What is a Handheld Gaming PC? The Design and Importance of Ultra-Portable Computing

If you’ve been keeping tabs on the tech industry in the past year or so, you’re bound to come across a new and probably alien breed of computers making rounds over the Internet. Whether or not you’re a gamer, it’s almost impossible not to at least see a glimpse of the likes of the hulking Steam Deck or the shapeshifting Lenovo Legion GO. These portable computers that are larger than smartphones but significantly smaller than laptops are popping up in places you least expect, and sometimes in designs you never imagined. They might sound like a passing fad, especially given how few there are from the major PC manufacturers, but these handheld gaming PCs actually play a crucial role in promoting a healthy and exciting future for an ailing PC market.

Designer: Lenovo

Small WINs, Picking Up Steam

Designer: GPD

It might come as a surprise to some, but Valve’s Steam Deck is, technically speaking, not the first handheld gaming computer to launch in modern times. Even before Nintendo launched its monumental Switch console, a small manufacturer from China was already testing the waters of this very niche market. Game Pocket Devices or GPD started out with Android gaming handhelds but it took a big gamble with its first Windows product, the GPD WIN, in 2015. The clamshell design and mediocre specs of the literally pocketable computer made it feel more like a toy than an actual gaming device, but it laid the groundwork for that brand’s future foray into this nascent space.

Designer: Nintendo

And then the Nintendo Switch was born, rekindling the dreams of many gamers to be able to play anywhere they want and, more importantly, in any mode they desire. Unlike the Nintendo DS or the PlayStation Vita, the Switch supported multiple ways of playing thanks to its detachable Joy-Cons and docked mode, virtually combining handheld and home consoles in a single device. That said, the appeal only worked if you had Nintendo-exclusive titles you actually wanted to play, and so the desire to bring that same design and experience to other gaming platforms, particularly PCs, was born.

Designer: Valve

Although smaller manufacturers like GPD, AYANEO, and ONE Netbook, just to name a few, quickly jumped on the Nintendo Switch fever, it wouldn’t be until Valve joined the fray that people would start to take the idea of a handheld gaming PC more seriously. For gamers, especially PC gamers, the promise of being able to sit down (or stay standing up) anywhere and launch their favorite title was almost too good to be true. Truth be told, the Steam Deck’s success and popularity was almost like a miracle. The hardware was almost too mediocre, the design was large and chunky, and the Linux-based Steam OS was unfamiliar to the majority of Windows PC gamers. And yet two years later, the Steam Deck is still a household name that has many fans clamoring for a 2nd-gen upgrade.

Now we have a handful of handheld gaming PCs from different brands and different designs, with more coming in the months ahead. Their compact forms and relatively lightweight designs definitely endear them to gamers, but these users aren’t the only ones who benefit from this budding device category. In fact, the entire PC industry could stand to benefit from this wave, presuming other key players join the game long enough to make it matter.

Pushing the Boundaries

The most immediate impact that these handheld computers had on the rest of the PC industry was an increased focus on mobile processors, that is, the processors used for laptops. Of course, gaming laptops have existed for years now, but these portable yet bulky computers have always had the advantage of better and equally large cooling systems. Gaming handhelds, however, don’t have that luxury, so both silicon manufacturers and hardware designers have had to come up with ways to optimize performance while keeping thermals low. And what’s good for handhelds is naturally good for laptops that need to be slim and petite. The result: extra thin gaming laptops that almost don’t look like they’re gaming laptops.

Designer: ASUS

A bit indirectly, it is also pushing competitors to further outdo each other. The Steam Deck uses a custom AMD processor which placed the chipmaker on the map, making it the preferred brand for all these gaming handhelds. It is only with the announcement of the MSI Claw A1M that Intel’s name even popped up, daring to enter a field where it has generally lagged behind without the help of graphics chips from AMD or NVIDIA. Early reviews don’t seem to favor Intel’s first attempt, but the pressure will help rouse the giant to pick up the slack and push its Arc graphics to the limits.

Designer: MSI

Whatever the brand or even the hardware, handheld gaming PCs are really challenging the status quo when it comes to balancing performance, power consumption, and heat generation. The compact form factor imposes many limitations while also focusing on the essentials. Any innovation born from this space will also help drive the development of larger computers like laptops and tablets, paving the way for slim, light, and efficient computers in the future.

Design Exploration

Handheld PCs also redefine the image of what a computer looks like. Most people can only imagine desktop towers, laptops, or even tablets, taking for granted that the term “computer” actually refers to a very wide range of devices and designs. In this particular case, it is introducing the idea of a computer that you can hold in your hand and use even without sitting down, pretty much like the pocketable computers we call “smartphones.”

Designer: Lenovo

But even within the handheld gaming PC market, we’re also seeing a variety of designs being explored as companies try to search for the perfect answer if one does exist. The design sported by the Steam Deck and ASUS ROG Ally is, of course, the most known, but the Switch-inspired Lenovo Legion GO and OneXPlayer X1 are also pushing the envelope of that form factor. And then there’s AYANEO’s numerous designs that are seemingly throwing everything at the wall to see which one sticks. It’s definitely an exciting time for designers to envision different ways to deliver a compact and portable computer, and hopefully, that train won’t be stopping anytime soon.

Designer: AYANEO

Niche Market, New Targets

Of course, handheld gaming PCs are being made with gamers in mind, but they aren’t the only ones that can benefit from this form factor, at least not in the long run. Just like with gaming laptops, they have enough power to support almost any other computing need, from office work to system administration to even content creation. There is even a subclass of these handheld computers that are specifically designed to quickly connect to servers and other computers via ports that may seem archaic by today’s consumer standards.

Designer: GPD

Designer: ONE Netbook

Yes, you will probably need to connect some peripherals if you need to get some serious work done, but there are already people doing that anyway with their tablets and even their phones. These handheld PCs offer almost the same flexibility as laptops but with the added advantage of being able to use them in cramped spaces, including while standing up (if the design includes a more or less convenient keyboard). There’s definitely a lot of room and opportunity for innovation in this space to address more use cases beyond gaming, and handheld gaming PCs could very well be the start of a new design revolution in the PC industry.

Missed Opportunities

All that potential will be for naught if this handheld gaming PC trend fizzles out quickly. Although they’re still making a big splash, it’s not yet a stable market, much less a profitable one. PC manufacturers are also extremely cautious about jumping into the fray. It took two years after the Steam Deck before the first major PC brand jumped on board, and even then we’re still missing the likes of the Acer Predator, Dell Alienware, and Razer. Admittedly, it’s a risky business proposition and not as easy as, say, producing a smartphone, but without the presence of these big brands, the young market will die out sooner rather than later. That would definitely be a tragedy given how these handheld PCs have the potential to reinvigorate a PC market that has long been regarded to be dwindling, especially as desktops become almost as niche as these portable gaming computers.

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Stylish mini PC with a detachable speaker can be carried like a luxury bag

Mini PCs are becoming quite the trend these days, but despite their small and seemingly portable sizes, they’re not exactly meant or easy to carry around. Their boxy shapes, while space-efficient, aren’t conducive for carrying around, not to mention they need to be plugged into a power source, monitor, keyboard, and mouse to even be usable. There are exceptions to this formula, of course, and one manufacturer had the rather unconventional and somewhat outlandish idea of a portable mini PC that you can carry with you without a bag because the PC itself becomes something like a glamorous purse or handbag just by adding a shoulder strap to its sides.

Designer: SOONNOOZ (via Mini Machines)

You can already tell at a glance that this isn’t your run-of-the-mill mini PC. It has a retro-futuristic vibe going with its round rectangle shape, glossy plastic finish, front grille, and chromed levers and feet. The lever at the top is a rather physical volume control that adds a little fun to the act of adjusting the volume. The design is both simple and elegant but actually hides a few tricks that set it further apart from other mini computers.

For starters, the design has two chrome buttons at the sides where you can attach a matching strap to carry it on your shoulders. You’ll probably still want to put it inside a large carrying bag for protection, but you can still carry it directly if you’re just transferring locations quickly, like moving from one room to another in the same building. That said, the SOONNOOZ Mini is not exactly that small, so it might look awkward carrying it like that. And at 1.5kg, it’s not lightweight either.

You’d still need to connect it to some peripherals to use it, of course, but you might not need to have it always plugged in. It has a built-in battery, not unlike a laptop, which could allow you a few hours of use before you need to recharge it. This makes it convenient as a portable entertainment system when paired with a portable projector, though you’ll still need a way to navigate the computer, like with a portable keyboard and mouse.

Its last trick is that its fascia is actually a detachable Bluetooth speaker that can be used on its own. As far as specs go, it’s a pretty standard mini PC that won’t really stand out in terms of performance, though certain configurations could definitely support some light gaming. Interesting as it might be, the SOONNOOZ Mini isn’t something you can acquire outside of China, so its novelty will probably never reach global renown.

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Lenovo Legion Go Gaming Handheld Hands-on: The World of Portable Gaming Revolutionized

Lenovo has made a remarkable stride forward in a world where the fusion of technology’s portability with its performance is rapidly advancing. With confidence, they have unveiled a vision that not only aligns with but also boldly redefines the paradigm. Allow me to introduce the Lenovo Legion Go – a device that flawlessly combines portability, power, and prowess, setting an unprecedented standard in the market.

Designer: Lenovo

Lenovo’s Gaming Revolution is Handheld

Lenovo is widely known for introducing sturdy and reliable laptops for businesses. However, their dedication to creativity continues to remain strong. With its entry into the realm of portable gaming, Lenovo aims to redefine the idea of gaming on the go. Recently, they launched the Legion Go, which is expected to be an exhilarating experience for gamers worldwide.

Design and Feel: Elegance Meets Ergonomics

When you first see the Legion Go, it immediately catches your attention with its impressive appearance. The device has a sleek and polished finish, incorporating both matte and glossy surfaces. The design is ergonomic and particularly noticeable during extended gaming sessions. The grip is comfortable, allowing gamers to stay fully immersed without experiencing any discomfort. Additionally, the rear surface features a subtle texture that ensures a secure hold, preventing the device from slipping during intense gaming moments.

Performance: Gaming Powerhouse in Compact Form

Gamers who want to experience superior image quality and vibrant colors that make their games come to life will find the Lenovo PureSight Gaming Display to be an excellent choice. This display features the latest AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor, which delivers remarkable compact processing power, ensuring that gamers can enjoy lag-free gaming.

The Lenovo Legion Go operates on Windows 11 and offers impressive graphics performance, comparable to that of a console. Its large 8.8-inch QHD+ 16:10 Lenovo PureSight gaming display truly brings games to life, providing gamers with an immersive and expansive screen. With up to 500nits brightness and a 97% DCI-P3 color gamut, the display is adjustable to suit different playstyles and situations. It supports various resolutions, ranging from 1600p to 800p, as well as 144Hz and 60Hz refresh rates. The 10-point touch screen allows for natural and intuitive control, such as scrolling, tapping, and swiping. The Legion Go also boasts up to 16GB LPDDR5X (7500Mhz) RAM, which offers power management flexibility for optimal gaming performance and faster loading times, depending on the scenario. It also has up to 1TB PCIe Gen4 SSD and a micro-SD slot that supports up to 2TB of extra storage.

During our brief testing period, casual games to more graphics-intensive games felt delightful it was clear that the performance was nothing short of exceptional. Transitions were smooth and seamless, loading times were lightning-fast, and there were absolutely no interruptions during gameplay. One of the standout features was the ability to switch between refresh rates with ease without experiencing any lag or delay whatsoever. Overall, we were thoroughly impressed with the performance of our system when it came to gaming.

Touch and Feel: A Console Experience

Many handhelds struggle with touch controls, but the Legion Go excels in this area. Its touch response is quick, and it flawlessly recognizes multi-touch gestures, distinguishing between intentional swipes and accidental touches. Additionally, its haptic feedback provides a tactile sensation similar to that of traditional console controllers.

Controller Dynamics: More than Just Accessories

The detachable controllers of Legion Go are simply amazing. Their magnetic connection is sturdy yet easy to detach. The buttons are tactile and responsive. Our testing revealed that first-person shooter games felt natural, sports games were easy to play, and strategy games were more engaging than ever.

The implementation of RGB lighting in this particular product is executed with a level of refinement and elegance that is not commonly seen in other similar gaming accessories. The lighting is not excessively flashy or intrusive but rather adds a tasteful touch of visual interest that amplifies the overall gaming experience.

The Lenovo Legion Go is an impressive gaming device that boasts a range of advanced features to ensure optimal responsiveness and accuracy during intense gaming sessions. One of the most notable features of this device is its hall effect joysticks that prevent joystick drift and minimize dead zones, providing a smooth and seamless gaming experience. Additionally, the Lenovo Legion Go comes equipped with an integrated trackpad, a large D-pad, an angled mouse wheel, and a total of 10 mappable shoulder buttons, triggers, and grip buttons, making it a versatile and highly customizable gaming controller.

In terms of aesthetics, the Lenovo Legion Go is a stylish device that features a power button adorned with the iconic Lenovo Legion ‘O’ and RGB lighting that changes colors, indicating the user-selectable fan mode. The joysticks also have customizable RGB rings that add a layer of style and serve as a notification system for controller pairing. Beyond its sleek design, the Lenovo Legion Go is also highly functional. The Legion TrueStrike controllers are detachable, allowing for more playstyle flexibility and enabling FPS mode for quick FPS gaming sessions. In FPS mode, the controllers can be detached from the Lenovo Legion Go body and placed on a surface using the kickstand at the back. The right detached controller can be attached to a controller base that comes with the device via a magnet, and the optical eye at the bottom of the controller provides more precise aiming and control, making it perfect for competitive FPS games, similar to using a mouse.

Overall, the Lenovo Legion Go is a top-of-the-line gaming controller that offers unparalleled responsiveness, accuracy, and flexibility, making it an essential tool for serious gamers.

The Lenovo Legion Glasses: Not Just a Gimmick

For some time now, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have been quite popular terms. However, the Lenovo Legion Glasses have made a compelling argument for VR gaming while on the move. After connecting the glasses to the Legion Go, our surroundings were transformed into a gaming paradise. The field of view is extensive, and the experience feels almost as if you’re in a movie theater.

Sound Matters: Enter the Legion E510 Headphones

To truly enhance your visual experience, top-notch audio is a must. That’s where the Lenovo Legion E510 headphones come in. These headphones are expertly designed to capture every auditory detail, from the deepest bass to the clearest highs. Plus, they boast impressive noise isolation capabilities, making them ideal for gaming in loud surroundings.

Software: The Heart of the Experience

The Lenovo Legion Go has many impressive features, but the key connecting element is the Legion Space. This feature is specifically designed for the Lenovo Legion Go and allows users to easily access their game platforms, view locally installed games, and even purchase games through the Legion Game Store, in collaboration with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. With each Lenovo Legion Go, users receive a complimentary 3-month membership that provides access to hundreds of high-quality games. Additionally, the Gamesplanet store offers deep discounts on select games for users with a Lenovo ID.

Legion Space allows all supported game launchers to be grouped together, making it easy for gamers to jump straight into the action. Additionally, users can quickly adjust settings such as resolution, refresh rate, brightness, and more on the fly.

Final Thoughts: A New Era for Portable Gaming

After spending time with the Legion Go, it became evident that this device is more than just a typical handheld. Lenovo has set out to revolutionize the way we perceive portable gaming by integrating power and portability, style and substance, and performance and affordability seamlessly.

To summarize, the Lenovo Legion Go is not only a product but also a declaration. Lenovo is ready to compete and has brought its best to the table. With its impending release, one thing is certain: the landscape of portable gaming will never be the same.

The Lenovo Legion Go will be available on Lenovo.com, Best Buy, Micro Center, and select retail partners from October 2023. Its price will start at $699. The Lenovo Legion Glasses will also be available from October 2023 and will start at $329. Additionally, the Lenovo Legion E510 7.1 RGB Gaming In-Ear Headphones will be available at a starting price of $49.99 in October 2023.

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This innovative modular PC lets you set up workstations that adapt to your needs

Computers are now at the heart and center of our civilization, not only enabling technologies that make our lives more comfortable but also empowering people to turn their creative visions into reality. Despite these seemingly magical capabilities, computers like PCs and Macs remain almost stuck in the past, with forms and designs meant more for manufacturing efficiency than user convenience. Laptops, while portable, lock you forever into the configuration that you purchased, and although desktops offer nearly limitless upgrade potential, you are still left stuck with the box that the computer came in, which is more often than not something that ties you down to your desk. Fortunately, there are innovative and creative minds who won’t settle for anything less, and they have designed an advanced modular system that lets the PC adjust to your needs, whatever and wherever they are, rather than the other way around.

Designer: Khadas Design

Click Here to Buy Now: $928 $1278 ($350 off). Hurry, only 19/90 left! Raised over $270,000.

Khadas Mind – The perfect blend of high-speed computing and exceptional portability.

The Khadas Mind Module PC offers three distinct modes tailored to your specific needs. Opt for ‘Mind Only Mode’ when you need extreme portability, switch to ‘Mind Dock Mode’ for multitasking prowess, or choose ‘Mind Graphics’ when you’re ready to unleash your creativity in design and gaming.

Khadas Mind

At the heart of this groundbreaking computer system is the Khadas Mind itself, a mini PC that already pushes the envelope of its category. At only 0.99lbs (450g) light and with a compact size of 5.7 x 4.1 x 0.7 inches (146x105x20mm), this extra slim box can slip easily inside any bag or even a coat pocket, allowing you to bring your work and entertainment with you anywhere you need to be. Despite that diminutive size, the Kadas Mind is no underdog, powered by a 13th-gen Intel Core i7-1360P processor with Intel Iris Xe graphics, up to 32GB of fast LPDDR5 RAM, and capable of holding up to 4TB of NVMe SSD storage. It has its own set of ports, so all you really need to do is plug in peripherals and a power cable and you’ll be up and running in no time. The built-in 5.55Wh standby battery even lets the Khadas Mind sleep for up to 5 hours without an external power source, allowing you to unplug the mini PC and be on the move in a snap.

Mind Dock

Easy Docking for Minimal Downtime – Simply slot your Mind to the multifunctional base. Mind Dock instantly supplies power and connectivity without the fuss of fiddling with an intricate tangle of cables.

Enhance Mind’s I/O Capabilities – Maximize productivity by effortlessly connecting external devices for monitoring and editing tasks, all facilitated by 8 high-speed I/O ports on the Mind Dock.

Access-friendly Design – Experience enhanced security with Mind Dock’s built-in fingerprint scanner.

Physical volume button for quick adjustments.

While the Khadas Mind is already impressive on its own, it becomes even more powerful once you start combining it with the other modules in this flexible system. Khadas’ patented Mind Link Interface drives this connection between the Khadas Mind and other modules, opening the doors to even more potential and use cases. The Mind Dock, for example, expands the selection of ports so you can connect almost any peripheral or cable you need. The dock even features a fingerprint scanner for added security, a volume dial, built-in AAC speakers, and a 2.5Gbps Ethernet port for a faster and more stable network connection, providing you with a complete desktop PC experience at only a fraction of the size.

Mind Graphics

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060Ti Graphics – Elevate your design and gaming experience by slotting your Mind into Mind Graphics — a dedicated external GPU bay hosting the formidable NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060Ti.

USB4 Supported – Mind Graphics also includes Thunderbolt 3.0 / 4.0 support, so it can be used to turbocharge not only your Mind experience but also your other devices.

The Mind Graphics module, on the other hand, transforms the Khadas Mind from a productivity tool into a creativity powerhouse. Inside the box lies a desktop-grade NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060Ti that not only makes games pop but also brings your creativity to life. Along with the Khadas Mind Link, the Mind Graphics features an electronic switch lock that firmly keeps the two pieces together, preventing accidental disconnections that could ruin your day and throw you off your groove. The graphics box doesn’t skimp on the connectivity ports either, featuring USB-C with USB4 and Thunderbolt 4 support, USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 x3, two HDMI 2.0, 2.5Gbps Ethernet RJ45 ports, and an SD card reader. It also features high-quality, full-range 5W speakers so that you’ll have a complete entertainment and content creation package in a compact box.

Mind xPlay, Mind Talk & Mind Studio

The fun and creativity don’t stop there, thanks to the ingenious modular design of the Khadas Mind. The Mind xPlay, for example, will provide a portable display with a built-in battery, and dock for the Khadas Mind to fit into, letting you work and collaborate with others anywhere. The Mind Talk, on the other hand, upgrades office meetings with its array of microphones and audio hardware specially designed for this setting. Finally, the Mind Studio Display really takes your creative pursuits to the next level with an extra-large touchscreen with support for stylus input. Wherever you are and whatever computing power you need, the Khadas Mind modular workstation will be ready to open your mind to a world of possibilities.

Click Here to Buy Now: $928 $1278 ($350 off). Hurry, only 19/90 left! Raised over $270,000.

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XULU XR1 LITE Mini PC Review: Good Things Can Come in Tiny Packages


  • Compact, portable form with a distinctive profile

  • Plenty of connectivity options, including 7 USB ports

  • Upgradable memory and storage

  • Decent performance for its size and price


  • Doesn't come with an operating system pre-installed

  • Only one USB-C port




The XULU XR1 LITE offers powerful computing in a tiny, memorable box that puts bigger computers to shame.

When people hear the word computer or PC, most will probably think either of laptops or towering desktops (and their Apple equivalents). Of course, computers today come in sorts of forms and sizes, not even counting the powerful slab of metal and glass in your pocket. Long before the Steam Deck popularized the idea of handheld PCs designed specifically for gaming, mini PCs tried to compress as much computing power into significantly smaller boxes compared to the typical desktop PC towers in the market. These boxes, however, have had a reputation for sacrificing power too much for the sake of size, which was an unfortunate consequence of the technical limitations of their time. Fortunately, things have changed a lot for the better, and the new XULU XR1 LITE promises the most powerful computer in a compact size and at an affordable price. So we turn the power on and give its fans a spin to find out just how much it pushes the limits of technology and design in such a small package.

Designer: XULU


Just like the majority of computers in the early stages of the industry’s history, the design of mini PCs has largely been driven by practical and technical considerations, which is to say they all come in box shapes. Thanks to advancements that have seen many of these components shrink down in size, allowing for not only smaller sizes but also variations in forms. The XULU XR1 LITE doesn’t exactly stray too far from that standard but makes enough changes that make it look more distinctive and memorable.

What you’ll immediately notice is the computer’s small size, probably falling more under “tiny PC” than “mini PC” at this point. It’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, though you aren’t going to use it that way, of course. And while you might argue that there are technically much smaller computers like the Raspberry Pi, the XR1 LITE and its siblings are exponentially more powerful than that single-board computer.

This small, compact form is more than just for boasting, though. It means that you won’t have to sacrifice too much desk or shelf space for your new desktop or media server. It also means you can carry it almost anywhere you need it, with the right peripherals, of course. You can easily hide it somewhere if you really need to make it invisible, but you might not want to anyway. Unlike earlier generations of mini PCs, the XULU XR1 is designed to actually stand out and add some visual flair wherever it stands. It’s available in 7 colors, including “normal” black and gray.

It isn’t a straightforward box shape either, with an incline in the front for an informative display panel. The sides are pretty clean except for the XULU branding and a single row of vents at the bottom. The rest of the airflow vents are located at the back and on the top, right above the large cooling fan, away from your direct line of sight. Its design is pretty minimal and it’s actually impressive how they managed to still make it look neat and tidy despite the plethora of ports available.


You won’t be holding the XULU XR1 LITE in your hands while using it, so the usual ergonomics standards don’t really apply here. You might, however, find yourself carrying it around a lot, whether transferring from one desk or office to another or actually carrying the computer with you wherever you go. At less than half a kilogram, it’s not a difficult feat to pull off, especially when XULU provides a nice hard carry case where you can put not just the tiny PC itself but also the power adapter, HDMI cable, and maybe a foldable keyboard. If you have a large phone, tablet, or portable monitor, you can probably set up a workstation anywhere there’s a power socket available.

Of course, the XULU XR1 isn’t that useful on its own and you’ll have to plug in peripherals, particularly monitors, a keyboard, and a mouse at the very least. Thankfully, the XULU XR1 LITE makes that super easy, not just with the number of available ports but also because of their placement. The most important ports, such as the lone USB-C port, two full-sized USB ports, and a headphone jack, are all located on the front for instant access. The rest, including the HDMI ports, are on the back. This means that peripherals that you will rarely remove can be conveniently hidden from view, while more transient devices have easy access to essential ports.

One small but important part of the tiny PC’s ease of use is access to the computer’s internals. With a simple Allen wrench, you can easily remove the top and back plates when you need to upgrade or replace some parts. Admittedly, you have limited options in this regard, but it’s still a lot more compared to a more closed system like a laptop.


Just a few years ago, it would have been unimaginable for a computer of this size to do anything beyond browsing, email, and document processing. Today, we have the XULU XR1 LITE, which is capable of doing a lot more than those, including some gaming and content creation. There are three models available in the XULU XR1 line, and while the LITE is clearly the more budget-friendly of the three, it is hardly an underdog in performance.

This particular model is powered by an AMD Ryzen 3 5300U which comes with a Radeon RX Vega 6 graphics. It’s definitely no powerhouse, but it has enough muscle for light to moderate computing tasks of all sorts. There are options for 8 or 16GB of RAM (our review unit came with the lower configuration), and 512GB of SSD storage, both of which are upgradable. You’ll have to set limits, of course, like lowering game settings or limiting Photoshop layers, but most apps will remain usable. And since it’s a normal PC, you can install any application you need, or any operating system for that matter. The XULU XR1 is compatible with Microsoft Windows and Linux distributions, but it comes without any OS installed, leaving that up to the decision and cost of the owner.

One of the biggest appeals of this extra small computer is that, despite its size, it has a nearly complete set of ports for all your computing needs. There are two HDMI ports, both of which are capable of 4K resolutions, one USB-C port, six USB ports (Gen 3 and Gen 2), an Ethernet port, and a good old-fashioned 3.5mm headphone jack. This should fit most of your needs and more, especially when you consider you can have a triple 4K monitor setup thanks to DisplayPort support on that lone USB-C connection. Sadly, there is indeed only a single USB-C port, which is disappointing in an age where almost everything is turning to the universal connector.

The mini PC is powered by a 19V adapter with a typical barrel-type DC plug, again a minor disappointment since it runs the risk of not finding a suitable replacement if the power brick or cord gets damaged. There is a small OLED screen in front of the box that lets you quickly see important stats like temperature, fan speed, and others. Strangely enough, there is no indicator for storage drive activity, not even the typical flashing light on many computers. It’s a very minor nitpick, however, considering all the other features the small but powerful box offers.


The XULU XR1 LITE stands in between desktops and laptops not just in size and portability but also in their flexibility. Laptops are locked systems that offer very few options to change parts while desktops have nearly limitless possibilities. Although you can’t exactly upgrade the CPU and GPU, the XULU XR1 at least easily lets you change the two other most important parts that affect a computer’s overall performance.

The XULU XR1 LITE can support up to 64GB of DDR4 memory and up to 2TB of NVMe SSD storage, which is pretty much the standard for many workstations today. More importantly, getting access to these parts doesn’t require extensive surgery, just four screws to be precise. That’s true whether you want to upgrade or need to replace broken memory, helping extend the life of the computer for years.

Other than that, however, repairing any other part of the XULU XR1 will be a challenge that requires mastery of electronics. Not that the computer is prone to damage, especially given its sturdy metal chassis and adequate cooling system. The only worry you might have is the entry of dust into the box, especially with big vents on all sides. Then again, that is also a consideration for most desktop computers, and the XULU XR1 doesn’t really escape that fate.


The XULU XR1 LITE comes at a rather odd moment in the mini PC market. Intel has just announced the retirement of its NUC mini PC hardware, while Apple just updated its most powerful mini Mac yet, the Mac Mini. Some of the bigger PC brands seem to be stepping back from this market, giving plenty of opportunity for others to take up the cause. But with new products popping up left and right, what value does the XULU XR1 LITE bring to the table?

Simply put, this tiny PC brings the trifecta of performance, portability, and price to computer users of all levels and needs. While there are more powerful options in the market, including the XULU XR1 Pro and Max variants, the $300 price tag on the most basic configuration makes it accessible to anyone looking for a reliable computer with a very small footprint. The fact that you can practically carry it anywhere or that it looks quite stylish on your desk definitely adds to its appeal, helping set it apart from the myriad mini PCs with forgettable faces and unrealistic price tags.


Computers have become an important part of our lives, even for those who probably wouldn’t consider themselves proper computer users. This has created a need for products that can meet not only varied use cases but also varied lifestyles and tastes. Not everyone will be OK with a towering box on or below their desks, and some might also be dissatisfied with a portable yet locked-down laptop. The XULU XR1 LITE offers a cozy middle ground, but one that doesn’t sacrifice too much to get there.

Armed with capable hardware, a near-exhaustive selection of ports, and a charming, small form, this tiny PC brings a new face to the market that tries to appeal to all classes of users, especially budget-conscious buyers. It’s far from perfect, of course, and there are places where XULU clearly cut corners to reach that sweet price, but these are the small compromises some might be willing to make to get their hands on a computer that can meet their computing needs and last them for a very long time.

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This ASRock DIY kit puts a second screen on the side of your desktop PC tower

The jury is still out, but many people already swear by having more than one monitor to boost their productivity. This is probably more applicable to people that need to have a lot of content displayed on the screen at the same time. These can be a mix of references, monitoring tools, communication applications, and the actual work that needs to be done. Given how much of today’s office and creative work revolves around those, that case is more common than not. Not everyone, however, might have enough desk space for a second monitor, especially if their desktop PC is already taking up space. Taking that into consideration, this kit tries to make use of that fact and turns your desktop’s towering case into a second monitor, albeit with a few critical requirements.

Designer: ASRock

There are plenty of ultra-wide or ultra-large computer monitors these days, but many people already have a decently big screen on their desks. It could be more effective to add a second monitor rather than buying a new and bigger one, but some desks aren’t big enough to accommodate those. That’s especially true if the PC itself is standing right next to the monitor rather instead of being hidden from view, a setup that is quite common both in offices and in homes.

Motherboard manufacturer ASRock seems to have stumbled upon the idea of using the desktop PC case as a second screen to avoid having to put another monitor on your desk. The ASRock Side Panel Kit practically mounts a 13.3-inch display panel on the inside of that case. It might actually sound like an ingenious solution to save space, but the conditions needed to be met make it a little bit more trouble than it’s worth.

For one, your PC case must have transparent side panels because this screen doesn’t replace those panels and mounts from the inside rather than the outside. It also works with a specific motherboard feature that isn’t exactly widely available on many desktop computers. Of course, ASRock sells motherboards that meet the requirements, which is possibly a strategy to get interested buyers to also invest in one of those.

That said, while this ASRock Side Panel Kit does look useful and space efficient, its ergonomics might be questionable. Having a screen off to the side and perpendicular to your main monitor might strain your neck in the long run. It might be useful for almost static content that you rarely check, but you might as well just have a single monitor where you can switch to those apps from time to time instead.

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This DIY handheld computer kit helps you fulfill your fantasy console dreams

We live in very interesting times, especially if you happen to be a tinkerer, hobbyist, or what is commonly called a “maker” these days. From affordable palm-sized computer boards like the Raspberry Pi to the almost magical 3D printers, it has never been easier to bring ideas to life or, at the very least, prototype designs quickly before they hit final production. Not everyone might have access to these parts and tools, though, but those same things have also made it easier to create and sell products that bigger companies would never dare make. Those include niche yet popular designs, like this quirky pocket computer kit that you can assemble on your own to become not just a portable game emulator but a real computer you could use for more serious business, like even developing your own retro-style game on the go.

Designer: Clockwork

There has been a bit of interest in portable computer systems of late, whether for gaming, regular use, or both. While landscape designs like the Nintendo Switch and the Steam Deck are typical for gaming-oriented devices, they are hardly the only forms possible or available. uConsole, for example, has a mix of old-school BlackBerry and a Game Boy, with a pinch of cyberpunk thrown in the mix. It’s larger than a smartphone, too large to even fit in your pocket, but it’s ultimately more flexible in terms of use, especially if you’re familiar with Linux-based operating systems.

uConsole comes as a kit that you still have to assemble yourself, allowing you to enjoy part of the process without having to worry about scouring for components and getting access to a 3D printer. Like most of the designer’s other DIY computers, however, you also have access to the schematics and list of parts so that you can take the harder yet more fulfilling route if you so wish. Whichever path you take, you’ll end up with the same handheld device with a QWERTY keyboard, gaming controls, and a 5-inch screen that you can use for games or any other computing activities, especially since you can connect it to an external monitor and USB peripherals.

The device was designed to be modular so that you can expand it with more functionality, like the optional 4G/LTE extension you can also purchase. It also runs on a pair of rechargeable 18650 batteries that can be easier to swap out compared to the blocky packs you see in smartphones and other DIY projects. Admittedly, uConsole is not that cheap, especially for such a niche device, but the kit does take out much of the hassle of gathering your own parts while still letting you relish having such a quirky but useful computer in your bag.

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NinDoio is a fun-looking device for leveling up your productivity game

Every year, more people have to sit in front of computers for work or sometimes even for leisure. While some jobs might be simple enough to get by with the basics of word processing or spreadsheets, a lot require more complex processes and multiple steps, not to mention the use of a variety of software to get the job. That’s even more true for those involved in digital content creation, whether they be designers, programmers, writers, or even streamers. The number of actions they need to take can be overwhelming, especially when you have to navigate around the computer screen to get to those. It would definitely be a great deal if you could press just one or a few keys to get things done, which is what this device tries to do in a way that almost makes it feel like you’re playing a game.

Designer: Megalodon

There are about a hundred keys on a computer keyboard, more or less depending on the layout and the device. That gives you a variety of ways and nearly endless possible combinations to trigger actions like launching an application, undoing an edit, or rendering an animation. That flexibility, however, also comes at the cost of complexity, especially when it comes to remembering which key combinations do which actions on which applications. There are a variety of tools today that try to simplify that task, but Megalodon’s NinDoio adds an element of fun to what is really serious business.

What makes the NinDoio different from many “macro pads,” as they are called, is that it looks more like a toy rather than a productivity tool. In fact, it looks very much like a Nintendo Game Boy Advance, which is definitely the inspiration for its design as well as its moniker. Regardless of the name and shape, it still delivers the same power as any macro pad does, which is to map a single button or key to an action. For example, you won’t have to memorize the combination for “undo” when you can just press a single button that you’ve committed to muscle memory.

Unlike a simple grid of keys, the NinDoio adds a few controls you’d associate with gaming devices and controllers. Four of the buttons, for example, are arranged in a cross like a D-pad, while two are labeled Start and Select, even if they can be assigned to unrelated actions. The two knobs on the right can be mapped to actions like scrolling a page or changing the size of a brush. They can also be pushed like regular buttons, though, which adds another layer of functionality to them.

The very appearance of the macro pad is playful, with a translucent acrylic base that lets you take a peek at the electronics inside. Different color options for the aluminum top are available to add a bit of life to an already quirky device. Overall, the NinDoio’s appearance makes it a bit more approachable and a little less clinical, even if it performs the same functions as any of Megalodon’s other macro pads, which might just be what the doctor prescribed to make tedious work feel a bit more enjoyable like a game.

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This Circuit Board Makes Your SSD Sound Like an Old Hard Drive

The brainchild of Matthias Werner, the HDD Clicker 2.0 is a tiny computer board that attaches to your solid state drive (SSD) and makes it sound like an old platter-style hard disk drive (HDD). And it doesn’t just make the sounds all willy-nilly either; it only does it when your hard drive is actually reading or writing. +1 for realism!

The board is plugged into and powered by your motherboard via a Mini-Molex connector. At the same time, an ATTiny microcontroller “monitors your SSD’s activity, and a piezoelectric speaker produces a ‘hard drive noise’ whenever your SSD reads or writes data.” How about that! But can it make the sound of the disk arm vainly moving back and forth on a failed disk drive?

Admittedly, just the other day, I got to thinking my computer was way too quiet. And that’s when I realized it had crashed on me. Now I just need an app that creates a blue screen of death animation whenever my computer throws an error, and this nostalgic trip down memory lane will be complete!

[via ReviewGeek]

TerraMaster delivers a sleek, easy-to-use data storage solution for modern homes

We live in a world that revolves around information, particularly information stored as electronic data. From the files we use at work to the photos we use to record our memories, we accumulate and use a ton of data that can easily outgrow the common 2TB hard drives available on the market. In our homes alone, we have photos, videos, music, and other files that we need to keep safe and have quick access to, sometimes from different devices. Products like USB flash drives can no longer keep up with our growing collections and needs. That’s why there has been a surge in data storage solutions like NAS or Network Attached Storage products, and TerraMaster, one of the leading brands in that market, just dropped two new options designed to accommodate all your data needs at home and then some.

Designer: TerraMaster

Truth be told, NAS boxes won’t fit the bill of designer products, and that’s not exactly surprising. Their designs are more utilitarian than anything, preferring to err on the side of usability and efficiency rather than aesthetics. That’s not to say, however, that the new TerraMaster F4-223 and F2-223 are nothing to look at because their sharp metal bodies and compact designs are exactly what make them ideal for use at home and home offices.

The aluminum chassis of these two NAS solutions give them a certain luster that makes them fit with the rest of your silver-coated computer accessories, like your monitor or laptop. Although it isn’t bereft of some accents and branding marks, its design is pretty spartan and minimalist. Everything you see exists to serve a practical purpose rather than just being eye candy. The panels in front, for example, aren’t just for show and make it trivial to access the drive bay inside by simply lifting up the corresponding cover.

Everything about the F4-223 and F2-223 is designed for ease of use. You don’t need tools to attach or remove a drive, not even a screwdriver, reducing the downtime needed to add storage or replace corrupted drives. Although you might need tools to access the innards of the NAS, you can still easily upgrade the RAM or add an SSD cache to speed things up. Considering these products are made to last a long time, the ability to upgrade certain specs definitely helps in prolonging their use.

Of course, a NAS isn’t just a glorified external data storage, and TerraMaster equipped these two new products with its best hardware and software. NAS boxes are practically computers in their own right, and these two are no exception. Especially with the new TerraMaster OS or TOS 5.0 and TRAID functionality. Whether you’re simply storing file backups, using it as your home media center, or hosting your own private cloud and photo management solution, the TerraMaster F4-223 and F2-223 promise a stress-free solution that will look good on your desk or in any corner of the room.

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