Few companies are going as hard in the handheld gaming PC market as Ayaneo, which has now revealed its seventh portable of the year. The Ayaneo Next 2 aims to be the first of its kind to sport a discrete graphics card under the hood rather than relying on the integrated GPU inside an APU. You might also notice a familiar-looking, Steam Deck inspired set of trackpads, too.
Under the hood, we can expect to see a couple of combinations, such an Intel Alder Lake processor paired with an Arc GPU or AMD Ryzen gaming CPU alongside Radeon 6000 graphics card. We don’t know what models it’ll feature just yet, though. All we know is that the graphics card will somehow be removable, which is great for reparability, and upgradeable should you find another that fits.
There are some changes to the design that we can see throughout the unveiling. The analogue sticks now feature a backlight, which could come in handy if you’re playing in the dark. You can see an RGB strip along the back, but this will undoubtedly eat into your precious battery life. And there’s also a wheel attached to the bottom-right handle, which probably defaults to adjusting the Windows volume but will hopefully be rebindable.
Since it’s billed as a Windows handheld, it more than likely runs Microsoft’s latest. That said, the inclusion of trackpads seems as though Ayaneo is readying the handheld for Valve’s SteamOS and its verified list of Steam Deck games , so you might have the option to ditch Windows 11 once it releases.
Ayaneo Next 2 concerns
It’s difficult to tell simply by looking at a two-dimensional picture, but the device looks significantly bigger than its predecessors. The touchpads are a welcome addition after how well received they are in our Steam Deck review, but they’re positioned quite far down the device. We won’t know until we get our hands on one just how comfortable it’ll be, but thumbs ergonomically stretch inwards better than they do downwards.
A discrete GPU means that it no longer shares the memory with the CPU, and will consume more power as a result. Fingers crossed the larger size lends itself to a larger battery, otherwise it might not be a fantastic companion on your travels.
Another worry is the cost. The original Ayaneo Next features double the CPU cores of the Steam Deck, but you can only get your hands on one if you’re willing to pay triple the cost. It’s worth mentioning that this is the top, premium edition in its entire portfolio and there will be a budget model available for less than $300. Still, you’re looking at an enthusiast MSRP here that will probably be above the $1,000 mark.
And lastly, we’re starting to lose count of the amount of products Ayaneo has planned. It’s done a fantastic job of establishing itself as a leader as the market emerges, but its need to be the first to do something (such as the Ayaneo Air being the first OLED portable) makes us wonder whether it’ll trip up. Does it have the bandwidth and infrastructure to maintain such rapid growth and support its customers? Only time will tell.
For now, the Ayaneo Next 2 release date is scheduled for Q4 2022, and we should find out more in the run-up.