These Handhelds for PC Gaming Let You Bring Your Entire Game Library With You

a person playing a game on a rog ally pc gaming handheld
The 7 Best Handheld Gaming PCs Trevor Raab

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Thanks to powerful mobile processors and more compact components, a new generation of handheld PC gaming is here. These portable consoles are a worthwhile consideration over spending loads on a gaming laptop or desktop—they’re advanced enough for Full HD gaming, and the most technically impressive can handle whatever your Steam or Microsoft Game Pass libraries can throw at them.

With a small form factor, you can take these machines anywhere and enjoy your games with the same functionality as your desktop, whether you’re on the go or chilling in a lounge. That freedom also means you’re untethered from your desk and you don’t need to lug a heavy laptop around.

Handheld PCs are also incredibly versatile compared to full-sized computers. Many feature the precision of analog controls and the convenience of touchscreen functionality. Some even have detachable controllers and output ports that you can hook up to any TV or monitor to use like any other gaming console. Importantly, these handheld PCs cost significantly less than other PC gaming options.

Arguably, the most popular option is Valve’s Steam Deck, though many competitors in this space are vying for your coin. In this guide, we’ll explain what to look for when shopping for a handheld gaming PC and offer our thoughts on the best available.

The Best Handheld Gaming PCs

What to Consider

Because of their power draw, the graphics and central processing capabilities of handheld gaming PCs aren’t make-or-break specs—they all have comparable play experiences. The more powerful a GPU and CPU, the faster a battery drains, so for the sake of brevity, rest assured that these machines can play new titles and indie games. However, there are still noticeable performance differences in screen resolution.


The display obviously plays a large part in your handheld PC gaming experience. Seven-inch screens typically rule the roost, but larger displays are available, though heavier and more battery-consuming. Screens also vary in resolution, with options like the Steam Deck running 720p and newer models like Asus Rog Ally offering 1080p (Full HD).

The higher the resolution, the lower the frame rate and the bigger the drain on battery life. Since handheld screen sizes are much smaller than their laptop equivalents, 800p resolution is good enough for many gamers—at this resolution, you get that balance of smooth gameplay and sufficient graphical detail. Some handhelds offer 1600p, but sustaining a frame rate that high for more powerful games is nearly impossible.

Some devices feature a dedicated settings button, so you can quickly jump into a menu and turn the graphical fidelity down if you’re not getting the frames per second (FPS)—the rate at which a game can render single frames—you want. The recent advent of GPU docks, like the GPD G1, lets gamers plug in their consoles and drastically enhance their graphical power, though it does somewhat defeat the portability of these gaming machines.

Operating System

Some handheld gaming PCs run specific gaming-focused operating systems, such as SteamOS, which bakes the Steam gaming library into the heart of the machine using a Linux-based system. It’s a convenient and quick way to access games though it can’t run other tasks or programs. That said, some Steam games won’t run well on SteamOS due to hardware or controller limitations. For a full list of SteamOS-compatible games, check the crowdsourced directory ProtonDB.

Other gaming PC handhelds run Windows 11, providing versatility if you need a device to browse the web, compose a document, or get on with some work. Sadly, Windows isn’t well suited to small screens and gaming controllers—it’s often a clunky and unresponsive experience. Therefore, consider if you want to use your handheld for anything other than gaming, though, remember, it may be tough to write and edit documents on such a small device without a dedicated keyboard. On the flip side, Windows-based systems can run any PC game, with some limitations to hardware and controls, so that can take some thunder out of SteamOS.


Handheld gaming PCs are designed to be used with, you guessed it, the hands, so comfort is a huge consideration. Bigger screens, more storage, and better batteries equal a heavier machine that affects how comfortable it is in your palms. Ergonomics also play a role—are the buttons and sticks laid out well? Can your hands hold it for multiple hours at a time? Some machines come with a kickstand or detachable controllers to help mitigate hand-cramping issues.

Are you planning to buy one for your kid? Well, these portable PCs are still pretty hefty machines, around 4 to 6 inches wider and 50 percent heavier than a Nintendo Switch. Their size, large grips, weight, and poor battery life make them poorly suited for kids.

If you’re set on buying one for the little one in your life, we’d recommend the Asus ROG Ally, as its dimensions and size are only slightly bigger than a Switch. You can also consider the Lenovo Legion Go, which has detachable controllers—these can really save your wrists from hoisting the machine’s massive screen.

Battery Life

PC gaming is incredibly draining on batteries, particularly for handhelds. Bigger batteries add extra life between charges, though they also add heft, making them less portable and more strenuous on the palms during longer play sessions. Generally, most handheld gaming PCs are expected to last around 1 to 2 hours with intense graphical games and around 4 to 10 hours for more casual titles and lower settings.


Though handheld gaming PCs can flawlessly handle indies and emulating retro titles, newer games are much more demanding and require extra storage space. Major studio releases usually require 68 GB to 75 GB. Luckily, every handheld on this list is available in several storage sizes, from 16 GB to 4 TB. They can also be expanded with the separate purchase of an SDD.

How We Selected

I’ve been gaming since I could hold a controller and PC gaming for over 20 years. My first handheld gaming involved going squared-eyed on the original Game Boy (the Tetris theme song lives rent-free in my head) and continually slotting in hundreds of AA batteries so I could play Super Smash TV on the Game Gear. Since a teen, I’ve always saved up for new 3D graphics cards and enhanced sound cards, and invested in faster modems for peak PC performance. Though I adore my Nintendo Switch, I mostly play on my Asus Vivobook Pro 15 with Nvidia Geforce RTX 4070 today.

For this guide, I conducted tests with the Steam Deck and Lenovo Legion Go by playing various graphically diverse games on SteamOS and Microsoft Game Pass. These titles included Persona 3, Dead Cells, and Fallout: New Vegas. I also played around with their OS and settings, getting used to how they were to play and how easy it was to fiddle with various settings on the fly. I also stay up to date on the gaming industry and use my expertise and that of other component reviewers to help inform my PC purchases and upgrades, as well as this buying guide.

For the models I couldn’t test personally, I relied on various reviews and dozens of user reports. I rated these machines based on their operating systems (OS), comfort and ergonomics, gaming specs, and displays.

OLED Steam Deck Handheld Gaming PC

The Steam Deck OLED is a decent upgrade on the inaugural 2022 model in several respects. It’s powerful, and increasingly accessible thanks to support from Value, with a growing list of Steam Deck Verified games that have a check mark on the box to indicate which titles play well on the console.

The handheld also has a slightly larger 7.4-inch OLED screen that yields deeper blacks and a wider color gamut. It’s plenty bright too, with a maximum of 1,000 nits—that’s brighter than some mid-range gaming laptops. Plus, its advanced cooling ensures the Deck doesn’t melt in your hands during frenzied Elden Ring runs. And yes, the OLED Deck can handle FromSoftware’s seminal action RPG—performance averages out at around 30–40 FPS, which isn’t too bad. Even if there’s a small dip when traversing the game’s open world or facing against its many big bads, gamers won’t run into major issues, which is quite the achievement.

The proprietary SteamOS is super smooth on the Steam Deck OLED, so you can focus on the games rather than trying to navigate through a janky Windows OS. Gaming performance is also solid, albeit at 800p resolution (which is fine for most titles), even if many rivals have now surpassed Valve’s flagship system.

For a handheld device, sound is reasonably meaty, and there’s enough volume to play with. Fan noise is quiet and practically unnoticeable unless your speakers are turned right down. It’s even more ergonomic than its predecessor, at 1 ounce lighter than the original Deck. Battery life is also improved, with reportedly 30 to 50 percent more life between charges, depending on your use.

Like its older sibling, the OLED Deck features a narrow body with chunky grips for your hands to wrap around, which is surprisingly comfortable considering how wide they both are. All these things make the Steam Deck OLED a much better system than its predecessor.

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Steam Deck Handheld PC Console

The Steam Deck is a worthy gaming handheld that paved the way for scores of others, even if its performance leaves us a little wanting by today’s standards. It’s a large piece of kit, with dual thumbsticks and touchpads offering plenty of control. Despite its bulky appearance, I found it was well weighted and comfortable to hold, even for extended play sessions.

You’ll be surprised at its comfort given its width. Unlike other handhelds with flat rears, such as the Nintendo Switch, the Deck features rounded grips, so your hands naturally wrap around the device. Its controls, while seemingly squashed high up on the fascia, are set up so your thumbs naturally rest on them, and they feel natural to press. Plus, I’ve always been a fan of the symmetric stick placement, being a PlayStation lad. The only real issue I have is with the dual trackpads, which are placed fairly out of reach of my digits, so I need to adjust my grip to access them.

The handheld runs at a fairly rudimentary 800p resolution, which is good enough for many older games, though you may struggle for smooth gameplay in today’s more intensive titles. Contemporary multiplayer games like Valorant are also out. And though lots of Steam games cannot run on the Deck, the list of compatible games currently stands at over 14,000 and growing, so you can finally start to clear that library backlog. Since it’s been succeeded by the superior OLED model, the basic Steam Deck is now a great budget handheld.

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OneXFly Handheld PC Console

Gamers who demand HD gaming on the go can finally have their cake and eat it with the OneXFly. Its AMD Ryzen 7 chip handles complex games at 1080p, including Cyberpunk 2077. That’s thanks to its various on-the-go performance toggles, so you can balance out your graphics in favor of more frames.

And when you factor in the dominating performance and the fact that it’s smaller and lighter than the Steam Deck without compromising on its luscious 7-inch screen, that’s seriously impressive for a handheld.

Of course, the trade-off is that it’s fairly more expensive than its peers, but for those who need premium horsepower in their handheld, the OneXFly could be the answer.

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OneXFly Handheld PC Console


Legion Go PC Gaming Console

The Legion Go’s masterstroke is its whopping 8.8-inch screen, a vibrant display with minimal bezels that lets you soak in all of the action. That also means it’s heavier and more awkward to hold than its rivals, but it features two detachable side controllers that slot at the sides so you can go handheld or handsfree using a desk, thanks to its robust kickstand.

After some awkward Windows navigation, I finally got down to dispatch shadows in Persona 3: Reloaded and navigate the dungeons of Dead Cells, all while being able to switch between various performance or graphics modes with its custom settings button.

Both games played flawlessly on the Go, and I was able to crank up the resolution to 1200p with virtually zero slow down or annoying load times. I did encounter some bugs, namely in getting the controllers to work consistently, although that could have been down to the review unit I was using.

Sound is pretty decent, if a little tinny in places, but volume isn’t an issue, as I found leaving it on 15 to 20 percent is plenty loud enough. Saying that, the fan is noticeable in the background, so you may need to crank up the volume further or stick on some headphones.

If you don’t mind the less than stellar Windows UI, the Go is great for those wanting maximum immersiveness and great performance in a handheld.

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Rog Ally PC Gaming Handheld

The ASUS ROG Extreme is an upgrade over the base Z1 and provides a sizable bump in performance. However, gamers will find that its gaming prowess is only fully unleashed when plugged into the mains, as the Ally is free to run rampant on Turbo mode without the constraints of its battery, which might defeat the point of owning an untethered device.

There’s also the familiar frustration with Windows 11. Even when using the stick as a pointing device, this OS just isn’t built for handhelds, so we’d be tempted to splash out on a Bluetooth keyboard. Thankfully, switching between tasks is reasonably swift with its speedy Z1 mobile processor, and things are much improved should you connect the Ally to a monitor, where its OS works as intended. Additionally, with no need for emulation, Windows can run pretty much any Steam or Microsoft Game Pass game, which is an advantage over SteamOS handhelds.

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A1 Pro Handheld PC Gaming Console

The impossibly pronounced Aokzoe A1 Pro ticks a lot of boxes, thanks to its large battery life and a high starting spec of 32GB of RAM, making it a decent docking PC if you’re traveling away from home or the office.

A weightier, girthier machine it may be, but it’s still reasonably comfortable to hold thanks to its curved, balanced design. It’s also got one of the bigger screens among its peers, carrying an 8-inch display that you can crank up to 1200p in resolution. However, you should game fine (and for longer) in 1080p. Despite that bigger screen, we do wish it was brighter, as it’s quickly rendered too dim in broad daylight. Nevertheless, it’s a decent gaming handheld with impressive specs if you’re looking for a (albeit expensive) premium alternative.

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A1 Pro Handheld PC Gaming Console


Ayaneo Air OLED Handheld PC Game Console

We know that triple-A gaming isn’t for everyone. Many just want to curl up on a couch and spend dozens of hours on indies like Hades or Stardew Valley. For these individuals, the Ayaneo Air might be right up their street.

It’s a PC handheld that’s truly compact and pocketable, which is going to win over frequent travelers. But don’t let its small stature betray its surprising power. The Air Pro, which is the premium of its other two variants, the Lite and Standard, features a small yet mighty 5.5-inch AMOLED screen capable of 1080p, Ryzen 7 CPU, and 32GB of RAM.

Sure, it can run grander games like Baldur’s Gate 3, but at 1080p, that’s asking too much of the Air. Instead, we’d recommend switching things down to 720p unless you’ll be feeding it indie or 2D games.

We also love the Air’s casual design, which is simplistic and a departure from the ASUS Ally’s chiseled features or the Steam Deck’s seriously stacked controller set.

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Ayaneo Air OLED Handheld PC Game Console


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