The handheld gaming systems are currently on trend due to the success of devices like the Nintendo Switch and improved processors. There is a wide range of options available, from a $100 emulation machine to a $700 portable PC, making it confusing to choose the best gaming handheld suitable for you. Among the top-tier options are x86-based portable gaming PCs like the Steam Deck or ASUS ROG Ally. These are the most powerful handhelds and can emulate a wide range of retro consoles. However, they are larger, cumbersome, and expensive.
Mobile handhelds like the Logitech G Cloud or Retroid Pocket are more affordable, ranging from under $50 to $400-ish. They can be used for mobile games, cloud streaming, or to emulate classic games through software like RetroArch. They can generally emulate games into the sixth generation of consoles.
The last tier includes handhelds like the Switch or Playdate which run customized software and provide a unique gaming experience. They are not ideal for emulation or playing the latest multiplatform titles but offer distinct game libraries.
The Valve Steam Deck, priced at $399 (OLED) and $549 (LCD) is considered the best handheld gaming PC for most people. It offers a bright OLED display, efficient AMD APU, larger battery, and longer gaming hours. The device is heavier and pricier but offers good performance and the flexibility to access other storefronts for game variety.
For a Windows-based handheld, the ASUS ROG Ally is recommended for its higher performance and frame rates but comes with an increased price tag of $700. It can play more demanding games at higher frame rates and resolutions.
In conclusion, the best handheld gaming system depends on your budget, gaming preferences, and desired gaming experience. Many options are available with varying features, performance, and prices, making it essential to research and test the available contenders before making a purchase.