There are a growing number of handheld gaming PCs on the market, with a wide variety of designs, features, and performance levels. Some are even a little customizable, allowing you to increase the storage or even replace the screen with an after-market upgrade.

But you know what’s really customizable? A DIY solution that’s designed to let you build your own. Enter the NucDeck, a handheld gaming PC designed around an 4×4 NUC motherboard.

The NucDeck is a project from Daniel McKenzie, who has been documenting the process over the past six months in a series of YouTube videos.

At this point, McKenzie is pretty close to completing the project, and has posted a parts list, design files, and assembly instructions to a GitHub repository, allowing anyone to build their own NucDeck. But there are still a few software features that are still under development.

In a nutshell, the NucDeck rips the 4X4 motherboard out of an Intel NUC computer, puts it in a 3D-printed case with a 7 inch LCD display with a capacitive touch panel, a set of game controllers, and a battery. There’s also a small 0.96 inch status display, which is a nifty touch.

What’s cool about this particular design is that it’s made to work with 4×4 mainboards that Intel designed for its NUC line of mini PCs (which was recently taken over by Asus, but which are also similar to many third-party mini PC boards). And that means that you should be able to pick your own processor by purchasing a 4×4 board that meets your needs (or by cannibalizing a NUC computer for parts if you can’t find a retailer selling the standalone mainboard that you want).

McKenzie used an older Intel NUC for testing purposes, with a 7th-gen Intel Core i5 processor and 16GB of RAM. It’s not exactly a speed demon by modern standards, but should be able to handle older games, particularly on a low-res display like the 1024 x 600 pixel screen he’s using.

If you need something a bit faster, then you can opt for a NUC with a newer processor. And one of the nice things about these 4×4 boards is that they have two SODIMM slots for memory, allowing you to add up to 64GB of RAM on models with chips that support that much memory, as well as an M.2 2280 slot for PCIe NVMe storage.

The board is attached to a back panel that can be easily detached from the rest of the system, making the NucDeck not only a system that lets you pick your own parts, but which may also be relatively easy to upgrade in the future.

Of course, building your own handheld gaming system isn’t for everybody… and once you account for the cost of all the parts, labor, and 3D printing, it’s probably going to be cheaper and easier for most people to just buy an off-the-shelf model.

But the NucBox is still a pretty amazing DIY project, and it’s nice that it’s open source so that folks who want to know more about the build process can read through the documentation, whether they plan to make their own or not.

via Tom’s Hardware

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  1. Would be really cool to see Soltros’ configbuilder / Jovian-NixOS on this since they’re designed for the Steam Deck

  2. CM4 clones are already being used like so. And yes it needs to be standardized so folks could just juggle multiple cartridges (CM4 clones) into the handheld casing. Place the cartridge slot below the battery to force power off. Also removable battery means backup batteries and replacement batteries. This space is crying out for standardization.

  3. With this and the upcoming mutantC v5, we’re quite spoiled for choice in this area!

  4. For some reason I can’t stop imagining what it would be like to see some third party permutation of this sitting around in the one non-foodstuffs aisle at the discount grocery store or a Dollar General, like one of those NES hardware clones or things that pretended to be a Wii but weren’t, generally, which came pre-loaded with however many games and that’s all you got. I didn’t imagine that about any other handheld I’ve seen so far.
    I know it’s not realistic for that to ever happen, even with recycled motherboards with already recycled CPUs. Things are declining too much for that now. But maybe, maybe in a world where stupidity wasn’t the only legal option, it might have randomly happened.