The Ayaneo 2S is a great gaming handheld with enough power to play most games on the go and more generous spec options than most of its rivals. But it’s difficult to recommend when the software has so many issues and the ROG Ally delivers a similar experience at a lower price point.
- Great gaming performance
- Bright and detailed display
- Comfortable and classy design
- Generous storage configurations
- Overpriced compared to rivals
- Poor battery life
- Undercooked software
- Powered by AMD Ryzen 7 7840U:By using a chip designed for laptops, this is one of most powerful gaming haldhelds you can find.
- 7-inch 1200p display:Features a pixel-packed display for sharp picture quality, as well as a high screen brightness.
- Hall sensing joysticks: The use of magnets in the joystick prevents drifting as found on the Nintendo Switch controller.
The Ayaneo 2S is yet another handheld gaming PC that’s looking to take advantage of an emerging trend kickstarted by the Steam Deck back in 2022.
While this new market has so far been dominated by established heavy hitters such as Asus, Lenovo and Valve, Ayaneo sticks out from the crowd as a Chinese start-up company that was only founded in 2020.
Can the Ayaneo 2S outmuscle the heavyweights? Here are my thoughts.
- Classy glass coating adds a bit of heft
- Comfortable to hold for extended sessions
- Integrated fingerprint reader
The Ayaneo 2S has the same basic design principles as other gaming handhelds, with a 7-inch screen sandwiched between two controller pads.
However, while most handheld gaming PCs typically opt for a plastic coating, Ayeaneo has instead slapped a glass sheet to the front of the device. This not only makes the Ayaneo 2S look and feel a classy portable, but also adds extra protection to the screen. I’ve previously criticised the plasticky ROG Ally for feeling a little cheap, and this is an elegant solution.
The downside to this is that it increases the weight of the portable. At 667g, the Ayaneo 2S is noticeably heavier than the ROG Ally (608g) despite being shorter and thinner. I personally don’t think the added heft is enough to be problematic, as I still played on it for hours without noticing any aches or strains on my arms.
The rear of the Ayaneo 2S is draped in a smooth plastic, with the grips comfortable to hold, with nothing digging into my palms as I play. There is a huge vent on the rear designed to expel heat, while you’ll find another exhaust at the top.
Ayaneo has added glow-up rings around the analogue stick, which helpfully flash red when battery life is low. Otherwise, I can’t help but feel that the Ayaneo 2S looks a little basic, lacking the extra touches to give it more personality. The Ayaneo 2S at least has multiple colour options, including Black, White and a few special editions such as Retro Power that’s inspired by the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console.
The power button can be found on the top, and it also has a fingerprint sensor embedded with support for Windows Hello. A volume switcher is positioned right next to it, which is a little too close for my liking as I’ve accidentally put the portable into standby multiple times.
There’s a good selection of ports, with 3x USB-C, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a TF card slot for expanded storage that supports speeds up to 300MB/s. Ayaneo generously bundles in two USB-C to USB-A adapters too, just in case you want to hook up an old keyboard or mouse.
The Ayaneo 2S supports all of the latest wireless standards, including Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.
- Same layout as an Xbox controller
- Lacks trackpads like the Steam Deck
- Tweakable joystick and trigger sensitivity
On the surface, the controls for the Ayaneo 2S look unremarkable. On the front it has the exact same button layout and positioning as the ROG Ally, although this makes perfect sense, as both are trying to mimic the controls of an Xbox controller for convenience.
This includes an analogue stick on either side, a D-Pad and 4-front facing buttons. Ayaneo has decided against including trackpads like the Steam Deck, which I personally find disappointing as it makes you reliant on the touchscreen for Windows and is harder to navigate games such as Football Manager.
Up top you have shoulder buttons and triggers, as well additional LC and RC buttons that act as Macro keys which you can assign secondary commands to. However, these buttons are extremely small and a little awkward to reach.
One aspect I really like about the Ayaneo 2S is the use of hall sensing joysticks and hall triggers. This means they use magnets to trigger inputs rather than a physical mechanism, eradicating the annoying joy-stick drift phenomenon and reducing the delay between input and on-screen action. You can even adjust the sensitivity of the joysticks and triggers.
You’re also able to tweak the level of vibration. I appreciated this feature, especially in games such as Horizon Zero Dawn where you can feel the pull of a bowstring and earth-shuddering stomps of a dinosaur. That said, the vibrations aren’t as precise as what you’ll find on a PlayStation DualSense or Nintendo Joy-Con.
- 7-inch screen with 1200p resolution
- High brightness results in vivid picture
- Poor speakers
The Ayaneo 2S sports a 7-inch IPS screen, with no bezel outlining the panel. This creates the illusion that it’s bigger than the screen on the ROG Ally panel, despite sharing the same dimensions.
I’m a little dismayed that there’s no OLED screen here considering the high price, but the high 540-nit brightness that I recorded nevertheless ensures a vivid panel, resulting in one of the best pictures I’ve seen from a gaming handheld.
The high resolution helps, coming in at 1920×1200, which is slightly more pixel-packed than the ROG Ally although is outmatched by the Lenovo Legion Go. I personally don’t think you need a higher resolution than this on a handheld gaming device.
The colour coverage is superb coming in at 97% for the sRGB profile. This results in naturally realistic colours whether you’re gawking at the autumnal leaves in Horizon Zero Dawn or the bright red suits of Spider-Man.
The refresh rate is disappointingly limited to 60Hz, which is a great shame compared to the 120Hz panel of the ROG Ally. You could argue that the performance isn’t quite good enough to make use of such speeds, but it’s still nevertheless an advantage for the more affordable Asus system.
The speakers are a big disappointment, as they are really quiet and easily drowned out by loud background noise. Detail is really lacking here, with the crackling of a fire sounding muffled and the boom of a grenade hollow. It’s almost essential that you use a gaming headset instead.
- Similar performance to ROG Ally
- Up to 64GB RAM and 4TB SSD
- Becomes hot in Game Mode
The Ayaneo 2S is all about power, boasting an even better performance than both the Steam Deck and ROG Ally, although the advantage over the latter isn’t quite enough to justify the price difference.
The AMD Ryzen 7 7840U processor powers the portable. This chip is normally found inside laptops, such as the Acer Swift Edge 16, instead of handhelds which is rather odd. The Asus ROG Ally uses a Ryzen Z1 Extreme chip instead, which offers the same specs, but has improved power optimisations.
The Ayaneo 2S sees a slight performance advantage over the ROG Ally in every single benchmark I used, with both systems set to the highest performance setting.
However, that extra power isn’t substantial enough to make a big difference to the gaming performance. Using the in-game benchmark test of several games, there was only usually up to a 3fps advantage to the Ayaneo 2S at a 1080p resolution.
Just like the ROG Ally, the Ayaneo 2S generally offers a 10fps to 15fps performance advantage over the Steam Deck so is undoubtedly more powerful. But it’s important to remember the base Steam Deck costs just $399 compared to the $1139 official retail price of the Ayaneo 2S.
The Ayaneo 2S bests its rivals when it comes to configuration options though, with a more generous offering of memory and storage: up to 64GB RAM and up to 4TB SSD.
The extra storage sure won’t come cheap though. A 2TB Ayaneo 2S costs a whopping $1499 and 4TB is a staggering $1999. Ouch. I can’t criticise the SSD speeds though, with a 4832MB/s read and 4375MB/s write speed ensuring snapping loading times.
On the Balanced performance mode, I didn’t encounter any real thermal issues. That changed once I cranked up the performance to Game Mode to eke out every drop of power. This causes the rear of the Ayaneo 2S to become noticeably warm, even on the grip areas I was holding. It’s the same story with the fans, which only kick up a fuss on the highest performance mode, but still aren’t loud enough to prove too distracting.
- Run on Windows 11
- Software is fiddly to use
- Lacks features compared to rivals
The Ayaneo 2S runs on Windows 11, which means you can access any PC library that your desktop computer or laptop can. It’s an absolute pain navigating Windows with the 7-inch touchscreen though, with typing passwords on the digital keyboard proving particularly irksome.
The use of Windows does give the Ayaneo 2S a slight advantage over the Steam Deck in terms of accessing third-party software. For example, it’s a lot easier to stream Game Pass and GeForce Now, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend the Ayaneo 2S for browsing the web or watching videos – navigation is simply too clunky.
Ayaneo has pre-installed its own app called AYASpace, which automatically loads up when you power on the portable. This software attempts to streamline the process of booting up games and tweaking settings. However, it doesn’t really work as intended, as selecting a game will usually just kick me onto the Windows desktop anyway to sign into my Steam account.
The software’s Assistant doesn’t have as many tweakable features as I hoped. You can alter the sensitivity of the joy-stick and triggers, select a performance mode and map buttons, but not much else.
After an automatic update, the AYASpace reverted to the Chinese language setting, and so I needed to use an online guide to revert it back to English. It’s issues like this that make the software on the Ayaneo 2S feel like a work in progress, and certainly nowhere near the standard of accessible, polished operating systems on the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch.
- Lasts around 100 minutes for AAA games
- Up to 4-hour battery life with less demanding games
Battery life is the biggest issue for every PC gaming handheld I’ve reviewed so far. I was optimistic that the Ayaneo 2S would beat that trend, with a large 50.25Wh cell seeing a greater capacity than the 40Wh ROG Ally and Steam Deck.
Sadly it wasn’t to be, with the Ayaneo 2S lasting just 100 minutes on Horizon Zero Dawn with the performance set to Balanced Mode, and 70 minutes on Game Mode. That’s slightly better than the ROG Ally’s stamina, but only by an additional 10 minutes.
Battery life will differ depending on which game you play. When running Stardew Valley on Balanced Mode for an hour, the battery only depleted by 24%, indicating a stamina of up to 4 hours. But don’t expect to extend battery life even further than this, no matter which game you pick.
Despite having a larger battery capacity than the ROG Ally, I assume the chip inside the Ayaneo 2S is less power efficient. That’s the trade-off for using a processor specifically designed for a laptop instead of gaming handheld.
Overall, battery life is poor on the Ayaneo 2S. With the Nintendo Switch OLED lasting 5 hours with Metroid Dread and up to 9 hours for less demanding games, it’s the far safer option for plane and train journeys.
Should you buy it?
You want a handheld PC with lots of storage:
If you’re prepared to spend a lot of money, you can buy the Ayaneo 2S with up to 4TB of SSD storage, which is far more generous than the 512GB limit from rival systems.
You want best value for money:
The Ayaneo 2S is a lot more expensive than the ROG Ally, despite offering few (if any) major upgrades over it.
I’ve enjoyed using the Ayaneo 2S. It offers a great performance, a lovely 1200p screen and more configuration options than any of its rivals. Battery life is poor, but I’ve still enjoyed playing AAA games on this portable, some of which the Steam Deck struggles to run.
It’s impossible to ignore that outrageously high starting price of $1139 though, which is significantly more expensive than the £699/$699.99 ROG Ally with an almost identical level of performance. It’s difficult to see where the Ayaneo 2S justifies that extra cost.
That said, the Ayaneo 2S does boast a great selection of configuration options for memory and storage if you’re prepared to spend even more.
How we test
We test gaming handhelds by playing a variety of different games at different graphics settings, while checking the average frame rate either via in-game benchmarks or an FPS overlay.
We also conducted various battery tests by playing games for long stretches of time, trying out a variety of graphics settings to determine whether they made an impact.
Spent 2 weeks with the Ayaneo 2S
Tested the battery life with games
Used Horizon Zero Dawn, Dirt Rally, Cyberpunk 2077, Returnal and F1 22 to evaluate performance.
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The Ayaneo 2S has a higher performance ceiling, especially with a more generous range of configurations. But our testing showed there to be a minimal difference to gaming performance compared to the ROG Ally.
Yes, there’s no doubt that the Ayaneo 2S is more powerful than a Steam Deck. Expect around a 10fps to 15fps boost in the Ay