Aya Neo Next, a great portable gaming PC, is available to order now

the Aya Neo Nexta powerful portable gaming PC, launched its crowdfunding campaign and you can get a discount by ordering during the campaign. If you’ve been following the boom in the handheld market, you may have heard of the Aya Neo. Earlier this year, I reviewed the Aya Neo Pro, a device that reached the hands of Indiegogo contributors just a few months ago. Although the Aya Neo Pro was and still is quite impressive, I mentioned in my review that a revamped version of the Aya Neo was on the horizon. I’ve now had a chance to check out the Aya Neo Next ahead of its launch next month, and can confidently say that if you’re interested in the Aya Neo brand, the Next is the version to go for.

The Aya Neo Next is more of an iteration of the existing Pro and 2021 models than an all-new handheld. It still shares the same core DNA, as a Windows laptop with an AMD mobile processor and integrated Radeon Vega graphics. If you already have the Aya Neo Pro, skip to Next Probably doesn’t make much sense. If the Next included a 6000-series processor — instead of the 5000-series — that might be a different story, but as it stands, the Next looks more like the definitive version of the company’s original move. in the portable PC gaming market.

It might seem odd that a new Aya handheld would launch just a few months after its predecessors, but if you think about it from a PC gaming perspective – where minor component upgrades are regularly released – it has to be. senses. Even though this is an iterative upgrade, the Aya Neo Next boasts significant build improvements and moderate performance improvements.

To note: For a more in-depth look at the features of the Aya Neo, check out our Reviews on Aya Neo Pro. This article aims to detail the improvements found in the Next.

Outstanding ergonomics

The Aya Neo Next has a stellar form factor. Despite the fact that the handheld is quite heavy compared to consumer devices like the Switch, the Next is the most comfortable portable gaming device I’ve ever owned. With subtle curvatures and rounded grips along the back to mimic a conventional gamepad, holding the Next feels completely natural. It’s like playing on a Switch with a fitted grip attached. Previous Aya Neo models were flat at the back and had more angled edges. The rear of the Next has a rubberized, grippy feel. Where I thought these models were comfortable, the Next takes it to the next level. The handheld is available in many color combinations, including pastel blue, midnight blue, jet black, bright white, and silver (the one I tested).

The stellar feel extends to the handheld’s controls, including the triggers and analog sticks. Much wider and beefier than the Pro’s, the triggers look like pockets for your fingers to rest comfortably in. The analog sticks also help in the ergonomics department, as they’re taller and raised than the Switch-style analog sticks found on the 2021 and Pro models. I found the sticks to be more accurate and have a finer range of motion, while the triggers were more responsive to light pulls, which is useful in a wide variety of games.

The Aya Neo Next uses Hall effect sensors.
The Aya Neo Next uses Hall effect sensors.

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Triggers and sticks are actually quite new in design. The Next is the first portable game console to use “Hall Effect” sensors. The analog sticks and triggers have magnetic systems, which means the components don’t physically rub against each other when in use. In this sense, Hall effect components are not subject to normal wear. In theory, this should limit any possibility of drift or other unwanted errors that are prevalent in many modern controllers, including Switch Joy-Cons. As we only tested the Next for a few dozen hours, we can’t really comment on the longevity and durability of the components, but they are built to last. With Hall sensors, the sticks have a modular design, so it is possible to swap them out according to your preferences. Out of the box, the Next has concave grips, similar to Xbox controllers.

The Next has slight differences elsewhere in terms of design. The various menu and setting buttons have been reduced from eight to four. On the right side there are two unlabeled buttons. The larger one displays a quick menu for Aya Space, a proprietary software that allows you to manage your games and experience like a real game console. Aya Space is available on all Aya Neo models, but the Next has it pre-installed . The smaller empty button offers a one-click option to exit Windows, which is handy on a PC like this. I don’t think all the buttons, such as Xbox Game Bar, on the Aya Neo Pro were particularly needed, and the Next has a cleaner, less cluttered look by removing some of them.

The Next’s power button doubles as a fingerprint sensor for login, which is a neat little feature. The sensor works fine as long as it’s not smudged, but there were a few times I had to wipe it down for it to register. You can still enter your Microsoft password or use a one-time PIN to unlock the device as well. The volume buttons and headphone jack are, like on the Aya Neo Pro, located next to the power button. The Next only has two USB-C ports, one less than previous Aya Neo models. It’s a little disappointing, but it will only make a difference if you plug multiple devices into the device at once.

Improved performance

As mentioned, the Aya Neo Next offers moderate performance improvements over its predecessors. The model I tested has an AMD Ryzen 7 5800U processor and Radeon Vega 8 graphics card, while the Pro has a Ryzen 7 4800U processor and Vega 6 graphics card. noted in my Aya Neo Pro review that the difference between the Pro and the base 2021 model was negligible from a performance standpoint. Next’s performance improvements, on the other hand, are certainly noticeable.

Without tinkering with TDP or fine-tuning visual settings in games, I was able to get noticeably higher frame rates and better fidelity with the Next than the Pro. And with a few settings tweaks, most games I tried ran around 60fps or higher, including Grand Theft Auto V, Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Psychonauts 2, Forza Horizon 5, and the Tomb Raider trilogy. Some outliers included Control and Halo Infinite, which hovered in the high 30s while still being playable. Finding the right balance between frames per second and visual fidelity is both unique to each game and to the person playing it. And if you increase the TDP, at the expense of battery life, you can get even better results.

Aya Space gives the Next a console-like user interface
Aya Space gives the Next a console-like user interface

Since the Aya Neo’s 7-inch IPS display maxes out at 1280x800p, the GPU doesn’t need to work as hard as it would for 1080p or 4K resolutions. This, in turn, leaves more room for the GPU to work on texture rendering and smooth gaming performance. The Next uses the same screen panel found in previous Aya Neo models, which is perfectly fine given this is a beautiful display. You don’t get high-end graphics features like ray tracing, but many games still look great on Next’s screen. Keep in mind that you can connect the Next to a monitor or TV and enjoy higher resolutions, but performance suffers naturally.

While the Next is more of a natural step forward in performance from the Aya Neo brand rather than a giant leap forward, minor improvements in frame rate and visual settings can add up to make a punchy difference. This is the case here.

Prices and models

I tested the Aya Neo Next Advance, which has a 5800U processor and 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage. The standard Next will have a slightly better 5825U processor, and the Next Pro will have the 5825U processor and 32GB of RAM instead of 16GB. Prices range from $1,265 to $1,565, and you save money by ordering when the crowdfunding campaign starts.

The Aya Neo Next is available in a variety of color combinations
The Aya Neo Next is available in a variety of color combinations

Yes, all Aya Neo models are expensive, but given that the Next is only slightly more expensive than the Pro (which starts at $1,215), the Next range is the ideal choice between the two. The significantly revised form factor and performance improvements are worth it. If you’re looking for a portable Windows PC, the Aya Neo Next is your best out-of-the-box bet. Of course, Valve’s Steam Deck is about to be released, and it’s definitely a more budget-friendly option.

Characteristics

Aya Neo Next Advance Aya Neo Next Aya Neo Next Pro
CPU AMD Ryzen 7 5800U AMD Ryzen 7 5825U AMD Ryzen 7 5825U
GPUs Radeon Vega 8 Radeon Vega 8 Radeon Vega 8
RAM 16 GB 16 GB 32 GB
Storage room 2TB 1 TB or 2 TB 2TB
Resolution 1280×800 1280×800 1280×800
To display 7 inch IPS touch screen 7 inch IPS touch screen 7 inch IPS touch screen
Battery life 2-5 hours 2-5 hours 2-5 hours
Ports USB-C x2 USB-C x2 USB-C x2
Price $1,345 at launch / $1,465 $1,265 to $1,465 $1,465 (at launch) / $1,565

Steven Petite tested the Aya Neo Next for over 30 hours. Aya Neo provided an example unit.

Robert P. Miller