AYA Neo, is the Switch-style Chinese PC console the most serious alternative to Steam Deck?

While chomping down a bit, hopefully (maybe?) one day you’ll get your hands on the Steam Deck, know that deep in the Nerdland, a Switch-looking PC is capable of not only playing all of your Steam games, but also the EPIC, GOG catalogs, etc. Already in existence: AYA Neo.
This personal computer is sold for a few thousand pieces, and is part of the movement of small Chinese brands, mostly from Hong Kong, which, like GPD, are trying new formats based on computer components.

The format in question here is very similar to Switch – and thus Steam Deck. But, here, you will not find an operating system or internal components.
At AYA, as with all of these Chinese brands, it’s already a Windows 11 PC. Understand that in an “in-house” situation, brands led by passionate engineers have slipped “off the shelf” straight from classic manufacturing circuits.

Chinese crowdfunding adventure

At CES 2020, Dell showed off a prototype of a similar concept. The UFO introduced by the American division of Alienware was fictional for PC gamers, and was actually taking the side of a Switch clone (“Joycon detachable”), but with PC components. Unfortunately, it was a simple prototype that never came to fruition.

Read also: We Tried Alienware’s Concept UFO, the Switch-inspired gaming PC

However, the concept has given some ideas to some people, Benjamin Lesore, communications manager during the day, and (compulsive) enthusiasts of these micro-controllers tell us at night.

A Chinese businessman named Zheng Song is the founder of AYA Benjamin explains. Mr. Song worked hard on the project throughout 2020 to introduce it to the community in early 2021. He ended up launching IndieGogo in March 2021… before selling the company in May of the same year. A priori, it was overshadowed by the industrial scale of the project “.

It must be said that the quality problems of the components appear quickly. Instead of “planting” the initiative — and walking away with the money, Mr. Song does something rare in the “jungle” of crowdfunding: he’s selling the company.

Mr. Song sold AYA to current CEO Arthur Zhang (pronounced “chang”) Who am I in contact “.

This connection is the key to the company’s current success.

Great transparency and very direct communication with the community saved the project Benjamin says.

He explained that the problems were identified and resolved very quickly. And the early “supporters” of AYA Neo received an update kit that corrected most bugs.

Aside from the motherboard and storage, everything has changed between the IndieGogo version and the current version. The upgrade kit already contains a new plastic casing, a new screen, a new cooling system, new buttons and controls, etc. We went from “proto++” to a real commercial machine “.

Significant success for a brand does not come from anywhere – all the same two million dollars were raised for the first funding. Which is somewhat understandable when you have a machine at hand: it is a beautiful thing and a technological gem.

More powerful than Steam Deck (but 2-3 times more expensive)

The level of performance varies a lot depending on the game and settings, but you just need to read our Ryzen 7 4800U ultra mobile tests to get an idea of ​​the performance. On mobile, all games easily run at 720p with many titles running at +40fps. In desktop mode, connected to the screen, it’s exactly at the level of modern Ultra HD mobile devices, with 1080p mode very smooth at the lowest quality in games like the death (2016).

But we have to put the points directly on i: if you plan to use 500 euros from Steam Deck to buy AYA Neo, we will immediately dampen your hopes.
The NEXT version, equipped with an AMD Ryzen 7 5825U, currently in crowdfunding, is refunded, at best, about 1,200 euros. Which is logical: the machine contains only high-quality components (read more), and it is produced only in very small volumes.

We don’t have the numbers of Asian stores selling machines once production is started through crowdfunding. Benjamin Lessor says, But we at least know that the first campaign is for just over 2,000 machines “.

A more visible brand, like GPD, sold its Max model to more than 6,000 supporters before selling the rest on AliExpress and other Gearbest.

So the volumes are around 10,000 pieces at best, which is still low in the IT world. This does not detract from their “sophisticated” character.

As far as I know, the AYA Neo has the only hall-effect joysticks and triggers in the industry Benjamin excited.

Who knows the technology well, since it is he who develops, in his spare time, and for AYA, programs that allow Windows to take charge of the device’s gyroscope and accelerometer.

AYA is the only PC brand that integrates a 6-axis gyroscope! Windows recognizes it, but its functionality is limited to switching to portrait/horizontal mode, because no game or platform can natively take advantage of rotation in Windows. »

This is where the geeks level up a bit.

programmatic handheld companion It takes the data from this gyroscope and feeds it into a virtual console. I take advantage of Steam support for Dual Shock 4 to pass my default controller to this console and voila. You can use the touch screen as the touch part of the Sony controller and move the controller in space to aim, move, etc. »

It’s a good thing, I understand that fans of these consoles/PCs are too insulting word ?

Smarter than Steam Deck… and totally challenging

With a budding catalog of “guaranteed compatible” games, its own Linux system, and PC approach (yes, you can install Windows on it!), Steam Deck has a much higher level of “savvy” than the Nintendo Switch.

Read also: GPD Win Max Review, Half PC, Half Console, 0% Steam Deck

AYA Neo is still (good) above potential insulting word, since it is a Windows 11 computer with which you can do everything. Connect the monitors / peripherals you want, and install the operating system you want. You can even affect the hardware because, in addition to the sophistication of storage (SSD in M.2 format), you can especially affect the performance of the hardware by playing directly on the processor’s power supply.

Thanks to the graphic interface that can be called up with a dedicated button, you can change the TDP of the device Benjamin explains.

Far from being anecdotal, TDP control is an important part of the device. There are basic steps at 11W, 15W, 20W and 25W, but you can also create new custom steps.
Depending on power needs, you can settle for 11W or 25W in the most demanding 3D games.

Excluding the processor, the platform consumes 5-6 watts per hour. The AYA Neo has a 47Wh battery, so the math is quick. If we push the chip to 25W for maximum performance, we’re at 1h30 of autonomy. If we are satisfied with 11 Wh, we can get to three hours Benjamin explains.

AMD’s Controls…for Its Future

Originally equipped with an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor, the AYA Neo is an all-in-one supercomputer. With a 16GB soldered and 1TB NVMe SSD, it offers the most advanced configuration of today’s hardware!
It’s again the AMD chip that supplies the update at the end of 2021, the Ryzen 7 4800U that gave us complete gaming satisfaction when we tested it in 2020.

It’s again AMD’s chip, the ultra-modern Ryzen 7 5825U, which still supports the new release in crowdfunding, AYA Neo Next. AMD, the leader in “APUs” that integrate GPUs, here benefits from the knowledge gained over a long period of time, and from drivers that are better supported by the video game studio community than Intel.

Intel chips now have a very good graphics part, Vega 8 power from Ryzen 4000 and 5000, but drivers are less universal Benjamin confirms.

Read also: With Ryzen 6000 Mobile; AMD plays its RDNA2 graphics assets to dominate Intel in laptops

The nerd acknowledges that the future of AYA runs through a chip.

The arrival of the RDNA 2 architecture in the Ryzen Mobile 6000 will change everything, especially the 6800U. Performance gain for the same power consumption will increase from 70% to 100% Benjamin is excited.
Before I mention it AMD’s announcement of this future has, incidentally, put the current funding of AYA Next into a quandary. Because if the Ryzen 7 5825U is more powerful on the CPU side of the previous generation, it doesn’t make enough difference on the GPU side, which is where the needs of gamers are. Everyone is waiting for the Ryzen 7 6800U release ‘, is the detail.

For Benjamin, the AMD chip will be a real turning point for the format and for AYA, the performance at 15W should be enough to comfortably play for about three hours.
Finally, if the small business gets shocked. Because the chip should arrive in the second quarter only for the “big players” of the sector – Lenovo, Dell, Asus, etc. Small brands ordering drops and hits will have to wait until the second half of the year at best, at worst…the end of the year, or until the beginning of 2023.

Hopefully AYA has strong enough kidneys to wait and integrate the Ryzen 7 6800U Benjamin worries.

See also the video:

See also the video:

Ultimately, at €1,200 per machine, the Aya will remain a representative of a niche market that has evolved around an ecosystem – investors, engineers and buyers – who are passionate about technology.

For the mass market, a format priced at only 400-500 euros like Steam Deck can represent large volumes. But at a time when makers can take advantage of platforms that are both more economical and efficient, it will be necessary to remember that it was not Dell or Steam that invented the format, but the ecosystem crazy about the technology.
Until then, we’re still waiting for Steam Deck…

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