Incredibly powerful, but not for long.
I have been testing this for a few weeks now, it’s called the AYANEO Air and it’s technically the world’s first handheld gaming PC with an OLED display.
It’s a step up from the typical handhelds I review on this website, as this thing packs a powerful Ryzen 5560U processor opening up a lot of opportunity for taking your favourite AAA games on the go including retro emulation.
AYANEO are new to the handheld market but they are releasing some some of the best handheld gaming PC’s on the market and are directly competing with the Steam Deck.
But even though I am in love with this device, it has a huge bottleneck that needs to be spoken about, and it’s likely why handheld gaming PC’s of this size may struggle in this competitive fast paced market alongside crazy demand.
AYANEO Air Base Specifications
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5560U Zen 2
- GPU: Radeon Vega 7 Graphics
- RAM: 16GB
- Storage: 128GB SSD
- Screen: 5.5-inch – 1920 x 1080 OLED
- RAM: 8GB DDR4 @3200MHz
- Price: $650+
AYANEO Air Pro Specifications
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5826U Zen 3
- GPU: Radeon Vega 8 Graphics
- Storage: 512GB/1TB/2TB SSD
- Screen: 5.5-inch – 1920 x 1080 OLED
- RAM: 16GB/32GB DDR4 @4266Mhz
- Price: $800+
How does the AYANEO Air feel?
I have the base model and the pro model in for this review. The base Air features a 2.3ghz Ryzen 5 5560U Processor, 16GB’s RAM, 512GB of internal storage, a stunning 5.5” AMOLED 1080P display and a 7350MAH battery capacity.
The pro is slightly more powerful and slightly thicker featuring a Ryzen 7 5825U, 16GB’s RAM and a large 10,000MAH battery capacity.
The base model is 18mm thin at the middle, which is incredibly thin for something this powerful, the pro model comes in at 21.6mm at the middle, again, still very thin, impressively thin in fact.
This on paper is like nothing on the market, it’s a tiny powerhouse that’s ready to take on whatever you have to chuck at it.
The incredible display matched with the perfect ergonomics makes it an incredibly comfortable handheld to play on for… this is where i say long periods of time, but it’s typically short periods of times… you’ll see why.
They have added large, slightly flared shoulder buttons that have a lot of travel to them. These feel great when playing racing and shooting games, but not so much when you’re playing fast paced games. The shoulder buttons match the unique gradient that goes across the top of the device which is something I haven’t seen before.
The top also features a fingerprint reader too, again, something I haven’t seen in a handheld yet, this is a nice addition, even though it makes something more complicated than it should be and can sometimes be a little buggy.
While I am on the subject of buttons I need to bring up the small action buttons, at first I didn’t like them, they’re noticeably smaller than traditional handhelds, but I grew to fall in love with them, the same goes with the lovely analogue sticks that are made with hull sensing technology that basically stops drift, oh and they light up! How adorable.
The whole aesthetic of the AYANEO Air is small, but that’s what makes it such a cute, portable device, and i hate to say it, but this is probably the most comfortable handheld PC i have ever played on, it makes the Steam Deck look and feel like i am playing with King Kong’s big toe.
But with beauty comes the beast, and because it uses Windows 11, it’s an absolute pain in the backside to navigate. So much so that they sent us a keyboard to use when setting it up, and that’s the downfall with it being so small, the screen is so tiny that it’s nearly impossible to use with just the touchscreen, so id almost say it’s mandatory to use it with a keyboard when setting it up.
And because the screen is just 5.5” wide it does make text quite hard to see when playing certain games, the same goes for targeting enemies that are far away in shooting games for example.
AYANEO was nice enough to create their own launcher which houses a bunch of settings, it can load your games library and it’s a far better experience than running Windows or even the Xbox library.
It’s easy to understand, it allows you to customise your RGB light setup and it pulls in your library from a wide number of other launchers too, heck you can even add shortcuts to your emulators which makes it a great all in one hub.
But because it’s so new I ran into a lot of bugs that made this a little less fluid than I would have liked, I do think these can be easily fixed and it’s likely AYANEO are already working on it for when they ship customers products.
Now let’s talk about performance, because I was blown away with what this can do.
How does the AYANEO Air perform?
Straight out of the box I tried testing this with some larger PC games. I started with a bunch of Halo games, including Halo Reach which ran very well at low settings on the base model, to a point where it’s the most fun I have had on a handheld this year.
It was a sense of “wow, handhelds are really going places”. Yes, low settings may not be the best, but it goes to show you that you can still play some of your favourite PC games on the go without any hiccups on the base model.
AYANEO has suggested most AAA games can run at 720p 30fps on the base model, and from testing, I agree with them on this. It will require some minor tweaking across different games, but that’s easy to do.
I then tried a couple of more strenuous games, and got to a point where the base model was at its limit, and that was Sea of Thieves, it was capped at around 20FPS the same goes for Forza Horizon 5, i found low frame rates, and at times even error messages.
But the Pro version has slightly more power, allowing you to play most AAA games beyond 720p 30FPS, in fact on Forza Horizon 5 it was running happily at 720p well beyond 30FPS for example, proving that the Pro version can play AAA games well, on the go.
Games like Fortnite will run fine too, the same goes for 2D platformers or older less power consuming PC games, this will absolutely crush it.
Smooth 1080p gaming with AAA games is where it can’t go, that’s its limits.
In terms of emulation, I’ll be honest, the AYANEO Air is simply overkill for that kind of stuff. The setup process without a keyboard can be a pain when navigating the internet and setting up your ROMs so remember to have a bluetooth keyboard lying around if you’re looking to set this up for retro games.
It handled most things I threw at it including God of War on PSP flawlessly, large PS2 games like GTA San Andreas and even Gamecube games. Many would say this is where “retro gaming” ends and if that’s the case then yes, the AYANEO Air can likely run all of your retro games incredibly well with silky smooth framerates, but you don’t buy one of these things for emulation.
Yes it’s a bonus, but the magic is in the PC games, and so it should be for this kind of price. The base starts at around $650, whereas the Pro versions are closer to $1000.
The biggest downfall with the AYANEO Air is battery life, and it hurts me to say this, but the battery life is absolutely terrible.
I was incredibly impressed with this device through my review process. I was having so much fun playing every game I wanted, which to me is an incredible feat for a portable handheld of this size, but because of the size, some areas had to be cut, and that was battery capacity.
When testing, a typical gaming session on the base model could only last around 90 minutes. That’s right MINUTES. The 7000mah battery matched with the consumption it needs to power the games I wanted was just too much, and I begged the question, is it really portable if I can only use it for 90 minutes?
I guess that could get you through the average bus or train journey but you’ll have to charge it on the other end, SIGH
Yes you can pull a few extra minutes out of it by lowering brightness, lowering volume and turning off RGB lighting but even considering that is a little ridiculous.
The Pro version however did last slightly longer, and that’s because it has a bit more battery capacity, I was pulling just over two hours out of it before it needed juice.
This short gaming experience is what bottlenecks the whole device, I shouldn’t be consciously worrying about what battery life I am at, I should be immersed in the games, but everytime I play on the device I worry, and that isn’t a fun experience.
It’s a real shame, because the AYANEO Air was close to being one of my favourite handhelds of the year. It’s perfectly sized, it packs power that I haven’t tested before in a handheld and the AYANEO experience from the unboxing to the built in launcher is undoubtedly premium
Many say the screen is too small, but I think it’s just right, anything bigger and I don’t think you can class it as portable, the Steam Deck to me personally, isn’t portable, but this is.
Some of you watching may be happy with a 2-hour battery life, but I am not and even though currently that is the only issue I’m facing, there could be issues outside of the handheld that customers can’t control.
It’s too early for me to tell, but I have to mention it when I review these products because lately the handheld industry is having some problems.
I am not saying this will happen with AYANEO products, but it could, this issue is regarding fulfilling orders and launching new products before even shipping orders of their “older” devices.
For example the AYN Odin are just shipping customers orders that they placed a year ago and the Analogue Pocket has delays of almost a year. AYANEO has announced so many new handhelds recently that I can’t help but wonder if they’ll be able to fulfil everyone’s orders efficiently, especially with the crazy amount of SKU’s.
Perhaps they will be able to, but I just thought it was worth mentioning because I personally don’t know how they’ll manage it because of how new they are, i’ll let you decide.
Overall I am blown away with the AYANEO Air, it’s by far the most powerful portable handheld i have reviewed, it has played everything I have chucked at it, it’s incredibly comfortable and the build quality is on par, if not better than the Steam Deck, it’s just a shame that the battery life really brings down the overall experience.
I have to applaud AYANEO, they’re very new to the scene and are already proving themselves, but i just hope that can manage everyone’s orders efficiently and respond to customer service inquiries as well as Steam can, only time will tell.
A 29 year old fella that’s had a Gameboy addiction ever since he was a child. Brandon is the founder of RetroDodo and created a YouTube channel with 240,000 subscribers dedicated to retro gaming products. He now wants to create the No.1 site to showcase the latest retro products from around the globe.