The AYA Neo Next Lite is a budget handheld gaming PC with a starting price under $299, making it the cheapest x86 handheld from AYA Neo to date. But after teasing the handheld earlier this week, the company has now revealed the full spec sheet… and I’m not sure it’s worth even that much money.

Don’t get me wrong. The specs aren’t awful. It’s just that most people are probably going to be better off spending $349 on a Steam Deck instead.

There are primarily two reasons for that. The first is that the AYA Neo Next Lite ships with an unofficial 3rd-party version of SteamOS, which almost certainly won’t be as well-supported as the version of the Linux-based operating system that runs on Valve’s Steam Deck.

Jan 25, 2024 Update: AYA has announced that the Next Lite will ship with Windows 11 Home rather than HoloISO, although it will offer images based on the third-party, SteamOS Linux distro for download from the AYANEO website for those who want to use it. The original article continues below. 

The second is that the AYA Neo Next Lite is powered by an AMD Ryzen 4000U processor with Radeon Vega graphics. These are mobile chips that were first released about four years ago, and which don’t offer the same level of graphics performance as the AMD “Aerith” and “Sepiroth” custom chips in the Steam Deck, which both feature RDNA 2 GPUs.

While those decisions certainly helped AYA keep the price of the Neo Next Lite low, it doesn’t seem low enough when Steam Deck prices start at just $50 more.

Still, it’s nice to see AYA make a play for the budget handheld space. The company has primarily focused on high-end devices up until now, with most existing AYA Neo handheld gaming PCs selling for $899 or more.

AYA Neo Next Lite specs
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 5 4500U
6 Zen 2 cores / 12 threads
2.3 GHz base / 4 GHz max boost
11MB cache
Radeon Vega 6 graphics @ up to 1.5 GHz
10 – 25W TDP
7nm FinFET
AMD Ryzen 7 4800U
8 Zen 2 cores / 16 threads
1.8 GHz base / 4.2 GHz max boost
12MB cache
Radeon Vega 8 graphics @ up to 1.75 GHz
10 – 25W TDP
7nm FinFET
Storage128GB / 512GB
M.2 2280 PCIe 3.0 SSD
512GB
M.2 2280 PCIe 3.0 SSD
Price128GB: $299
512GB: $349
$399
RAM16GB
LPDDR4x-4266
Display7 inches
1280 x 800 pixels
IPS LCD
Ports2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (full function)
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (data only)
1 x 3.5mm audio
WirelessIntel AX200
WiFi 6
BT 5.2
Battery47 Wh
CoolingDual copper heat pipes
“PC grade” fan
Controllers, sensors & motorsHall sensor joysticks
Hall sensor triggers
6-axis gyroscope
Dual X-axis linear motor
OSHoloISO (3rd-party, open source SteamOS build optimized by AYA Neo for the Next Lite)
Windows drivers available for download
Size267 x 112 x 22-30mm
Weight720 grams

The decision to use HoloISO is a particularly interesting one. It’s an open source, third-party version of SteamOS that’s been adapted to run on devices other than the Steam Deck.

But there hasn’t been major update to HoloISO since August, 2023, while Valve pushes SteamOS/Steam Deck updates on a very frequent basis in order to fix bugs, improve performance, offer optimizations for specific games, and more.

While AYA says it’s optimized HoloISO to play well with the Next Lite handheld, it’s unclear what kind of long-term support the company will offer. But AYA does plan to host Windows drivers on its website for users who want to install Windows.

All of which makes me wonder if AYA is actually serious about offering a viable Linux-based operating system for gamers… or if the company just opted to ship something without Windows as a way to keep the up-front costs low, but expects users to install Windows on their own (which will drive up the price for anyone who doesn’t already have a spare Windows license lying around).

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  1. I find the port selection compelling (the Steam Deck really needs more than 1 USB port), but the price to performance ratio don’t justify the purchase. I agree that you’d probably be better off just buying the official Steam Deck.

  2. Speculation doing the rounds that “this seems like the company’s way of clearing out stock of Next shells + 4000 series processors. This seems like a good deal but it isn’t”
    Processors which apparently provide half the performance of the SD’s.

  3. Good luck to Aya on this. Too bad Valve hasn’t yet made good on their comments about supporting SteamOS on other handhelds. I assume they want to partner with companies who have decent resources on supporting Linux.

    I recall GPD’s talks with Valve failed after GPD just wanted Valve to do everything for them where GPD just expected to send a sample device. I assume Aya only has some basic resources in Linux support that they’re, hopefully, ramping up. Their AyaSpace Windows SW isn’t a good indicator of their SW skills though…

  4. It seems like a pretty cool device in it’s own right. If the Steam Deck didn’t dominate this price range, it’d probably be fairly compelling.

    Maybe I can get one in 6-12 month when the price has fallen by $100 or so.

  5. Wasn’t the driver support for Vega finished last year? This basically does not have an up-to-date driver at arrival. If they could get a 7xxxU SoC for $50 more to be on par with the Deck, they totally should, that $50 difference is less than the price of a game.

    1. It seems the 7000U series APU has various sleep issues in Linux. At least for Steam Deck users, working sleep has been a big deal. I’m skeptical Aya has the resources to fix kernel and other low level Linux stack issues especially since there’s no partnership with Valve at all on this.

      I have no idea if the 4000U has sleep and other driver issues though.

    2. AMD started selling these Vega GPUs in their new 7x3x series. Maybe support is back for them?

  6. When AYA says they’ve “optimized HoloISO to play well with the Next Lite”, do they mean that they’re making contributions to the HoloISO project? Or does it mean that Next Lite users are going to be using some forked version of HoloISO that relies on ongoing support from AYA, making it even further detached from an already detached project?

    I’ll bet the goal of this product is to appeal to markets where you can’t buy a Steam Deck. I don’t know how many of those markets still exist, but I’ve seen many comments from people who live in countries that can’t buy a Steam Deck without going through grey-market sources.

  7. Sadly, their value proposition is pretty poor. The base SteamDeck is the better handheld gaming PC and the Logitech G Cloud is the better streaming handheld.

  8. Well, at least it got 512GB. I guess there might be cases when you prioritize storage over productivity, and 64GB is a joke nowadays. For example, some active MMOs from 2010s have enormous install size today, while still maintaining rather modest system requirements.

    It is also slightly more portable than Deck… slightly. I suspect this thing can be actually more appealing to a lot of folks whether it got not 7″, but 6″ or even 5.5″ screen.

    That said, AYA Neo once already announced less-than-$300 handheld… only for selling it for two times more.

    1. Unless it’s pocketable, it’s not actually more portable than the Deck. Everything in this class is “baggable” and the individual variations make little if any practical difference.

    2. Apparently that 512Gb is only for a very limited number of units at that promotional price point: thereafter it’s quite a bit pricier for that amount of disk space.