The best gaming handheld 2024

The best gaming handheld options have evolved since the early days of the Game Boy, but there's arguably never been a better time to pick up a portable. Not only are we finally at the stage where you properly play PC games using the likes of Valve's Steam Deck, but hybrid solutions like the Nintendo Switch serve as both a mobile machine and a home console. 

Again, times move swiftly, and the best gaming handheld today can do so much more than its ancestor from even a decade ago. Overall, we still think the Switch has an edge in terms of widespread appeal, as everyone can get on board with playing the latest Mario or Pokémon outing during travel. However, there are more options than ever to suit a variety of playstyles and budgets, including powerful handheld gaming PCs and budget emulation devices that'll run the classics with ease.

Before picking up any old device, you should have a think about the games you actually want to play. Whether your backlog lives on Steam, Xbox Game Pass, the Epic Game Store, or Nintendo’s eShop, there aren't many games today that won't run on a portable console or PC. To help you narrow things down, we continually test the best gaming handhelds for your consideration, and you'll find our favorites rounded up below.

The quick list

The best gaming handheld

The best gaming handheld overall

Specifications

CPU: Custom Nvidia Tegra
GPU: Custom Nvidia Tegra
RAM: 4GB LPDDR4
Storage: 32GB
Display: 7-inch OLED, 720p
Battery: 16WHrs
Operating system: Proprietary OS
Size: 102mm x 239mm x 28.7mm
Weight: 297g

Reasons to buy

+
Bigger, more beautiful display
+
New features are great tweaks
+
White colorway is sophisticated

Reasons to avoid

-
Not enough distinguishing features
-
OLED visibility is worse outdoors
-
Still only runs in 720p on handheld, 1080p on TV

Nintendo's mighty console arguably sparked a new era of handheld gaming, and the Nintendo Switch OLED model adds to the terrific formula. It's not the highest spec console by today's standards, and a lot has changed within the console realm since the original's 2017 debut. Nevertheless, it's hard to deny its portable prowess and incredible library, two factors that make it our top on the go system in 2023.

Buy it if:

✅ You want to play Nintendo games: If you're itching to jump around as certain Italian plumber, then the Switch should be your go to handheld of choice. Ninty's library is reason enough to pick up this console, and there's something for everyone within its catalogue. 

✅ You value simplicity: For the most part, the Switch is plug and play, and you won't have to mess around with settings to dive into your game library

✅ You prefer OLED screens: The Switch OLED display is impressive, and if you find the original's panel underwhelming, it's well worth paying a bit more for the latest model.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You care about performance: The Switch's hardware is getting on a bit, and the idea of playing at 1080p 30fps horrifies you, we'd suggest looking at other handhelds.

❌ You've got an existing PC library: We're not saying you can't own a Switch and a PC, but if you're not interested in Nintendo franchises and have a chonky Steam backlog, opting for something that works with Valve's storefront makes more sense.

Features: While we've given the top spot to the Nintendo Switch OLED model specifically, many  of its strengths are included with the original version too. It's lightweight, retains support for physical game cartridges, and still comes armed with removable Joycons and a docking station. However, If you pick up the OLED model over the Switch Lite or original version, your eyes will be in for a treat. The new display boasts superb contrast and colours that transform epic adventures like Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom into pure eye candy, and the slightly larger 7-inch screen makes all the difference. 

Design: The OLED Switch almost looks the same as its predecessor, but there are a few key difference that help it stand out. For starters, the OLED screen itself is slightly larger and features a slimmer bezel, something that helps give it a visual edge over other handhelds out there. Its also got an improved kickstand round the back, which is sure to please anyone who's had a near miss using the flimsy flap included with the original.

Performance: Sure, the Switch's innards aren't exactly impressive, but they ultimately get the job done. The NVIDIA Tegra X1 SoC within packs enough of as punch to provide 1080p 30fps visuals, and playing in handheld mode reduces the burden in some demanding games. That said, you won't have to worry about performance for the most part, as Nintendo's library caters to the hardware to ensure a smooth experience. If you are fussy when it comes to frame rates, you're probably in the market for a handheld PC instead.

Games: Naturally, The Nintendo Switch OLED has access to an extraordinary library of games, and it's one of the only handhelds on this list with first-party titles. While handheld PCs have storefront versatility on their side, the Switch has Zelda, Mario, Pokémon, and various other heavy hitters that'll distract some players from ever thinking about the wild west of Steam. Arguably, the Switch's catalogue of adventures is reason enough to invest in the hardware, and it's the reason the platform is still going strong six years later.

Read more: Nintendo Switch OLED review

The best gaming handheld for most players

The best gaming handheld for most players

Specifications

CPU: Custom AMD APU
GPU: RDNA 2
RAM: 16GB LPDDR5
Storage: Up to 1TB
Display: 7-inch IPS, 800p
Battery: 40WHrs
Operating system: SteamOS
Size: 298mm x 117mm x 49mm
Weight: 640g

Reasons to buy

+
Brilliant OLED display
+
Faster 90Hz refresh rate
+
Refined design

Reasons to avoid

-
Performance lower than rivals
-
Battery life still limited

The original model set a new standard for handheld gaming PCs when it arrived in 2022, but the new Steam Deck OLED takes the handheld to even greater heights. Now a platform in its own right, Valve's latest portable system blends fantastic, speedy OLED visuals with the same great software and hardware we all know and love, along with some additional improvements sprinkled in.

Buy it if:

✅ You have a huge Steam library: If you've already got a heafty Steam library, picking up Valve's portable will provide you to on the go access to a bunch of existing games.

✅ You're on a budget: The Steam Deck is pretty good value for money, and it offers similar functionality to other expensive handheld PCs, albeit with reduced performance.

✅ You like tinkering: From third-party mods to workarounds that'll expand software compatibility, this is a dream device for anything who likes tinkering and modding. 

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're looking for full PC compatibility: SteamOS is great, but not every PC game is compatible with the Steam Deck's Linux operating system.

You're looking to use other storefronts: You can get The Epic Game store running on Steam Deck using a workaround, but if you play PC games using Xbox Game Pass, you might want to opt for a Windows handheld instead.

❌ You need better battery life: Handheld PCs guzzle a lot of power, and you'll only get 2-3 hours out of the Deck before reaching for a charger.

Features: Both the original version and the Steam Deck OLED have plenty of tricks up their sleeve, and are effectively a fully fledged PC crammed into a handheld shell. That means you'll be able to play games usually available to your rig using integrated controls, haptic feedback, a gyroscope, and dual touchpads. If you're more into consoles than traditional desktop setups, you'll definitely vibe with what the Deck has to offer.

Unlike the model we first tried a few years ago, the Steam Deck OLED, as the name implies, has a shiny new OLED display. Compared to LCD, switching screen type means you'll be able to enjoy excellent contrast and colors that'll put many full blown gaming monitors to shame, not to mention it's also 90Hz. 

Design: Weighing in at 640g, the Steam Deck OLED is noticeably lighter than its predecessor, even if it's still one of the chonkiest handhelds around. That said, its ergonomic shape means it'll fit in your hands nicely, and If you played a lot of Wii U before the Switch arrived, you'll be familiar with Valve's high-up symmetrical stick layout. Plus, it pretty much follows the modern PC controller playbook in terms of buttons, so you won't have to get used to any weird configurations. 

Performance: Again, the Steam Deck isn't the most powerful handheld PC around, but it still offers decent performance considering its price. Value's custom AMD APU is capable of running a chunk of your library at over 60fps when using its 800p screen, and you'll even be able to play on a bigger screen using a Steam Deck dock. For the most part, you'll have to make do with low settings to boost fps to an acceptable level when running new releases, but you'll still notice the visual difference compared to Nintendo Switch.

It's worth noting that the Steam Deck OLED technically comes armed with a different AMD APU to the original. It's still RDNA 2, and the changes are better described as refinement that contribute to efficiency and power. Yet, during testing, we did find minor improvements when measured side by side with the LCD model, which might appeal to those of you looking to harness every frame during portable play.

Games: Not every game on Steam is compatible with SteamOS, but over 10,000 games are marked as either Steam Deck Verified or Playable. That means you shouldn't experience any game breaking bugs while playing, but the system is more of a handheld helping hand than a performance guarantee. Compatibility woes aside, you'll have access to a plethora of games from the get go if you pick up a Steam Deck, and that's remarkable given you can grab the LCD version for $399.

Read more: Steam Deck OLED review

The best handheld gaming PC

The best handheld gaming PC

Specifications

CPU: AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme
GPU: RDNA 3
RAM: 16GB LPDDR5
Storage: 512GB PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD
Display: 7-inch IPS 120Hz 1080p
Battery: 40WHrs
Operating system: Windows 11
Size: 28.0 x 11.1 x 2.12cm
Weight: 608g

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent design and comfortable form factor
+
Crisp, vivid 1080p display
+
Powerful dual front firing speakers

Reasons to avoid

-
Thumbsticks and back buttons feel less polished
-
Windows OS holds it back
-
Framerates suffer in 1080p and outside of Turbo preset

It's far from perfect, but the Asus ROG Ally is an exceptional handheld gaming PC that delivers better performance than the Steam Deck. It also boasts full PC compatibility thanks to the fact its a Windows device, but that's ultimately both a blessing and a curse when it comes to the overall experience.

Buy it if:

✅ You use multiple PC storefronts: Windows handheld PCs can run more than just Steam, so you'll be able to download games from The Epic Game Store, PC Game Pass, and more.

✅ You care about performance: The AMD Z1 Extreme APU within the ROG Ally makes short work of the latest games at 1080p, and it can hit over 60fps for the most part.

✅ You've got a bit more to spend: The cheapest Steam Deck is a chunk cheaper, but the ROG Ally has premium specs arguably worth investing in.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You don't want to use Windows: Just like a laptop, the ROG Ally requires some Windows intervention from time to time, so you'll have to get to grips with the OS.

You value battery life: Better performance comes at a cost, and the ROG Ally's battery life is fleeting when in 'turbo' mode.

❌ You'd prefer nicer controls: While its a premium handheld PC, its controls don't quite feel as nice as the Steam Deck.

Features: Just like the Steam Deck, the Asus ROG Ally is a 7-inch handheld clad with integrated controls. However, the Ally takes things up a notch by including an 120Hz 1080p display, and a newer AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor. That combo enables it to deliver slicker visuals and surprisingly high frame rates, particularly in demanding games.

Design: The ROG Ally is one of the better looking portable PCs around, and it feels pretty nice in the hands too. Weighing in at 608g, it's actually slightly lighter than the Steam Deck, but still feels rugged and packs extra aesthetic quirks like RGB thumb sticks. Its white, form fitting shell stands out compared to the Deck, while its overall shape and curves provide comfortable access to its buttons, triggers, and asymmetrical sticks.

Performance: The Z1 Extreme APU hiding within the ROG Ally has swiftly become the new chip to beat. For the most part, you'll be able to boost fps far beyond the realms of the Steam Deck in games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Starfield. However, it doesn't quite reach the same heights as premium contenders like the Ayaneo 2S, and you may struggle to actually take full advantage of the 120Hz screen. That aside, if you're looking for a more affordable handheld PC that can maintain frame rates at 1080p, this is it.

Games: Being a Windows handheld PC, the Asus ROG Ally has can run every application that your conventional rig can. In other words, you can install and run multiple storefronts like Steam, the Epic Game Store, PC Game Pass, and GOG all without having to rely on workarounds or compatibility layers (unlike the Steam Deck). That's not to say you won't encounter performance hurdles or issues relating to controller compatibility, and it's worth noting that Windows handheld optimisation can be an issue in itself when trying to jump between apps and games.

Read more: Asus ROG Ally review

The best premium gaming handheld

The best premium gaming handheld

Specifications

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 7840U
GPU: AMD Radeon 780M
RAM: Up to 64GB LPDDR5
Storage: Up to 4TB
Display: 7-inch IPS, 1200p
Battery: 50.25Wh
Operating system: Windows 11
Size: 264.5mm x 105.5mm x 21.5mm
Weight: 667g

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic portable performance
+
Comfortable to hold
+
Bezel-less screen
+
Full PC compatibility

Reasons to avoid

-
Lofty price point
-
Included software needs some work

The Ayaneo 2S will make your wallet weep, but it offers up incredible frame rates in even the most demanding games. That said, It suffers from the same drawbacks as other Windows handhelds, so keep that in mind before investing in this portable powerhouse.

Buy it if:

✅ You want the best performance: The Ayaneo 2S outperforms every other portable PC we've tested to date, delivering better frame rates in demanding games.

✅ You want to invest in specs: With 64GB RAM and 4TB storage being options, the Ayaneo 2S offers specs that'd put some laptops to shame.

✅ You're looking to splash out: It costs a pretty penny, but parting with your hard earned cash will earn you a premium handheld in return.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You only play indie games: The 2S is begging to run shiny new releases at 60fps, so lightweight gamers are better off sticking with the Steam Deck.

You're looking for simplicity: Windows handhelds come with the same caveats as gaming laptops, and Ayaneo's software doesn't bridge the gap in the same way as the Steam Deck (yet).

Features: If you love feature-packed devices, you'll dig what the Ayaneo 2S has to offer. It may look like other handheld gaming PCs at a glance, but it wields a 1200p display, Ryzen 7 7840U APU, up to 64GB RAM, and a 4TB SSD (depending on model). Upon closer inspection, even the handheld's exterior has something to prove, as it's equipped with three USB-C ports rather than one. That particular boon means you don't need a dock to use the portable as a desktop PC, and that's rather fitting given its capabilities.

Design: Arguably, the Ayaneo 2S sings from the same sheet as the Asus ROG Ally in terms of design. Similarities include an asymmetrical thumb stick layout with RGB lighting underneath, but small differences like its bezel-less screen and curvier design provide it with a more premium vibe. At 667g, it's pretty weighty, but we found it to be comfortable to use for extended periods.

Performance: The Ryzen 7 7840U is a pretty powerful chip, and it enables the Ayaneo 2S to smash the portable performance ceiling. It's the only handheld we've tested to date that can run Cyberpunk 2077 at 60fps using 800p low settings, which is a mean feat given how demanding CD Projekt Red's RPG is. Just keep in mind that just like the Asus ROG Ally, Windows related shenanigans can hamper performance if and when quirks and bugs occur, and it'll be up to you to investigate.

Games: With risk of sounding like a broken record, Windows handhelds can run anything a conventional PC can. Therefore, the Ayaneo 2S has a pretty chunky library that extends across Steam, the Epic Game Store, PC Game Pass, and more. You may have to wrestle with controller settings and other Windows options on occasion to actually get up and running, but that's all par for the course if you're into PC gaming anyway.

Read more: Ayaneo 2S review

The best handheld for emulation

The best handheld for emulation

Specifications

CPU: Quad-core ARM Cortex-A53
GPU: N/A
RAM: 1GB LPDDR4
Storage: 64GB
Display: 3.5 inch IPS, 480p
Battery: 3,000mAh
Operating system: Custom firmware
Size: 150mm x 100mm x 50mm
Weight: 200g

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible value
+
Wide range of supported systems
+
Is a Game Boy with a Ferrari engine

Reasons to avoid

-
Rattly triggers that aren't comfortable.
-
Generic operating system.
-
Updating the system requires a PhD in patience.

The RG35XX Plus may be a clone of the Miyoo Mini Plus but what Anbernic has achieved here is remarkable. It looks the same, but is slightly longer and uses stronger tech on the inside. It's not going to rival the likes of the Retroid Pocket 4 Pro or the Steam Deck anytime soon, but if you want solid power in a Game Boy-style package, the RG35XX Plus is a worthy contender with an excellent budget price.  

Buy it if:

You love the Game Boy: Nintendo's classic aesthetic still rocks even in 2024, and playing Game Boy, SNES, and Genesis games feels authentic thanks to the RG35XX Plus and its traditional getup.  

✅ You want great value:  As new device prices skyrocket, the need for cheaper handhelds is needed, and Anbernic is the first company to offer this sort of handheld for under $100.

✅ You collect handhelds: Collectors will love this device, and if you like having unique handhelds to display on a shelf, this one can join your collection for less.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want more than emulation: This handheld is purely designed with emulators in mind, so Android games naturally aren't an option.

You need better performance: Select games won't run at full speed, as specs are on the lighter side.

Features:  If you want a shining example of how to do upgrades, the RG35XX Plus is where it's at. Gone is the Quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 paired with the PowerVR chipset and 256MB of RAM found in the original model, and in its place comes the meatier platter of the H700 quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 paired to 1GB of RAM. This upgrade blows the original RG35XX out of the water when it comes to emulation. Instead of middling emulation you'll find in every budget device, up to and some PSP is now playable, all for just 64 bucks. Not bad, eh? 

Let's be honest here, the Anbernic custom Linux operating system is boringly plain, it does the job. Games and emulators are front and center, and that's fine given the cost of the device. Updating the system is an exercise in pain most will avoid if possible, while the option to output the device to a TV or monitor via mini HDMI is a nice little touch.  

Design:  Not much has changed from the original model, which itself was a clone of the Miyoo Mini Plus. What I will say is that Anbernic employs a 'if it ain't' broke, don't fix it' mentality. It looks like a Game Boy, albeit with an extra menu and X and Y face buttons. The triggers are still uncomfortable, as is the case with all vertical handhelds, but that's not the end of the world. The slight size increase over the Miyoo Mini Plus really helps with comfort, too.  

Performance: PSP works, but the entire catalog isn't playable. Don't expect to be playing God of War on this device anytime soon. That said, if you're gearing for some 2D PSP action or old game compilations, they work well. Dreamcast is also a nice surprise, with a large portion of the back catalogue running at a stable framerate. If you've got a hankering for some Marvel vs Capcom 2 or Crazy Taxi on the go, those options are very much a reality here. 

Games: While the RG35XX Plus has its limitations, you'll be able to emulate a majority of the classics using this dinky handheld. From the 8-bit glory days of the NES and Game Boy to even to some 3D experiences like Dreamcast and PSP, you'll be able to explore video game history with something that's smaller than old video game cartridges. Just keep in mind that since we're talking about emulation, you'll have to supply your own collection of legally obtained ROMs. 

Read more: Anbernic RG35XX Plus review

The best budget handheld

The best budget handheld

Specifications

CPU: 1.2 GHz
GPU: SoC
RAM: 512MB
Storage: n/a
Display: 2.8-inch IPS, 320 x 280 pixels
Battery: 40WHrs
Operating system: Proprietary OS
Size: 78mm x 125mm x 25mm
Weight: 160g

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic budget price
+
Great build quality
+
Expansive library of cartridges

Reasons to avoid

-
D-pad might not be to everyone's tastes

Just like the Evercade EXP, the Super Pocket by HyperMegaTech can run all the platform's wonderful cartridges. However, unlike its more sophisticated sibling, this handheld is actually more like Game Boy in terms of design, and since it only costs $59 / £49, it'll set you back less than most PS5 or Nintendo Switch games. 

Buy it if:

✅ You want pocket sized: Not many modern handhelds will actually fit in your pocket, but this one certainly will.

✅ You're a collector: There's more than one Super Pocket model out there, and each features its own colorway and library of build in games.

✅ You want something causal: No complex settings, no downloads, no fuss. The Super Pocket provides quick and easy access to the classics.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want more settings: The Super Pocket sticks to the basics, so it's not for anything who likes to dial in their retro experience.

You've got a ROM library: Just like every other Evercade console, you can't use emulators to run your own ROM collection.

❌ You prefer a bigger screen: If you're not into dinky consoles, you'll probably want to upspend on an Evercade EXP instead.

Features: One of the wonderful things about the Super Pocket is that it truly strips things back to basics. Sure, there's a menu that'll enable to you choose between either the handheld's built in collection or a connected Evercade cart, but the rest is pretty much as plug and play as things get. That means you'll be able to use the platform's carts without having to deal with downloads, patches, visual settings, or other modern shinanigans.

Design: Available in both Capcom and Taito flavors, you'll be able to either choose between two different colorways, or even splash out on both if you're collecting. The actual layout is pretty much in line with every other Game Boy-inspired handheld out there, with the usual D-pad and four button set at the front accompanied by some rear bumpers for games with more complex controls. As the name suggests, it's also pocket sized, so as long as you're wearing pants, you'll be able to easily take it on your travels.

Performance: Evercade performance is usually pretty on point, and the same goes for the Super Pocket. Whether it's handling an old arcade game, a classic console favorite, or even a modern indie release, this tiny handheld pulls it off without emulation inaccuracies or annoying hiccups. That might not sound to impressive to anyone who's used to emulating, but remember this dinky device costs less than most new Switch games.

Games: Depsite its fantastic budget price tag, you'll be able to play a plethora of games using Evercade cartridges. While that means picking up physical releases separately, that's all part of the appeal, and there's 300 games out there across 35 boxed carts. Of course, unlike other Evercade handhelds, the Super Pocket also has a built in library, meaning you'll either have 12 Capcom classics or 18 Taito arcade adventures to play right off the bat.

Read more: Super Pocket review

The best retro gaming handheld

The best retro gaming handheld

Specifications

CPU: 1.5Ghz Processor
GPU: SoC
RAM: 512MB
Storage: 4GB
Display: 7-inch IPS 120Hz 1080p
Battery: 40WHrs
Operating system: Proprietary OS
Size: 192.7mm x 78.5mm x 20.7mm
Weight: 270g

Reasons to buy

+
Massively improved screen
+
Fantastic bundled games from Capcom and Irem
+
Improved UI for game selection and menus

Reasons to avoid

-
HDMI-out still unusable
-
Horizontal Tate mode isn’t comfortable
-
Lacks a few modern touches for the price

Miss the glory days of the Game Boy? Well, the Evercade EXP is a modern handheld that runs retro classics using shiny new cartridges. It's a must have for anyone that's looking for a truly plug and play experience, not to mention the fact it's helping preserve physical gaming and access to old favorites.

Buy it if:

✅ You love retro games: It might sound obvious, but if you really love 8 and 16-bit classics, this console will cater to your needs.

✅ You like collecting games: Each Evercade game comes with its own clamshell box and manual, and they're begging to be displayed on a shelf.

✅ You value simplicity: No emulators, no storefronts, no faff. The Evercade EXP is for players who miss the simplicity of old school consoles.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're on a budget: The Evercade EXP isn't overly expensive, but there are cheaper ways to play retro games if budget constraints are a factor. 

You like to tinker: Opting for DIY emulation provides more visual and performance options compared to the Evercade EXP.

❌ You already own your favorite games: There are various ways to play your original games in 2023, so keep that in mind before picking up a new handheld with a different ecosystem.

Features: Equipped with a 4.3-inch display 480p display, the Evercade EXP is a retro console through and through. The console's main selling point is its growing library of available cartridges, which come with integrated emulators designed specifically for their included games. Each release features a collection of oldies by publishers like Capcom and iREM, and the experience provided is ultimately pretty authentic.

Design: In spite of its Game Boy cartridge vibes, the Evercade EXP looks pretty modern. That's largely thanks to its clean white colorway and landscape layout, but its D-pad and traditional face buttons feel like consoles from the past.  Naturally, that's a good thing when you're revisiting Sega Mega Drive and SNES games on different hardware, and the setup avoids feeling uncanny.

Performance: The Evercade platform is renowned for providing accurate access to classic games, and the EXP is no exception. Sure, methods like FPGA can provide 100% accuracy compared to emulation, but Blaze's built in emulators are the next best thing, especially if you'd rather not mess around with ROMs and settings. Even some official releases come with slow down and slightly off sounding music, so the fact the Evercade delivers almost perfect ports is pretty spectacular. 

Games: There are now over 300 games across 35 Evercade cartridges that'll work with the EXP, and the company has even more on the way. Better still, some of the carts actually feature brand new retro releases rather than classics, meaning you'll be able to tap into the indie scene without going near a PC or modern console. 

Read more: Evercade EXP review

The best remote play handheld

The best remote play handheld

Specifications

CPU: SoC
GPU: SoC
RAM: n/a
Storage: n/a
Display: 8-inch IPS, 1080p
Battery: 7-9 hours
Operating system: Android
Size: 355.6mm x 98.55mm x 152.4mm
Weight: 529g

Reasons to buy

+
Great integrated DualSense controls
+
Reliable PS5 Remote Play performance
+
Decent screen quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Fully relies on PS5
-
Won't work across networks
-
No Bluetooth connectivity

Like it or not, the PlayStation Portal isn't going to win in a fight against most other handhelds. However, it will provide you with a comfortable, reliable way to play PS5 games using remote play, and while other devices can provide the same service, Sony's official solution currently holds the crown. For how long is a different matter entirely, but we'll let it enjoy its victory for now. 

Buy it if:

✅ You only play PS5 games: If you have virtually no interest in playing anything non-PlayStation, you'll be into what the Portal has to offer

✅ You want handheld Dualsense controls: The Portal is armed with everything a Dualsense has, so you won't have to make do with compromised handheld controls.

✅ You want simplicity: The PS Portal doesn't have many menus or settings on the device itself, so you won't have to worry about messing around with much.

Don't buy it if:

❌ Your internet is slow: Got a slow network at home? Portal performance may suffer as a result.

You don't have a PS5: This might sound silly, but the PS Portal won't work with the PS4, so you're going to need Sony's new-gen console.

❌ You want access more games: The Portal can only stream games using remote play, so if you're after something with more functionality, this isn't the device for you.

Features: The PS Portal is effectively an 8-inch LCD screen sandwiched between two halves of a DualSense controller, and that's a tasty setup for anyone solely looking to play PS5 games. While the handheld itself fully relies on the PS5 in terms of gameplay, it will furnish your fingers with full-sized controls, haptic feedback, and adaptive triggers, so it'll feel like you're playing your PlayStation 5. I mean, that's because you are, but it'll feel more authentic than using an alternative third-party device.

Design: Again, the PlayStation Portal simply looks like tablet fused together with a Dualsense, and its overall aesthetic is in keeping with the PS5's vibe. Naturally, that means its going to look fantastic next to your console setup, but it also prioritises ergonomics over portability. This makes sense given that it's designed to be used at home within reach of your PS5, rather than venturing with your in your backpack.

Performance: Your milage will vary based on your broadband connection, but if you use a reliable network, you'll be able to stream PS5 games with next to no lag. You will potentially run into issues if you choose to also download games to your console while playing, but you shouldn't experience any issues if you avoid doing that. Naturally, frame rates and visual performance is intrinsic to whatever you're actually trying to play using the PS5 itself, meaning any shortcomings are its fault rather than the handheld's.

Games: The Portal will be able to stream any game you can run on your PS5, meaning it technically has access to your entire library. You won't be able to stream games using Sony's cloud gaming service, and apps like Netflix and Crunchyroll are also off limits, so keep that in mind if you're hoping for a handheld solution to those features. Just keep in mind that when you use the PlayStation Portal, you're effectively just playing your PS5 using a wireless screen, meaning you're not getting access to an entire new platform.

Read more: Logitech G Cloud review

The best mobile gaming handheld

The best mobile gaming handheld

Specifications

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon G3x Gen 1
GPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon G3x Gen 1
RAM: 6GB LPDDR5
Storage: 32GB
Display: 6.8-inch 2400x1080 144Hz AMOLED
Battery: 5,000mAh
Operating system: Android 14
Size: 260mm x 85mm x 11mm
Weight: 401g (with controller attached)

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent mobile performance
+
Reliable streaming abilities
+
144Hz AMOLED screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Redundant aspect ratio
-
Ridiculous price

The Razer Edge won't be for everyone, but it certainly caters to mobile gaming fans looking for a more console-like experience. Thanks to its powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 processor and included Kishi controller, this portable can run all the latest Android games and save you from wrestling with virtual on screen controls. 

Buy it if:

✅ You want to play mobile games: If you want to play games like Call of Duty Mobile, Black Desert, Genshin Impact, and anything else that lives on the Google Play store, this handheld will more than deliver.

✅ You want decent emulation: The Edge has access to a plethora of Android compatible emulators, and it makes short work of the classics.

✅ You want versatility: This handheld can access streaming services like GeForce Now, run Android games natively, and even perform PS5 Remote Play tricks, so you're getting a bit of everything.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to avoid subscriptions: To get the most out the Edge, you may need to sign up with multiple subscriptions, especially if you want to do more than mobile games.

❌ You aren't into mobile gaming: Running Android games is the Edge's biggest strength, so you'll want to avoid it if you'd rather play PC or Nintendo games on the go.

Features: The Edge is effectively a small Android tablet that is made to fit its included Razer Kishi controller, meaning it feels more like a tailored way to play mobile games. Most of the device is dominated by an extra wide 144Hz AMOLED screen that's also a big bigger than what most gaming phones can offer. 

Design: As touched on above, the Edge is mostly screen, and rounded bezels help give it a unique, if not slightly obscure look. It's pretty lightweight compared to chonky handhelds like the Steam Deck, but almost feels like a smaller Switch in terms of size and weight. 

Performance: The Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 within the edge makes short work of both Android games and emulated classics, with frame rates maxed out in each app we tried. Active cooling means there's a better chance of running demanding romps like Black Desert without scaling back settings, and Call of Duty Mobile happily runs at 120Hz. If you're looking for higher spec experiences, apps like GeForce Now will provide cloud access to PC games, and connectivity is pretty robust over Wi-Fi compared to some smartphones.

Games: There's a good reason the Edge is our favorite mobile gaming handheld, and it's thanks to its Google Play access. You should be able to run every game on the storefront, and Razer's integrated button mapping software will let to bridge the gap between on screen and physical controls. Of course, Play Store compatibility also means you'll have access to emulators and streaming services, so you can, in theory, run games from multiple platforms.

Read more: Razer Edge Review

The best cloud gaming handheld

The best cloud gaming handheld

Specifications

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 720G
GPU: N/A
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB
Display: 7-inch IPS, 1080p
Battery: 23.1WHrs
Operating system: Android
Size: 256.84mm x 117.21mm x 32.95mm
Weight: 608g

Reasons to buy

+
Vivid, bright display
+
Comfortable form factor
+
Crisp controls
+
Great for game-hoppers

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires Game Pass Ultimate / GeForce Now to make the most of
-
Little controller support for other services
-
Relies on Wi-Fi connection

The realm of cloud streaming has a long way to go, but the Logitech G Cloud serves as a reliable way to access services like GeForce Now and Game Pass Ultimate. Its integrated controls and 1080p screen help win us over in spite of its inherent caveats, and there are benefits to ditching native hardware when gaming on the go. 

Buy it if:

✅ You have GeForce Now: The G Cloud excels when acting as an Nvidia streaming portal, as it effetely allows you to play RTX 4080 powered games on a handheld.

✅ You need something lightweight: Weighing about the same as a Nintendo Switch, the G Cloud is featherlight compared to many of its rivals.

✅ You value long battery life: With 12+ hours battery life, you probably won't find yourself reaching for a charger mid session.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You've not got a speedy internet: Logitech's handheld needs flawless internet connectivity at all times to function properly.

You want to game outside the house: Again, a solid internet connection is a must, so you probably won't be able to play on busses, trains, or your favorite cafe.

❌ You don't want subscriptions: Most of the G Cloud's compatible services are subscription based, so you'll have to pay per month to access games.

Features: Armed with a Snapdragon 720G CPU, the Logitech G Cloud uses the power of streaming to bring games to its 1080p 60Hz display. It comes with all the usual bells and whistles you'd expect from a portable, namely Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi, USB-C charging, and a microSD card slot, but there's not much else going on under the hood. That's to be expected given it's effectively just a tablet with rather nice buttons and thumb sticks attached, and that's not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to the experience at hand.

Design: At least from the front, you'd be forgiven for thinking the G Cloud was a fully fledged gaming handheld. While it's hard to deny its similarities to a tablet, its white and yellow aesthetic and array of buttons and thumb sticks really look the part, and the device feels just as nice in the hands. Each button is clicky and responsive, not to mention its 1080p touch screen is bright and surprisingly vivid. Weighing in at just 463g, you'll also immediately notice a different compared to hearty handhelds like the Steam Deck, with the lightness ultimately contributing to overall comfort. 

Performance: Admittedly, measuring G Cloud performance is a little tricky given it's not really running games by itself. However, while testing the streaming handheld, we found its connectivity to be reliable, and services like GeForce now delivered a high end PC grade experience to our fingers and thumbs. We inevitably had to keep our testing indoors to actually achieve this, but it serves as an excellent way to play games in bed if that's your cup of tea.

Games: The G Cloud itself isn't solely to blame, but games selection is a bit of a sore spot when it comes to streaming. Not only will you need to pay for multiple services depending on the releases you're looking for, but not every title is available on their respective storefronts. Using Steam Link will provide you with everything installed on your gaming PC, and we managed to turn the G Cloud into a makeshift PlayStation Portal. Nevertheless, your selection is going to feel pretty narrow compared to some handhelds out there, at least for the time being. 

Read more: Logitech G Cloud review

The best Android handheld

The best android handheld

Specifications

CPU: Qualcom Kyro 64-bit
GPU: Adreno 740
RAM: Up to 16GB LPDDR5X
Storage: Up to 512GB UFS 4.0
Display: 6-inch IPS, 1080p
Battery: 8000mAh
Operating system: Android 12
Size: 225mm x 98mm x 17mm
Weight: 420g

Reasons to buy

+
Best in class handheld Android performance
+
Designed with actual human hands in mind
+
Gorgeous 60Hz 1080p screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Uncomfortable face buttons
-
Limited by power of emulators
-
Not enough options for the back buttons

Out of all the Android handhelds we've tried, the Ayn Odin 2 sets the bar higher with excellent emulation capabilities and delightful hardware. In fact, if you're not fussed about running PC games, we reckon this handheld makes for a killer alternative to the Steam Deck.

Buy it if:

✅ You're into emulation: The Odin 2 is an android handheld, but its targeted at players looking to emulate their existing libraries.

✅ You want access to Android apps: Out of many other Android options out there, this handheld strikes a good balance between gaming and OS functionality. 

✅ You value build quality: The Odin 2 is a solid device that both feels premium and will stand the test of time.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You've no interest in emulation: If you've not into fiddling with settings and files, perhaps check out other handhelds on this list.

You're looking for something cheap: The Odin 2 is premium as far as android emulation devices go, and there are cheaper alternatives out there.

Features: Armed with a large 7-inch 1080p display and a Qualcom Kyro chip, the Odin 2 has visuals and power on its side. It also comes with Android 13 installed, meaning you'll be able to install all your favorite emulators and apps without workarounds. That's a huge win for anyone who prefers to play their old physical collection on a modern device, as you'll have everything at your disposal to enjoy the classics using modern console hardware.

Unlike many of its rivals, the Odin 2 comes armed with hall effect joysticks, meaning stick drift should never be an issue. It's even got a few back buttons for good measure, which makes up for the fact the face buttons aren't the best.

Design: Just like most handhelds out there right now, the Odin 2 opts for a horizontal approach. Those of you who love the Gameboy might not vibe with that, but anyone who usually games on a Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck will feel right at home. Despite its broader approach to layout, it avoids feeling too heavy or clunky, not to mention its curved body is a win in terms of ergonomics. 

Performance: From the PSP and Dreamcast to much newer systems, the Odin 2 makes short work of most emulation tasks. You'll be able to run most of the demanding greats on this handheld at full speed without much issue, and while mini PCs like the Steam Deck still have an edge, it won't leave you longing for better performance in most scenarios. You won't even have to dial back resolution, resulting in an experience that isn't available on original hardware.

Games: Since the Odin 2 is an Android handheld, you'll be able to run the latest mobile games without a hitch. However, most players eyeing up Ayn's handheld are going to have emulation on their mind, and we can confirm this portable will happy run most retro games from the 8-bit era right up to more demanding 32-bit releases. Put it this way, we've yet to run something on this device that isn't at the very least playable, and what we'd expect from a premium emulation machine with powerhouse guts. 

Read more: Ayn Odin 2 review

Best gaming handheld - FAQ

Steam Deck, Ayaneo 2S, Game Boy Color sitting next to Zelda and Mario Game and Watch consoles on woodgrain desk

(Image credit: Future / Phil Hayton)

What is the best portable device for gaming?

In terms of power, handheld gaming PCs like the Steam Deck, Asus ROG Ally, and upcoming Lenovo Legion GO are the best. That said, not everyone is looking to boost fps or play Steam games, which is why cheaper handheld consoles like the Nintendo Switch have a wider spread appeal.

Which handheld has the best games?

Most gaming handhelds feature support for different storefronts. For example, if you're looking to play the latest Mario and Zelda adventures, you'll have to opt for a Nintendo Switch, while portable PCs like the Steam Deck serve as a portable to your Steam backlog. Whether or not Nintendo games are better than PC is up for debate, and you should pick the handheld that has games appealing to your personal tastes.

What is the best alternative to the Switch?

Out of all the handhelds available right now, the Steam Deck is probably the best alternative. While you won't be able to access the usual collection of Ninty romps, you will have free reign over Valve's vast storefront. That also means you'll be able to run the latest games and plenty of indie capers either on the go or using a docking station at home.

Is the Steam Deck worth it in 2024?

The Steam Deck is a fantastic option for players with an existing Steam library, as lots of games will work with Valve's portable PC. That said, alternatives like the Asus ROG Ally and upcoming Lenovo Legion GO boast full PC compatibility and better specs, so it's worth weighting up your options and budget.

How we test gaming handhelds at GamesRadar+

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

Steam Deck connected to dock sitting on white surface next to screwdriver

(Image credit: Phil Hayton)

We've got a expert team of gaming handheld enthusiasts on standby who put the newest portable devices through their paces. While benchmarks vary depending on the type of device being reviewed, we typically use a set selection of games to test performance while evaluating aspects like specs, features, and design. Doing so enables us to make recommendations, share what we like and dislike about each handheld gaming PC and console, and judge whether it's good value for money.

If you'd like to learn more about how we all the tech, peripherals, and accessories we review , check out our Hardware Policy for more information.


Looking for more on-the-go options? Check out the best gaming laptops for our favorite mobile rigs. Alternatively, take a peek at the best Steam Deck accessories if you've already got Valve's portable powerhouse.