Games on the Go: The Best Handheld Gaming Console In 2024

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The concept of playing video games on the go is nothing new. But with one of the best handheld gaming consoles in 2024, the play experience is far from the 90s.

The revolution in the gaming industry started with the Nintendo Switch, just a couple of years ago. But the big corporate masters don’t want to be left behind. PlayStation, ASUS, and Lenovo, all big names in video games, have joined in for a market share in handheld gaming.

However, is the handheld gaming console from these big companies as good as their bulky home video game console? And do you still get to play your favorite PC and PS games on the go efficiently?  

Which is the Best Handheld Gaming Console in 2024?

In a nutshell, the best handheld gaming console to get varies from one gamer to another. It often depends on preference (what you want) and goal in mind (what you hope to achieve).

In this guide, I’ve put together over half a dozen video game consoles you can consider for gaming on the go. But before looking at the extended review, my all-time favorite portable console is:

  • Best Overall: Steam Deck Handheld Gaming PC

Features a powerful 4-core Zen 2 processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB built-in storage,  800p@90Hz display, WiFi6, and video outputs at up to 8K@60Hz

  • Best of Budget: Nintendo Switch Handheld Gaming Console

Features a Tegra X1+ chip, removable controllers, 3 different play modes, built-in Ethernet port, NFC for amiibos, and MicroSD slot

  • Best of Deal:  ASUS ROG Ally Handheld Gaming PC

Features a superfast 8-core Ryzen  Z1 Extreme processor,  a 1080p@120Hz display, compatible with WiFi 6E, built-in ROG XG Mobile, and a built-in MicroSD slot

  • Best of Value:  Lenovo Legion Go Handheld Gaming PC

Features a superfast 8-core Ryzen  Z1 Extreme processor, 8.8-inch QHD+@144Hz display,   detachable controllers, compatibility with WiFi 6E, and MicroSD support

Is a Handheld Gaming Console The Same As A Handheld Gaming PC?

First, a video game console is a gadget you can play video games using a dedicated controller. Then, a gaming PC is a personal computer beefed up with high-performance components (like graphics cards, CPU, RAM, etc.) to play PC video games at high standards.

Unfortunately, the home video game console and gaming PC are rather bulky. They usually require a more permanent setup, with a plugged-in AC power, an external monitor/ TV, and a separate controller. Thus, not something you can always carry with you to use on the road.

However, many avid gamers still desire to be able to play their favorite console and PC games when away from home. Hence, the birth of handheld gaming consoles and handheld gaming PCs we have in the market today.

A handheld gaming PC is still in a class of its own, with most of the specs superior to a handheld gaming console.  In most cases, the gadget is Windows-based. But some brands come with Linux, leaving Windows as an optional upgrade.

Steam Deck OLED vs Nintendo Switch is a perfect example that better outlines the differences between a handheld gaming PC and handheld gaming console. In this case, Steam Deck is the portable video game PC, whereas Nintendo Switch is a mini console.

That said, we tend to use the term handheld gaming console to refer to the portable video game PC as well. It’s the reason my list of the best portable video game consoles includes gadgets from both classes.

Summary Features, Pros, and Cons of the Best Handheld  Gaming Consoles

 Type of Gaming SystemOperating SystemPortable Size (in inches)
Steam Deck  OLEDHandheld Gaming PCSteamOS (Linux-based)11.73 x 4.6 x 1.93
Nintendo Switch OLEDHandheld Gaming ConsoleNintendoOS (microkernel-based)9.4 x 4.0 x 0.6  
ASUS ROG AllyHandheld Gaming PCWindows 1111.0 x 4.4 x 0.5
Lenovo Legion GoHandheld Gaming PCWindows 1111.8 x 5.2 x 1.6 (8.3 x 5.2 x 0.8 with controllers attached)
Retroid Pocket 4 ProHandheld Gaming ConsoleAndroid 137.2 x 3.1 x 0.9
Nintendo Switch LCDHandheld Gaming ConsoleNintendoOS (microkernel-based) 
Nintendo Switch LiteHandheld Gaming ConsoleNintendoOS (microkernel-based)8.2 x 3.6 x 0.6
PlayStation PortalHandheld Gaming ConsoleAndroid 136 x 14 x 3.8
AYN Odin 2Handheld Gaming ConsoleAndroid 138.9 x 3.9 x 0.7
Ayaneo KunHandheld gaming PCWindows12.3 x 5.2 x 0.9

Best Overall: Steam Deck OLED Handheld Gaming PC

Indeed, the Steam Deck is the overall best handheld gaming console to play your video games on the go. It’s an upgrade of the original Steam Deck (LCD), making it even better than the Nintendo Switch.

As a portable gaming PC, Steam Deck OLED runs on a Linux-based operating system. The central engine is a 4-core Zen 2 processor, with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of built-in storage.

It’s worth mentioning the Steam Deck OLED has a 7.4-inch, 800p HD+ “OLED” display with HDR. Thus, you’ll notice the video games have richer color details, with deep blacks.

Other pros of the Steam Deck portable gaming PC you should know are:

  • The display has up to 90Hz refresh rate
  • Has a built-in MicroSD slot to expand storage
  • Runs dozens of AAA PC games without issues
  • Compatible with the latest WiFi 6E for faster downloads
  • Includes Bluetooth v5.3 connectivity for wireless headsets
  • Has built-in trackpads to emulate a mouse on shooter games
  • Outputs videos at up to 8K@60Hz or 4K@120Hz when docked


  • It’s relatively pricey to own
  • You buy the dock station separately
  • It doesn’t have built-in NFC for amiibos

Best of Budget: Nintendo Switch OLED Handheld Gaming Console

Nintendo Switch still holds the title of the bestselling handheld gaming console, thanks to its reasonable pricing.  The newer Nintendo Switch OLED has won the “best budget” title as it has a perfect balance of pricing, features, and performance.

For instance, at $350 US, at least $200 cheaper than the Steam Deck, the Nintendo OLED has an “OLED” display. And that means it gives more vibrant graphics than the LCD display of the original Steam Deck.

Other pros of the Nintendo Switch OLED you should know  are:

  • It comes with a dock station for FREE
  • Has a built-in NFC sensor to use with amiibos
  • Easy to remove side controllers for portability
  • You can expand local storage with a MicroSD card
  • Has three gaming modes: handheld/ tabletop/ docked
  • Includes a sturdy kickstand for use on tabletop mode
  • It can run various PC or cross-platform video games


  • It tends to struggle to handle most AAA PC games
  • Has low video output specs when docked (Max 1080p@60Hz)
  • Incompatible with the latest WiFi 6E for the fastest downloads

Best of Deal:  ASUS ROG Ally Handheld Gaming PC

ASUS ROG Ally would fit the bill if looking for a great deal of a handheld gaming PC. The ROG Ally price in Australia is usually about $1,300 (or $600 US). But currently, the company has an ongoing deal, where you can get the console at $A1,100 (or $400 US).

Compared to the Steam Deck, the ASUS ROG Ally is quite more powerful, thanks to the AMD Ryzen  Z1 Extreme processor onboard. The Z1 Extreme chip has 8 cores, 16 threads, and 8.6 Teraflops for improved raw processing power.

Other pros of ASUS ROG Ally portable gaming console you should know include:

  • It has a vibrant 7-inch, 1080p@120Hz display
  • Comes preinstalled with the Windows 11 system
  • Compatible with the latest WiFi 6E for faster downloads
  • You can add a MicroSD card to expand the local storage
  • Includes Bluetooth v5.2 connectivity for wireless headsets
  • Has a  built-in ROG XG Mobile interface  for external GPUs
  • It handles many AAA games smoothly in the 1080p resolution


  • The battery life is less than desired
  • It has no  built-in trackpads to emulate a mouse
  • ASUS sells the ROG dock with HDMI output separately

Best of Value:  Lenovo Legion Go Handheld Gaming PC

Legion Go is the very first handheld gaming PC of Lenovo, launched in the last quarter of 2023. The Lenovo video games console has a regular price of about $A1,500. But the company has a limited-time offer of $1,200.

Many gamers have been skeptical about getting the Lenovo Legion Go since it’s the first “test product” of the brand. But the handheld gaming PC is as powerful as the ASUS ROG Ally, with the 8-core Ryzen Z1 Extreme chip at the core.

As a matter of fact, the Lenovo Legion Go is like a hybrid of the ROG Ally and Nintendo Switch. In addition to the high-performance processor, it has detachable gaming controllers on the sides and a rear kickstand. Thus, allowing you to game in either handheld, tabletop, or docked mode.

Other pros of the Lenovo Legion Go portable gaming console you should know are:

  • It has a vivid 8.8-inch, QHD+ display
  • Delivers super-smooth gaming at 144Hz
  • Has a built-in MicroSD slot to expand storage
  • Compatible with the latest WiFi 6E for faster downloads
  • Supports Bluetooth v5.2 to connect wireless headphones
  • Has a built-in trackpad to emulate a mouse for shooter games
  • It also comes with a base to use one controller as a joystick


  • The battery life is quite poor
  • It’s rather bulky than most competitors
  • Lenovo hasn’t released a dock station yet

Best of Portability:  Retroid Pocket 4 Pro Handheld Gaming Console

Retroid Pocket 4 Pro fits the bill if looking for the most portable handheld gaming console. It has a compact, lightweight design that you can carry in your pocket with ease. Hence,  the name “Retroid Pocket”.

At first glance, the Retroid Pocket 4 Pro looks like a smartphone with gaming controllers attached. The display is 4.7-inch  IPS, with a resolution of 750p HD+ @60Hz.

Furthermore, the mobile gaming console utilizes MediaTek’s Dimensity 1100 chip, with Android 11 system and 8GB RAM. And with such base specs, it should be able to handle most games from retro consoles like PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube.

Several other pros of Retroid Pocket 4 Pro portable console you should know include:

  • It’s so cheap to own
  • Has a great battery of up to 15+ hours
  • Supports a MicroSD to expand storage
  • Easy to set third-party gaming emulators
  • Includes built-in Bluetooth v5.2 wireless connectivity
  • Compatible with up to the latest WiFi 6E for fast downloads
  • You can connect to an external TV/ monitor via micro-HDMI


  • It may feel less comfy for big hands
  • The display tends to have ghosting issue
  • Only supports 720p/ 1080p resolution for external monitor

Key Takeaway: Other Handheld Gaming Consoles

Besides my favorites above, there are many other handheld gaming consoles you can consider to game on the go. Some include:

Nintendo Switch LCD

Key Things to Note:

  • It has detachable gaming controllers
  • Utilizes an NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor
  • The console comes with a free dock station
  • Has a built-in MicroSD slot to expand storage
  • Includes built-in Bluetooth for wireless headphones
  • Has a built-in slot to play Nintendo game cards
  • Supports four gaming modes: handheld/ tabletop/ docked
  • It doesn’t have a built-in ethernet port like Nintendo OLED

Nintendo Switch Lite

 Key Things to Note

  • It’s so cheap to purchase
  • Has a 5.5-inch, 720p HD display
  • Compatible with up to WiFi 5 (802.11ac)
  • Has a built-in NFC chip for use with amiibos
  • Supports Bluetooth v4.1 for wireless headsets
  • It includes a MicroSD slot to expand local storage
  • The gaming controllers are built-in  (not detachable)
  • It only supports handheld play mode (no tabletop/ docked modes).

PlayStation Portal

 Key Things to Note:

  • It’s relatively cheap to own
  • Has a vibrant 8-inch 1080p@60Hz display
  • Features a decent battery life of up to 9 hours
  • Can play all your PlayStation 5 games on the go
  • Includes the standard 3.5mm jack for wired headphones
  • Has no local gaming (or local storage to download games)
  • It lacks Bluetooth connectivity (uses proprietary PlayStation Link
  • The console requires the internet to work, as it only streams games

Common Related Questions

Should I get a handheld gaming console or a home video game console?

The type of gaming console to get usually depend on the situation you’re in.

Some of the situations  you can get a handheld gaming console instead of a home video game console include when you:

  • Have a small budget at hand
  • Need a video  game device with its own display
  • Require a console you can play video games on the go efficiently
  • Need a gaming console you can use in a place with no electricity
  • Are looking for a gaming console that doesn’t need a large space to set up

On the other hand, you can get a home video game console if you:

  • Have enough budget for the whole setup
  • Need a gaming device with the highest performance
  • Have less or no interest in playing video games away from home
  • Do have enough space to set up the entire gaming kit, including the console, monitor, etc

Is the ASUS ROG Ally as good as the Steam Deck OLED?

ASUS ROG Ally and Steam Deck are two of the most compared handheld gaming PCs/ consoles. The two are great as you can play many AAA PC games that the Nintendo Switch can’t handle.

However, the ASUS ROG Ally is better than Steam Deck performance-wise, as it has a more powerful processor. And for that, it can handle heavy PC games more smoothly.

Should I buy a PlayStation Portal or Steam Deck?

Do you need a console where you can play video games away from home without the need for a PlayStation 5? If yes, I recommend you buy a Steam Deck instead of a PlayStation Portal.

Stream Deck is an independent handheld gaming PC/ console that you can use as a standalone. It has a high-performance chip to process and run AAA games on its own. Then, the games can be stored locally (in the built-in storage or MicroSD card).

Meanwhile, the PlayStation Portal only supports streaming games from an existing PlayStation 5. If you don’t have a PS5 at home, you can’t use the Portal on its own.

As a streaming device, the PlayStation Portal will also need a WiFi connection all the time to work. The PS5 it links to must also be connected to the internet for the Remote Play to work.

About Michael Wanjiru

Michael Wanjiru is a guest writer at Craving Tech. He is a professional writer and a regular contributor at Craving Tech covering tech-product reviews and how-to guides. As an SEO writer with marketing background, he has helped dozen of clients build their online footprint with high-quality content that engages and converts.

Have a topic or product review you want written? Drop Mike an email and he’s always ready to help.

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