Aya Neo Pro Review: This Switch-Like Handheld Gaming PC Is Superb

Not that way back, high quality PC gaming setups have been confined to cumbersome desktop setups. Even early gaming laptops appeared extra like battle stations than glossy machines. For sure, the panorama has modified considerably in recent times, and now we’re even seeing an inflow of handheld gaming PCs. Maybe influenced by the big success of the Nintendo Change as a hybrid console, an increasing number of firms try to garner an viewers for transportable, palm-sized gaming PCs. Whereas most individuals are most likely conscious of the upcoming Steam Deck, there are others that hit the market earlier than Valve’s handheld, together with the spectacular and surprisingly highly effective Aya Neo.

Efficiently crowdfunded by way of Indiegogo, the Aya Neo launched final summer season, however the studio behind it shortly started work on a redesign with higher supplies. The result’s the Aya Neo 2021 and Aya Neo Professional, each of which launched late final 12 months. We acquired our fingers on each fashions and have been testing them for a few month. With a premium construct high quality and great efficiency for its dimension, the Aya Neo is a outstanding handheld PC. Although the Aya Neo is sort of pricey–models vary from $925 to north of $1,300–it may be considered an alternative choice to a mid-tier gaming laptop computer with the added bonus of being absolutely transportable. It is too early to say if the Aya Neo is best than the still-unreleased Steam Deck (which is considerably cheaper), however it’s an especially strong piece of tech that’s positively value contemplating should you’re out there for this kind of gaming machine.

Word: Since efficiency is analogous throughout each units, the remainder of this overview applies to each fashions besides when in any other case said.

What’s within the shell?

The quantity of energy crammed inside the Aya Neo’s comparatively glossy shell is fairly astounding. The Aya Neo Professional is fitted with an AMD Ryzen 7 4800U processor (Ryzen 5 4500U within the base mannequin) and built-in AMD Radeon Graphics. These are mid-tier cellular processors with low energy consumption. The processor and built-in graphics are complemented by 16GB of DDR4X RAM–more than sufficient for contemporary PC games–and a 1TB NVMe SSD (the bottom mannequin additionally is available in 512GB). The Aya Neo has a beautiful 7-inch LCD IPS display that shows at 1200 x 800 decision with 215 pixels per inch.

Aya Neo Pro
Aya Neo Professional

General, the specs of the Aya Neo are much like the Steam Deck, with the Aya Neo providing a greater CPU (on paper) and the Steam Deck boasting a greater GPU. As a direct comparability, the 512GB Aya Neo prices $275 greater than the best tier Steam Deck with the identical quantity of cupboard space.

That mentioned, the Aya Neo can be utilized as greater than only a gaming machine. Whereas the Steam Deck will use a proprietary Linux-based OS, the Aya Neo is a Home windows PC. Meaning you’ll be able to join it to a monitor, sync up or join a keyboard and mouse, and use it as a machine for on a regular basis productiveness, too. Sure, most people who find themselves shopping for a handheld gaming PC are utilizing it primarily for gaming, however you may also use the Aya Neo in your different computing wants as properly. It’s true that you can run different working programs, together with Home windows, on the Steam Deck, however it’s too early to say how the Steam Deck will behave when not utilizing its default OS.

A Change-like design

The primary time I noticed the Aya Neo, I immediately considered the Nintendo Change. No, it would not have removable controllers, however it retains the final form that was popularized by the Change. The Aya Neo makes use of almost similar low-profile thumbsticks and has the identical offset structure, with the left thumbstick above the D-pad and the correct stick under the face buttons. Fortunately, it has a standard directional pad that feels nice to make use of for old-school side-scrollers. In the meantime, the face buttons (A/B/X/Y) are laid out just like the Xbox controller, which makes a ton of sense contemplating the Aya Neo can primarily operate as a transportable Recreation Move machine that’s able to offline play for supported video games. The triggers have a pleasant ergonomic design which makes them really feel like a pure resting spot in your index fingers. The shoulder buttons are a tad thicker than those on the Change Pleasure-Cons.

As a PC, the Aya Neo additionally has a variety of different menu and settings buttons. 4 buttons are positioned on all sides. The buttons on the left facet are game-focused, together with Begin, Choose, and a nifty button that pulls up the Xbox Recreation Bar. The buttons on the correct are PC task-focused: Home windows Residence, Escape, Process Supervisor, and an on-screen keyboard immediate.

The Aya Neo has a plethora of buttons that act as shortcuts
The Aya Neo has a plethora of buttons that act as shortcuts

The Aya Neo additionally has three USB-C ports, which can be utilized for charging, connecting USB peripherals with the assistance of the included adapters, and accessing exterior storage units. Stereo audio system that pack a stunning punch are positioned on the underside of the hand-held, however the 3.5mm headphone jack is on high subsequent to the amount buttons. I am within the camp that each one headphone jacks must be on the underside of handhelds, however it’s not likely an issue right here for the reason that Aya Neo can hook up with headphones by way of Bluetooth or 2.4Ghz adapters.

In case you’re used to holding the Nintendo Change, the Aya Neo–and different PC handhelds–will really feel fairly heavy at first. At roughly 650 grams (1.4 kilos), the Aya Neo is roughly 50% heavier than the not too long ago launched Nintendo Change OLED. It is also thicker, as you’d count on, as a result of want of correct air flow via the bottom and high followers. That mentioned, at 10.4 x 4.17 x 0.79 inches, the Aya Neo is actually compact when you think about the elements inside. After dozens of hours of testing, I’ve by no means felt just like the Aya Neo was straining or uncomfortable to carry for lengthy durations of time.

Although it's thicker than the Switch, the Aya Neo has a surprisingly compact design.
Though it is thicker than the Change, the Aya Neo has a surprisingly compact design.

Not solely does it look nice and really feel good to play, the Aya Neo has an extremely spectacular construct high quality. In fact I am unable to communicate for the longevity of the inner elements, however the buttons, sticks, D-pad, and shell have a premium really feel to them. The laborious plastic shell specifically is top-notch in the case of design. I’ve by no means held a handheld gaming machine that felt as sturdy and clean because the Aya Neo. It might sound foolish, however whereas most handhelds–including the Nintendo Change–feel like toys (they’re toys), the Aya Neo seems like a bit of high-end tech that is meant for the workplace. The Aya Neo is accessible in white, black, or a retro-themed coloration scheme.


A truckload of tech and a fancy-looking design do not matter if the efficiency would not meet expectations, although. Fortunately, the Aya Neo was able to dealing with all kinds of video games that I threw at it. It really shocked me in some cases. With some tinkering within the settings, the Aya Neo ran Microsoft’s two greatest vacation exclusives, Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5. In Forza’s case, I used to be capable of common round 60fps with largely medium settings. In the meantime, Halo Infinite ran nearer to 30fps, however it was nonetheless very playable.

Identical to any PC, efficiency different on a game-by-game foundation, however most of the ones I attempted have been able to working at 40-50fps or increased, together with Doom Everlasting, Psychonauts 2, Grand Theft Auto V, Kena: Bridge of Spirits, The Forgotten Metropolis, and Name of Obligation: Warzone. Older AAA video games like Rage 2, The Witcher 3, Prey, and the Tomb Raider trilogy, amongst others, all ran nice, too. Quite a lot of these video games defaulted to “excessive” settings, although getting one of the best mixture of visible constancy and body fee required some changes to the settings. I wound up locking in at round 30-40fps to get one of the best visible efficiency attainable for lots of video games.

Different video games, such because the aforementioned Halo Infinite, ran at settings that I used to be personally wonderful with however would possibly hassle some fanatic PC avid gamers. {Hardware}-intensive titles comparable to Management and Pink Lifeless Redemption 2 have been solely able to roughly 30fps with low settings. In case you’re used to gaming on highly effective rigs or fashionable consoles, the efficiency drop shall be fairly noticeable.

Aya Neo Pro running The Gunk with high settings.
Aya Neo Professional working The Gunk with excessive settings.


Regardless of the Aya Neo’s spectacular efficiency for a lot of video games, I do not actually view it as a substitute for a PC rig, high-end gaming laptop computer, or fashionable console. Whereas it will get the job carried out for lots of AAA video games, as future blockbuster releases proceed to get extra graphically intensive, what’s below the hood right here will not sustain. That is not a knock on the Aya Neo, although, as I think about the identical shall be true for the Steam Deck and different handheld gaming PCs. That mentioned, you may also use the Aya Neo as a cloud streaming machine with companies like Xbox Cloud Gaming, Stadia, and GeForce Now. Xbox Cloud Gaming labored splendidly on the Aya Neo.

Contemplating that the overwhelming majority of indie video games launch on PC along with varied consoles, the Aya Neo might be used as an indie and Recreation Move machine. The choices listed below are almost countless, and with PC video games usually costing much less and on sale extra usually, you may get a variety of bang in your buck. To not point out the free video games that the Epic Video games Retailer provides out each week, Amazon Prime month-to-month free video games, and the large PC Recreation Move library. Primarily, even should you aren’t an avid PC gamer, you’ll be able to create a comparatively enormous library of video games with out spending some huge cash.

One in every of my foremost considerations with Aya Neo earlier than I attempted it was warmth and fan noise. Surprisingly, it runs quietly, even when it is apparent the followers are working time beyond regulation to chill down the system. The highest of the console and middle of the again panel do are likely to get a tad sizzling (to not the purpose it hurts) when the followers are actually working, however the Aya Neo’s premium shell does hold the spots the place your fingers naturally relaxation at a standard temperature.

Tiny PC woes

The practicality of the Aya Neo–and different handheld PCs–as a transportable machine is actually debatable. The Aya Neo Professional is marketed to supply 5 to 6 hours of battery life. That is a fairly respectable determine so far as fashionable handheld gaming units go, however whereas taking part in graphically intensive video games I discovered that quantity to be reduce in half. So should you do plan on taking the Aya Neo on the go, you may wish to seize an acceptable transportable battery pack.

There’s additionally the Home windows desktop downside. Home windows for desktops wasn’t designed with handheld gaming machines in thoughts, and it actually exhibits when navigating the working system on a 7-inch touchscreen. Utilizing the Aya Neo as a cellular Home windows PC is not perfect with out extra peripherals. Whereas the touchscreen is responsive, messing round with tiny job bars and file choices is not all that intuitive and generally is a ache.

The producer designed a proprietary program known as Aya House that collects your video games and apps in a user-friendly fashion that makes it a lot simpler to make use of the Aya Neo when swapping between video games. Steam’s Large Image mode can be nice on the Aya Neo, so I wound up launching that each time when booting the hand-held to present it a console UI really feel.

Which mannequin is best for you?

As talked about, there are at the moment two completely different fashions of the Aya Neo accessible now: the 2021 and the Professional. The 2021 is accessible in 512GB or 1TB editions, whereas the Professional is accessible in solely 1TB. I examined each variations for this overview, and I discovered that the distinction was negligible for gaming. The Professional is a tad quicker in the case of loading and navigation, however in-game efficiency was about the identical. So that you’d should resolve if the extra velocity is definitely worth the worth bump. The 2021 mannequin might be one of the best worth right now contemplating that essentially the most highly effective model of the Aya Neo is not really out but.

The corporate simply introduced a recent lineup dubbed Next. The Aya Neo Subsequent has an AMD Ryzen 7 5800U processor, a Radeon Vega 8 GPU, and comes with as much as 32GB of RAM. A number of variations of the Subsequent (normal, Advance, and Professional) shall be accessible to order by way of crowdfunding beginning in February. Costs will vary between $1,265 and near $1,500 for the top-tier mannequin at launch.

Aya Neo Pro
Aya Neo Professional

So, should you’re excited by any mannequin of the Aya Neo, I believe the good transfer is to both buy the Aya Neo 2021 for the worth or anticipate one of many Subsequent fashions should you’re searching for one of the best efficiency. In spite of everything, the Subsequent’s base mannequin could be very shut in worth to the Professional.

Additionally, should you’re seeking to up the Change-like issue, you’ll be able to seize an official Aya Neo dock to attach the hand-held to your monitor or TV. We did not have the prospect to check the dock for overview, however you’ll be able to merely use a USB-C to HDMI cable to play your video games on a monitor or TV. I largely used a monitor (with peripherals) when navigating the working system, however I discovered efficiency to be strong for gaming on each my 1080p 60Hz monitor and 4K OLED TV.


Aya Neo 2021 Aya Neo Professional Aya Neo Subsequent
CPU AMD Ryzen 5 4500U AMD Ryzen 7 4800U AMD Ryzen 7 5800U
GPU Radeon Vega 6 Radeon Vega 6 Radeon Vega 8
RAM 16GB 16GB As much as 32GB
Storage 512GB or 1TB 1TB 1TB or 2TB
Decision 1280 x 800 1280 x 800 1280 x 800
Show 7-inch IPS touchscreen 7-inch IPS touchscreen 7-inch IPS touchscreen
Battery life 3-6 hours 3-6 hours N/A
Ports USB-C x3 USB-C x3 USB-C x3
Dimensions 10.4 x 4.17 x 0.79 inches 10.4 x 4.17 x 0.79 inches N/A
Weight 648 grams 648 grams N/A
Value Beginning at $925 Watching $1,215 Beginning at $1,265

The underside line

The Aya Neo is a well-designed handheld PC that provides strong efficiency and flexibility because of its use of Home windows. With a premium construct high quality, a beautiful 7-inch IPS show, and nice sticks/buttons, the Aya Neo is a wonderful possibility for individuals who are excited by taking the plunge into handheld PC gaming. The power to make use of it as a standard PC with peripherals hooked up is a serious bonus right here. It is positively on the pricier facet, particularly while you examine it to the Steam Deck, however there is no denying that it achieves what it got down to do.

Steven Petite examined the Aya Neo and Aya Neo Professional for upwards of 100 hours over the course of a month. Pattern items have been offered for the aim of this overview.

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