The Steam Deck just spent five weeks at number one on Valve’s best seller list – on top of the five weeks it spent at number two. As one of the most affordable gaming PCs ever made, the over $400 machine has clearly caught the eye of those who have been waiting for a Switch-like portable gaming PC. But what about companies that were already done Switch-like portable gaming PCs? Now they have their chance for revenge.
That’s because all major Steam Deck rivals – GPD, Aya and OneXPlayer – have now confirmed they’re building handhelds around AMD’s Ryzen 6000U chips. And the 6800U, with its integrated Radeon 680M graphics, would have the potential to crush the semi-custom Aerith SoC at the heart of the Steam Deck.
OneXPlayer Founder and CEO Jack Wong confirmed to me in a live translated interview that the company’s R&D team is already working with 6000U chips. Meanwhile, GPD announced a new 10.1-inch Win Max 2 clamshell with a Ryzen 7 6800U in March, and YouTuber Cary Golomb just revealed that GPD already has a supply of the 6800U chips it needs.
Since this was posted on the GPD Discord, it looks like you can share it now. GPD provided them with a new supply of 6800U.
The GPD Win Max 2 6800U test machines should be ready by June!
Unreal and I would never have thought it possible so soon! pic.twitter.com/kVrdwn866g
— Cary Golomb (@carygolomb) May 17, 2022
And last week, Aya announced not one but of them laptops based on the 6800U, including the Aya Neo 2 and an Aya Neo Slide with a Motorola Droid-esque design that fits a five-row offset keyboard under a sliding screen.
As my colleague Emma Roth pointed out in this post, the Radeon 680M can produce 3.38 teraflops of raw graphics performance, more than double the Steam Deck’s 1.6 teraflops on paper, and has 12 RDNA 2 compute units. compared to the 8 CUs you get with Deck – plus a faster Zen 3 Plus architecture for its CPU.
Will this translate to actual gaming, and will the laptop chip offer better (or even decent) battery life in a laptop? That’s a harder question, and GPD, for example, tries to make it 1920 x 1200 instead of the Steam Deck’s 1280 x 800, which might remove any framerate advantage right away.
But thanks to Notebookcheck, we already have some early performance numbers for the 6800U and 680M graphics in a real laptop, and they’re absolutely promising – and, at least when paired with a faster processor, they can compete with a discrete graphics chip like the GeForce 1650 it seems. You can even find videos of these integrated graphics in action here, but note that this is with the Ryzen 7 6800H, not the 6800U, and much less thermally constrained than you’d see in a handheld.
Performance is just one of the things the Steam Deck does well enough to grab gamers’ attention, of course – but the bigger issue for companies like GPD, Aya and OneXPlayer is that the Steam Deck is cheaper. and more powerful than anything they could produce. Their handhelds typically cost two to three times the price of an entry-level Steam Deck, and they didn’t have access to AMD’s new RDNA 2 graphics, only the older, weaker Vega.
OneXPlayer founder Wong tells me that the Steam Deck hasn’t completely been a problem for his company so far, but more of a double-edged sword. “They draw public attention to the field of portable games,” he said via a translator. “We had a niche audience before, but now more people know about us and there are more options.”
Wong says his company has grown to 100 people and has already sold 50,000 portable gaming PCs in North America – and is growing faster than the company’s other previous One Netbook business, which managed to sell to roughly the same amount. The company also has a large following in Japan and China, Wong says, and its strategy won’t be to compete with the Steam Deck on price. Like its rivals, it says it wants to build the best laptops possible.
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