It’s an thrilling time to be a PC gamer, and never simply because the finest graphics playing cards are at the moment extra reasonably priced than they’ve been since launch. Handheld gaming PCs have lastly come into their very own, making moveable PC gaming a way more handy and interesting chance. So far, we’ve appeared on the Steam Deck and Ayaneo Next, however whereas each supply spectacular gaming efficiency, they’re cumbersome and might be tougher to journey with than Nintendo’s smaller Switch handheld.

That all adjustments with the Ayaneo Air, which is all about portability. With a design that’s solely a hair bigger than the Nintendo Switch Lite, it’s capable of slide right into a bag with ease, holding you sport-prepared wherever you could go. Starting at $499, it’s additionally the most affordable Ayaneo so far. We had been despatched the usual Ayaneo Air and better-powered Air Pro, and although their small measurement limits efficiency considerably, they’re completely price a more in-depth look.

Ayaneo Air – Design and Features

Coming from the boxy type of the original Ayaneo or the “Switch on Steroids” that was the Ayaneo Next, the Air is altogether extra refined. The design is all about being skinny and light-weight, mild contours as an alternative of laborious angles, and a glance that takes greater than a bit of inspiration from the Switch Lite.

It’s a gaming PC you’ll be able to carry in your pocket, and that’s not one thing you’ll be able to say about most of its opponents. Relative to its small measurement, it packs some spectacular specs.

  • Display: 5.5-inch AMOLED touchscreen
  • Resolution: 1920×1080
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5560U (6C/12T) to Ryzen 7 5825U (8C/12T)
  • Memory: 8GB to 32GB DDR4X-4266
  • Storage: 128GB to 2TB NVMe (expandable through MicroSD)
  • Battery: 28 to 38 Whr 60W PD Charging
  • Connectivity: WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
  • I/O: x2 USB Type-C (prime and backside), audio combo jack
  • Security: Fingerprint Scanner
  • Dimensions (LxWxD): 8.8” x 3.5” x 0.7” inches (Air), 8.8” x 3.5” x 0.9” inches (Air Pro)
  • Weight: 398g (Air), 450g (Air Pro)

The Air is obtainable in three totally different variations that scale up in value and efficiency. The entry degree Air Lite options essentially the most fundamental configuration with a Ryzen 5 5560 processor (6 cores/12 threads), 8GB of DDR4 reminiscence, and 128GB of constructed-in NVMe storage for $499. The Standard version bumps the reminiscence as much as 16GB and provides you extra choices for constructed-in storage as much as 512GB for $599. Cranking all of it the best way as much as the Pro mannequin nets you much more choices, together with as much as 32GB of reminiscence and 2TB quick SSD storage, in addition to 10 additional watt-hours on the battery, as much as 38mWh. The Pro mannequin additionally affords you the choice of upgrading to the quicker Ryzen 7 5825U processor for improved gaming efficiency and a lift to 8 cores and 16 threads. Fully speccing out the Air Pro doesn’t come low cost, nonetheless, and can set you again $1,249 – or roughly two 512GB Steam Decks.

What is very shocking about this array of choices is that, even absolutely kitted out, the Air Pro is almost an identical in measurement to the Air and Air Lite. In truth, the one distinction is that the Pro is 3.6mm thicker to accommodate its extra highly effective CPU. Compare that to the Ayaneo Next, which dwarfs the Air Pro, regardless of having much less highly effective {hardware} and solely being just a few months older. That small measurement has just a few vital commerce-offs, although, which I’ll get to quickly.

But being tiny isn’t the one factor the Air has going for it. The display has additionally obtained a facelift, shrinking to 5.5 inches to suit the brand new design and bumping the variety of pixels to 1080p, versus the Next’s 800p decision. Aya has additionally upgraded the panel from the same old IPS to a stunning, coloration-wealthy AMOLED show. Blacks are darker than they’ve ever been, which makes the display’s vivid colours and enhanced dynamic vary pop. The display additionally helps 5-level contact, so you’ll be able to faucet, click on, and drag in video games and when utilizing it as a standard PC. If you’ve seen the Nintendo Switch OLED, you already know the way good one of these display might be, and the Air lacks nothing subsequent to its console counterpart.

The structure is essentially the identical as final time, which is a plus if you happen to’re already aware of gaming on a controller, however with a pair vital adjustments. It nonetheless options the entire conventional gamepad inputs, in addition to a pair of shortcut buttons beneath the left joystick to point out the desktop and launch the configuration software program. There at the moment are two customizable shoulder buttons alongside the bumpers that bear in mind faucet and maintain instructions. By default, these are mapped to displaying the on-display keyboard, launching the Windows Task Manager, urgent Escape, and triggering Task View to shortly change apps. Aya has additionally introduced again velocity gestures, which add 4 instructions to the D-pad for issues like taking a screenshot.

All of these additional inputs may appear extreme, however having the ability to navigate Windows and not using a mouse and keyboard is not any small job. These shortcuts and the touchscreen are requirements that make utilizing the Air as an precise PC doable. This helps you to management a mouse pointer with the joysticks and kind utilizing the on-display keyboard, so the entire fundamentals are coated. That mentioned, if you happen to plan to make use of it for any sort of precise productiveness or to switch a laptop computer it is best to undoubtedly put money into a dock and full-measurement peripherals. Touchscreen typing is sluggish.

The different large addition is that each mannequin of the Ayaneo Air now features a MicroSD card slot for expandable storage. This characteristic was reserved for the official dock on earlier fashions and is a protracted overdue however welcome addition to the Air lineup. I put in a 512GB microSD to double the reminiscence for less than $60 and had no hassle putting in or launching video games as soon as it was formatted. Load time variations had been noticeable, however all inside 5 seconds of the constructed-in SSD.

Aya didn’t minimize corners with the normal inputs, both. The joysticks and triggers each use the corporate’s improved Hall Effect sensors, which use magnetism as an alternative of mechanical dials to trace your inputs. The inputs really feel unbelievable to make use of — clear and easy — and as a facet bonus, the restricted mechanical contact makes the normal causes of joystick drift inconceivable. The journey on each is sweet, however the triggers are particularly spectacular. They have an surprisingly deep vary of movement for the console’s measurement and are impeccably easy.

The different face buttons use membrane switches like different controllers, however they’re tactile and nicely performed. The D-Pad specifically is exceptional in its crispness and accuracy. I’d have most popular cut up directionals, however I didn’t have any hassle with missed inputs or mushiness.

There is a little bit of a studying curve if you happen to’re not used to gaming on a tool this measurement. The sticks have a very good quantity of journey, nevertheless it’s lower than a full-measurement gaming controller. The Air would dramatically profit from purposeful gyro controls, which it has, however as of this evaluate they don’t work by default in Steam.

Around the again, you’ll discover your grips and a big vent to exhaust the warmth out of your CPU. The Air will get scorching throughout regular use, so if you happen to block it efficiency will endure. Thankfully, these excessive temps keep principally centered and don’t switch into the grips very a lot. That signifies that holding the Air is extra snug than both the Steam Deck or Ayaneo Next, even with its hotter again.

When I first unboxed them, I used to be truly frightened the handhelds could be too compact, however Aya has nailed the ergonomics. The sticks and buttons are nicely-positioned and the grips are completely contoured for its measurement. Holding it naturally traces your fingers up with the triggers and controls. Users with greater arms could discover it to be too compact, however the design match my arms like a glove.

When you’re gaming with it, it feels pure in the identical means the Switch Lite does. Laying in mattress or reclining on the sofa, I didn’t discover myself needing to vary positions to offer my arms a relaxation. You sacrifice some efficiency to realize this small kind issue, however its nicely price it for usability in additional conditions.

The audio system, however, aren’t nice. The sound is skinny and tinny, and it doesn’t get very loud. They’ll work in a pinch, however you’ll undoubtedly need to join a pair of headphones or earbuds for any gaming or film watching you intend on doing.

Like most handhelds, connectivity isn’t the Air’s sturdy swimsuit. It encompasses a single USB Type-C port on the highest and backside, each of which can be utilized for charging utilizing the included 65W PD adapter. Aya features a pair of USB Type-C to Type-A adapters within the field for connecting peripherals in a pinch, however I discovered Bluetooth 5.2 to be rather more handy for connecting a mouse and keyboard. For wi-fi networking, the Ayaneo Air helps WiFi 6E for the quickest wi-fi connections at the moment doable. Even although it lacks an ethernet adapter, the Air is ready to ship persistently speedy connections for downloads and streaming.

Aya can be releasing a set of equipment to accompany this launch. It’s partnered with TomToc on a zippered carry case that’s fairly good. It makes use of a stitched exterior over its protecting semi-hardback shell. Inside, the Air is cradled in a mushy, velvety cloth to maintain it protected from scratches. For just below $30, it’s a stable purchase to guard your sizable funding into the system. There’s additionally a GaN charger that provides some further outputs for powering a number of units, and a customized model of the Nuphy Air75, which is among the finest low-profile mechanical keyboards obtainable right this moment. (I used to be solely capable of take a look at the case for this evaluate, however personal an Air75 of my very own and may attest to its reliability over Bluetooth.)

Ayaneo Air – Software

The Air is personalized utilizing the Aya Space app. It comes pre-put in and configured so you’ll be able to start utilizing the system immediately, however you’ll need to spend a while studying its ins and outs. For gaming alone, you could possibly simply use it as your principal launcher and never fear about tapping applications designed for mouse and keyboard. It’s not as polished as SteamOS nevertheless it does provide you with entry to your entire video games and system configuration choices, and is noticeably improved from even just a few months in the past after we examined it with the Ayaneo Next. Aya Space runs smoother than ever earlier than, acknowledges video games extra shortly, and affords extra customization choices for mapping controls — large jumps for only some months of growth time.

Aya Space can be utilized in two varieties: the complete-fledged launcher or as a pop-up panel to make fast settings adjustments. The settings panel might be referred to as up at any time by tapping the Aya button. There you’ll be able to alter the console’s TDP and fan modes, change the decision, brightness and quantity, and entry a set of customizable fast instructions for features like enabling FSR, citing the on-display keyboard, or backing out of menus with the Escape key.

By holding the Aya button, you’ll be able to convey up the complete software program suite. From the Home and Games tabs, you’ll be able to one-faucet launch any video games or apps put in in your system. The Assistant tab lets you customise button shortcuts and calibrate the controls. It works very nicely total, however there’s a degree of quirkiness right here that reveals there’s nonetheless room to develop.

For instance, Aya has developed a brand new Master Controller module that gives you superior management over the console’s inputs. You can alter joystick lifeless zones, set off sensitivities, haptic suggestions, and Gyro controls, all with a 360-degree 3D mannequin of the console. All of that is hidden by a menu you entry by merely tapping an arrow. The downside? That arrow doesn’t work persistently. To entry it on my Ayaneo Pro evaluate unit, I’ve to first swipe left to convey up the notification panel and then faucet the button. On the Standard evaluate unit, it labored with a standard faucet. The Master Controller module additionally doesn’t mean you can customise any of the Air’s further inputs, which is an odd omission given how in-depth it’s for the opposite controls. That performance is in a separate configuration menu.

Despite its quirks, Aya Space will get the job performed. Once you’ve it configured, you’ll hardly ever have to revisit any of the customization screens, so any friction by its in-growth standing is fairly minimal. Instead, you’ll spend most of your time with the launcher and the pop-up panel to vary TDP, each of which work nicely.

Ayaneo Air – Performance

Portability and customization don’t imply a lot if the system you’ve carried round and tailor-made to your liking struggles to ship playable body charges if you go to truly play one thing on it. And contemplating that even the most affordable Ayaneo Air prices as a lot as a PlayStation 5 and $100 greater than the bottom-tier Steam Deck, it’s cheap to have excessive expectations.

As anybody who has used a Steam Deck or different handheld gaming PC already is aware of, describing anticipated efficiency might be difficult. There are a lot of methods to tweak efficiency and visible constancy that have to be balanced with battery life. For the formal benchmarks, I used the best preset TDP for each machines (12 watts), however each might be manually adjusted greater to extend body charges on the expense of battery life (15 watts for the Air and 18 watts for the Air Pro, equal to the Ayaneo Next). It’s finest to view efficiency as a sliding scale with our outcomes being one notch beneath the battery-slaying most.

Since the Air encompasses a 1080p display the place most competing handhelds nonetheless use 720p or 800p decision, we’ll start by exhibiting the decrease decision outcomes. Bear in thoughts that our normal take a look at practices use max settings for straightforward comparisons, however in actual life you’ll more than likely be taking part in on low to medium and obtain a lot greater FPS.

In phrases of sheer horsepower, each Ayaneo Air fashions lag behind the Ayaneo Next and Steam Deck. This is not any shock, as their slim measurement limits the utmost energy obtainable to the CPU. Performance expectations on a tool this a lot smaller are expectedly much less.

Let’s see how every carried out in our checks at 1080p vs 720p, after which we’ll get into what efficiency is like on the settings you’ll truly be taking part in at.

Making the soar to 1080p brings each fashions of the Ayaneo Air to their knees. While the Ultra settings used for our comparisons are greater than what you’ll truly be taking part in at, they reveal the sort of efficiency hit you’ll expertise if you happen to truly attempt to sport at native decision. If you’re taking part in main video games with demanding graphics, 720p will ship a a lot better gaming expertise. For video games with much less demanding graphics it may be an possibility, however that’s principally older video games and indies.

Like all handheld gaming PCs, it’s vital to actually think about what they’re designed for and able to. Throughout its marketing campaign and advertising and marketing, Aya has actually emphasised that the {hardware} inside the usual Air is finest suited to indie video games. Sure, you’ll be capable of play main video games at 30fps utilizing low settings more often than not, nevertheless it’s in these much less demanding indies the place you’ll actually discover its worth.

And they’re proper. At 720p, was capable of run Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered at 30 FPS on low settings and Doom Eternal a bit greater, however Ori and the Will of the Wisps stayed locked at 60. I misplaced hours to Rogue Legacy 2 and replaying Super Meat Boy, Hard West, and Hotline Miami. If you don’t need to spend additional for the upper-powered chip within the Air Pro, you’ll be able to bump the TDP all the best way to 15 watts and activate AMD’s FSR upscaling and push these extra demanding video games inside attain. It’s a stretch getting these to run rather more than 40 FPS, however they’re definitely playable – and that’s a feat on a tool as skinny and light-weight as this.

The Air Pro is rather more highly effective. Our evaluate pattern included the Ryzen 7 chip and 32GB of DDR4 reminiscence, making heavyweight video games rather more playable. Not at Ultra settings, in fact, however dropping to low or medium and 720p decision turns that on its head. Doom Eternal held regular at 45-50 FPS; Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War, and Spider-Man Remastered had been all playable at 30-40 FPS. I used to be even capable of push Spider-Man as much as Medium settings and lock it to a steady 30 FPS with the assistance of FSR 2.0.

Full HD 1080p is finest left for indies, older video games, and films. The bump in decision has a big effect on efficiency, and with such a small display, you don’t see the sort of enchancment you’ll on a standard gaming monitor. For video games proper on the sting, FSR might be an efficient center floor, however 720p is nearly all the time the higher possibility and you could not even see the distinction in precise gameplay.

Given its slim measurement, warmth is a matter. In a pre-evaluate be aware, Aya beneficial not pushing the TDP greater than 15 watts to keep away from thermal throttling, however even at 12 watts the console turns into fairly heat. Tap the touchscreen and also you’ll be shocked at how toasty it turns into after simply 30 minutes of sport time. I didn’t discover thermal throttling all through my evaluate testing, however I’d be cautious of any mud making its means into the system to forestall it sooner or later.

On the plus facet, the system actually doesn’t get very loud. It’s a lot quieter than the Steam Deck and places the typical gaming laptop computer to disgrace. At their highest setting, the followers are audible however not distracting. I want to see Aya present the choice for a customized fan curve, permitting customers to stability warmth with noise on their very own phrases, however like the remainder of the design, the default curve is all about portability.

The Achilles’ heel for each variations is battery life. The normal Air encompasses a 28 wHr battery whereas the Pro model bumps that to 38 wHrs. In actual world phrases, on the Balanced TDP setting, the Air will final about two hours whereas the Air Pro will internet you three.. Naturally, the precise battery life relies upon solely on the way you’re utilizing it and the video games you’re taking part in. More demanding video games eat up the battery extra shortly, as does taking part in at full brightness and utilizing the audio system. For being so moveable in each different means, it’s disappointing to have to hold a charger or cumbersome battery pack with you, however is a part of the commerce-off for such a skinny and light-weight design.

The large query, in a post-Steam Deck world, is whether or not the Ayaneo Air is price paying additional for. For sheer efficiency, the reply is not any. The Steam Deck holds the crown on efficiency per greenback and isn’t more likely to lose it anytime quickly. But as a day one-purchaser of the Steam Deck, I’m right here to let you know: there are causes you may need to select the Air over the Deck that vary past its extra pocktable measurement.

For starters, compatibility simply isn’t a difficulty right here. If a sport runs on Windows, it would run on the Air. There is not any compatibility layer to translate a Windows sport right into a Linux/SteamOS sport. It simply works. That similar high quality additionally makes Ayaneo a viable possibility to make use of as your day by day pc for all the pieces else. A easy docking station will permit it to connect with a standard monitor and peripherals, and it may fully substitute a laptop computer or low-powered PC after which be thrown in your bag if you’re performed.

Like the Ayaneo Next, the best-efficiency Air remains to be costly sufficient to make your eyes water at $1,249. But if all you need is the best frames-per-second quantity the Air Pro can obtain, the primary mannequin with the Ryzen 7 5825U is barely $899 and can rack up practically an identical outcomes with 16GB of reminiscence and a 512GB SSD. Or, you could possibly save tons of extra by dropping settings and profiting from FSR on appropriate video games and go for the Ryzen 5 mannequin (although you will be extra restricted on greater video games).

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