Review: GPD Win Handheld PC Gaming Console (Hardware)
GPD Win Handheld PC Gaming Console: Official GBAtemp ReviewHardware 11,003 views 20 likes 104 comments
While the whole world was eagerly awaiting for the Nintendo Switch's release on March 3rd, 2017, GPD had quietly released their pocket handheld PC gaming device, the GPD Win, in October 2016.
Okay, maybe not so quietly since the console was successfully crowdfunded on indiegogo, raising 535% of its initial goal.
The team behind the product is Shenzen-based technology company GamePad Digital (GPD). In the past, they have created several handheld video game consoles which run Android on ARM architecture. But the GPD Win has been their most ambitious gaming device yet; packing a PC gaming handheld into your pocket. When I came across this product, I was really intrigued as to what it could deliver and surely, you might be curious too. So let's take a look!
The GPD Win comes in a fancy box, which contains the following:
- The GPD Win console
- Screen protector
- User Manual
- USB-C cable
I must say that I am impressed by the quality of the included earphones. I was honestly expecting some cheap knock-off but they do deliver quality sound (for earphones at least)! And you'll have to rely on earphones or headphones because not only is the speaker of not-so-great quality but it is also oddly positioned, just so your right palm can properly cover it giving you muffled sounds in real time.
At 365g, the heavier GPD Win has a similar form factor to the Nintendo 3DS. See them next to each other below:
At first I thought the position of the gaming buttons and joystick were oddly placed but they don't cause any inconvenience whatsoever while gaming but I had to retrain my muscle memory due to the uncommon layout. I deplore the lack of clickable joysticks but at least there are physical L3 and R3 buttons as replacement.
At its rear, the device hosts some handy ports and here again I'll complain about the odd location of the headphone jack but I believe these design choices were made in order to fit everything in the small form factor. While the internal ROM is limited at 64 GB, you can always upgrade with a TF card of up to 128 GB via the slot also located at the rear.
For those interested in the device's innards, the GPD team has got your fantasy covered with a teardown video:
When it comes to PC gaming, the specs are of particular interest. This Windows 10-based handheld packs the following:
And what can these do?
These games are the perfect fit for the GPD Win
Oh, and this:
inb4 the Switch
And team GPD has recently made a video compilation series of the "Top 101 Playable Games on the GPD Win" on their official YouTube channel. It's still a work-in-progress but see if you can find your favorite games being demoed (good luck):
Games range from GTA V, Resident Evil 6 and Sims 4 to the Mass Effect Trilogy, Starcraft, Fifa and Fallout. Also, many, many more. Yes, the GPD Win has at its door the whole library of PC games, new and old.
But given its specs, newer games need some tweaking and some might not even work properly. Thankfully, the GPD Win has an established community that have pretty much figured out which games work best on the console, and Reddit is the place to find such a list.
A guide that I also found handy to set up the handheld was this post made by user headkaze. In particular, it walks you through the steps to get the right display settings for the screen (the default Windows ones are too tiny or if magnified can be troublesome to manipulate since some parts of the screen is out of bounds)
As for the battery life, the non-removeable 6700mAh Polymer Li-ion battery will give some peace of mind. And in true gaming PC fashion, the GPD Win features a fan whose speed can be controlled via the back switch to be optimized for dissipating heat or saving power.
And let's not forget about emulators! The GPD Win can emulate an impressive number of consoles, and at a playable rate! See the PSP God of War emulation for example:
And also SNES, GBA, N64, PSP, and Wii:
Also Gamecube, Dreamcast, NES,... you get the drill. But with the GPD Win, you'll have to learn to be patient and tweak the configs before enjoying a game. Again, the GPD Win community will be handy, like this YouTube video to setup Dreamcast emulation.
While the GPD Win is veered towards gaming, let's not forget that it also packs Windows 10 and is a computer at its core. Sure, it's not meant to replace your desktop or laptop but this palmtop can help you out in a pinch:
And in dire cases, you can even boot PhotoShop on the tiny device:
And with its HDMI and USB ports, you can hook the device up to a larger display, mouse/keyboard or printer to suit your needs.
The GPD Win does, at the same time, more and less than the Nintendo Switch; it has a huge PC gaming library for gaming, emulators at hand and even full-fledged PC functions. But if you're looking to play the newest Nintendo games with some motion gimmicks then look elsewhere.
If you've been looking to get into PC gaming and want to play a bit older games like Skyrim, Resident Evil 6 or emulate retro consoles, then the GPD Win is for you. Don't expect to get high-end PC gaming on the go but it's the closest you'll get. If you're not fussy about fps, 4K display and graphics, then with patience and some tweaking, you'll get more than a satisfactory gaming experience with this oddity. But it won't come cheap. The GPD Win is priced at $450 on Amazon while the Nintendo Switch is slightly below $400. That's the price you'll have to pay in order to enjoy PC gaming on the go. Others can always suggest getting a low spec PC/laptop for that price but the GPD Win is the only one that can do so and properly fit in your pocket.
Show me what you got!
+ Huge PC gaming library
+ Most emmulators are playable
+ Established community
+ Expandable memory
+ Makeshift general PC use
- Lots of fine-tuning to do
- Odd locations of speakers, headphone jack
- Non-clickable joysticks
out of 10
The GPD Win is an innovative and ambitious console. It fits PC gaming into your pocket but it comes at a steep price and you'll need patience to unlock its full potential.