A new Steam Deck competitor with features we've never seen in a gaming handheld might be the device we've been waiting for

Zotac Gaming Zone (beta) from Computex 2024
(Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

What you need to know

  • Gaming handhelds that can run full-fledge PC games have become increasingly popular over the last few years with Steam Deck and ROG Ally being the most prominent devices. 
  • During Computex 2024, a new gaming handheld competitor called the Zotac Zone was shown off.
  • The Zotac gaming handheld's specs aren't finalized, but as of right now they include an AMD R7 8840U CPU with a Radeon 780M GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and a 7-inch AMOLED touchscreen. 
  • It's unclear how much the Zotac Gaming Handheld will sell for or when it will launch. 

Nintendo paved the way for a new gaming handheld revolution when it launched the Switch in 2017. Since then, numerous devices have released with a similar layout. But it wasn't until February 2022 that PC gaming really entered the discussion, thanks to Valve's popular Steam Deck. Just a couple of years later, we now have multiple Windows 11 gaming handhelds on the market including ROG Ally, Legion Go, and MSI Claw (to name a few). 

Over the last couple of years, these handhelds have fought for dominance in the PC gaming space. But now, a new Windows 11 device has been announced in the form of the Zotac Zone gaming handheld, which was shown off at Computex 2024. Windows Central's editor-in-chief, Daniel Rubino, was able to go hands-on with the Zotac Gaming Handheld in person while at the event.

The Zotac Zone gaming handheld features a built-in kickstand.  (Image credit: Daniel Rubino)
Zotac Gaming Handheld specs*

Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 8840U
Graphics: AMD Radeon 780M
Windows 11 Home
16GB LPDDR5X-7500
512GB M.2 NVME PCIe 4.0 SSD
7-inch FHD AMOLED multi-touchscreen
Refresh rate: 120Hz
Battery Capacity:
48.5Whr Li-on Battery
2x USB4 (DisplayPort 1.4 and Power Delivery 3.0), UHS-II microSD card reader, 3.5mm headphone jack
Front Camera
Hall Effect joysticks, dual touchpads, radial dials, 2-stage adjustable triggers, ABXY buttons
Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
310 x 135 x 40mm (12.2 x 5.3 x 1.6 inches)
*Specs are not finalized

Zotac's design and specs have not fully been finalized, but the show floor model featured an AMD Ryzen 7 8840U CPU that, unsurprisingly, was coupled with an AMD Radeon 780M GPU. This is an interesting departure from the more gaming handheld-focused AMD Z1 Extreme processor, which is utilized within the Legion Go and ROG Ally. However, we have seen a few AYANEO handhelds including the FLIP DS, use the R7 8840U, so there is precedent here. Depending on how exactly the Zotac's system is designed, the chosen APU could allow this new device to perform similarly to other top-tier PC gaming handhelds, although the Z1 Extreme, so far, has been seen as a better choice for handheld devices.

With 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD, the Zotac Gaming Handheld is very similar to the ROG Ally. This should provide decent response times when accessing game data as well as providing a good amount of storage space for a gaming library. Since there is a microSD card reader on the device, you'll also be able to add additional storage space as needed. It's also nice to see that the handheld has a USB-C port on both the top and bottom. This allows users to plug in an accessory and also charge up the device while using it, which isn't possible on the Steam Deck and ROG Ally.

Gaming handhelds with unique features stand out in a competitive market

One of the places that the Zotac Zone stands out from competitiors is with its touchscreen — It's a 7-inch AMOLED that can reach up to a 120Hz refresh rate. This seems to be the first gaming handheld to utilize an AMOLED. For context, the Steam Deck OLED can only reach up to a 90Hz refresh rate. Arguably, the second-best gaming handheld screen is found in the Legion Go, which isn't an OLED, but rather an 8.8-inch QHD IPS that can reach a very impressive 144Hz. 

AMOLEDs tend to be similar to OLEDs but can get brighter, which could help with gaming outside or on the go. What's more, Zotac Zone users will be able to more easily watch shows on the AMOLED screen hands-free or play games via an external controller because this handheld features a built-in kickstand that can prop the device up on its own. 

🎮 RELATED: OLED vs QD-OLED vs QLED vs AMOLED vs Mini LED: Which is the best display?

If you took a look at Zotac Zone specs, then you noticed that this device has some unique features for a gaming handheld. Specifically, the little silver switches on the backside near the triggers allow for 2-stage adjustments. This is something we often see in premium game controllers, and not something that's been on a Windows 11 handheld before. Basically, this makes it so that the triggers can have one or two clicks (or button presses), one when the trigger is pulled halfway and another when it's fully pulled down. While not a necessary feature by any means, it is nice for people who prefer to have it. 

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I'm also overjoyed to see that the Zotac Zone features Hall Effect joysticks because this means that they won't experience drift issues. There are very few Windows 11 handhelds on the market today that have Hall Effect joysticks, likely because competitors are trying to keep costs down and this kind of control technology is more expensive. Speaking of controls, there are two touchpads, one under either joystick, which is a feature that the Zotac shares in common with Steam Deck. Touchpads provide more meticulous control when aiming or navigating game menus, so I'm always happy to see them. 

During his time with the Zotac Zone, Rubino was very impressed with the AMOLED screen which provided vibrant and crisp visuals while displaying very brightly. While playing Horizon Forbidden West, Rubino noted that the handheld felt very similar in build to an ROG Ally, although he noted that the D-Pad was a bit mushy. He also liked the texture on the grips, and felt that it made the device easier to hold. 

Overall, everything on the Zotac Zone looks pretty impressive and could be the ultimate gaming handheld we've been waiting for. But it's important to remember that this isn't a finalized product, so things could be improved upon or changed. It's also unclear if/when the Zotac Zone will launch or how much it will cost, but we at Windows Central are big on Windows 11 gaming handhelds and will report new information as we discover it.  

Rebecca Spear
Editor and Reviewer

Self-professed gaming geek, Rebecca Spear, is one of Windows Central's editors and reviewers with a focus on gaming handhelds, PC gaming, and laptops. When she isn't checking out the latest games on Xbox Game Pass, PC, ROG Ally, or Steam Deck; she can be found digital drawing with a Wacom tablet. She's written thousands of articles with everything from editorials, reviews, previews, features, previews, and hardware reviews over the last few years. If you need information about anything gaming-related, her articles can help you out. She also loves testing game accessories and any new tech on the market. You can follow her @rrspear on X (formerly Twitter).