The GPD Win 3 is a small, powerful handheld gaming computer designed to let you play AAA PC games on a device about the size of a Nintendo Switch Lite. There’s a lot to like about the little computer, but shortly after GPD began shipping the Win 3 to customers, some folks began noticing problems.
For example, the specs on the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign promise support for WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. But some customers have received Win 3 devices with an older wireless module that top out at WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2.
The good news is that GPD has offered compensation to customers who request it. The bad news is that in doing so, the company leaked the email addresses of 100 or so customers.
Here’s the deal – the GPD Win 3 features an Intel Tiger Lake processor with Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, a PCIe NVMe SSD, and a 5.5 inch touchscreen display surrounded by game controllers. The screen slides up to reveal a capacitive touch keyboard. And there’s a Thunderbolt 4 port with support for external graphics or other peripherals.
The Win 3 is also supposed to have an Intel AX200 wireless module which supports the Intel 802.11ax wireless standard, also known as WiFi 6. It also supports Bluetooth 5.0.
And many customers who have received their Win 3 devices do have the AX200 card pre-installed. But some people noticed that they had Intel’s older AC7265 wireless card instead, which means that their devices can only support 802.11ac (WiFi 5) and Bluetooth 4.2.
According to GPD, what happened was that one of its equipment suppliers provided a batch of Intel’s older modules. And since the newer AX200 wireless module is designed to be a drop-in replacement for AC7265, it looks virtually identical and it can be attached to the mainboard the same way. So factory workers likely installed the wrong chip without noticing.
The good news is that many users probably won’t see much difference. While WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5 are significant upgrades that bring support for faster data transfer speeds and improved performance on congested networks, they’re also newer standards and a lot of people haven’t made the move yet. If you have a device with an AX200 chip connected to a home network that tops out at WiFi 5, then you’re only going to get WiFi 5 performance anyway.
- Pay $30 in compensation for getting a Win 3 with the wrong chip.
- Send you an Intel AX200 module free of charge, but you’ll need to install it yourself.
That later option is a little risky, as it involves opening up the case of GPD’s handheld computer, de-soldering the AC7265 hardware from the mainboard, replacing it with the new component, and then using a soldering iron to complete the process. If you don’t have experience doing that kind of work, there’s a chance you could break the computer and GPD says it will not cover the costs of any damage incurred.
So yeah, sending out units with the wrong wireless card pre-installed? That’s a little embarrassing. But GPD compounded the issue when emailing customers their options, because the company made the classic, avoidable mistake of using CC instead of BCC. In a nutshell, that means the company exposed the email addresses of more than 100 people… while also confirming that at least 100 people (and probably more) received Win 3 units with the wrong wireless card.
Overall it’s unclear what percent of Win 3 units have shipped with an AC7265 wireless card – many users have also reported that they did in fact get the promised AX200 card. But this isn’t the only problem that’s been reported:
- Some other users have complained about hardware defect such as broken controllers.
- Screen defects also seem to be a problem for some units.
- Others have had software issues including malware that was pre-installed.
For hardware problems, your best bet is to contact the company directly and request replacement parts and/or a replacement for the entire Win 3. For software issues, you may be able to re-install Windows on your own, but you’ll also probably want to download drivers from the GPD website after doing that in order to make sure everything works properly.
Don’t get me wrong, if you do manage to get a Win 3 that’s not a lemon, it is a pretty great device for handheld gaming (albeit one with a pretty horrible keyboard). But it does seem that GPD has had some quality control issues affecting some units of its latest handheld gaming PC that you may want to know about before placing an order.
If you do decide to buy a Win 3, you may want to go through the steps outlined in an unofficial “Getting Started Guide” to check for problems as soon as possible.