Steam Deck Competitors: Which One Will Remain Standing Post-Release?

Handheld PC. A name that is typically used to refer to portable gaming consoles with complete desktop operating systems. Valve’s Steam Deck is just but one of them, a single entity among the many models already out there. Every one of them has a single mission:

Provide a technologically superior option to the aging Nintendo Switch.

Naturally, due to their similar objectives, competition is inevitable. Would the Steam Deck prevail against them? Let’s go through some of the top contenders available now and in the near future.

Level of Competition We Are Looking For

Anything that comes near or over the Steam Deck’s theoretical performance is, of course, an instant inclusion. More specifically, though, a worthy-ish Steam Deck contender might have one or more of the following things:

  • Operating system usability, not just in usage but in types as well.
  • Heavy promotion of a particular (reasonable) game type specialty
  • Superior ergonomics can dictate the long-term use aspect of a handheld PC.
  • If availability and price make a specific model significantly more accessible.
  • Unique product features might make it more interesting to buy regardless of specs.
  • Cooling system serviceability. Good heat dissipation is a requirement, NOT a feature.
  • Storage upgrades, ideally like the Steam Deck SD Card.


Steam Deck Best Potential Competitors Overview

  • GPD Win Max 2021
  • Aya Neo NEXT (Pro)
  • OneXPlayer 1S

GPD Win Max 2021

Display 8-inch 1280×800 IPS touchscreen
CPU Ryzen 7 4800U or Core i7-1195G7
GPU Radeon VEGA 8CU, Iris Xe G7 96EU
RAM 16GB LPDDR4X 4266Mhz
Storage 1TB NVMe SSD

GDP is technically one of the earliest within the handheld PC gaming space, introducing products such as the very first GDP Win in 2016. With the competition now in full swing, newer models of its lineup needed to keep up with the times. Incorporating the Ryzen 4000 mobile and Intel Tiger Lake was a significant step towards this, making the portable machines game-worthy for 720p gaming at stable frame rates and doubling as an entirely usable laptop.

Yes, laptop. Unlike other models that opted for a complete gaming console look, GPD kept the clamshell design, putting gamepad controls at the upper end of the keyboard and behind its chassis. As a result, it is less ergonomic but somewhat more functional. Moreover, it immediately puts a unique factor on it that could help make it still somewhat worth getting despite the “monstrous” performance of the Steam Deck’s upcoming RDNA2-iGPU based custom APU.



OneXPlayer 1S

Display 8.4-inch 2560×1600 IPS touchscreen
CPU Up to Ryzen 7 5700U or Core i7-1195G7
GPU Radeon VEGA 8CU, Iris Xe G& 96EU
RAM 16GB LPDDR4X 4266Mhz
Storage 2TB NVMe SSD

OneXPlayer’s main weakness as a product is that it has constantly been introduced far more as an enthusiast item than the already-exclusive packages of other handheld PCs. Sure, it may have impressive specs. But at a price that would already cost you a complete entry-level desktop in the tumultuous tech year of 2021, it was consistently a hard sell for people who want a simple pocket machine to pass the time.

That being said, this premium spec specialty may just be what it needs to keep its relevance even as the Steam Deck arrives. The latest OnexPlayer 1S maintains its whopping 8.4-inch 2560×1600 IPS touchscreen, making it one of only two contenders sporting anything higher than 800p. So, on the one hand, you have the option to render in stunning QHD for less intensive titles. And at the other hand, you can combine its ergonomics to create a practically functional handheld office.

Aya Neo NEXT (Pro)

Display 7-inch 1280×800 IPS touchscreen
CPU Ryzen 7 5825U
RAM 16GB LPDDR4X 4266Mhz
Storage 2TB NVMe SSD

Unlike GPD, which leaned more on experimentation and planning when launching its first few products, the Aya Neo splashed into the already thriving handheld PC market with pure performance in mind. As a result, the first Aya Neo started with a relatively modest Ryzen 5 4500U APU, which is good enough. Still, it was more intended to balance efficiency, making cooling and prolonging battery life (to acceptable levels) more manageable on the design.

Here comes the potential problem. Its aesthetics leans hard on the simple pull-out console design. Meaning it will clash directly with the Steam Deck. The Ryzen 7 5825U is a fantastic gaming APU, an emulation machine with its Ryzen 5000 architecture. But without substantial price cuts or other upgrades such as a battery life boost, the Steam Deck will make future post-release purchases of this product seem like an instant waste.

BONUS: Aya Neo NEXT RDNA2 Version – The Mythical “Razer Deck”

Hands down, the single most significant factor to the Steam Deck’s upcoming dominance over all other previously released handheld PCs is the use of its RDNA2-based integrated graphics. While VEGA-based iGPUs have consistently proven the viability of 750 Ti-like performance in a small form factor, the next Zen 3+ processors are set to amp it up further, possibly introducing the first mobile devices with 1050 Ti-like performance.

A future version of the Aya Neo NEXT, recently confirmed through a blog post, might also sport a similar RDNA2-based APU. If the deal with AMD is approved, it would be a worthy blow-per-blow challenge to the Steam Deck. The fabled “Razer Deck,” a joint project of Qualcomm and Razer, evades the issue of hardware limitations entirely through the use of updated cloud and local hosting technologies. This, too, should prove to be a formidable contender for Valve’s “Nintendo Switch killer.”