The company behind the AYA Neo line of handheld gaming PCs is branching out into compact desktop computers with retro-style designs.
The upcoming AYA Neo Retro Mini PC AM01 is a small form-factor desktop that looks like a classic Mac computer, while the Retro Mini PC AM02 draws inspiration from classic game consoles like the the NES.
Specs, pricing, and availability haven’t been announced yet, but AYA has revealed some design pictures in a blog post, dedicated web page, and a preview for an upcoming crowdfunding campaign for the AM01.
The AYA Neo Retro Mini PC AM01 has a small body designed to resemble early Apple Macintosh computers, except it looks like this model is designed to be laid down so that the decorative black rectangle (where you’d find a screen on a real Macintosh) is pointing upward rather than forward.
AYA says the AM01 will be available “with various processor versions and customizable hardware configurations,” and the system will be released in mid to late November.
Update: The company briefly showed on its website that two processor options would be available for the AM01: AMD Ryzen 7 5700U and Ryzen 3 3200U. That information has since been removed, so it’s unclear whether those details are subject to change.
But CEO Arthur Zhang says the AMO2 will have an AMD Ryzen 7000 series processor… which doesn’t really tell us much, since some Ryzen 7000 series chips have Zen 2 CPU cores, while others have Zen 3 or Zen 4 chips.
The 5700U chip isn’t a great option for a gaming device, but it’s not bad for a general purpose mini PC. The 3200U, on the other hand, is an old chip that would be pretty disappointing to see in a system like this: even a 6-watt Intel N100 processor would offer better performance.
The AYA Neo Retro Mini PC AM02, meanwhile, is a Nintendo-inspired PC that does have a built-in display, although it’s a small screen designed to be used as a second screen for status information rather than a primary display.
This model hides USB and headphone jacks under a panel that looks like the slot where you would load cartridges if this were a real game console.
AYA has made a name for itself in recent years by offering handheld gaming PCs with touchscreen displays, built-in game controllers, and AMD Ryzen processors with Radeon integrated graphics. But the company’s product lineup has gotten rather complicated recently with AYA introducing new products at a dizzying pace.
Branching out into mini PCs makes a lot of sense… odds are that these little computers will feature similar motherboards and processors to the company’s handhelds while allowing gamers to bring their own controllers and displays. But it remains to be seen whether the retro-style designs will be enough to make these systems viable alternatives to other mini PCs or gaming desktops.
I also suspect that while handheld gamers are more likely to be satisfied with integrated graphics, anyone looking to plug in an external display may want at least an option for discrete graphics. It’s unclear if there’s enough room inside these systems for a decent discrete GPU, but I suppose it’s possible that AYA could be hiding USB4 or Oculink ports on these systems, which would open the possibility of using external graphics docks.