What you need to know
- Following the announcement of the AYANEO Next Lite handheld, we now have more information on its specs and its pricing.
- The base model will undercut the Steam Deck at $299, though each configuration will use an older AMD APU.
- All versions will have 16GB of RAM, 128GB is the base storage, though it will also use an older PCIe 3.0 SSD.
The AYANEO Next Lite made waves earlier this week by revealing itself to be running SteamOS and not Windows. That has since changed somewhat, in that it's using the community-built HoloISO, not an official build of SteamOS from Valve. But now we know much more about the upcoming handheld, including pricing and specs.
As anticipated, it's going to be significantly cheaper than most current gaming handhelds running Windows 11, but what we didn't expect was that it would also undercut the Steam Deck. That doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be better, it certainly isn't without compromise, but with a starting price of $299, it looks attractive.
Low price, but some hardware compromises
Saying it's cheaper than the Steam Deck might prick up some ears, but it isn't without compromise. On one hand, the fact the base model uses a 128GB PCIe 3.0 SSD certainly elevates it over the initial entry point for the Steam Deck. But instead of a custom APU or the new Z1 chips, the Next Lite uses an older Ryzen from AMD.
You get a choice of either a Ryzen 5 4500U or a Ryzen 7 4700U, both of which aren't bad, but they're old, and definitely don't have the CPU or GPU performance you can expect from the likes of the Steam Deck or the ROG Ally.
The display is 7-inches at 800p, and IPS, so no OLED here, but that's hardly surprising given the price. It also uses 4266MHz LPDDR4X memory, and honestly, the spec sheet isn't too bad. We already knew about the hall effect triggers and sticks, but aside from the older APU, it's really not bad for something that'll cost $299. Even the SSD will be plenty fast enough for a device like this, despite being an older generation.
Performance will be interesting, and it'll certainly be better suited to older and lighter titles, especially compared to something like the ROG Ally. But that $299 entry point is really enticing.
The biggest question mark for me is the choice to use HoloISO. Even if it's "officially optimized for compatibility" by AYANEO, it's arguably not the best choice. ChimeraOS, for example, is generally considered a better third-party recreation of SteamOS, but if AYANEO is going to run with HoloISO and contribute to it, then maybe it could improve.
There will also be a Windows driver made available if you're looking for a cheap handheld and want to go that way. It's an intriguing device, and we're looking forward to being able to put one through its paces. In a world where ASUS, Lenovo, and MSI have all released fairly pricey handhelds, the fact this one is significantly cheaper might well be enough.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine