There’s no shortage of handheld gaming PCs on the market today, and more arriving all the time. But hardware hacker Pitstoptech has taken a novel approach to the concept, by designing a modular, upgradeable handheld gaming PC.
The current prototype has all all the features you’d expect of a good current-gen handheld PC, but since the heart of the system is a Framework Mainboard, you should be able to remove and replace the motherboard, memory, and storage to add more power in the future. Whether that’s an economical thing to do remains to be seen.
Pitstoptech has posted a YouTubve video showing off a working prototype that features what looks like a 3D printed chassis that houses a 7 inch, full HD touchscreen display, 55 Wh battery, stereo speakers, and a Framework Mainboard with an Intel Core i7-1260P processor, 16GB of RAM, and a (removable) 512GB SSD.
But once the Framework Mainboard with Ryzen 7040U begins shipping, you should be able to replace the Intel version with a board featuring up to an AMD Ryzen 7 7840U processor, which is a cousin of the Ryzen Z1 Extreme chip used in the Asus ROG Ally.
For game controllers, the handheld uses Nintendo Switch-like detachable controllers which connect firmly to the chassis, allowing you to hold the handheld while gaming. But since their Bluetooth controllers, you can also detach them, hold one in each hand, and play games while the computer is on a table in front of you (or plugged into an external display).
Pitstoptech plans to sell DIY kits for folks that want to build their own handhelds. And at first it seems kind of appealing.
After all, in theory, this sort of modular design would allow you to assemble a handheld gaming PC with state-of-the art components today, and upgrade the display, controllers, memory, storage, or battery in the future when better parts are available.
In other words, not only would it cost you more to buy a mainboard + DIY kit today… but there’s a good chance you’d have to pay the same price for a new motherboard in a few years that you would pay to buy a brand new handheld.
This sort of upgradeable kit would cut down on eWaste, at least.
Ultimately, the Framework Mainboard might be better suited for other product categories though. It’s still pretty amazing that you can upgrade older Framework laptops with new mainboards without the need to buy a brand new computer. And when you take the old board out of your laptop, you can repurpose it as a mini desktop PC… or maybe a handheld gaming PC.
Hmm… maybe that’s actually what this kit would be good for.