AYANEO is famous for its line of well-built and powerful handheld PCs, but it has recently announced an initiative which expands its range into products such as desktop PCs, power banks and even Game Boy-style Android portables.
The AYANEO Retro Mini PC AM01 is the first release in the company's 'Remake' line of retro-inspired products and takes inspiration from the iconic design of the 1984 Apple Macintosh. It's small, expandable and costs as little as $199 – but is it worth a look? Let's find out...
AYANEO Retro Mini PC AM01 Review: Available Configurations
The AYANEO Retro Mini PC AM01 comes in two basic configurations – one powered by the AMD Ryzen 3 3200U chipset and another packing the AMD Ryzen 7 5700U.
The Ryzen 3 3200U version starts at $199 (8GB RAM / 256GB storage) and tops out at $259 (16GB RAM / 512GB storage).
The Ryzen 7 5700U model can be picked up in a 'barebone' format which lacks RAM and storage for $259, and goes all the way up to $459 (32GB RAM / 1TB storage).
If you pre-order via IndieGoGo now, you can get a nice discount on those prices – for example, the high-spec Ryzen 7 model is $379 with 'early bird' pricing and then $419 after the first 100 units have sold.
AYANEO Retro Mini PC AM01 Review: Specifications
|AMD RyzenTM 7 5700U
|AMD RyzenTM 3 3200U
256 / 512GB
WIFI 5 / BT 4.2 | M.2 2230
|12V 6A / 7A (Depending on model)
|132 x 132 x 60.5mm (including feet 64.5mm)
|Standard edition: 486g / Bare system: 466g
|Windows 11 64 Bit Home Edition / Bare System
AYANEO Retro Mini PC AM01 Review: Design & Expansion
AYANEO's Remake range is all about referencing the classics, and the AM01 kicks things off with an appealing case design which calls to mind the legendary Apple Mac from the '80s.
The friendly cream exterior even has a fake screen which mimics the built-in display of Apple's seminal all-in-one desktop machine. It doesn't actually do anything, but you can customise it with stickers if you're so inclined, and the 'logo' is a tiny plastic tab held in with a magnet, which can likewise be swapped out according to your personal preference (three alternative tabs were included with our review unit).
While it's supposed to look like the classic Mac, the AM01 is best used 'lying on its back', so to speak. This is because the various ports – of which there are a surprising number – are all located on what would be the top and bottom of the unit if it were used in the traditional upright 'Apple Mac' manner.
On the 'bottom' edge, there's a USB-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack, while on the 'top' edge, you'll find a dazzling array of options, including an Ethernet port, x3 USB-A 3.2 ports, x1 USB-A (2.0) port, HDMI-out (2.0), DisplayPort (1.4) and a power socket.
That's a lot of connectivity, which we found to be very useful indeed during our time with the device. WiFi and Bluetooth are also included as standard, allowing you to connect to the internet and pair up other devices, if you'd rather not take the wired route.
As you might expect, pairing devices with the AM01 is just as easy as it is with a traditional PC. We used a combination of keyboards and controllers and found that the 8BitDo Retro Mechanical Keyboard was a good match, given the vintage vibe of the AM01. Likewise, the 8BitDo SN30 and 8BitDo Neo Geo Wireless Controller worked really well. For more recent gaming, we used the 8BitDo Ultimate Controller, as it has a 2.4G adapter for low latency and offers all of the interface options for playing modern-day games.
The AM01's design is certainly one of its most appealing attributes; it's small and light enough to be carried around, which is not something you can say for many desktop PCs. Furthermore, it's adorable to look at, so if you're keen to have a good-looking but compact workspace, this mini marvel really does score highly.
AYANEO is keen to point out that, despite its diminutive size, the AM01 is expandable and customisable. It's a bit of a faff, but you can replace the memory and WiFi card if you wish, as well as install a larger SSD or SATA drive (you have to pretty much entirely disassemble the unit, but seasoned PC users will be used to that).
AYANEO Retro Mini PC AM01 Review: Software
The unit we were sent is running Windows 11 and comes with a pretty clean install. In fact, the only really notable presence AYANEO has on the AM01 in terms of software is its AYASpace launcher, which pulls together all of your installed games and allows you to control aspects of the AM01's performance, such as changing the total power consumption or altering the speed of the internal fan.
This is the same launcher that comes installed on the company's handheld PCs and betrays its portable origins by using UI language that assumes you're playing on a portable device and not a desktop computer.
AYASpace still feels a little half-baked, despite a recent update, and you never feel like it performs as well as dedicated launchers, such as Steam or even Epic Game Store. You'll almost certainly minimize it (or turn it off altogether), as it often feels like it gets in the way.
However, it's pretty vital when it comes to managing things like the TPD and frame rate limits, so you'll still need to drop back into it from time to time to fine-tune things.
AYANEO Retro Mini PC AM01 Review: Performance
Both the Ryzen 3 3200U and Ryzen 7 5700U can hardly be described as cutting-edge silicon in today's market (even the more powerful of the pair, the Ryzen 7, is a few years old now), so anyone expecting the kind of slick gaming experience you'd get from a traditional desktop PC is going to be bitterly disappointed here. The maximum TPD of the unit is 35W, and while this can be taken up to a maximum of 54W, to do that, you'll need to invest in a more powerful PSU, as the one supplied won't be up to the job.
Even at 35W TPD, Fortnite only runs at an acceptable click if you drop the resolution down and reduce the graphical settings to 'low' – and even then, it doesn't run smoothly. Elden Ring fares better but still requires you to drop down to at least a 1080p resolution and turn off some graphical effects. Baldur's Gate 3 is a similar story; if you run it on default settings, then the frame rate is disastrous, but compromise on a few details, and it just about becomes playable. When running at its maximum power level, the AM01 generates a lot of heat, and its internal fan is quite noisy.
The AM01 makes much more sense for those looking to explore gaming's history rather than its present. As many people have found with the Steam Deck, AYANEO's mini PC is the ideal way to reacquaint yourself with slightly older titles. Split/Second, for example, runs well, as does Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Vanquish, two of the finest action titles of the past decade or so. Street Fighter V also performs decently. If you're not keen on running the very latest in AAA PC gaming, then you're going to get a lot more joy out of this product. Indie games, which typically come with lower power demands, also play nicely on the AM01.
If you're planning on looking further back into the mists of time, then you're going to get a lot more mileage out of the AM01. This is one seriously adept vintage gaming system, and can run MAME, SNES, PS1 and even PS2 titles – and it's also the perfect platform on which to replay old PC titles, too (we had a blast playing the likes of Lands of Lore and Ultima VII: The Black Gate on this thing).
This focus on retro naturally puts it in competition with the likes of the MiSTer and Raspberry Pi-based devices, or even a dockable handheld like the Steam Deck. The big advantage the AM01 has is that it can also be used as a light-to-middleweight work computer you can carry around with you, as well as a media server – and it also benefits from a larger selection of emulators, as most developers tend to favour Windows-based computers.
AYANEO Retro Mini PC AM01 Review: Conclusion
If you're looking for a compact, good-looking mini PC for a wide range of roles – including lightweight AAA gaming, retro gaming, work and media playback – then the AYANEO Retro Mini PC AM01 is a solid choice.
It might not have the raw processing power to run the likes of Baldur's Gate 3 smoothly at high settings, but it's playable – and as an all-in-one retro box, it benefits massively from the mature state of emulation on Windows-based computers. The fact that it's expandable and customisable adds to the appeal; if you want more storage or a better WiFi card in the future, you have the option to upgrade with the AM01.
The key issue is always going to be price. The unit we've reviewed here costs $459 ($419 if you pre-order it on IndieGoGo), and for that amount of money, you could simply buy a Steam Deck if Steam-based games are your sole focus.
Likewise, if you're a retro enthusiast, then a Raspberry Pi or even Analogue Pocket (which, lest we forget, can be connected to your TV) will cost less and, in many respects, give just as good an experience – if not better. If you're focused on one particular usage case, then the AM01 might not be worth the outlay. Also, unless you're totally focused on old-school gaming, the cheaper Ryzen 3 3200U isn't going to be up to much when it comes to modern-day gaming, so we'd ignore that variant altogether.
However, where this adorable little device excels is in the area of functionality; as a fully-fledged PC, you can use it for a wide range of tasks, making it a solid all-rounder for those who want to dabble in gaming, retro, media and work. It definitely has a place in the market, but whether or not it's a viable platform for you personally all depends on what you want from it.