of the unit. To get to the side screws, you will need to use a guitar pick to pry off two side pieces. While this process breaks the units' side pieces, two replacement pieces shipped with the latest AYANEO models will snap back in.
It's best to use a guitar pick to pry open the sides. You will break the two side pieces by prying them out, but don't worry– it's expected to happen, as two sets of side pieces are included with each unit.
For the triggers, you want to apply pressure to the underside of the trigger and lift it up. This will pop off the plastic of the shoulder trigger in order to gain access to two additional screws.
Take your spudger stick (or use the guitar pick) and separate the unit's casing to access the SSD.
In comparison, the Steam Deck is a tad more involved. Check out our live teardown to get an accurate idea of how long it can take to tear and replace a Steam Deck's SSD. If you don't clone the drive, make sure you have a way to install all of your drivers again from Ayaneo's website.
The nicer benefit is the AYANEO 2 already has hall effect joysticks and analog triggers, so your main upgrade path to building your ultimate AYANEO 2 is to buy a very common 2280 NVMe SSD. This past month especially, SSD prices have gone down substantially.
As of writing, Crucial SSD prices have fallen drastically.
For speeds similar to an Xbox Series S or X, prices are as follows:
To even more speed, closer to a PS5 in performance:
Upgrades aside, the AYANEO 2 and Geek are both very expensive devices compared to the Steam Deck. Price aside, if you want a very streamlined way to hop into games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Fortnite which are both unavailable on Steam OS, the AYANEO gets you the most powerful portable PC experience money can buy from AYANEO's IndieGoGo page or their official website.