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Ayaneo 2 evaluate: A extra premium (and pricier) tackle the Steam Deck

Handheld PCs have been round for years, however the arrival of the Steam Deck introduced renewed curiosity and demand to the class — very like what the Nintendo Change did for consoles again in 2017. And whereas the quantity of engineering and tech that went into the Steam Deck is actually spectacular, Valve’s mission to make a transportable and reasonably priced PC for gaming on the go means there’s loads of room within the handheld area for one thing with a bit extra giddyup — which brings us to the Ayaneo 2.

Design: Like a Steam Deck, however fancier

Whereas the Ayaneo 2 doesn’t deviate an excessive amount of from the Steam Deck’s fundamental blueprint, proper from the get-go it is also obvious that this factor is not some low cost knock-off both. It contains a large 7-inch 1920 x 1200 LCD show with sturdy brightness (just below 400 nits in our testing) that is flanked by an Xbox-style controller format. There are additionally helpful buttons on both sides for opening menus or functioning as shortcuts, together with some extra customizable controls crammed in on high that by default function left and proper mouse clicks. Even the facility button has a built-in fingerprint sensor, which is a welcome bonus not out there on the Steam Deck.

Execs

  • Nice efficiency
  • vivid 7-inch full HD+ show
  • corridor sensor joysticks
  • three USB-C ports
  • stable construct
  • a number of bundled equipment

Cons

  • Dear
  • software program may use a little bit extra polish
  • mediocre battery life
  • no touchpads

One of many issues that impresses me probably the most is Ayaneo’s consideration to element. The entire setup feels well-built. The PC’s case is clean and durable and has a really reassuring heft. In entrance, there is a single sheet of glass that goes throughout the face of the system (with cutouts for the joysticks and buttons), which supplies it a slick, streamlined look. The corporate even went out of its means to make sure that there are no seen screws. Although for those who do need to get inside, there’s an included decide you should utilize to pry off the little covers on both sides. Simply watch out so you do not mess up the end like I did.

Amongst different premium upgrades in comparison with the Steam Deck, the Ayaneo 2 sports activities magnetic corridor sensor joysticks and shoulder triggers that really feel crisp and snappy. There’s mainly no lifeless zone, in contrast to what you get with Valve’s handheld. However my favourite factor in regards to the Ayaneo 2’s design is that its touchscreen would not have any bezels, and virtually seems elegant.

Lastly, whereas I do not suppose both machine is really pocketable, the Ayaneo 2 is certainly the extra compact of the 2. The Steam Deck measures practically a foot throughout (11.7-inches) versus a extra manageable 10.4-inches for the Ayaneo 2.

Ports and equipment: So many choices

Unlike the Steam Deck, the Ayaneo 2 features a total of three USB-C ports, two of which can be used for charging.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

One other high quality that elevates the Ayaneo above its rivals is a wealth of ports. Not solely do you’ve a 3.5mm audio jack and a microSD card slot for expandable storage, you additionally get three USB-C ports, two of which can be utilized for charging. That flexibility got here in helpful extra usually than I anticipated, as a result of it gave me the liberty to plug in an influence cable to both the highest or backside, which makes it simpler to maintain the twine out of the way in which regardless of the way you’re holding the system.

On high of that, whereas Ayaneo makes a dock for its handhelds, as a result of there are three USB-C ports together with two USB-A adapters within the field, you do not actually need to purchase one in any respect. Even with none further dongles or hubs, you continue to have sufficient connectivity to plug in a mouse, keyboard and an exterior show, so it is very easy to make use of this factor as a regular PC in a pinch. And if that wasn’t sufficient, Ayaneo even features a charging brick, a few worldwide energy adapters, a USB-C cable and an additional set of screw covers.

Efficiency: Zen3 makes an enormous distinction

The Ayaneo 2 features a handy QuickTool that makes it easy to adjust things like performance and fan settings, but it could use a little more quality control, as certain options like the one for resolution can be a bit hit-or-miss.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The opposite main benefit the Ayaneo 2 holds over the Steam Deck is uncooked efficiency. Whereas Valve labored with AMD to create a customized chip based mostly on the corporate’s Zen2 structure, the Ayaneo 2 sports activities a more recent Ryzen 7 6800U chip constructed on the Zen3+ platform. That is a bounce in processing energy that you would be able to actually really feel.

In benchmarks, the Ayaneo 2 scored 4,282 on 3DMark’s Wild Life Excessive check, which is comparable or barely higher than what we have seen from similarly-priced laptops just like the Floor Laptop computer 5 (3,848) or the XPS 13 Plus (3,505). And when gaming, the Ayaneo 2 is between 25% to 40% quicker than the Steam Deck relying on the title. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider on excessive settings at 800p, the Ayaneo 2 averaged 54 fps versus 40 fps for the Steam Deck. And after I elevated the sport’s decision to reap the benefits of the Ayaneo 2’s full HD+ display screen, it nonetheless managed to pump out a playable 35 fps at 1920 x 1200 ( in SotTR), regardless of pushing practically twice as many pixels. It is a comparable story in Elden Ring, the place the Ayaneo 2 hovered round 55 fps in 800p at medium settings, in comparison with 48 fps for the Steam Deck, or at 40 fps at 1200p.

In use: A extra luxurious technique to recreation on the go

Thanks to its Ryzen 7 6800U chip, the Ayaneo 2 can deliver strong framerates even at 1920 x 1200.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Okay okay, sufficient in regards to the design and specs, what is that this factor really like to make use of? Effectively, briefly, the Ayaneo 2 addresses a few of my greatest complaints in regards to the Steam Deck, however in a smaller, extra compact and better-performing chassis. Its display screen is means brighter, extra colourful and higher-res making every little thing look sharper too. And due to its Ryzen 7 6800U CPU, you may get comparable framerates with the Ayaneo 2 at 1920 x 1200 versus 800p for the Steam Deck. I must also point out that, whereas the Valve’s transportable PC tops out with simply 512GB of onboard storage, the Ayaneo 2 may be specced with as much as a 2TB SSD, whereas nonetheless having a microsD card slot (with a neat protecting cowl) for additional room if you need it.

The Ayaneo 2’s management setup is great too. That is as a result of even with out built-in touchpads, such as you get on the Steam Deck, you’ll be able to nonetheless simply navigate Home windows 11 utilizing the left stick, which doubles as a technique to transfer your mouse cursor. Positive, which means you are most likely not going to need to play Civilization 6 or an RTS on the Ayaneo 2, however even with extra optimized controls, these video games nonetheless really feel clunky on the Steam Deck. Ayaneo’s magnetic corridor sensors within the analog sticks and shoulder triggers additionally ship an extremely responsive expertise. And whereas I would not name it a quiet system, when its followers spin up the whir is not practically as loud or annoying as what I get from my Steam Deck. (Be aware: For what it is value, my Deck has the marginally whinier sounding Huaying fan.)

The really emphasize its streamlined design, the Ayaneo 2 has little faceplates that cover up its external screws.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

That stated, there are nonetheless various awkward points in regards to the Ayaneo 2. The primary is that Home windows 11 is form of annoying to make use of with contact controls, although merely booting into Steam’s Massive Image mode enables you to sidestep a lot of that. Second, whereas I admire the included Ayaspace app, which serves as the corporate’s consolidated recreation launcher and efficiency monitoring device, the person expertise feels a bit unpolished.

Altering the system’s decision from the AyaQuickTool window was usually hit-or-miss. On high of that, after I put in an replace to the AyaSpace app, its language setting reverted again to Chinese language. That’s not an enormous ache to repair, however I might fairly be taking part in video games than diving by way of menus repairing one thing that should not have modified. Then there are different little quirks like its weak rumble motors and never understanding what makes the lights beneath the joysticks change colours. That’s as a result of except for a few brief quick-start manuals, Ayaneo doesn’t present a lot documentation for the system, so that you’re form of by yourself in terms of determining the system’s extra hidden options. (There’s a hyperlink to a FAQ doc within the AyaSpace app, however the entire thing is in Chinese language, so it is not a lot assist for many people within the west.)

The bottom of the Ayaneo 2 features one USB-C port, a microSD card slot (with a small protective cover) and a pair of surprisingly decent stereo speakers.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Now I ought to observe that the corporate says it’s already engaged on a second model of the AyaSpace app, and within the month I’ve had the system, there have been a number of patches, so it is clear the corporate is dedicated to bettering the state of affairs. Nonetheless, whereas the Ayaneo 2’s specs are top-notch, a few of its software program nonetheless appears like a piece in progress.

Nonetheless, quite a lot of the Ayaneo 2’s weak factors are made up for by the truth that it runs Home windows, which implies virtually each recreation simply form of works. Do not get me fallacious, I’ve an enormous appreciation for what Valve is making an attempt to do with SteamOS and for Linux gaming as a complete, however even with hundreds of video games which have been verified to run on the Steam Deck, there are hundreds extra that are not (and in some circumstances, might by no means run proper). With the Ayaneo 2, you merely have much more confidence that the following recreation you purchase will not have points whenever you boot it up.

And now let me flip issues over to my colleague James, who has been testing out the Ayaneo 2’s emulation capabilities.

James’ retro nook

For those who aren't a fan of the white model, the Ayaneo 2 is also available in black.

James Trew

It will be decadent to advocate shopping for one thing just like the Ayaneo 2 as an emulation-first system. However, it is value speaking about its efficiency right here because it actually does develop the potential library of video games. After all, if you wish to rip ROMs from video games you already personal, you may must determine that aspect out your self.

Clearly, with the facility to run some pretty demanding PC video games, the Ayaneo 2 might be greater than able to operating every little thing as much as the fifth or sixth era of consoles with out an excessive amount of hassle. You can transcend this, however with blended outcomes. Skate 3 on the PS3, for instance, runs on the Ayaneo 2 at 60fps with virtually no particular configuration. The Final of Us, however, was solely capable of muster between 13-23fps, with the odd flicker above and under that.

The Ayaneo 2 has lights behind its joysticks that change colors from blue to red depending on the situation, though due to a lack of documentation, it's not always clear why.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Theoretically, you’ll be able to virtually come proper as much as the current day, with some industrious YouTubers getting Nintendo Change video games to run with various ranges of success. After all, for now no less than, that is the restrict however for those who had a library of outdated video games and had been hoping they could have a second life on the Ayaneo 2, the reply is that, unsurprisingly, it is a very succesful emulator that advantages from built-in controls (which saves a shocking quantity of meddling round).

Battery life: May very well be higher

One of many few shortcomings of the Ayaneo 2 is its battery life. That is as a result of when in comparison with the Steam Deck which generally lasts three to 4 hours on a cost (relying on the title), the Ayaneo 2’s longevity is nearer to 2 or three. That stated, you’ll be able to regulate the facility draw of the system if you wish to enhance power effectivity, however ultimately, that is the value you pay for elevated efficiency.

Wrap-up

The Ayaneo 2's much brighter, more colorful and higher-res screen is almost worth the added cost all on its own.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

As I look again, I nonetheless suppose the Steam Deck was one of the crucial vital devices of 2022. Placing premium laptop computer specs with nice controls and surprisingly good battery life in a handheld PC that begins at simply $400 is an unbeatable deal. However for individuals who need one thing a bit extra premium, the Ayaneo 2 has lots to love. It is acquired a cleaner, extra compact design with a means higher display screen. Its joysticks and buttons additionally really feel tighter and extra luxurious. And on the within, it is acquired a considerably extra highly effective chip that not solely delivers stable efficiency at FHD+, [the decision to go] with Home windows as a substitute of Steam OS additionally means a lot wider recreation compatibility. Sadly, with the most cost effective model of the Ayaneo 2 beginning at round $850, you are additionally paying a premium for all these fancy upgrades. However for those who’ve been looking for one thing that’s primarily a Steam Deck Professional, the Ayaneo 2 is it.

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