Best Steam Deck Alternatives in 2023
Steam Deck broke Steam and the internet on launch and it remains incredibly popular. But what about the best steam deck alternatives?
Thankfully, there are some companies that have already tried their hand at creating portable devices allowing you to game comfortably on the go. So, there are other options out there.
With that in mind, we thought why not put together a best Steam Deck alternatives round-up for those who either couldn’t get their preorder in, or for those who simply didn’t like the look of Valve’s new console and wanted a different powerful handheld gaming machine capable of running today’s AAA titles. Read on for our top picks!
Products at a Glance
Is Steam Deck The Best Handheld Gaming Device?
From questionable comparisons to the Nintendo Switch OLED model to the proposition of true portable PC gaming, Steam Deck has turned a lot of heads worldwide. It’s making the world of PC gaming accessible. But, PC gaming is a very different beast to console/handheld gaming.
The 64GB model, for example, simply doesn’t cut it when it comes to storage space. Rockstar IP Red Dead Redemption 2 comes with a vanilla 150GB install size. Yes, Steam Deck comes with expandable SD card storage, but this will run considerably slower than eMMC/ NVMe SSD internal storage provided as stock. So for a worthwhile experience, which means the 512GB £569 model is the only way forward.
Again, granted, the machine itself is powerful and will run Steam’s library, giving it a huge advantage over other handhelds’ limited number of games available while also being put together by a company that has been in the industry for years. But, a handheld gaming device of this ilk isn’t a new invention and there certainly won’t be a shortage in terms of other companies jumping on the bandwagon, opening up avenues for consumers to get similar levels of performance.
Best Steam Deck Alternatives in 2023
- Best price for performance in it's field
- Sleek form factor
- No Keyboard
Available from the likes of Amazon, or the Ayaneo Website directly, Aya Neo packs a punch when it comes to powerful hardware.
Featuring a full-blown Ryzen 5 over Steam Deck’s Zen 2, players can expect more bang for their buck. Internal NVMe SSD storage comes in 500GB and 1TB flavors, which is again more than ideal for AAA PC gameplay on the go. The Aya Neo is an expensive investment at just over $1000, but if you’re going to pour money into something like this, do it properly, right?
Our top pick of the best Steam Deck alternatives available.
- Most games @ 720p low to med
- Cheap casing
Coming in at just over $1000, the GPD Win 3 is available now. Looking around online, it’s quite a versatile machine. For an idea on performance, it runs ‘Yakuza: Like A Dragon’ on low at 30 FPS (frames per second) smoothly.
This isn’t going to provide a mind-blowing graphical experience with its integrated Intel graphics, but the 720p screen doesn’t require a massive graphical power draw. It handles multiplayer titles such as Rainbow 6: Siege and Call OF Duty: Warzone well as a result, but much like Steam Deck, a bit of tweaking will be needed for more demanding games such as Cyberpunk 2077.
- Massive library of First/Third Party and Indie titles
- Best screen in the handheld market
- Reasonable download sizes
- Unable to install own operating system
- Limited to Nintendo Switch titles only
Releasing 08/10/21, the Nintendo Switch OLED model is more or less the same hybrid handheld console with a couple of quality of life improvements such as a bigger 7 inch OLED screen, better speakers, and a robust kickstand.
Whilst you can install your own operating system and access the steam store, its indie, third-party, and first-party libraries make the Nintendo Switch a viable option. Let’s not forget the price point of $349.99, making this piece of handheld gold a brilliant budget proposition for gamers looking for a portable gaming solution.
- Aimed at retro gamers
- Low price point
- Not for modern games
Many gamers will be thinking of buying the 64GB Steam Deck model for a retro emulation machine. Whilst it will certainly look the part, it’s overkill.
There’s plenty of retro machines knocking around on Wish, but chances are they’ll be ergonomically void and full of illegal ROMS and software. The Retroid Pocket 2 Plus provides just enough power and features to run anything up to the fifth console generation (PlayStation/Nintendo 64) Era whilst not breaking the bank.
- Utilizes Core i7 / Ryzen 7
- 1TB storage space
- WiFi 6
Should you like your steam deck alternatives with enough power to play anything right now and a little way into the future, look at the OneXPlayer Mini 7-inch.
This miniature powerhouse has Intel tiger Lake and Ryzen 7 5000 processors powering a device that offers next-level tech specs and ample storage compared to the competition.
Do you desperately want 1TB of storage and 16GB of RAM? You can have it. And you can have WiFi 6 support too, along with 2x USB 4.0 ports. The downside? The price. You can expect to pay over $1,000 at the moment, which makes option one for those who care about capability over cost.
Watch Out for Scammers
With the rise of Kickstarter campaigns comes a rise in scams. From SouljaBoy repeatedly fake releasing illegal emulation machines to products receiving continual delays after funding has been met, it’s always wise to do some research on the seller and product beforehand.
A good example is the Smach Z. It’s kickstarter/indiegogo completed around 2016 with a full release scheduled for 2018, withe the product largely regarded as vaporware. The product has been endorsed by many big YouTube personalities and top website outlets, but with notebookcheck confirming the company’s shady practices if you do see availibility you’re best to steer clear.
What is the difference between LED and OLED?
The main difference between an LED and an OLED screen is that the pixels of an OLED TV are self illuminating, whereas the LEDs in an LED screen are used to light an LCD display. OLED screens also benefit from better viewing angles and deep colors/blacks.
What is expandable storage?
Expandable storage means that the device in question accepts SD cards and other forms of flash storage to expand the internal memory. For example, the Nintendo Switch accepts up to 2TB microSDHC or microSDXC card.
Can I use my existing game library with these products?
These devices work like any other computer device allowing you to use the major clients such as Steam, Epic Games store and, Microsoft Store. Logging into these will give you access to your previously purchased titles.
If we had to pick one handheld from our best Steam Deck alternatives list (and we do), we think the Aya Neo deserves that spot. It has the specs to really push the boundaries of gaming on the go, exceeding the currently unreleased Steam Deck.
The Ryzen 5 chip coupled with the opinion of a 1TB NVMe drive really does elevate the Aya Neo and you’ll certainly be able to experience the difference when comparing it to any other option on the market. Yes, it is far more expensive but for all this raw power, the price more than suffices.