The GPD Win Max is probably the most powerful handheld gaming computer to date. That’s an easy claim to make, because it’s not like there have been that many handheld gaming PCs in the past, and most of the ones that do exist were also made by GPD.

But the GPD Win Max is far more powerful than anything that came before. It it’s also much bigger. With an 8 inch display and a keyboard that’s just barely large enough for touch typing, the GPD Win Max is pretty small for a laptop. But it’s not something you’re going to be able to slip into a pocket.

What you can do with the GPD Win Max is play PC games on the go. Thanks to built-in game controllers, you can comfortable hold the computer in two hands and play a wide range of games that work with controllers. You could also theoretically play games that rely on keyboard and mouse input, but the ergonomics would be a bit trickier for that.

While the computer doesn’t have discrete graphics, it does have an Intel Core i7-1035G7 quad-core Ice Lake processor with Iris Plus 940 graphics, which is the most powerful integrated GPU Intel offers in mid-2020. And when paired with the little laptop’s 16GB of RAM, 512GB of PCIe NVMe solid state storage, and 8 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel display, that chip is good enough to play many recent PC games.

It’s tempting to think of the GPD Win Max as a general-purpose computer. It has specs and performance that are good enough to make it the only laptop you need. But the computer’s small keyboard with an unusual layout makes it a little tricky to use for activities that require a lot of typing — so I’m not sure I’d recommend the GPD Win Max as a laptop replacement unless you plan to connect an external keyboard, display, or other accessories. The little computer’s dual cooling fans are also quite loud.

This is very much a niche device aimed at people who want to be able to play PC games anywhere. The fact that you can also use it to watch movies, web surf, edit documents, or just about anything else you’d do with a computer is a bonus.

The GPD Win Max goes up for preorder for $779 starting May 18 through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. It will begin shipping after the campaign finishes at the end of June, at which point the retail price will be higher.

Is this mini gaming laptop worth the money? GPD sent me a pre-production model so I could find out, and I’ve been testing it for the past two weeks. In this preview, I’ll share some observations. Please keep in mind that this is a preview rather than a review though, because I’m testing pre-production hardware. I’ve run into a few performance issues, but I cannot say at this point whether they’ll be resolved in the final version of the GPD Win Max that will ship this summer.

GPD Win Max specs

Display8 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel capacitive touchscreen (500 nits and 90% DCI-P3 color gamut)
CPUIntel Core i5-1035G7 (4-cores/8-threads)
GPUIntel Iris Plus 940 64EU
TDP12/15/25 watts (adjustable in BIOS)
RAM16GB LPDDR4X-3733
Storage512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 2280
Connectivity802.11ax/Bluetooth 5.0/Gigabit Ethernet
USB Ports1 x TB3, 1 x USB- 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.1 Type-A
Other portsHDMI 2.0b (4K60fps), RJ45, microSDXC, 3.5mm audio
Battery57 Wh (3 x 5000 mAh)
Power supply65W Gallium Nitride power adapter (75mm x 36mm)
Cooling2 x fans and 2 x heat pipes
Dimensions205mm x 140mm x 24.5mm (8.1″ x 5.5″ x 1″)
Weight800 grams (1.8 pounds)
Price (US) $779 during crowdfunding

Some history

Chinese device maker GPD has been making gaming handhelds for years. But until a few years ago, they all ran Android. While the company still has a few Android-powered handhelds, the company launched its first Windows model in 2016.

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GPD Win (1st-gen)

The original GPD Win featured a 5.5 inch, 1280 x 720 pixel touchscreen display, an Intel Atom x7-Z8750 Cherry Trail processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage. It had a QWERTY keyboard designed for thumb typing and built-in game controllers. The GPD Win looked very much like a handheld gaming device, but since it ran Windows, you could use it to play PC games — as long as they weren’t too demanding. Even with a relatively low-resolution display, there’s only so much you can do on a computer with an Intel Atom processor.

So two years later GPD launched an updated model called the Win 2. With a larger 6 inch display, a faster processor (Intel Core m3-7Y30 at launch, but later upgraded to Core m3-8100Y), 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB M.2 solid state drive, the 2nd-gen model could handle games that you wouldn’t be able to play on the original. But it was still too small to use for much of anything but gaming.

GPD Win Max

Meanwhile, GPD was releasing a parallel line of devices that weren’t designed for gaming at all. The GPD Pocket and GPD Pocket 2 were little computers with 7 inch displays, keyboards that were large enough for touch typing (with a little practice), and cases so small that you could literally fold these little computers up and slide them into your pants pocket (if you wear men’s jeans, anyway).

GPD Pocket 2

Last year GPD released its largest laptop to date… a model called the GPD P2 Max which weighs 1.4 pounds and has an 8.9 inch display, support for up to an Intel Core m3-8100Y processor, and the best keyboard available on a GPD device so far. It’s also the company’s first mini laptop to feature a webcam. But what it doesn’t have are game controllers.

GPD P2 Max

So that brings us to the GPD Win Max. When it comes to design, the latest computer from GPD feels like a cross between the GPD Win and Pocket/P2 families. It has a larger screen and bigger keyboard than any GPD Win device to date. But it also has game controllers and GPD clearly selected the laptop’s processor with an eye toward gaming.

GPD Win Max

That said, the keyboard is more cramped than the one on the GPD P2 Max, which makes typing a little less comfortable. And the notebook is bigger and heavier than the GPD Win 2, which could make it more uncomfortable to use for extended gaming sessions.

I think the performance more than makes up for those compromises though. Whether it justifies the $780 and up price tag depends on just how much you want a gaming PC that’s easy to play on your lap.

How do you hold this thing?

That’s because, I’d say on your lap is the ideal way to play games with this computer. At 1.8 pounds, it’s light by laptop standards. But it weighs twice as much as a Nintendo Switch with Joy-cons attached. So while you can certainly hold the Win Max aloft with two hands while you play, it’s much more comfortable to rest the front of the laptop on your legs or a table while gripping the back with your hands.

Sliding your hands under the back of the laptop raises the screen a bit and allows you to put your thumbs over the analog sticks, D-pad, and X, Y, and A buttons while wrapping your fingers around the rear should buttons.

While the primary reason to hold the Win Max this way is to play games, you can also flip a switch on the side of the laptop to switch the came controllers to mouse mode. This lets you use the right analog stick to move the on-screen cursor and the left and right shoulder buttons for left and right clicks.

This is much more comfortable when holding the laptop than stretching your thumbs over to the touchpad or reaching up to touch the display. But if you put the computer down on a table, desk, or lap then you can also use the touchpad (it supports multi-touch gestures for scrolling, right-clicking, or other Windows functions) or reach up to tap and swipe the computer’s touchscreen display.

Since the touchpad is above the keyboard rather than below it, I actually find myself using the touchscreen on the GPD Win Max more than I do on most laptops. Maybe that’s because if I’m going to move my arm forward from the keyboard anyway, I might as well go an extra inch or two and touch the screen.

I should point out that the Win Max is very much a laptop and not a tablet. The screen opens to a 180 degree angle, but it doesn’t flip around any further than that.

This means you can hold the button like a game controller while the screen is pushed back as far as it will go. But I generally find it more comfortable to use the computer in clamshell mode.

If you’re interested in using the Win Max as a normal laptop computer, you can certainly do that. But you might have to spend a little time acclimating to the keyboard first.

I already posted an in-depth look at the keyboard and other input methods in a separate article. But here’s a brief recap:

GPD managed to cram 75 keys into this little laptop. But in order to do that, the company had to shrink a bunch of those keys and some are in unusual locations. For example, the apostrophe, quotation mark, colon, and semicolon keys are to the right of the keyboard rather than next to the L key (where you’ll find them on most keyboards). The Tab key is above the Q instead of to its left. And the tiny Caps lock key is practically attached to the A.

The number keys are all half-height, and they’re all off by about a row from where you’d expect them to be. So I often find myself hitting 1 when I mean to type 2, (or ! when I mean to type @). Above the number keys are a set of Fn keys that are also half-height. So even after getting used to the location of the number and Fn keys, I still have to look at the keyboard sometimes to make sure I’m hitting the correct key.

All of which is to say, this is not my favorite mini-laptop keyboard. It’s easier to type on this computer than on the GPD Win or Win 2. But I’d much rather have the GPD P2 Max or One Mix 3 Yoga keyboard on a laptop the size of the GPD Win Max.

On the bright (somewhat) side, the GPD Win Max keyboard is backlit. But you’ll probably only really notice this in dark or dimly lit environments, as the lighting isn’t very intense.

You can read more about input methods in our article on the topic:

GPD Win Max keyboard, buttons, and touchpad preview

Hardware and design

The computer has a dark grey plastic body and a bronze-colored magnesium-alloy lid that matches the color of the keyboard deck. While plastic cases may not feel as “premium” as metal, GPD says the Win Max body is made from LG-DOW 121H aviation-grade anti-shock ABS synthetic resin for a thin but sturdy shell that actually feels pretty good in the hand.

GPD says the material was also chosen for its high temperature resistance, because gaming laptops can get rather hot. The good news is that GPD put some heavy-duty cooling in the Win Max to keep the system from getting too hot and throttling the CPU speed. The bad news is that it’s noisy as heck.

There’s a large air intake vent covering much of the computer’s bottom, and an a smaller outlet vent on the back of the notebook. Two fans inside the PC draw air in through the bottom, circulate it, and then push it out the back — if you place your hand by the outlet when the fans are spinning, you’ll feel a strong gust of hot air, but you’d have to go out of your way to do that, since the vent isn’t very close to the shoulder buttons.

When the computer is idle, you might not notice the fans very much. But under heavy load, they spin up hard and make a loud whirring sound. If you’re playing games with the speaker volume turned all the way… you’ll still probably hear the fans. So you might want to use headphones or external speakers while gaming. And even if you are wearing headphones, you might get funny looks if you fire up the Win Max in a library or other quiet space, since the fans alone are so noisy.

Update: GPD has announced plans to add a fan “silent mode” option to the Win Max before the mini laptop ships this summer. There will be a blue fan logo on the computer’s F key, and pressing Fn+F will use just a single fan, and it will spin at 30-percent speed or lower when the CPU temperature is below 50 degrees C (or 122 degrees F). 

If the CPU temperature rises higher, both fans will kick in, but the fans will still run at only 30-percent speed for quieter operation. 

Aside from a vent, the back of the laptop is where you’ll find most of the ports. At a time when many larger laptops are dropping legacy ports and going all-in on Thunderbolt 3 and/or USB-C ports, the Win Max has a full-sized HDMI 2.0b port (with support for 4K60Hz output), two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, a USB 3.1 type-C port, and a Thunderbolt 3 port (which means you can use external graphics cards or multiple displays with the Win Max). And that’s just the list of ports on the back of the computer.

On the front there’s a headphone jack (and a microphone). I’m not in love with the placement of the audio jack, because it means your headphone adapter may dig into your leg a bit if you’re holding the notebook on your lap with the back raised (which is the most comfortable way to hold the Win Max while gaming).

On the right side there’s a microSD card reader and full-sized Ethernet jack.

The laptop supports WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, but one day when I was copying some large files from a network attached storage device I decided to connect an Ethernet cable, and that ended up cutting the file transfer time in half.

A few things this laptop doesn’t have? A fingerprint reader or webcam. While fingerprint readers aren’t exactly ubiquitous on laptops yet, they do come in handy — particularly for small devices like the Win Max, where logging in with a tap of the finger would be a lot faster than typing in a PIN or password on the computer’s small keyboard.

As for the webcam, GPD probably saved a few bucks by omitting an accessory that many people didn’t really use on their laptops anyway… until recently. I suspect the decision was made before the onset of a global pandemic that made webcams a hot commodity. It’s not like there isn’t room for a camera — there’s plenty of space in the bezels around the laptop’s 8 inch display.

Speaking of the display, it’s a 1280 x 800 panel. While most other gaming laptops have 1920 x 1080 pixel or higher resolution displays, it’s worth keeping in mind that those laptops also usually have larger displays. On a pixels-per-inch basis, the Win Max is in pretty good company:

Screen sizeScreen resolutionPPI
8″1280 x 800189
11.6″1920 x 1080189
13.3″1920 x 1200170
15.6″2560 x 1080188

Another advantage with opting with a lower resolution display is that the laptop’s HD screen has literally half as many pixels as full HD display, and that means the computer’s Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics processor doesn’t have to work as hard as it would on a laptop with a 1080p or higher-resolution screen.

GPD says the display supports 90-percent DCI-P3 color gamut and up to 500 nits of brightness. I don’t have the tools to confirm those claims, but the screen looks pretty good to me and it seems to support a good range of brightness options, making it easy to view in a brightly lit room, and easy to dim so the screen isn’t blindingly bright in a darker environment. Since the display is glossy, I’d be wary of recommending the Win Max for outdoor gaming though — even when playing indoors on a sunny day, it can reflect a fair amount of glare.

Using it

Most people who are interested in the GPD Win Max are probably looking to use it as a gaming machine — and for good reason. That’s honestly what it’s best at.

But I’ve been fascinated with tiny laptops since the days of the Psion Revo and HP Jornada. So the first thing I tried to use it for was… work. I spent a little time researching and writing short news articles for Liliputing using nothing but the GPD Win Max in order to see if it was a viable laptop replacement.

In a word: maybe?

On the one hand, it’s certainly got more than enough horsepower. In fact, it’s faster than my HP Spectre x360 13.3 inch laptop with an 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor (see the benchmarks below). But the 8 inch display doesn’t give you a lot of room for viewing multiple apps or web pages at once. And the awkward keyboard layout caused me to make more even typos than usual (long time readers will know that’s saying something).

In a pinch, you could certainly use the Win Max for real work. And if you’re not a heavy duty multitasker or don’t do a lot of typing, then that might be good enough for you to consider using this as your primary laptop. If you’re someone who uses your phone for most tasks and just wants a PC for gaming and occasional other tasks, then this could fit the bill. For me… it’s not really a laptop replacement.

But it is a pretty good gaming PC. In fact, I’ve probably spent more time playing PC games in the last two weeks than I have in the last two years… partly because I wanted to test the GPD Win Max at the task it was designed for, and partly because I actually find I enjoy gaming more on a portable device than I do on a stationary PC.

This may not be a pocket-sized device, but it’s a heck of a lot more portable than most gaming PCs. Start a game in your bedroom or kitchen, and you can easily carry it with you to the living room. Since the controllers are built into the PC, there’s nothing to plug in. And since the display is just above/between the controllers, it feels a bit like you’re holding a portable into a virtual world in your hands, where you can position it in any way that’s comfortable for you.

I’m not really much of a gamer, but I’m actually going to be a little sad when I have to send the Win Max on to its next recipient, because I’ve started a couple of games that I wouldn’t mind actually finishing — something I rarely do anymore.

Some games certainly run better than others. Two of the more demanding titles I’ve tried include Steep and Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, both of which tend to run at around 20-30 frames per second at their default settings (and with the GPD Win Max at its default settings). In my book, that’s just good enough to be playable — but more serious gamers might want to try adjusting settings or sticking to less resource-intensive games.

GTA V ran at a solid 30 frames per second (in fact, it looks like the game might even have been locked to that frame rate), while other games including DarksidersHob, and LEGO Batman all ran at well over 60 frames per second (which is overkill on a system with a 60 Hz display).

If you want to see some games in action, I’ve put together a GPD Win Max YouTube playlist which includes a bunch of gameplay videos:

And if you want to see videos from someone who a) is actually good at games and b) has spent some time adjusting the Win Max settings for optimal performance, check out this playlist from YoutTuber The Phawx:

The GPD Win Max also makes a pretty decent portable media player… and one that can run for a long time on a charge.

For the most part, it looks like you’ll get around 2-4 hours of run time while playing PC games on this mini laptop. But when I set it up to stream a long video from YouTube, the Win Max ran for close to 10 hours, with the battery level dipping about 10-percent per hour (with the screen brightness set to 50-percent).

Video streaming is something that the laptop can handle with ease, so not only does the battery drain slowly, but the fan doesn’t kick in as often (or as loudly) as it does when you’re playing games. So the Win Max is a reasonably good option for media consumption. Just keep in mind that the computer’s stereo speakers aren’t particularly loud and don’t present a lot of bass. So headphones could come in handy.

When you do need charge the battery, you can either use the included 65W USB-C power adapter, or any other charger that supports USB Power Delivery and outputs enough juice for the Win Max.

I had no trouble charging the laptop with the 45W adapters for an HP Spectre x360 13 inch laptop or a Dell XPS 13. But I was unable to get the laptop to charge using a 45W USB-PD power bank for some reason.

Benchmarks

Synthetic benchmarks may not always be the best way to gauge a computer’s real-world performance. But they do at least give us an apples-to-apples way to compare one computer with another. And with that in mind, the GPD Win Max punches above its weight class… quite literally.

This 1.8 pound notebook has a 10th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of PCIe NVMe storage. Those are the sorts of specs you’d expect to find in a premium thin and light laptop… and in most of the benchmarks I’ve run, the Win Max does seem competitive with laptops like the new Dell XPS 13 9300 (with an Intel Core 7-1065G7 Ice Lake processor and Iris Plus graphics).

Dell’s laptop does come out a little ahead in most tests. But the gap is smaller than you’d expect, given that the XPS 13 featured in that review sells for $1750.

As I mentioned above, the Win Max also outperforms my HP Spectre x360 laptop (with a Core i5-8250U processor) in most tests, which is less surprising, since that system is a few years old. But things really get interesting when you start to look at benchmarks that focus on graphics — the Win Max (and other laptops with Ice Lake chips with Iris Plus graphics) run circles around my aging HP Spectre with Intel UHD graphics.

Unsurprisingly, the Win Max also runs circles around the GPD Win 2, which has a 7th-gen Intel Core m3-7Y30 processor (with much lower power consumption).

I’ve thrown in a few other laptops as well, where scores are available, including the GPD Win 2 (Core m3-7Y30), a Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (Core i7-1065G7) and a Dell Vostro 15 7590 (Core i7-9750H and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics).

You can check out the charts below for some more comparisons.

I should probably note that all of the benchmarks scores so far were achieved using the GPD Win Max at its default settings, which means the processor was set to a 25 watt TDP, and the Windows power slider was set to “better performance” while the laptop was plugged into a power supply.

But I did also run the same tests on battery power, just to see if the mini laptop takes a performance hit when it’s running unplugged. It does… but the differences are pretty small.

Notes for power users

Wondering if you can upgrade the storage, overclock or underclock the system, or run an operating system other than Windows? Yes, yes, and maybe.

SSD replacement

As with most laptops, you cannot upgrade or replace the processor in the GPD Win Max. You also can’t replace the RAM, as it’s soldered to the motherboard. But you can replace the 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe solid state drive that comes with the computer.

To do that, you’ll need to remove all the screws on the bottom of the laptop, pry open the case (preferably with a plastic prying tool designed for this purpose, so you don’t damage anything), and then carefully detach the battery in order to fully open the case.

I skipped that last step, but I did get far enough to find the solid state drive and see that in order to remove and replace it, you’ll also have to lift up at least one of the fans. It’s not the easiest SSD replacement job I’ve ever seen, but it certainly looks doable.

Adjusting CPU and GPU settings in the UEFI/BIOS/Setup utility

If you hold the Del key during startup, the GPD Win Max will load the Setup utility where you can view system information and adjust a lot of settings. Keep in mind that I’m testing a pre-production prototype of the mini laptop though — it’s possible some or all of the settings listed below may not be available in the retail units that ship to customers starting this summer.

In addition to the usual suspects like options to enable or disable fast boot, quiet boot, and secure boot, you can adjust thermal settings, CPU settings, and GPU settings. The only ones I really spent time playing with were the TDP configuration settings, which let you adjust the amount of power the processor can use.

While most laptops with an Intel Core i5-1035G7 are configured to run at 15 to 25 watts, the GPD Win Max ships with the TDP set at 25-30 watts. This is what Intel considers the TDP-up configuration for this processor, and it should offer a little bit of a performance boost, at the cost of battery life.

But if you’d rather trade a bit of performance for longer run time (and maybe less fan noise), you can go into the TDP configuration options and switch from the “Up” TDP Boot mode to “Nominal” to change to 15/25 watts. Or you can opt for the “Down” option if you want to save even more power by switching to 12W/20W.

You can also manually change those power limit settings using the plus and minus keys on the keyboard. Theoretically that could allow you to push past 30 watts, but you risk making the laptop less stable if you do that.

I haven’t extensively tested the differences in performance and battery life that you get by changing these settings, but it’s nice to know that the you have the option.

Here are just a few of the other settings you can tweak from Setup utility:

  • Enable/disable hyperthreading
  • Enable/disable turbo mode
  • Select the number of active CPU cores
  • Set the maximum GPU speed
  • Adjust WiFi settings

I’d advise proceeding with caution and making notes of any settings you change, because the “Restore Defaults” option in the Setup Utility seems a little finicky — at least one time when I manually changed a configuration and then tried to change it back by restoring the default setting, nothing happened.

Operating systems

The good news is that it’s very easy to boot from a USB flash drive. The bad news it that I can’t find anything other than Windows 10 that runs well.

Update: That’s not entirely true. While I couldn’t find an operating system with out-of-the-box support while working on this review, on May 17, The Phawx posted a YouTube video showing Ubuntu 20.04 working on a GPD Win Max prototype. Here’s how he got it working:

  1. In the GRUB bootloader, manually set “nomodeset” in order to make the display easier to view (it’ll still be stuck in portrait, but you won’t be seeing quadruple) and you can rotate the screen once the OS is loaded. Just note that there’s no hardware-accelerated graphics, which limits the usefulness for now. Update: Alternately, you can run an Ubuntu MATE build designed for the GPD Pocket 2. Nomodest will be enabled by default, without the need to adjust anything in GRUB. 
  2. Once you’ve booted into the operating system, you can install it to local storage — the NVMe SSD that comes with the Win Max may not be recognized. But you can install the operating system to a microSD card or replace the NVMe drive with a SATA drive that will be detected.
  3. Update the Linux kernel to a 5.7 or later release to get hardware-accelerated video working.

Here’s the video from The Phawx showing almost everything working:

Now back to Liliputing’s initial observations regarding alternate operating systems on the GPD Win Max:

Press the F7 key during startup, and the Win Max will show a boot options menu that lets you decide whether to boot from internal storage or an external device. So if you load an operating system onto a bootable USB flash drive, you can plug it in, restart the computer, hit F7 and see what happens.

What usually happens with most GNU/Linux distributions so far is that you’ll see a sideways bootloader screen, since GRUB seems to think the Win Max display is in portrait orientation rather than landscape.

Then when you choose the operating system you want to launch, things get messy — and by messy, I mean not only will the graphical user interface load in portrait orientation (if it loads at all), but you’ll see double or quadruple vision, with some items displaying in multiple places on the screen.

It’s possible that someone with a little more experience debugging Linux graphics issues may be able to find a way to get things working. But out of the box, I was unable to load Ubuntu 18.04.4, Ubuntu MATE 20.04, Fedora 32, ElementaryOS 5.1.4, or Manjaro 20.01. At that point, I gave up.

Performance issues/prototype issues?

Here’s the part where I tell you that everything mentioned above is what happens when the GPD Win Max is working the way it’s supposed to work. But I did run into a few problems with my review unit.

Since I’m testing pre-production hardware, I cannot easily say whether these problems will affect the versions of the GPD Win Max that ship to backers of the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign or customers who buy the handheld gaming laptop after the campaign ends. But here are some of the issues I encountered:

Sleep and shut down can be wonky

Sometimes when I choose Shut Down from the Windows power menu, the computer restarts instead of shutting down. And sometimes when I choose the Sleep option, the screen goes dim for a moment and then comes back on.

Other times, when I close the laptop lid to put the computer to sleep, I can hear the fan continue spinning occasionally, indicating that while the display is off, the laptop isn’t exactly sleeping.

These things don’t happen all the time. Sometimes sleep and shut down work exactly the way they should. But sometimes they don’t.

The Phawx says he hasn’t noticed these problems with his demo unit, so the issue may not be affecting all pre-production prototypes.

Occasionally the CPU gets stuck running at 399 or 599 MHz

This is a much more rare issue, as it’s only happened to me twice in two weeks. But after rebooting the computer, occasionally everything will feel incredibly slow. Firing up the HWMonitor utility shows me that the CPU speeds are stuck at 399 Hz or 599 Hz, which would explain why it seems to take a long time for the computer to do much of anything.

The first time this happened, rebooting the computer was all it took to kickstart the CPU into high gear again.

When it happened again a week and a half later, a simple reboot wasn’t enough. This time I had to go into the UEFI Setup Utility and try adjusting settings. Switching to the 15W “nominal” TDP seemed to do the trick, and I was later able to go back to the 25W “Up” setting.

The Phawx has experienced similar issues, and suggests changing the max GPU frequency to 1100 MHz or another high setting as a possible solution.

Again, I cannot say for sure whether either of these issues will affect the final version of the hardware. And I’m not sure I’d call either problem a dealbreaker — but it would be nice if $800-ish hardware didn’t have these sorts of bugs.

Verdict

The GPD Win Max is a pretty impressive portable gaming laptop. It might not be the most powerful gaming PC on the market, but it’s got enough horsepower to handle many fairly recent games, plus plenty of options for power users that want to configure the performance of the system. The built-in game controllers also gives the system the feel of a console that plays PC games.

But it is very much a full-fledged Windows computer with a very capable processor, a reasonably good GPU, and plenty of RAM and storage (the latter of which is upgradeable if you need more). With a good range of ports including HDMI 2.0b and Thunderbolt 3, you can connect a 4K display, an external graphics card dock, or just about any other peripherals.

If you’re not interested in gaming, this probably isn’t the ultra mobile PC (UMPC) for you. While the Win Max is probably the most powerful laptop with a sub-10 inch display to date, there are other models that are frankly easier to use as a laptop or handheld device thanks to better keyboards or other features like 360-degree hinges or active pen support.

But for now, I can’t think of a better option for anyone who is looking for a portable gaming PC.

Thanks to GPD for sending us the demo unit featured in this review.

You can reserve one of GPD’s latest handheld gaming laptops by backing the GPD Win Max Indiegogo campaign at the $779 level. The company says it will begin shipping devices after the campaign concludes at the end of June, at which point the price is expected to go up.

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  1. So, the only way to scroll is the touchpad (two fingers I suppose), and screen touch?
    Or, can I use the joysticks to scroll? Do I have to (or can I), remap the mouse mode to use one of the joysticks (the other joystick that is not used for the mouse) to scroll?
    Can the joystick and game buttons be remapeed using a keymapper?

  2. When this was first announced it was going to be released with an AMD chipset. That was scrapped and unfortunately I’ll have to hold off until they release an AMD version. Intel can’t compare to AMD’s graphics in there 4000 series chips.

    1. The AMD they were originally going to use was nowhere near the 4000 chips but hey, let us all know when you find a handheld packing one of those. (You won’t.)

      1. This product isn’t released yet and laptops with the 4000 series chips are so I am not seeing your point at all.

        1. Well then, you should have no problem finding a 4000-series handheld, right? After all, it’s so easy to design one, someone must have done it. Otherwise, why would GPD have gone with Ice Lake?

    2. According to GPD they tested Intel vs. AMD APUs and Intel ended up being the better choice do I wouldn’t hold your breath.

  3. Great review thank you.
    One little question, when you said “I’m not really much of a gamer, but I’m actually going to be a little sad when I have to send the Win Max on to its next recipient”, are these demo units gotten under the condition they are re-sent to another reviewer or…?

    1. It varies. As a matter of policy, I never keep review units sent to me unless I’ve paid for them myself. Most PC makers with a major presence in the US have PR arms that arrange for loans, and when the review is finished, I send the hardware back to the company. When I review products from smaller companies, sometimes they ask me to return the device and sometimes they don’t. If they don’t, I hold a giveaway. If they do, I send it back. In this case, I’ll most likely be sending the GPD Win to another reviewer or someone else the company has a relationship with, per GPD’s request.

  4. Thanks for the great review! Quite tempting, but I’m hoping that either gpd or OneNetbook will release a yoga style device with similar specs (either something like an updated OneMix Yoga 3 Pro or a penable GPD P2 Max?), so I’m holding out for now. Great to hear about the replaceable SSD!

    Concerning the fan noise, you mentioned that lowering the TDP might help reducing fan noise – have you tried this out for a bit and if so, did you have the impression that it helped in any significant way? I know comparing noise levels is always a pain because it mostly depends on what you do, but some subjective impression might help to understand how much influence the user might have.

    About the power bank not working, maybe you can compare what voltage levels the official charger provides that night be missing in the power bank? The OneMix Yoga 2s has a very lucky charging circuitry which requires 12V (and around 2 or 2.5A), while most modern USB-C accessories offer 9V and then 15V, so many people ended up not being able to use their normal chargers/power banks (and finding writing options requires a bit of research). Maybe your problem with the power bank is something similar.