PC gaming on the go - GPD Win 3 first impressions

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GPD are really a company that need no introduction. Making their name in handheld PC gaming where few have successfully tread, the Win 3 is the latest and greatest to grace the hands of their customers. Having ordered my system back in January and it arriving just a few weeks ago, I'm here to give you my initial thoughts on this PC gaming marvel.

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Unboxing the system was a joy. Everything felt premium and it was packaged magnificently. Taking the system from its box, I finally got an idea for its scale and weight. I'd seen comparisons made to the Switch Lite, and while that's not too far off, the Win 3 has a thickness and heft I couldn't really anticipate. It feels well-put together and the weight isn't uncomfortable, but it does take a bit of getting used to.

Before I could dive in and enjoy myself, I did have a few things to do first. At the top of the list: formatting the device. As I had been keeping up to date with shipping and developments in the GPD Discord, I had noticed talk of a virus being shipped with devices, likely finding its way in during the QA process. Not wanting to take any chances, I went ahead with a fresh install of Windows 10 Home and installed the drivers GPD provide on their website. It was a simple enough process, which is good to know should any users want to upgrade from the 1tb NVMe SSD GPD provide.

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win2.jpg win3.jpg

Windows freshly in place, I got to work downloading my games. Leaving the system in the included dock overnight while Steam was grabbing a few hundred gigabytes of content, I was pleasantly surprised to feel how cool the system was in the morning. Committing much of my life over the past months to watching every Win 3 video I could find online, I had heard how good the cooling was, but seeing this translate to the finished retail product was really quite nice. Featuring a large grill at the top akin to a Switch, as well as vents on the back, the system does a great job at staying cool even during intense sessions. The fan is relatively strong too, leading me to use it as a hand fan of sorts due to how my setup has it pointing towards me.

We've talked about how the system feels enough for now anyway, I can go into more detail in the full review. The hot topic of the day is gaming, and exactly how far we can push this handheld when it comes to modern titles and high end emulation. To save me describing each game in excruciating detail, I've put together a few videos to give you a clearer idea of how things run. Note this footage was recorded using an AverMedia Portable 2 Plus so as not to impact system performance.

For this first look, I'll be showing off my handheld configuration. Here, the games are running at 720p with a TDP of 15W, which should give around two hours of play time as a worst case scenario. You can find time stamps for the games tested below. First up is PC games!

  • 00:00 - Final Fantasy XV
  • 19:37 - Dark Souls 3
  • 21:38 - Ace Combat 7
  • 29:46 - Monster Hunter World
It's somewhat incredible to me just how well some of these games run. Dark Souls 3 on the go is something I've wanted since playing the Switch port of Dark Souls Remastered. It isn't all good though. Because my OpenGL version is apparently 1.1, any game that solely runs on this just refuses to work. It's a huge shame because it rules out even simpler titles such as Luck be a Landlord, which I had genuinely been looking forward to playing on the go. I have seen videos of people playing OpenGL games on the Win 3 online, and I think this may have something to do with me formatting my system. Since reinstalling Windows, GPD have uploaded a new firmware file, so I'll likely be resetting my system again using that before I get to the full review. With some luck, things will be improved.

Next is emulation using the same setup:

  • 0:00:00 - Zelda Breath of the Wild (Cemu)
  • 0:39:32 - Zelda Wind Waker HD (Cemu)
  • 0:54:03 - Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (Cemu)
  • 1:03:02 - Persona 5 (RPCS3)
  • 1:06:06 - Project Diva F 2nd (RPCS3)
  • 1:10:29 - Monster Hunter (PCSX2)
  • 1:19:46 - Shadow of the Colossus (PCSX2)
  • 1:30:23 - Ape Escape 2 (PCSX2)
  • 1:34:27 - New Super Mario Bros Wii (Dolphin)
  • 1:39:09 - Fortune Street (Dolphin)
  • 1:44:05 - Xenoblade Chronicles (Dolphin)
  • 1:51:10 - Zelda Wind Waker Randomizer (Dolphin)
  • 1:57:12 - Super Monkey Ball 2 (Dolphin)
Emulation, Cemu in particular, really impressed me. A part of me wants to cheer at the ability to play Breath of the Wild on the go, but it's not as though this is something new with it being on the Switch. What I was genuinely happy to see however was Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate running flawlessly. It's a game I love, and having the non-240p version easily accessible on the go is absolutely amazing to me. It is worth reiterating that all the footage in the above videos are running on 15W as a reasonable balance between performance and power consumption. You can get more out of the system if you're willing to compromise on battery life, which is ideal for some kind of docked setup, you can get more out of it. I'll be showing this off along with eGPU performance in the full review to see just how far the device can be pushed.

win5.jpg

Outside of the hassle of reinstalling Windows as soon as I received the device and my OpenGL woes, the Win 3 has been a dream come true. With solid performance on the go and great potential as a PC Switch using different settings while plugged in, it's a fantastic system that has since become my main PC.

I'm still in the process of writing up the full review, which will likely feature further emulation and PC game tests in one of a 15W, 35W, and 35W with an eGPU setup. If there are any games you want to see tested from my Steam library, please let me know and I'll try my best to tailor the review. You can see all the games I have available to my via my Steam profile below.

:arrow: My Steam Library
 
Last edited by Scarlet,

Scarlet

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Those were the main two I found myself watching from January, some bloody great coverage.
I've been following The Phawx since his reviews of the first GPD Win (years and years ago :P ). Really good coverage, announcements, in-depth reviews, comprehensive game testing, updates, followups, definitely a must watch if you're interested in a device that he covered. Not like the typical YouTube tech reviewers who spend half an hour at most with the device and that's it.

I don't really follow Taki Udon, i just know of him, but he's also worth checking out :P
 
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annoying but I still really like the device thought it seems to have conflicting reports if the wifi card if soldered or not if not I can just replace it. if soldered in I'll just learn to live with it
 

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That's cool. Glad you didn't. Different in the UK though. We pay 20% on stuff like this. GPD undervalued it so the duty would be as low as possible though. Seems to have worked for some UK owners but if Customs want proof of how much I paid then the duty/vat would go up to ~£140 instead of £40. I got my fingers crossed.
all i got to say is ouch heres hoping its very low
 
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Randy Steele

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I recently purchased another Win 2 (rumble model) while my first Win 2 (8100y model) has spent almost the entire year in China for repairs (GPD's customer service is a nightmare btw lol).
I absolutely love the device though. I also just installed the third party heatsink with the ssd cooling fan along with a 1tb ssd and the device is so awesome once you fix GPD's mistakes. The device doesn't even really get hot anymore.
I know it isn't for a lot of people but I'm perfectly fine having what it can handle. It still plays 360/ps3 era games perfectly, can handle alot of ps4/xbone era titles well and ofcourse there's all those classic pc games and emulation it can run. I'd love to have the win 3 eventually but I just can't get over the decision they made with that capacitive touch keyboard when the win 2 has the perfect keyboard for a handheld.
If you have the money and just need what the win 3 offers then I say go for it but if you don't mind tweaking and having to do some upgrades yourself then the win 2 is still a very capable device IMO.
 

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Anyone can tell me if there is a webcam on this handheld pc?
I might buy but before i must know because the place where I'll work forbid cameras (including my cellphone's)
No camera on it! Kinda glad honestly, no point wasting money on what would ultimately be a substandard addition.
 
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Alright, I have a few questions:

* Have you tried running any editing software on it? Think Photoshop, Sony Vegas, GIMP, Adobe Premiere and et cetera, because having a more portable workstation would do wonders for me
* Is the screen a touchscreen? Having to plug in a mouse constantly or use the analog sticks 100% of the time like on older GPD Win models would not be very convenient
* Which ports does the system have and how many of each are there? If I can't have 20 USB drives, my drawing tablet and my DDR pad in all at once I will be very disappointed /s
 

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Alright, I have a few questions:

* Have you tried running any editing software on it? Think Photoshop, Sony Vegas, GIMP, Adobe Premiere and et cetera, because having a more portable workstation would do wonders for me
* Is the screen a touchscreen? Having to plug in a mouse constantly or use the analog sticks 100% of the time like on older GPD Win models would not be very convenient
* Which ports does the system have and how many of each are there? If I can't have 20 USB drives, my drawing tablet and my DDR pad in all at once I will be very disappointed /s
I've used Vegas but every time I've used it was with an eGPU plugged in. I don't think the small screen is well suited to those kinds of things.

The screen is touch screen, but I've been using the analogue sticks for most things. I didn't expect to like them as much as I do.

For ports it has one USB A and one USB C. I think the A is USB 3.2, and the C is Thunderbolt 4.

Hope that answers everything o7
 
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