AMD Could Revolutionize Handheld Gaming In 2024

If you’ve read some of my articles over the past year, you’d know that I have a certain affinity for handheld gaming. From my start with a red GameBoy Colour in the late 90s playing RoboCop, to Daxter on the PSP becoming one of my all-time favourite titles, to being one of the few die-hard fans of the PS Vita, handheld gaming has always stuck with me throughout my life. The allure of handhelds, for me at least, has always been about the potential of playing console-quality titles on the go. Though this dream has come somewhat to fruition with each passing generation, from the PS Vita having a game like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and the Nintendo Switch being the first true console-handheld hybrid, it was never fully realized as each of these systems had their shortcomings in regards to power. Currently, if you want a handheld system that allows for a truly uncompromised graphical experience, your best choice is to forgo playing locally altogether and head over to the cloud.

Pair a Logitech G Cloud with a top-tier Nvidia GeForce NOW subscription and you’ll be able to play games like Alan Wake II and Cyberpunk 2077 at their highest settings, with ray-tracing, running at a buttery-smooth 60fps, from the comfort of your bed. Granted you’ll need a stable and fast internet connection, and being near one of Nvidia’s servers helps, and even then it still doesn’t mean you won’t get the occasional stutter and latency issues. Subscription services also fall prey to inconsistent libraries, with services adding and dropping games on a whim; even if you own a certain game on Steam it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to play them via a cloud service. Speaking of Steam, it’s here where you might be considering Valve’s incredibly popular handheld: the Steam Deck. Though the machine is impressive, it still isn’t perfect. Powered by an AMD Zen 2 APU, the device is powerful enough to run some older triple-A games, albeit on lower settings, which once again goes back to my older point about handhelds continually being bottle-necked due to their hardware limitations.

Logitech G Cloud
Starfield on the Logitech G Cloud

However, recent leaks suggest that AMD’s upcoming chips could potentially bring massive power upgrades. These chips, if used by companies like Valve for a Steam Deck 2 or Asus for their next ROG Ally series, could see handhelds entering an entirely new echelon regarding performance. This means we could, for the first time, have handhelds on par with current generation consoles; playing games locally without any compromises or the need to rely on the cloud. Currently, AMD’s latest APU is the 8000G series. Paired with a Radeon 780M integrated GPU, this chip is already able to run a game like Cyberpunk 2077 at native 1080p on medium settings while still maintaining north of 30fps, something even the Steam Deck is incapable of doing. Though there are very few handhelds that come equipped with this GPU – the Ayaneo Kun being one, albeit on the older 7000 series APU – AMD’s upcoming lineup should be considered if their leaked performances are to be believed.

Codenamed “Strix Point,” these mobile APUs will be AMD’s first Zen 5 products, upgrading the current CPU architecture as well the graphics to RDNA 3.5 from the current RDNA 3. However, it’s the top-of-the-line variant within the Strix Point series that has tech analysts very excited. Codenamed “Halo,” this chip is rumoured to compete with the likes of Apple’s M4 chip. Combining 16 Zen 5 CPU cores with a 40 Compute Unit RDNA 3.5 integrated graphics chip, this APU could potentially surpass even the PlayStation 5 in performance, according to analysts.

AMD Roadmap
AMD Roadmap. Image: AMD

Gamers have been pining for Valve to make a new Steam Deck; though the company did release a refresh last year with an OLED model, it still came equipped with the same internals. If Valve were waiting for mobile chip technology to make strides in performance before committing to an upgrade, then that patience may prove worth it if these leaked specs are to be believed. It wouldn’t surprise me if Valve, given the best-selling model of the Steam Deck is the most expensive one, released a $1000 variant of a Steam Deck 2 that came fitted with AMD’s Strix Point Halo chip; finally making my dreams of an uncompromised handheld gaming experience a reality.

We’ll have to wait and see how AMD’s new chips turn out, but it’s safe to say that 2024 could be the beginning of a new era within this handheld renaissance we’ve been living in for the past few years.

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1 month ago

You do realize that the highest end APU from that line-up is a 100+ watt chip?, that’s too hot and power hungry for any handheld. You’ll mostly see it in gaming laptops and smaller desktops but definitely not a handheld.

1 month ago
Reply to  Khalid

Nintendo Switch sips at 5w. Steam deck runs at 15w and 25w seems to be a seem spot for the ally/legion go and so on.

It seems wildly unrealistic to expect the next gen of handhelds really push too far past 25w. I am excited for strix point too but the expectation of what handheld gaming is going to be with them needs tempering.