The company behind the AYA Neo line of handheld gaming PCs is taking a page out Framework‘s playbook and making modular design and upgradeability a selling point… sort of.

When the company introduced the AYA Neo 2 and Geek handhelds last year, AYA made no promises that you’d be able to upgrade the processors. But the new Neo 2S and Geek 1S that are set to ship this summer feature new processors that could deliver a significant performance boost without changing the physical design. So AYA plans to offer a “paid upgrade service” to customers who want to upgrade the mainboard in their existing handhelds. And what are you supposed to do with your old mainboard? A Mini PC kit is on the way that will let you turn it into a desktop.

The original AYA Neo 2 and Geek handheld gaming PCs were powered by AMD Ryzen 7 6800U processors with 8 Zen 3+ CPU cores and Radeon 680M integrated graphics with 12 RDNA 2 GPU cores.

AYA’s new S-series models feature a new mainboard with a Ryzen 7 7840U chip featuring 8 Zen 4 CPU cores and Radeon 780M graphics with 12 RDNA 3 GPU cores. The company says this brings a 20-40 percent boost in performance, allowing you to get longer battery life by running your system at a lower power level or better frame rates while running at higher power.

But the previous-gen chip? It’s actually still pretty good. So AYA also plans to launch a Mini PC kit that will let you put the mainboard from an original Neo 2S or Geek into compact chassis that will let you use the board like a desktop computer. So your old handheld gaming device could become your new home computer, media center, or productivity PC.

AYA’s announcement does raise some questions that we don’t have answers to yet. For example:

  • How much will the mainboard upgrade service cost?
  • Will customers have to ship their handheld PCs to China to have the upgrades completed, or will AYA sell DIY kits to folks who are comfortable disassembling and reassembling computer hardware?
  • When will the upgrades be available?
  • How much will the mini PC kit cost?
  • When will the mini PC kit be available?

The company says more details will be “revealed in the future.” What we do know is that there’s no easy way to upgrade the processor without replacing the entire mainboard, as the Ryzen processor, memory, and other key components are soldered to the board.

But that means that in addition to getting a new processor, customers who do opt for the upgrade will also get LPDDR5x-7500 memory (up from LPDDR5-6400) and may also be able to order configurations with up to 64GB of RAM (previous versions topped out at 32GB).

At this point AYA is only promising upgrades for two out of a whole bunch of the company’s handhelds. And it’s not clear how easy it will be to perform your own upgrades.

So AYA’s modular promises aren’t quite as all-encompassing as Framework’s. That company puts modularity, repairability, and upgradeability at the core of everything it does: every Framework laptop released to date has been made so that it’s easy for users to disassemble and repair at home. And you can even buy a fairly inexpensive case to house your old mainboard after it’s removed from your laptop, or 3D print your own.

But it’s still nice to see more companies at least starting to embrace the idea that upgrading your gear doesn’t necessarily have to mean getting rid of your old parts.

via AYA 

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  1. Should probably mention that GPD did this type of stuff with the Win Max, too. I assume they’ll also do the same for the Win Max 2 refresh and the upcoming Win 4 refresh.

    1. GPD said in respective IGG comments that they won’t be offering board upgrades for the Win Max 2 and Win 4 due to needing new cases that replaces the USB-A port with Oculink. They feel a board + case upgrade is not worth their effort.