RETRO

Steam Deck VS AYN Odin Pro [A Detailed Comparison]

If there are two consoles everyone has on their radar right now, it’s the Steam Deck and the Ayn Odin Pro

Two consoles, both juggernauts in their own right compared to what else is available, and both offer up killer emulation performance. 

Which is better? That’s a nightmarishly difficult question to answer. If this were a simple case of the Odin Pro going against something like the Powkiddy RGB20S or even the Retroid Pocket 2+, then we’d be done in five minutes and Ayn would be doing a victor lap. 

But when you’ve got two must-have systems, things get a little more complicated. 

With that in mind, let’s jump in and work out which handheld will come out on top.

Steam Deck Specifications

As you can see, the Steam Deck is an absolute beast of a machine. If it’s power you’re after, the Steam Deck can’t be beat. Even the likes of the OneXPlayer or the Aya Neo, which are considered by many as some of the best handheld gaming PCs around, struggle to match those specs at almost three times the cost.

The advantage the Steam Deck has over the competition is that Valve can easily make a loss on a per-unit basis and recoup the costs through video game sales on the Steam storefront.

This puts the Steam Deck in a unique position where it’s got the tech to sing home about but doesn’t come with a frankly absurd price tag that requires a second mortgage. 

Factor all that in with the Steam Deck being available at three different price points depending on which size hard drive suits your needs, and this really is one of those consoles that’s relatively affordable for the tech on offer. 

  • CPU: Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz
  • GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz 
  • RAM: 16 GB LPDDR5 onboard RAM 
  • Storage Options: 64GB eMMC/256GB NVMe SSD/512GB high-speed NVMe SSD
  • Display: 1280 x 800 pixels (16:9)
  • Type: Optically bonded IPS LCD 
  • Screen size: seven-inches
  • Touchscreen: Yes

Ayn Odin Pro Specifications

ayn odin specs

Comparing the Steam Deck with the Odin Pro is like comparing a Ferrari with an F1 car. Sure, the F1 car is going to go faster, but if you woke up owning a Ferrari you aren’t going to complain. Or at least I hope you wouldn’t! 

The Odin Pro isn’t as powerful as the Steam Deck. That’s a given. But that’s okay. The Steam Deck is a handheld released by a company that pretty much owns the PC gaming landscape. The Odin Pro, however, comes via a company no one in the west had heard of. 

What’s important to remember here is what the Odin Pro can do compared to other low-cost handhelds in the same market. 

A fairer spec comparison would be with something like the Anbernic RG552. Sit both consoles next to one another and there’s going to be a clear winner. The RG552 is a premium-priced product that lacks a premium feel and premium power. The Odin Pro, on the other hand, feels well-designed to the touch, and the tech inside blows most of its competition out the water. 

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon SD845 |  Quad-core Kyo Gold at 2.8GHz, quad-core Kyro Silver at 1.8GHz
  • GPU: Adreno 630
  • RAM: 8GB LPDDR4
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Display: 1080×1920 (16:9)
  • Type: IPS LCD dragontrail touchscreen
  • Screen size: 5.98-inch 
  • Touchscreen: Yes

 Steam Deck vs AYN Odin Pro: Price

steam deck vs ayn odin pro pricing

While there is a clear winner in the price department, it’s not quite as simple as the Odin Pro is more affordable. There are factors to consider here.

Yes, the Odin Pro is more affordable. But what we see a lot in the handheld gaming scene is yearly console releases.

The Odin Pro is a great console most won’t ever be disappointed with. But it needs to be pointed out, we don’t know what Ayn’s plans are. Will we see an upgraded Odin Pro down the line?

We already know Ayn has the Windows-based Loki in the works. Would paying less still feel as good if a new model is released a year later? 

Of course, there’s nothing to say Ayn will release a new model so soon, but that’s not a given in this world. 

With the Steam Deck, a new model simply isn’t needed because its specs are top of the line. If Valve were to release a Steam Deck this soon after launch, people would riot. 

There’s also the issue of actually getting hold of a Steam Deck. Although getting an Odin Pro still takes a while, the process is straightforward, and buying one means you’ll get it within a few months, rather than with Steam Deck where you need to pre-order for the chance of being able to purchase one, which is just a pain. 

The nationwide chip shortage really is a mess, isn’t it?

  • Steam Deck Price: $399 (64GB), $529 (256GB), $649 (512GB)
  • Ayn Odin Price: $289

What Can the Steam Deck Emulate?

Steam Deck
Original Steam Deck photo by Valve.

When I was researching this for my own retro gaming site RETROResolve, I was blown away by just how much the Steam Deck can do. 

It’s not just the old-old systems this thing can run, it can handle the more recent retro systems like the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. 

Now, this does come with a caveat. Not every game will work with 100 per cent accuracy. That’s a given with emulation, but it bears repeating – there are simply too many games to test everything. That said, there’s enough compatibility there to say the possibility is a reality. 

What makes emulation so great on the Steam Deck is the ability to make use of emulator options to increase how older games look. Being able to upscale resolution or turn on shaders or 16:9 widescreen hacks for games that don’t support it really feels like a kind of magic, and adds a new dimension to older systems like the SNES or N64. 

  • Sega: Genesis, Master System, Game Gear, SegaCD, Sega32x, Dreamcast
  • Nintendo: NES, SNES, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, DS, 3DS, N64, GameCube, Wii, Wii U, Nintendo Switch
  • Sony: PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3
  • Microsoft: Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox Game Streaming
  • Misc: PC Engine, WonderSwan, Mame, FBNeo, Neo Geo

What Can the Odin Pro Emulate?

It goes without saying, the chances of playing PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 on the Odin Pro are unlikely. Does that matter? For the price, not so much.

The Odin Pro exists for a specific type of person. Someone who doesn’t need the latest high-end tech, they just want something cool to play retro games on. In an industry where every product feels like it uses the samey RK3326 chipset, the Odin Pro is a breath of fresh air with its modern tech. 

So, what can the Odin Pro emulate? Surprisingly a lot. 

You’ll be able to run all the cool things like advanced shaders, upscaled resolution, and widescreen hacks on the older systems like SNES and N64. And they do look absolutely stunning on the Odin Pro’s screen. If you own an Odin Pro and aren’t using widescreen hacks, what are you doing with your life?

Even with the Odin Pro’s blinding specs, there does come a point where it has to tap out. PlayStation 2 is a good example of when the Odin Pro starts to struggle. There are some games that will run without any issues whatsoever, but when games become more demanding, the effects are felt. 

That’s not to say the Odin Pro is bad by any means, and I cannot stress this enough. The console itself is a true revelation in terms of what’s possible at this price point. It’s just when you’re comparing high-end tech with even higher-end tech, one system is always going to look weaker on paper. 

  • Sega: Genesis, Master System, Game Gear, SegaCD, Sega32x, Dreamcast
  • Nintendo: NES, SNES, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, DS, 3DS, N64, GameCube, Wii, Wii U, Nintendo Switch
  • Sony: PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable
  • Misc: PC Engine, WonderSwan, Mame, FBNeo, Neo Geo

Will Steam Deck Play All PC Games?

In short, no. The Steam Deck may seem to be a portable gaming PC, and it is technically, but game compatibility isn’t a simple 1:1. If it’s available on a desktop PC, that doesn’t guarantee its availability on Steam Deck. 

Don’t worry, though, there are solutions to avoid getting shafted. 

The first step is to check the Steam Deck Verified page. On there you’ll be able to see what games are currently compatible. You can also head to the MyGames page to see which games in your library are currently compatible. 

Which Steam Deck Should You Get?

steam deck pricing

This all depends on what you’ll be using it for. If you’re playing up to N64 and PS1, the 64GB should just about be enough. PS1 games range from 32MB all the way to 1.9GB, while even older systems are either in the kilobytes or megabytes. 64GB for most people in this case will be more than enough. 

Where things get iffy is when you start thinking about PS2 or above. For those systems, and if your library commands it, the 256GB or 512GB is worth considering. The latter two options also offer faster load times due to the type of hard drives they use, too. Bonus!

Saying all that, if you’re not too fussed about loads of storage and faster speeds, you could always just grab the 64GB version and high capacity micro SD card if you want to keep costs down. 

Final Verdict

AYN ODIN PRO PLAYING GAMeCUBE GAMES

This is a much closer competition than I expected it to be. In one corner, the Steam Deck is the stronger opponent and offers a wider range of compatibility. But in the other corner, we’ve got a cost-effective emulation solution in the Odin Pro. 

Yeah, the Odin Pro isn’t as powerful as the Steam Deck, but it also costs a considerable amount less and is easier to get hold of. 

What makes this so hard is both machines are superb offerings. Screen clarity is crisp across both, battery life is stellar given the power, and the compatibility differences are offset by the price difference. 

One area where things get interesting is the difference in size. The Steam Deck houses a seven-inch screen as opposed to the Odin Pro, which is the standard 5.98-inches. This slight difference results in the Steam Deck feeling what scientists describe as ‘freaking massive’. Some would argue it’s a little too big, others love the extra screen space. 

The Steam Deck does look amazing in action, but due to its size, it’s not as portable as the Odin Pro, which feels more like a Switch Lite than a slab of concrete. 

That’s another win for the Odin Pro in my book, but even that is undone by the difference in build quality. The Odin Pro feels premium and is lush to play on. But when comparing the feel with an offering from the PC giant Valve, there’s only one winner. 

Valve understands hardware better and has the means to continually iterate on a product until it feels near-perfect. The comparison here isn’t exactly fair given the size of the two companies, but from a purely consumer point of view (which is all that matters), it’s worth factoring in. 

What I believe it all comes down to is cost. Both systems are great purchases. The Steam Deck can emulate more systems and can play the latest AAA PC games. Conversely, the Odin Pro is designed as a mid-range, affordable emulation machine. 

If you have the money spare, the Steam Deck is the better choice and you won’t give the Odin Pro a second glance. It’s also more future-proof than the Odin Pro thanks to its more powerful tech. 

If, however, the Steam Deck costs a little too much to drop on what is a handheld, the Odin Pro’s attractive price tag and powerful up-to-PS2-emulation is going to feel like the better long-term investment. 

Either way, you aren’t going to feel short-changed. Both systems rock, and if retro gaming on the go is your happy place, you’ll be satisfied with whichever console you choose.

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