The ONEXPLAYER Mini has me skeptical about the Steam Deck

When Valve announced the Steam Deck, I decided to skip the pre-order circus. My PC worked perfectly fine, I already have every current console, and the internet in New York City is actually good enough to make cloud gaming a reality. I simply couldn’t justify dropping hundreds on another gaming device. Even so, I’ve been second-guessing my choice. What if I could play Horizon Zero Dawn on the go without needing an internet connection? The possibilities had me feeling FOMO.

So I was thrilled to learn that Valve had competition in the form of the Onexplayer. Created by One-Notebook following a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised over $2 million, the device brings PC games to a dedicated handheld that’s more portable than a laptop. One-Notebook is following up on its initial device with the Onexplayer Mini, a smaller and less expensive model that seemed like it could be a good alternative for anyone who hasn’t been able to nab a Steam Deck.

Dream machine

Cynical gamers might be tempted to label the Onexplayer Mini a “knockoff,” but that’s not accurate. From a hardware perspective, it’s a well-designed machine for what it is. It’s a bulkier Nintendo Switch — I’m talking Game Gear thick — that’s loaded with PC parts.

It comes with an 11th generation Intel Core i7-1195G7 and an Iris Xe Graphics G7 96EUs, which aren’t exactly parts meant for gaming laptops. The battery only lasts for around two hours when running games, which isn’t great for those hoping to take it on a long subway ride. PC grade cooling fans help extend battery life and reduce lag, though.

The controller shell is well built, mostly taking its cues from Xbox. You’ve got a standard ABXY setup with triggers, bumpers, two sticks that smoothly pivot, and a proper D-pad. It’s a step above the Switch’s Joy-cons, though they can’t be detached from the console. The Mini also doesn’t feature a kickstand, unlike the standard Onexplayer model.

The whole thing is comically large and features a giant top vent that loudly blows air out like a train smokestack. It’s about two times as thick as a Switch, though it’s not as heavy as it may look — it’s actually lighter and smaller than the Steam Deck, which terrifies me. It’s a little less densely packed than Nintendo’s machine and it has comfortable hand grooves, rather than just being a big rectangle.

As for the screen, the Onexplayer Mini comes with a 7-inch 1920 x 1200 touch display that looks perfectly good (though every portable currently pales in comparison to my Switch OLED). Those strengths had me excited to load up some AAA games and see what the beast was capable of.

 

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