The GPD Win is a handheld gaming PC that offers surprisingly decent performance for a $340 device with an Intel Atom x7-Z8700 Cherry Trail processor and Intel HD graphics.

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Unfortunately, after publishing a mostly positive review of the little guy, I somehow managed to break mine. After running some benchmarks with the fan shut off, the system got warm and shut itself off. And when I got it to power back up again, the keyboard had stopped working.

Since I couldn’t get the keyboard to work again after tinkering with Windows and BIOS settings, I decided to open the case and see if there was anything visibly wrong with the cable connecting the keyboard to the system board. Spoiler alert: I only managed to make things worse… but I did get some pretty pictures along the way.

Update: GPD had asked me to send back my review unit so their people can try to identify what went wrong with the keyboard in the first place.

Update 2: GPD has sent a replacement unit, and so far everything seems to be working as designed.

There are 6 tiny Phillips head screws on bottom cover of the GPD Win. Fortunately, (or maybe unfortunately) I have a 2mm screwdriver was just the right size to remove them.

Then I pried open the case by lifting the only item that offered anything to grip: the status LED. Once there was a bit of space, I used some plastic tools from an electronics repair kit to slide around the edge of the device and release the plastic clasps holding the cover in place.

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Once the case was opened, I saw that there are only two cables connecting the bottom cover to the main board: one that connects the battery and another that connects the fan to the 3-way fan switch on the bottom of the case.

Unplugging the battery gives you a pretty good look at the bottom of the computer.

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On the left front side of the image above, you can see the mono speaker. On the right is the fan. The case looks like it has stereo speaker grilles, but really one is a vent that allows the fan to blow hot air out of the case. There’s also a vent in the bottom of the case that’s used as an intake for the fan.

When you remove the two screws holding the speaker in place, you’ll find the cable connecting the keyboard. You can remove it by flipping open a clasp… but unfortunately something seems to have broken on my GPD Win review unit, because I can no longer close that clasp tightly.

gpd-open_04

I’m not entirely sure if I broke something when I opened it or if there was already damage which was causing the keyboard not to work… but before I opened up the GPD Win the power, volume and other buttons on the right side of the keyboard continued to work. It was just the QWERTY section that failed.

Now none of those buttons work… but the GPD Win isn’t quite useless.

Update: Don’t ask me how, but I managed to reconnect the ribbon cable so that the power and volume buttons work again… but the QWERTY keyboard is still non-functional. I also may have damaged the fan cable in the process. The moral of this story: don’t try this at home. 

The touchscreen still works, allowing me to use the device’s on-screen keyboard. The analog sticks also work, which means I can still play games (as long as they don’t require me to press Start or Select, since those buttons are in the non-functioning keyboard). And the USB port works, which means I can still plug in a keyboard and/or mouse.

Unfortunately, the power button does not work… so the only way to turn my GPD Win on and off is to unplug the battery and then plug it back in again, which seems to start up the machine.

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Anyway, this probably means I’m just about done testing my GPD Win review unit… at least unless I find a way to reconnect the keyboard and power button.

I’m not entirely sure what conclusion to draw from my experience. Other users have reported some issues with the graphics driver, or with basic build quality.

But when my demo unit was working, it was actually a surprisingly capable little gaming machine for playing PC games or running console emulators.

So… is it worth the $340 asking price? It’s kind of hard to say. Yes, the device delivers on its promise… when it works. But if it breaks you’re probably better off trying to get support from GPD than opening up the case and trying to fix it yourself… at least unless you’re better at hardware repairs than I appear to be.

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Whoops.

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31 replies on “GPD Win handheld gaming PC partial teardown”

  1. I Bought a GPD Win from the European DragonBox shop (Germany). Unit was defective so I shipped it back and they sent me a new one, from a newer batch, no questions asked. Now this thingy is totally *AWESOME*. This little thing runs f*n*g Photoshop and Illustrator (I installed the full desktop 2017 Adobe CC) or a full Office suite (both MS 360 and Libre), while the Apache WebServer is running, an editor (like Sublime or Atom) is open, Thunderbird handles 10 email accounts and Telegram, Skype, WhatsApp (the windows app), Viber are all listening for messages and both DropBox and OneDrive are installed. Without a glitch. Ah, and while the full desktop FireFox Developer Edition browses the web. With an external mouse (works totally fine) and HDMI display, it totally feels like your ordinary desktop PC. Seriously, I’m very impressed. By the way, the shop was very kind and helpful in every little step from pre-sale questions, on to total after sale assistance. They only need some time to reply to emails, it is a gamer community very small shop (they are the builders of the OpenPandora and now Pyra units the GPD actually “was inspired” from).

  2. So; I had this issue earlier today and here is how I fixed mine:
    – Open Device manager
    – Count the HID-devices under Keyboards (should be 5)
    – If 4; Look for an HID-device somewhere lower in the list with ‘ Port Reset Failed’
    – Check if that device is on Port_#0002.Hub_#0001 (May be other numbers)
    – Disable device (confirm) and enable again
    – Hear device connect in Windows
    – Test keyboard

    Let me know if this works for you guys 😉

  3. You’re not alone with the main keyboard that stops working while the 10 keys to the right continue to work fine.
    I’m one of the unlucky ones who hasn’t been able to play games without constant graphic driver crashes and this morning on startup I got a BSOD and after than no more main keyboard.
    I uninstalled and reinstalled the drivers, reset everything in the BIOS and finally did a complete wipe and reinstall of Windows 10 and it still doesn’t work.
    And one other person has reported that last night his main keyboard suddenly stopped working as well.
    So it likely wasn’t you that broke the keyboard but an issue with the device.

    1. Good to know. I sent mine back to GPD and was told they plan to look into why the keyboard stopped working to hopefully find a solution and prevent it from happening to others.

      1. Well this morning the main keyboard magically started working again leaving me very confused.
        I don’t think the other guy with the same issue has had his start working again yet though.
        Maybe we got the devices with self aware keyboards and they just wanted a day off from work to rest.
        This is a weird bug.

    2. Well cr*p. My keyboard just stopped working today…
      It did that already random when using Kodi, but a restart did wonders.
      Restart doesn’t help now anymore 🙁
      Z8750 model btw

  4. hi, could you tell me what kind of battery and fan it is (i am trying to look for extras in case my battery breaks down as for the fan i may want to put another one in that makes less noise and works better)

  5. Don’t worry about it Brad. It makes sense that a larger manufacturer like HP would have better build quality. These guys are new and really pushing the margins of price to performance. Build quality was going to be the sacrifice. I mean imagine somebody rumbling one around in their book bag or jacket pocket with their keys… Its best you discovered this so the manufacturer can focus more on build quality.

  6. ok, you probably have to push the flat futher inside the connector, the latch itself use the thickness of the cable to lach close, that’s why it doesn’t work and the latch doesn’t close…

  7. Too late now but does GPD have any sort of warranty policy? If so, has anyone had to go through the process? This is big issue for me when ordering things from overseas.

  8. “Spoiler alert: I only managed to make things work… but I did get some pretty pictures along the way.”
    You said you made it work, but the rest of the article implies that it only kinda works, and the part you were looking to fix is still broken?

    1. That was a very unfortunate typo. Should have been “I only managed to make things worse.”

      I did just manage to reconnect the keyboard cable, so the power button works again. The QWERTY keys are still dead though.

      1. If you haven’t already, you should check out youtube user “The Phawx”… Besides doing his own reviews of this product, he also took one apart to do a heat sink mod… Might give you a better idea of what went wrong!?

        1. Yep, I’ve been following his videos. The heat sink videos didn’t really provide much guidance for my teardown, but they did show that it was possible to open up the case.

          GPD said they’d look into any possible causes for the keyboard to stop working, but it’s not something they had expected on the models with x7-Z8700 processors (they had apparently been having issues with Z8750 versions, which is why the final product has the slightly older version of the chip).

          1. would you be interested in selling your gpd win? I just nuked my screen and am in need of a new one. My tile floor won. 🙁

          2. That sucks. I’m not giving up on this one just yet, but if I can revive it I’ll probably be giving it away eventually rather than keeping or selling it, since I don’t keep items sent to me for review (unless I break them 🙂
            If I can’t fix it, I’ll keep you in mind though, since it’d be nice to be able to salvage the parts!

          3. Hey Brad I know you’re not made of money, but would you consider just sending yours straight to Eugene King.

            Its better to salvage one fully functioning unit, rather than two separate collecting dust.

            I would recommend you get a brand new one for yourself. That way everything should work without problems, no hassles. The last thing you want is to try something new on the GPD Win, and having a solder come-out or short circuit something.

            PS I am not Eugene King, if you’re asking 😛

          4. Actually GPD just asked me to send it back so they can try to figure out why the keyboard stopped working, since this is the first time anyone has reported this happening.

          5. Brad, that is awesome, good to hear GPD is going to help you out. I tried emailing GPD about buying a new screen, but haven’t gotten a response yet.
            I am thinking of just trying to source another unit, and keep the second one for parts. I bet it will be a few months before new screens are available. I travel a lot for work, so I will look into fabricating some sort of silicone skin for bump protection.

          6. May, I ask what email you used to contact GPD, or did you call them?

          7. I don’t know if I should give out that email address — but if you want, I can give them your email and ask them to contact you. Is it the same address you use to login to our comment system?

          8. Yes my email I used for the comments section is a good one for communication. I really appreciate you asking them to contact me.

          9. I’ll see what I can do. I make no promises that they *will* contact you, but I’ll ask them to at least take a look at your comments here.

          10. Great news I see on the aliexpress website. They carry GPD WIN replacement screens!! Only $40.00…very cool, I have one on order.

          11. Awesome! Hope you don’t better luck installing it than I had trying to fix my keyboard!

Comments are closed.