The Onexplayer Mini by One Notebook recently dropped the new AMD 5800U variant to their handheld gaming PC library, offering options between 512 GB to 2 TB of space for their Valve Steam Deck rival, but does it hold up to the competition? The results may surprise you.
The ONEXPLAYER Mini AMD Ryzen 7 5800U version: High cost and questionable performance holds the system back
The Onexplayer Mini AMD variant offers the AMD Ryzen 7 5800U processor, 16 GB of LPDDR4 memory, eight cores across 16 threads, and a max turbo frequency of 4.4 GHz (base frequency is 1.90 GHz). The handheld gaming system offers a 1280 x 800 IPS screen with 216 PPI pixel density. The system provides dual copper radiators and dual cooling fans for cooling and temperature control to keep players playing longer without worrying about overheating. The system does have a built-in gyroscope and vibration and a battery life that the company states are three hours of play "for full load game length" and "9.5 hours of video play." The battery is a 12450 mAh rechargeable battery.
Compared with the Steam Deck, it shares the same screen size — 1280 x 800 — but is much higher in cost than Valve's current AMD offerings. Valve sells the AMD APU with Zen 2 architecture for $399, which gets you a 64 GB eMMC (PCIe Gen 2 x1) and a boost clock of 3.5 GHz; the base is 2.4 GHz. RAM on the Steam Deck is slightly better using LPDDR5 memory.
When talking about girth and weight compared to the Valve Steam Deck and the Nintendo Switch (non-OLED version), the Steam Deck is the heftiest to hold onto at 669, while the Onexplayer Mini is 619 grams. The Nintendo Switch OLED model weighs in at half the two other consoles at 322.05 grams. We are talking 1 lb or less in pounds for all the systems, but most gamers will find the Switch to be the lightest. When it comes to thickness, the Nintendo Switch is the thinnest of the three at less than an inch thick, with the Steam Deck and Onexplayer Mini at 1.93 inches and 0.9 inches, respectively. And, like all handhelds on the market, everyone offers a touchscreen.
We will focus strictly on the Onexplayer Mini AMD 5800U 512GB / 16GB version for the rest of the review. However, if Valve and Nintendo would like to reach out to us to make comparisons between the three, our emails are waiting.
Upon receiving the Onexplayer Mini, I was impressed with the box. It has a minimalistic feel, with only orange and black shading on the box. It is a very slick design that invokes a level of sophistication upon looking at it. I can't say the same for Nintendo's typical handheld systems or any mainstream handhelds in general, as they are flashy and bright and speak "retail" when looking at any gaming system.
When I opened the box, the system was comfortably sitting in thick foam, allowing the system to be very secure. Underneath the system was a container for the AC adapter, while the USB Type-C power cable, threaded by design and showing part of Onexplayer's company logo on one of the tips, was in one of the other boxes. A few minor details caught my eye and slightly pulled me back to reality. For one, the right orange button on the system had a fingerprint smudge. The rest of the system looked immaculate; it is possible an employee pressed the button during packaging. In the aspect of a new customer, you wonder if you have a new or used system. As I said, the rest was in excellent condition, so I can only speculate that an employee pressed the button in the product's packaging.
The boxes for the cable and power adaptor were packaged in separate boxes under the system, but the boxes were designed extremely flimsy, making the "new car smell" experience drop down a bit. If I had control of packaging, I would have probably made one box that held both items and made it slightly thicker but kept both things from moving around while traveling.
No instructions were in the box. Immediately, I thought two things: the instructions are on the system and can be easily pulled up after you set up the system, or two, the website has the instructions, and I can easily download them.
I was incorrect in both thoughts.
I contacted my point person for the Onexplayer Mini AMD 5800U version at One Notebook, asking for the instruction for the system. The representative was able to get me the instructions in a PDF doc, which was very helpful. Their customer service is stellar. Since receiving the system, they have checked in with me weekly to ensure everything is running well and offer help when needed.
The reason for needing those instructions was for a few buttons that were unclear as to their purpose. The buttons appear that they could be self-explanatory, but some inputs are confusing unless you push them and see what happens. Also, I was unsure if there were any button macros I was missing that I would not want to miss. I think more companies would save money by offering the instructions on the website to save a tree or more.
The buttons. The buttons click and are squishy in all the right ways. The trigger buttons are very stiff, which upon use in games, is wonderfully responsive. I love how they feel on my fingers and are so easy to access. The thumbstick is very sensitive, and have taken a while to specify the responsiveness I wanted to receive from each. The directional pad and four action buttons are clicky like a pseudo mechanical keyboard, and I rarely had any button not react as quickly as I would have liked. I love that a lot of handhelds and controllers maintain a similar layout. The first time I used a form like this was with my Nintendo Switch, my Xbox Series S controller, and other controllers and handhelds I have used over the last few years. The layout will be tough to replace as it is an ideal setup and one that I feel I cannot get from a Sony Playstation controller.
I cannot recommend buying the 512GB version when discussing space on the system. Most AAA games require a fair amount of space, even when including DLC and any additional downloads that you already have access to with your games. The 1 to 2 TB options would be more accessible to users, but all three come with a substantial price tag for good reasons. In essence, this system is, in reality, a handheld PC in the shell of a gaming system. You are running a pseudo notebook system, and if you do not like Windows 11, you can replace the operating system with an open-source OS like Linux. You cannot get this same type of flexibility in lesser-priced systems. Valve's Steam Deck has its proprietary operating system. Any system less has an operating system strictly for the device. With the Onexplayer series, you are getting a full Windows 11 operating system. Valve allows you to install the Windows OS yourself, but from my understanding, it is a headache, and when getting a new system, a consumer wants it to be as easy as possible to get up and run.
Let's talk about gaming on the Onexplayer Mini AMD 5800U handheld because this is why we are here in the first place.
I'm going to start by saying this: If you are buying a gaming system such as this for retro gaming, then you should have little to no problem running any retro-style emulator on this system. I have seen a fair share of YouTube reviewers who immediately want to see how it handles legacy games. Many of those titles are small, and you can fill the system with thousands of retro titles, from the early days of Commodore and Atari to larger systems, like the Nintendo 64, Playstation 2, and more.
But, how does it handle AAA games? You have no idea how bad I wanted to type "Does it play Crysis?"
The answer to the above question is, "No. Not right out of the box."
From what I have seen in plenty of reviews for the Steam Deck, I know that you will get the same frustrations with their system depending on the game. The Nintendo Switch will give you a different experience because the software is already programmed to work on the system under the company's specific specifications and circumstances.
In the below chart, I picked a handful of games — Cyberpunk 2077, Far Cry New Dawn, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Elden Ring — as they have built-in benchmarks easy to access and do not require a lot of alterations to get access. The only one that was difficult to get into was Elden Ring.
As you can see, the selected titles ran decently for a handheld gaming PC system. The gameplay for each was very smooth, except for a few laggy parts during Horizon Zero Dawn. I could not run Crysis Remastered even after the installation instructed me to update to the latest DirectX, which I had. I saw an entry on the Onexplayer subreddit where a user needed to connect a mouse and keyboard to make the software initiate the loading sequence. Then, through the menu in-game, I made the necessary adjustments. I'm not sure if that would have fixed my initial issue, but it appears that not all titles would run the best or would load without some problems off and on.
Surprisingly, Forza 5 ran well, with an impressive 56 FPS on average. I checked it twice and received roughly very close to the same results. The minimum and maximum frames were 47 and 72.8, respectively. I did not add it to the above list because the minimum, maximum, and average frames per second were around the same numbers out of many more titles I tried. Forza 5 was an abnormality compared to a lot of titles shown.
If I were playing a retro-style title (Celeste, Spelunky, Retromania Wrestling, etc.) that does not require high graphics quality and purely ran with a low performance from the GPU, I would not receive the same issues with FPS that I would receive during AAA gameplay. I'm thinking if I was spending the money on a handheld system such as this, the last thing I would want to do is play retro games or pixel-style titles, and I would like to play hardcore PC games on the go.
The most important takeaway I received in testing these titles is that you run at roughly 30 FPS during some intense scenes with a lot of action happening at the time. Receiving occasional skips in frame rate was not a killer. However, it shows that the handheld market is still fighting to produce the most extraordinary visual experience compared to a dedicated gaming laptop for a thousand dollars more or a gaming PC for that price.
The integrated graphics involved are the most significant thing that I feel is holding back the system or similar systems. You cannot expect to receive a similar experience as a high-end desktop PC. It just will not happen. Valve does have a more extensive support base than a lot of other handheld systems similar to it out there, with open-source developers jumping in to assist. Groups like Onexplayer and AYANEO will struggle with not having the backing or exposure that Valve receives more consistently.
Using the onscreen keyboard from Onexplayer is decent but can be troublesome for those of us with larger fingers and fast typing skills. The difference between Onexplayer's onscreen keyboard versus the Windows onscreen keyboard is night and day. The integrated keyboard has every button you can imagine in an excellent floating keyboard. However, the keys are tiny, and those of us with larger hands and sloppy typing from typing too fast can be a burden. I find the built-in Windows keyboard much more prominent and easily accessible for any keyboard use. The keyboard built into Windows is much more pronounced on each key, and I had less stress from not hitting the wrong keys. Sure, it cannot replace a physical keyboard, but it is essentially the same as most of us experience on our mobile phone device: it has become part of society's use. Many phone users are used to the layout and design of digital keyboards, and there is just a specific design that is so simple and easy to use. However, in any game, you can access the Onexplayer keyboard. You cannot do that with the Windows on-screen keyboard.
Battery life is less than stellar, but almost any device lasts only up to three to four hours, depending on use. When playing games, do not think you will find a system that will last all day. No system can do that. I feel that with battery life, the Nintendo Switch does not push the envelope enough to make the battery life unsatisfactory. Still, on systems like this and the Steam Deck, it is such a short battery life (typical gaming time is up to three hours on the system, but do not expect that most of the time depending on the strain of the graphics from the game). If I were streaming Netflix or YouTube on the system, I would receive close to seven hours on one charge, but I am unsure if the market for the product would honestly use it to watch movies. I also say this and remember the users I have friended on my Nintendo Switch who spent an abundantly ridiculous time on YouTube.
The braided cable and power box are exceptional, except for the length. The power cable is three feet in length and, indeed, is not adequate at all. Even sitting in a chair at home with it next to a power outlet, I would repeatedly find myself leaning more towards the outlet because I could feel the tug from the tightness of the length. The cable needs to be (at the most diminutive size) six feet. I would think any gamer would want to sit in a chair or lay in bed near a power outlet for uninterrupted gameplay.
Is the Onexplayer Mini suitable for you? It depends on what you expect to accomplish on the system. As I stated before, legacy emulators and ROMs will always run well. They will never experience a large pool of limitations that you would receive graphically from another handheld system, such as the Steam Deck or AYANEO. Pricing will also divert many users away from it, offering the performance handheld niche market only. For a large audience of gamers, the pricing would have to come down to half of what it is currently to be more enticing for a more significant majority of handheld gamers. For another thousand dollars, a gaming laptop would offer a better experience graphically and would have much fewer bottlenecks than a portable system such as this. Along with those issues, until they can receive the same backing as Valve, they will suffer from many oversights of gamers who have followed the Steam platform for much longer.