The AYN Loki Takes Aim at the Steam Deck and Starts at $299

Now you're playing with handheld power!

As time marches forward, computers get smaller and smaller. At the beginning, a computer could take up an entire room. But now? You can put a computer in your hand. Eventually, the computers will be so small we won’t be able to see them. The computers will be in our cereals, our water. Until then, though, some companies are trying to get great gaming performance in a thing the size of a Switch Lite.

AYN, makers of the Odin emulation handheld series of devices, recently announced Loki – a portable Windows handheld that will start at $299. The product will come in… arguably too many SKUs. Below is the jpeg that they shared, explaining the different variants of the Loki.

This is just a smattering of numbers and letters, so let’s break it down. The cheapest model, coming in at $299, will have an Intel Alder Lake U processor. Chips like these usually power cheap laptops that you’d find at Walmart or Target, but those chips have gotten pretty good over the last year or so. The Intel unit will be the most hamstrung on storage, though, with only 64gb available. AYN has not yet confirmed whether or not the storage will be expandable or user replaceable.

The more interesting devices (to me, anyway) are the ones running the AMD Ryzen 6000U series chips. These chips are APUs (accelerated processing unit), which means that they have a CPU and a GPU on the same chip. Home consoles like the Switch, PS5, and Xbox Series run on purpose built APUs from AMD and Nvidia. While there aren’t very many 6000U series chips on the market currently, performance out of them is kind of incredible – YouTuber ETA Prime was able to run Forza Horizon 5 at Low settings at a frame rate of ~90. Games like Fortnite ran in the low hundreds, and even taxing games like God of War (2018) maintained a solid 30-40fps without any specific optimization.

The Steam Deck starts at $399 and features a custom AMD Ryzen APU and folks love it. Our own Steven Strom has described it as their “Final Fantasy XIV machine.” Putting gaming PC performance in a handheld has been a gambit that manufacturers have been chasing for years. The silicon has finally caught up, and now devices like these are possible. These price points and performance per dollar numbers could also give us a window into what shape the long rumored Nintendo Switch Pro will take. If AYN, a company that you had never heard of prior to this article, is able to get performance like this then a company of Nintendo’s scale should be able to further iterate the handheld gaming space, as they did when they released the original Switch in 2017.

Pre-orders for the AYN Loki begin on their website at 9pm ET tomorrow, June 1st. People who pre-order will get a free carrying case. AYN is not the only player in this space either, with AYA recently announcing their AYANEO Air, with a similar price point and chipset.