Why Aya Neo 2's Better Hardware May Not Be Enough To Take On The Steam Deck

Handheld gaming has never seen a dull moment in the recent past, with brands such as Nintendo and Sony striving to make the experience as close as possible to their full-sized consoles. PC games, however, have always remained outside the scope of dialog because of their demanding requirements. That changed radically with the introduction of cloud gaming services such as NVIDIA GeForce Now and Google Stadia, as well as Windows-powered handheld gaming consoles such as the GPD WIN3. Another manufacturer that has earned itself respect in the segment of handheld gaming gizmos is AYA, which is now launching two new AMD Ryzen-powered handheld gaming PCs capable of giving the Steam Deck a run for its money — but will they?

AYA introduced three new devices for handheld PC gaming — the AYA Neo 2, the AYA Neo Slide, and the AYA Neo Air. While the Neo Air is essentially the equivalent of Nintendo Switch Lite with better features, the Neo 2 and the Neo Slide are the superheroes in the house.

Specs that smash competition

The Neo 2 and the Neo Slide are powered by the Ryzen 7 6800U APU, built on AMD's Zen 3 Plus architecture. The APU also features an integrated Radeon 680M integrated GPU supporting RDNA 2 graphics.

The Ryzen 6800U has eight cores with a base clock speed of 2.7 GHz and turbo speeds up to 4.7 GHz. The processor is part of the new Ryzen 6000 series mobile processors announced in January 2022. The Zen 3 Plus architecture is built on a 6 nm process. In addition, the processor also supports novel features, including PCIe 4.0, USB 4, Wi-FI 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, LPDDR5-6400 RAM, and Display Port 2.

Meanwhile, the Radeon 680M iGPU features 12 CUs (compute units) clocked at up to 2.4 GHz. It is one of the fastest integrated mobile GPUs available in 2022 and provides great performance when playing AAA titles at low settings. With all this up its sleeve, AYA may be positioned well to take on Valve, which sells the Steam Deck for a similar purpose. 

Compared to the AYA Neo 2 and the Neo Slide, the custom AMD Aerith APU on the Steam Deck has four cores to offer and a less powerful GPU with only eight compute units that are clocked at 1.6 GHz. The more powerful hardware gives AYA Neo 2 and the Neo Slide an undisputed advantage over Steam Deck.

Steam Deck — AYA's biggest challenge to success

Despite its more powerful hardware — and an attractive slide-out form factor on the AYA Neo Slide — the new offerings from AYA may have some trouble toppling the Steam Deck from its favorable position. One primary reason AYA may struggle is it'll be taking on one of the biggest names in gaming: Valve has created some of the most memorable PC games in recent history, and Steam is one of the most massively lucrative marketplaces for games.

The second obstacle in front of the AYA hardware could be its exorbitant pricing. While the Steam Deck can be bought for as low as $399, AYA's previous models, such as the AYA Neo, the AYA Neo Pro, and the Neo Next, cost upwards of $1,000. The company has not announced the prices of the new models but expecting these handheld gaming devices to earn a price in the same ballpark as the Steam Deck would be incomprehensible. AYA has yet to announce other details about the availability of the devices, but it says they will be available later in 2022.

The last reason to doubt AYA's chances of questioning Steam Deck's authority is subjective, but many of you might relate. Unlike the Steam Deck, which runs a custom Steam UI optimized for easy browsing, downloading, and launching games from Steam, the AYA Neo 2 runs Windows and a custom games launcher called AYA Space. The lack of familiarity with AYA's interface could also play a role in repelling consumers away from the otherwise muscular hardware.