The GPD Win is a small device that looks like a handheld game console… and it is. But it’s also a full-fledged, if low-powered, Windows computer.

It’s the first Windows device from GPD, a company that’s released a number of Android-powered gaming handhelds over the past few years.

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Following a crowdfunding campaign for the GPD Win earlier this year, the company recently started shipping the device to backers. You can also order the GPD Win for $340 from the company’s AliExpress store.

GPD sent me a unit to check out, and after spending a few days playing with it, here are some thoughts about the tiny gaming computer.

Update: I should point out that while everything covered below accurately depicts my experiences using the GPD Win for the first three days, I’ve since run into some problems. 

After trying to run some benchmarks, the system got very warm and then shut down. When I managed to get it to turn back on again, the keyboard was no longer looking. I’m currently investigation solutions (beside using the on-screen Windows keyboard or a USB keyboard).

Some other users have also encountered problems such as the graphics driver crashing during gameplay. 

Update 2: After making things worse, I decided to make lemonade and write up a partial teardown article.

Update 3: GPD has sent me a replacement unit, and so far everything is working as expected. I haven’t had time to test it extensively yet, but I’ve played through the introductions to about a half dozen different PC games with no problems yet. 

It’s a handheld game console with the heart of a PC

The GPD Win looks a bit like a Nintendo DS: it’s a clamshell device with a lid that you lift to reveal a touchscreen display and gaming buttons.

But in addition to a D-pad, two analog sticks, and X, Y, A, and B buttons, there’s also a QWERTY keyboard and some dedicated buttons for things like power, volume, and other functions.

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Here’s the real thing that sets the GPD Win apart from a Nintendo DS, PlayStation Vita, or even an Android-powered gaming handheld: it’s a full-fledged PC.

Sure, it’s not the most powerful computer money can buy. But it has enough horsepower for some surprisingly decent gaming experiences.

Now, keep in mind, I’m not a hardcore gamer. So I haven’t done extensive tests with bleeding edge PC games. But I did try a few titles including Batman: Arkham Asylum, The Lord of the Rings: War in the North, and Magicka, and they were all playable (some more than others).

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Emulators also run pretty smoothly. I tried a few Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, PSP, and ScummVM games and most were pretty playable.

You can probably thank the GPD Win’s Intel Atom  processor with Intel HD graphics for that. It uses the same chip Microsoft uses for its $499 Surface 3 tablet, but in this instance it’s crammed into a smaller device that has a physical keyboard, gaming buttons, and more RAM than an entry-level Surface tablet.

So let’s talk a a bit more about specs.

Hardware and design

Under the hood, the GPD Win features an Intel Atom x7-Z8700 quad-core Cherry Trail processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC 4.5.1 storage.

While some early units had a newer x7-Z8750 chip, it turns out the system actually seems to perform better with the Z8700, which is the processor that should be included in all units shipping from here on out.

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The display is a 5.5 inch, 1280 x 720 pixel capacitive touchscreen that looks good from just about any angle. And while 720p might seem kind of low-res by smartphone standards, it’s more than sharp enough for Windows 10 on a handheld device.

You can open the screen at up to a 180 degree angle, but I found it most comfortable to play games with the screen at a more laptop-like angle.

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The GPD Win features 802.11ac WiFi, and I haven’t had any problems staying connected to a network while streaming videos or downloading games. It also supports Bluetooth 4.1.

The system has a glossy black plastic case and the whole thing measures about 6.1″ x 3.8″ x 0.9″ and weighs about 13 ounces.

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On the back of the system there’s a USB 3.0 Type-C port for charging, a full-sized USB 3.0 port, a mini HDMI port, a 3.5mm headset jack, and a microSD card slot for cards up to 128GB.

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The GPD Win comes with a 5V/2.5A adapter and a USB Type-C cable. It’s a compact solution that looks more like something you’d use to charge a phone than a Windows PC… although it’s also not extraordinarily fast at refueling the computer’s relatively large battery. It’ll take at last a few hours to get a full charge for the non-removable 6,700 mAh battery.

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GPD says that battery should be good for 6-8 hours of run time. I haven’t run extensive battery tests, but that seems a little optimistic… but not entirely out of the realm of possibility. I haven’t done any marathon gaming sessions, but I did use the GPD Win pretty heavily for about four hours while installing games and configuring emulators, and Windows said the battery was still at about 30 percent by the end of that time.

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On the bottom of the case you’ll find a switch for the fan: since GPD stuffed so much hardware into such a small case and encourages you to tax the hardware by playing games, the computer can get rather warm at times. But GPD gives you some control over the cooling process: you can set the fan to off, low or high.

At full blast, the fan makes a pretty annoying high-pitched whining noise, but it’s quiet enough that it’ll be easily drowned out by most games… assuming you don’t place your hands over the speaker while you’re playing.

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That’s because the speaker on the GPD Win is placed on the side of the device in pretty much the exact position where my palms rest when I’m reaching up to touch the gaming buttons. It’s not that hard to adjust your grip to avoid covering the speaker, but I do find myself covering it pretty regularly before I remember to shift my hands a bit.

The keyboard has pretty much all the keys you’d need to run most Windows software, including alphanumeric keys and Fn keys (which you trigger by holding the Fn button and pressing the keys in the number row). But the keys are really small.

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You probably won’t be touch typing on this keyboard. While you could theoretically use it to compose documents or engage in text chats, you’d probably drive yourself crazy trying to do either of those things. Instead, the keyboard is really most useful for entering short amounts of text, like usernames, passwords, Windows commands, or website URLs.

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Since this is a fully functional computer, you could connect a Bluetooth or USB keyboard if you wanted to do any real typing for some reason. But it’s probably best to think of the GPD Win as a gaming-first device, thanks to its size and design. It’s too small to really be all that useful as a laptop.

What it is pretty good for, though, is gaming. And that’s why the D-pad, analog sticks, and gaming buttons are above the keyboard, along with L1, L2, R1, and R2 shoulder buttons. There are even L3 and R3 buttons built into the little row of keys to the right of the keyboard. It’s not the best location for them, but it’s nice to know you’ve got the extra buttons if you need them.

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In addition to using the analog sticks for gaming, you can flip the switch between the sticks to enable mouse mode which allows you to use the right stick to move the cursor, the left stick as a scroll wheel, and the shoulder buttons for left and right clicks.




Performance

I’ll be honest: I was a bit skeptical that a compact computer with an Intel Atom processor would make a good gaming machine. But it really does!

Well, assuming you set your expectations low(ish).

It handles casual Windows Store games like Despicable Me: Minion Rush without difficulty, but that’s not surprising. Many of those games are designed to run on cheap tablets.

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I was more impressed when I realized that 3D games with variable camera controls like Batman: Arkham Asylum run pretty smoothly.

I did notice that some games would run kind of slowly if the system was getting hot and the fan wasn’t turned on: I fired up Final Fantasy VII using the PCSX-Reloaded Playstation emulator, and most of the time gameplay was smooth (there were a few graphics glitches, but I eliminated most of those by playing with the emulator’s settings).

But when the system got too hot, the processor seemed to slow down enough to drastically reduce the frame rates.

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The moral of this story: for casual usage, you can probably keep the fan off or set to its lower setting. For heavy-duty gaming, keep the fan on.

There may be another option though: open up the case and supercharge the heatsink yourself. I wouldn’t recommend doing that, but it’s nice to know that it’s possible.

I haven not run any benchmarks, and might update this section with scores if/when I do. But I have been pleasantly surprised at the GPD Win’s ability to keep up with most of the games I’ve thrown at it so far.

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Keep in mind though, this is a computer with a processor designed to use around 2 watts of power on average. It’s not going to be able to keep up with games designed for high-end gaming machines with discrete graphics, and this is absolutely not a computer for use with virtual reality systems.

Instead, it’s a handheld computer that you can use to play older or less resource-intensive PC games, and even some newer titles. It also makes a great system for emulation… although note that it might take a little work to set up your software since Windows 10 can be kind of a pain to work with on a 5.5 inch, 720p touchscreen display (although you can make life easier for yourself by adjusting Windows 10’s display scaling and/or connecting an external keyboard, mouse, and maybe even display).

The competition

The GPD Win isn’t the only attempt to make a portable PC gaming machine. But the space isn’t exactly crowded.

There’s the DragonBox Pyra, which has a similar design, but an ARM-based processor, Linux-based software, and a much higher price.

A Kickstarter campaign for a portable Steam Machine called the Smach Z is underway, but even if the developers can use the money they’ve raised to produce a real device, it won’t ship until April, 2017.

And there have been other attempts to raise money for portable gaming PCs… although some have seemed a bit scammy.

I suppose you could also consider handheld game consoles like the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Vita to be competitors… but unlike those systems, the GPD Win is a multi-purpose device which can do more than play games designed for a single platform.

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Probably the main competition for the GPD Win, though, is the phone or tablet you may already have. For casual gaming on the go, it’s hard to beat an Android or iOS mobile device… but where the GPD Win stands out is in its ability to play PC games which often have better graphics, more in-depth storylines, and other elements that you might not find in the sea of $0.99 or free-to-play games that dominate mobile platforms.

There are also many cheap Windows tablets with Intel Atom processors that could theoretically handle some of the same games that you can play on the GPD Win. But most lack the physical gaming buttons that you’d get with this computer, and few have the Atom x7 chip, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage GPD used for the Win.

Verdict

GPD’s first Windows-powered handheld gaming PC is a surprisingly capable little computer. The gaming buttons feel pretty good, the screen looks great from any angle, and most importantly, the GPD Win seems to deliver on the promise of a tiny computer that you can use to play real PC games on the go.

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Sure, it’s less powerful than a serious gaming PC. But with a $340 price tag, it’s also a lot cheaper.

As a gaming PC, I was able to install games from my Steam library, load emulators, and run Windows Store games… all of which makes the GPD Win a pretty versatile solution for PC gaming.

It’s also probably an interesting option for Steam in-home game streaming if you happen to have a more powerful gaming PC connected to your home network. I don’t, so I didn’t test that.

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The GPD Win certainly isn’t for everyone. It’s a niche device that’s probably only going to appeal to PC gamers that don’t mind trading some processing power for a cheap device that they can take just about anywhere.

But based on the level of activity I’ve seen in some user forums, it seems like there’s at least a small group of people who are really excited by this concept.

 

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61 replies on “GPD Win handheld gaming PC (quick review)”

  1. was waiting for it for some time and it came out mostly good.

    with below criticisms I strive to show my future support and hope, not hate despite some words in all caps.

    what I would change:

    1) move a block of keys ob the right of keyboard (l3/r3, volume buttons etc) to the empty space between analog sticks so that keyboard can be centered like in qwerty slider smartphones (I used one of these for last 6 years and not going to throw it away anytime soon)

    2) make the screen matte! and make the case matte as well. I do not care for fingerprints, but I DO CARE for my EYESIGHT! catching reflections of sun or other sources of bright light can be near-deadly for human eyes.

    3) make the battery REMOVABLE so that I can carry spare batteries instead of external batteries that have to hang on their charging cable. also remember exploding samsung note 7? they would not have to recall entire model if it would have removable batteries – users would just replace their batteries with 3rd party equivalents made by no-name and not-so-no-name companies like mugen power (samsung and industry in general are unlikely to learn from it though, despite enormous cost of this mistake)

    3) add dedicated functional keys above number keys and generally make keyboard layout closer to classic ibm/lenovo thinkpad keyboards (or at least newer thinkpad keyboards) – even if it requires making keys smaller than they are now. anything as big/small as in motorola droid 3 (or 4) is fine, if you do not trust me on that then check all the reviews that consider hardware keyboards of these phones to be the best ever on android devices

    5) (minor) make “shoulder” buttons (l1/l2/r1/r2) almost flush with the case, like power/volume buttons on phones but bigger

    6) (minor) get rid of fan (even at the cost of reduced performance) and try to make the case water-resistant

    P.S. really hope to see newer models similar to this device!

    1. I installed the full desktop 2017 Adobe CC. Downloaded and tried Photoshop, Illustrator, and Animate (Flash Pro). Runs like a charm. Also a full Office suite (both MS 360 and Libre),
      all while a WebServer is running, an editor (like Sublime or Atom)
      is open, Thunderbird handles many email accounts and Telegram, Skype,
      WhatsApp (the windows app), Viber are all listening for messages and
      both DropBox and OneDrive are installed, and full desktop FireFox is open.

    1. No, you can connect to your phone via BT, Wifi hotspot, etc.. Or you could use a USB 3G stick

    1. This device is far from garbage, and is honestly a marvelous piece of technology that is great for what it is. Labeling it as garbage because you don’t see its use is in poor taste. This device is aimed at those who want to be able to game on the go. The most intense games may not run, but that is not what it is for. This device is for giving the option to play your games out of the house, in an easy pocket sized way. Your opinion of it being garbage is like calling the nintendo ds and 3ds lines garbage, which they are far from.

  2. Damn Ican’t wait to buy this, if only the customs here are good oh wellmaybe I can buy in hongkong

  3. You can run Street Fighter 5 on this thing at like 50fps…that’s amazing.

  4. We should wait 2-3 years for the next model to come up- maybe 1080p display will be considered.

    1. nope.
      a 1080p display would be really useless because it won’t fit in your pocket, it’ll be just like the smach Z, too big to fit in your pocket, and too big to be a portable gaming device.

      1. Yes. And there are no smartphones that has 1080p and doesnt fit in pocket right?

          1. no, there are plenty of phones with not only 1080p screens, but up to as far as 4k in some more expensive phones. I don’t know where you get your information, but a 1080p screen is very plausible on future designs.

          2. Yes, and it is impossible right now to have a 1080p phone that fits in the pocket right? maybe in year 2040 there might be a 1080p smartphone right? You are a very smart in regards witht the resolution in smartphones right?

  5. Mine is broken already. Right analog stick is no longer y axis, its button 1 2 3 4, which screws everything up. Worst part is, no tech support.

    1. on the main website that gpd is sold from you can find replacements for all parts on the device…

  6. Very cool! More like this. Fully capable handheld standalone PC, but dock-able through USB 3 workstation. All we need is a standardized and affordable USB 3 docking station to go along with it: dual display output, USB, audio in/out, RJ45, and micro USB charging port… and maybe VGA for projectors.

    1. I do not. But if you want to send me one, I’d be happy to test it 🙂

      I am planning on trying a few more things with the GPD Win, but I’ve got a bunch of other projects on my plate, so I wanted to publish a “quick review” after spending a few days tinkering rather than waiting until I had time for a more comprehensive review. I may update this post or write an additional article or two in the future.

  7. Big shout out to Phawx for doing all the testing too, definitely deserves some credit for all the testing he has been doing on his youtube channel, it will be invaluable for anybody with a new WIN who needs to do some tweaking.

  8. Keyboard could have been a bit bigger and therefore more useable. Those function keys to the right could have moved to some of the dead space above, and allowed the full width.

    1. The device is made for gaming first, being a computer second. The only real thing they did wrong with in my opinion are the r3 and l3 button’s placement, which are very poor, and should have been done like that of the gpd xd

  9. Wow, a rare machine that uses an Atom X7! Even the newly released Yoga Book “next-gen tablet” still uses the X5. This would’ve been perfect if it had a 7-inch 1024×768 screen so I could play the old classics without scaling.

  10. maybe with 6 inch 1920×1080, 4g LTE and with good support for linux i can considered.

      1. Is the qwerty really spongey?
        As if the actuation point is not well defined, or tactile.

  11. I’d buy this if it shows up on Amazon and it’s sold and shipped directly from Amazon.

        1. I guess a seller got more in stock. Unfortunately, it’s not sold and shipped directly from Amazon so I’m passing on buying it.

        2. Just search gpd win in Amazon. It’s sold by Etronixmart. I want to paste the link but the phone wont show the option to paste.

  12. What’s the battery life when suspended like? Does the battery drain unnecessarily while the system is in sleep modes? Does the device support sleep and suspend?

  13. No mention about how bad GPD has treated their IndieGoGo backers with silence and no tracking numbers for a lot of us that supported and provided money for them to make the device like the one you are reviewing now. I backed on IGG in April. Still no tracking number for me or anything letting me know my unit has been shipped. Side note I ordered a second unit from GeekBuying on Oct 12th and already have a shipping tracking number….So yeah IndieGoGo backers have been treated horrible by GPD as a company. They have no honor to their customers.

    1. Did you happen to contact them in anyway, or are you just complaining without the effort of contact? And I do not mean simply contacting through IndieGoGo, I mean through their website and more.

  14. This would be an excellent computer for use on airplanes with GoGo WiFi on the planes that have it. It is just the right size for use on a tray table or handheld and it should have enough power for non-video websurfing or reviewing documents via LibreOffice or Microsoft Office. Kids might be able to load movies or cartoons on a microSD card and play them while in flight as well if the processor can handle playing 480p video.

    1. I have a Teclast X98 Plus 3G with an x5-z8300 CPU, and it can play 4K videos without any overheating, so I assume the x7-z8700 isn’t worse.

    2. I have 1st gen intel compute stick with z3735 atom and the kids are always on YouTube. No issues with video browsing even at full HD.

    3. While it’s using an atom…this isn’t 2010. The GPD Win can do 1080P just fine.

  15. OMFG! Someone actually made a USABLE CherryTrail pocket computer! This is the best thing I have seen in recent memory! Not only has a FAN, but a switchable FAN, unlike my MiPad 2 which beats the record of any tablet in ZERO to THERMAL THROTTLING… Oh yea, 4GB RAM too!?

  16. I am really hoping this will be a successful product. Maybe then we will see more refined versions from more manufacturers.

    1. Would be lovely if Sony could make one that can be a successor to both the Vita and the Vaio UX UMPCs. It would be insanely expensive, because Sony, but I would buy one in a heartbeat. Make it a slider like the UXes but with gaming controls on the side instead of just the mouse trackpoint.
      Of course Sony already gave up on handhelds and they sold their Vaio division, still…..

    2. Late to the party, but sadly Intel has stopped production of the Atom line this year. This makes the cherry trail (in this device) the final generation. If they use newer processors it would be the core M, which are much more expensive. This will probably be the only model you’ll see around this price.

  17. I’ll probably get 1 for New year. Can’t wait to put my hands on it. I wish it had 128 gb, though.

  18. “It’s also probably an interesting option for Steam in-home game streaming if you happen to have a more powerful gaming PC connected to your home network. I don’t, so I didn’t test that.”

    I feel that this would be one of the main uses for it.

    But holy shit, a real, working, cheap UMPC in 2016!:D

    Also, more ports than a macbook pro!

  19. If the Nintendo Switch wasn’t just announced, I would have gone with this for portable non-casual gaming.

    1. Well this is at least still much more portable than Nintendo’s Switch. You also have a much bigger library of games you can play.

  20. Brad, just letting you know, the WIN is mono. They had to remove the left speaker for the fan.

    Glad to see you got your WIN BTW.

      1. In terms of “The Competition” … I would’ve liked to see a mention of the Nintendo NX/Switch. It’s basically the same concept of this but executed differently.

        This thing certainly borrows from the GPD XD, and that’s a good thing.

        Awesome write up though. You’ve done great by putting out a quick review this quickly.

        1. Same concept? No not at all. The Switch is just a gaming handheld that has a dock for TV-Out.
          The GPD Win on the other hand is a full Windows 10 computer packed inside a small package with built in keyboard and game controls (with mouse emulation). Unlike the Switch, it can do anything your computer can (though maybe not as well in certain applications like video editing or 3D modeling).

          Maybe in the field of “it’s a handheld device that plays games” then sure Switch is competing with the Win. It’s also competing with 3DS, Vita, smartphones and tablets, etc. in that field.
          But if we think about their actual concepts, then no they’re not in competition with each other.

          1. Yes, the same concept:
            – Both very powerful (compared to size)
            – Both have dual-joysticks
            – Both have quad-shoulder buttons
            – Both have a Dpad and Arcade buttons
            – Both have a multitouch screen
            – Both are much larger than a phone
            – Both are much smaller than a laptop
            – Both are too weak to match an Xbox One
            – Both are more powerful than a Xbox 360
            – Both are portable consoles
            – Both can be easily converted to a Home Console
            – Both are aimed at playing weaker 3D games
            (eg/ CoD4, FO3, Skyrim, NFS Carbon)
            – Both are aimed at playing retro games
            (Atari, Sega, NES, SNES, GBA, DS, Dreamcast, PS, PS2, PSP)

            ..but the execution is different:
            – Windows 10 allows you to do some (light) computing
            – Nintendo Switch won’t allow you to do some computing
            – GPD Win’s display is smaller, and its on-device controller can’t be changed
            – N-Switch display is larger, and its modular controller allows some customisation

            The GPD Win is aiming for the niche of “UMPC enthusiasts” (<5 Million units, or <$1 Billion).

            The N-Switch is aiming primarily for the mainstream mobile gaming market (40%) and slightly the console gaming market (25%). The Total Gaming Market is valued at around $100 Billion.

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