I see you PC gamers looking longingly at your Nintendo Switch wishing it was a tiny, miniature gaming PC. I know I do, and that’s partly why I’m hopeful / excited / vaguely optimistic about Dell’s Alienware UFO doodad, which they unveiled earlier in the year. But while the UFO was just a ‘concept’ device, the mad folk over at GamePad Digital, or GPD, have actually gone and made a proper 8in handheld gaming laptop. Sure, the GPD Win Max looks like one of those jumbo Nokia Communicator phones from the mid-90s, but inside it packs one of Intel’s new 10th Gen Comet Lake CPUs, Intel’s Iris Plus graphics, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, an 8in display and the disembowelled remains of an Xbox 360 controller. It’s absolutely nutty, but I also kind of dig it.
The 8in display sounds particularly intriguing. Its resolution of 1280×800 means it doesn’t have a traditional 16:9 aspect ratio, but cramming that many pixels onto an 8in screen does actually give it a higher pixel density than most laptop displays. A 15.6in 1920×1080 display, for example, has a pixel density of 141 pixels per inch, but the GPD Win Max bumps that figure up to 189 PPI. That’s not quite as sharp as the Nintendo Switch’s 6.2in display, admittedly, whose 1280×720 resolution gives it a PPI of 237, but that’s still pretty good going all the same.
The rest of the Win Max’s display specs tick a lot of boxes, too. According to GPD, it can hit a peak brightness of 500cd/m2 (as bright as any good gaming monitor) and its H-IPS panel covers 90% of the HDR-grade DCI-P3 colour gamut, which should mean it has top notch image quality and lovely rich colours. It’s also got 10-point touch support and is flicker-free, so shouldn’t strain your eyes during long gaming sessions.
Quite how long you’ll be able to comfortably play games on the GPD Win Max, however, is another matter. While its appropriated Xbox 360 controller components are a novel touch to help make it more suitable for handheld gaming, it also looks like immensely unwieldy. The analogue sticks remind me of the squat analogue pad on the Nintendo 3DS, for example, and its sharp edges look like they’ll start digging into your hand after about five minutes. It does have USB ports to plug in a proper controller, thankfully, but that also defeats the idea of it being a handheld gaming laptop.
Still, the gaming benchmarks GPD list on their website sound pretty impressive all the same. They don’t list exactly what graphics settings they tested them on – only their “default settings”, whatever the hell that means – but the combination of its Intel Core i5-1035G7 CPU and Intel Iris Plus 940 graphics chip was able to hit over 60fps in Fortnite, Overwatch, DOTA 2, League Of Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, FIFA 20, Resident Evil 2, World War Z and Code Vein. Far Cry: New Dawn, Borderlands 3, Red Dead Redemption 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, the Halo Reach alpha and Apex Legends all came within the 50-60fps range as well.
That’s impressive for such a titchy device, although I do wonder how its dual fans and dual cooling pipes will be able cope during longer gaming sessions. Still, when GPD state you can also adjust the CPU’s thermal design point or TDP from 15W to 25W in the BIOS, here’s hoping it won’t get too toasty in the process.
There’s no word on how much the GPD Win Max will cost yet or when it will go on sale, but GPD’s Twitter account seems to suggest we’ll see a proper launch announcement sometime next month.