The gloves are off in the handheld gaming PC battleground these days. Valve's Steam Deck arguably paved the way for this section of the market to gain mainstream acceptance, but it wasn't the first challenger – and it certainly won't be the last, either. We've had several companies release powerful portable computers in recent years, with Aya Neo being perhaps the most prolific.
However, ASUS is getting in on the act with its ROG Ally device, and we have fringe rivals like OneXPlayer, which has just released its second take on the handheld gaming PC concept. Does this Switch-style machine have what it takes to take away market share from its competitors? We're about to find out.
OneXPlayer 2 Review: Design & Screen
There's no getting around it – the OneXPlayer 2 really does give off strong Switch vibes. Any system that sports detachable controllers is going to do that, we guess – but in the case of this particular system, they don't make quite as much sense as they do on Nintendo's best-selling hybrid and end up feeling a little bit like a gimmick.
That's because, when removed from the main body of the system, the controllers don't actually do anything on their own. There's no internal battery, and they lack motion control. So why bother? Well, OneXPlayer is also selling an optional controller dock into which the two controllers slot, turning it into a stand-alone pad. That actually makes a lot of sense, given that the system has a Switch-style kickstand, but it's odd that the controller dock isn't included in the box.
Outside of that, the OneXPlayer 2 makes a pretty solid first impression. The boxy design makes it look like a Switch on steroids, and it's twice as heavy as Nintendo's console, but what you're getting is a much more powerful platform – not to mention a positively huge 8-inch, 2560 x 1600 IPS screen. It's not an OLED panel, but it's still very, very impressive. In fact, even after a few days of use, it's still the most appealing element of the entire machine. Of course, such a big display means a big footprint, and the OneXPlayer 2 might be a little too large for some people.
The usual button inputs can be expected on the OneXPlayer 2's controllers, but the device also has a series of buttons across its top edge – one of which triggers the system's turbo mode for improved performance. Naturally, that comes at the expense of battery life, so this should only be deployed in extreme circumstances, or when you've got the device connected to a power outlet.
Also on the top edge, you'll find a USB-C port, USB-A port and MicroSD card slot, as well as a 3.5mm headphone socket. There's no HDMI-out port, so you'll need to use the aforementioned USB-C port to connect to an external screen. There doesn't seem to be any dedicated docking solution available for this machine, either, but you should be able to use a third-party option just fine.
An optional magnetic keyboard was included with our review unit, and this effectively transforms the OneXPlayer 2 into a desktop computer. The keyboard is nice to use, if a little cramped, but the trackpad feels far too small, so we'd recommend using a proper mouse if you intend to use this as a computer as well as a gaming machine.
OneXPlayer 2 Review: Performance & Battery Life
The OneXPlayer 2 is powered by an AMD Ryzen 6800U chipset, the same one found inside the Aya Neo Air Plus. What that means is you're getting a seriously potent piece of gaming equipment which is more than capable of running AAA PC games at HD+ resolutions without in the way of performance hitches. The Steam Deck is pretty good at this kind of thing, but there's often a compromise involved; the resolution isn't full HD and not every game runs as well as you might think. While the OneXPlayer 2 isn't plain sailing by any means, it's remarkable how well most modern-era games run on this thing.
Of course, that comes with a cost – battery life. Despite the fact that the OneXPlayer 2 is rocking a massive 65.8W / 17100mAh battery, you're looking at around two hours of playtime if you run this baby at full tilt. If you're performing less demanding tasks, then you'll naturally be able to make a single charge last much longer.
OneXPlayer 2 Review: Software & Emulation
The OneXPlayer 2 ships with Windows 11, so it will basically act like a standard PC. That means you can install anything you'd typically install on a laptop or desktop, making it a powerful crossover device for those who like to game on the move but also want something they can use for admin tasks, video streaming or even work.
As we've previously noted in our reviews of the Aya Neo Air and Air Plus, this is a huge strength but also a notable weakness; Windows 11 isn't designed to be interacted with via a touchscreen, and navigating the UI is often an exercise in frustration.
Sure, some apps – like Steam – will allow you to switch to a more finger-friendly interface, but for the most part, it feels like you need to use a mouse to get the most out of the OneXPlayer's Windows UI. The Steam Deck, on the other hand, is built around Steam's 'Big Picture' mode, which is a breeze to move around using either touch or physical controls. In the Time Extension office, we often refer to this as being a 'frictionless' experience – something that other handheld gaming PCs almost always fail at.
As you might imagine, emulation is one area that is of particular interest to us here at Time Extension. The 6800U chipset means the OneXPlayer 2 is a complete and utter beast when it comes to emulating classic systems; it can pretty much replicate the performance of any system up to and including the Wii U (and it can run Switch games, too). PS3 and Xbox 360 emulation isn't quite as advanced as it is for 8, 16 and 32-bit systems and the development community is still ironing out the kinks, but nonetheless, it's hard not to come away thoroughly impressed by how well the OneXPlayer 2 imitates these consoles. Alongside the more compact Aya Neo Air Plus, this is perhaps the best option for 'on-the-go' emulation right now.
OneXPlayer 2 Review: Conclusion
The OneXPlayer 2's display and raw power are unquestionably its key selling points; the 8-inch screen is a marvel and gives AAA games that big-budget feel when playing on the move. AMD's Ryzen 6800U chipset is also a monster when it comes to performance levels, allowing you to enjoy modern-era PC games on the go and emulate a wide range of systems with little compromise.
On the downside, the battery life is pretty poor, but this is a common complaint with these portable gaming PCs. The Switch-style controllers also seem like something of an afterthought, as they only work with the controller dock – which wasn't included in the box of our review unit. It's also impossible to escape the fact that Windows 11 simply wasn't designed with this kind of product in mind, and some form of touch-friendly UI would be a much better idea. Aya Neo has tried this with its Aya Space app, with mixed results.
The final stumbling block – and again, this applies to many other systems of this kind – is the price. You're looking at well over $1,000 to pick up the base model, which will put this out of reach for most casual players – which is a shame because, for all of its faults, the OneXPlayer 2 does portable AAA gaming very well indeed.
Thanks to OneXPlayer for sending us the review unit used in this piece.