Ayaneo Kun: Impressive Handheld Gaming

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      In a realm of handheld gaming PCs, Ayaneo stands at the forefront with its impressive array of offerings. The company currently showcases an impressive thirteen different handheld gaming PCs on its homepage, and this figure rises to fourteen if you include the preview in the carousel. Each device boasts a variety of color options, storage capacities, and RAM configurations. It’s evident that Ayaneo is making a significant splash in this market and it’s already discounted to pave the way for its successor.

      At the pinnacle of Ayaneo’s handheld lineup lies the Ayaneo Kun, a powerhouse that’s unmatched in its class. It excels not only as a great gaming handheld but also as a capable general-purpose portable PC. However, despite its cutting-edge specifications and performance, it becomes apparent that the Kun is merely a placeholder for future iterations like the Kun 2, Kun 1S, Kun Pro, or whatever Ayaneo names the beefier, next-generation version, driven by the ever-advancing world of processors. Let’s delve into the reasons behind this observation, but for now, let’s appreciate the excellence of the most advanced console Ayaneo has ever produced.

      Ayaneo Kun: Impressive Handheld Gaming

      The Ayaneo Kun boasts an impressive 8.4-inch display, powered by the latest AMD Ryzen 7 7840U processor, with options for up to 64GB of RAM and a massive 4TB of storage. It outshines its competitors, most notably the Steam Deck, both in terms of specifications and performance. Although it is slightly taller and heftier at two pounds compared to Valve’s offering, it’s crucial to note that comparing the current wave of gaming portables to the Steam Deck is becoming less relevant as the latter approaches its second year in the market. The Kun, with its familiar trackpads and rear buttons, undoubtedly takes cues from the leading device in this space.

      Before we delve into the device’s hardware performance and the software experience, let’s address the elephant in the room – the price. The fully loaded Ayaneo Kun that I’ve been testing carries a hefty price tag of $1,700, which is enough to purchase a high-end desktop gaming PC, including a monitor. To put it in perspective, you could buy two top-tier Steam Decks and still have some change left, or even opt for two high-end ROG Allys. For a more direct comparison, the base model of the Kun, which matches the RAM and storage of the high-end Steam Deck (16GB/512GB), is priced at a more reasonable $999. Keep in mind that if you purchase outside of the IGG campaign, you might need to add another $200 or so to the Kun’s prices, although Ayaneo typically extends these campaigns for a reasonable duration to accommodate potential buyers seeking the discounted price.

      Ayaneo Kun: Impressive Handheld Gaming

      While the Ayaneo Kun is undoubtedly a fresh addition to the market, it carries elements we’ve seen in other devices. For instance, it shares the same AMD Ryzen 7840U processor with the Ayaneo 2S, although one might expect a slight performance drop due to the Kun’s more demanding 8.4-inch display capable of 1600p gaming compared to the 1200p maximum of the Ayaneo 2 or 2S. Surprisingly, playing games at higher resolutions often doesn’t translate into a significant performance boost. Here’s where the Kun’s substantial 75Wh battery comes into play.

      Ayaneo Kun: Impressive Handheld Gaming

      When gaming at 1080p or 1200p, the visual experience remains exceptional. The display is vibrant, offers excellent dynamic range, and truly brings games to life. The combination of optimized graphics settings and the larger battery results in significantly extended gaming sessions. The actual duration may vary based on factors like specific game requirements and the maximum power drain/TDP settings you configure in the Ayaspace software. As a general guideline, lighter games and retro emulation can provide around five hours of play. For many AAA games at 1080p, you can expect over three hours of gameplay, assuming a TDP setting between 15 and 20. If you push the resolution to 1200p or 1600p and increase the TDP closer to 30, you might manage about two hours of gameplay, if you’re lucky.

      These playtimes are commendable in the current landscape of Windows handhelds. However, the Kun’s size and weight make it less suitable for on-the-go gaming. It’s not the device you’d casually slide out of your pocket while waiting in line at the DMV. The Kun thrives in a controlled, indoor environment, whether that’s your home, a friend’s place, or during a long flight or train journey. It does come with a kickstand, which is especially helpful for certain game types, but it only offers an upright position like a laptop screen. While an adjustable stand for various angles would have been a nice addition, it’s certainly better than having none.

      The Kun is good for playing on the couch between work and meals. For longer gaming sessions, docking the device and playing on a larger screen is preferred. This hybrid usage scenario is where the Kun truly shines. It allows you to enjoy gaming without monopolizing the main living room screen, enabling you to be around friends or family while gaming. And when you’re ready for an immersive gaming experience, connecting it to a TV makes use of the Kun’s higher 54W max power drain/TDP setting.

      Ayaneo Kun: Impressive Handheld Gaming

      The Kun’s 54W max TDP is significantly higher than the Steam Deck’s 15W highest power setting and even surpasses the Ayaneo 2S’ 30W limit. However, this power difference doesn’t necessarily translate into substantially improved gaming performance. In most cases, the GPU becomes the bottleneck, often maxing out long before reaching the 54W power draw. Sadly, cranking up the power to 54W once the GPU is already operating at its maximum capacity doesn’t yield any significant changes. Nonetheless, this high TDP setting serves a crucial purpose.

      Firstly, it allows the Kun to handle more CPU-intensive tasks, such as general computing, music production, or on-the-go video editing. With a keyboard and mouse, the Kun can function as a surprisingly versatile all-purpose computer, complete with a built-in webcam equipped with infrared capabilities for Windows Hello and Zoom calls – features that many laptops lack. While the screen size is more reminiscent of a netbook than a MacBook, it’s still adequate, and you can always connect it to an external monitor. While these capabilities aren’t the primary reason to buy the Kun, they highlight the device’s substantial power and potential.

      Secondly, for gamers, the 54W TDP indicates that the Kun’s form factor is well-prepared for the same continuous upgrades and revisions that have characterized Ayaneo’s other models. The Kun is essentially poised to leverage a chipset with a 54W TDP for gaming once AMD or other manufacturers start producing APUs with more potent GPUs. Although we may not see this refresh from AMD in the immediate future, it’s a possibility, and AMD is not the only player in the handheld gaming arena.

      In conclusion, the Ayaneo Kun is a device with a lot to offer, but its appeal is somewhat niche. If you were already interested in such a high-end gaming handheld, chances are you’ve already placed an order for one. For those who didn’t initially consider investing in a $1,000-plus gaming handheld, the Kun may seem like an exercise in excess, but it undeniably delivers a thrilling and impressive experience.

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