The tiniest gaming laptop and console mixture you can find in the market The GPD WIN Max.
So, let’s have a look at GPD Win Max together It has no flashy plastic design, no RGB lighting, no overclocking, and the performance isn’t excellently amazing. But make no mistake, the GPD Win Max arguably packs more PC gaming punch per liter than anything that’s ever come before it.
The first thing my mind is that it reminds me of the Aspire One. Given the thickness of the GPD Max, and the cramped keyboard, that’s not entirely an unfair comparison. But a lot was learned from the early netbooks and performance has come along way since Intel Atom.
GPD ended up taking a shockingly zero compromises approach to the Win Max, and the highlights of its specifications include, 16 Gigs of LPDDR4X memory, 512 Gigs of NVME storage, and eight-inch 500nit display, lightning-fast Wi-Fi six, and enough IO to embarrass some laptops that are twice its size.
But the star of the show is the 10-nanometer IntelQuad Core processor, which manages to turbo all the way up to three to 3.3 gigahertz, under light real-world all-core loads. Guys, that is just about the same base frequency, as a 4770 desktop chip. And, it comes loaded with Irish plus graphics 940.
Yeah, we were gonna have to get to that eventually. It uses onboard graphics, but as we’ve seen so many times before, a complete product can be more than the sum of its parts. But hold on, it’s worth talking about some of the set up first. One of the first things I think of doing was pop into the BIOS and toggle the CPU’s TDPto the maximum, 25 watts. It’s pretty typical these days for Intel to have configurable thermal envelopes for their mobile chips, but usually, the device manufacturer will pick one for you and design a thermal solution that allows the chip to go as fast as it can, within that limit, not here.
Now it’s a little kludgy and requires a reboot every time, but leaving this to the user allows those folks who are mostly interested in retro-game emulation, to extend their battery life considerably, by tuning power consumption down or by disabling cores, while offering maximum performance, to those who are looking to play older Triple-A PC games or emulated games from much newer consoles.
When it comes to real-world performance, other than a couple of misleading bits in the marketing, I’m thrilled, in truly heavy workloads, the 1035 G7 falls well behind 4790K, let’s be honest, but PlayStation 1 emulation was flawless, PlayStation 2 was superfluid, in fact, almost anything that’s normally CPU-bound, even Dolphin which is notoriously CPU heavy, due to the GameCube and whiz IBM processor, ran more like I would expect it to run on something that would fit in my lap, not something that would fit in my hand.
Even GPE’s representation of the PC gaming experience is pretty upfront. Modern demanding Triple-A games will run, as long as you don’t mind cranking down the graphical settings and living with a 30-ish FPS experience. As for older Triple-A games, these run.
It’s crazy because I remember when you needed a top-tier gaming PC to run Batman Arkham Asylum. This thing though, you can basically max it out, running at 60 FPS, with only very occasional stutters, and that’s at native resolution, and therein lies some of the magic. Built into the Win Max, is a HIPS panel that’s rated for 500 nits max brightness, and runs at 1280 * 800 resolution.
That is pretty low for a modern display, and if you have sharp eyesight the experience is not as good as they seem to make it out to be. In the Indiegogo pitch, GPDpoints out, how the pixel pitch, the pixel density of their display compares to common laptop and desktop display sizes in pixel counts.
The problem is that the way that you would typically hold the GPD max, puts it much closer to your face than those other displays. So you need more pixel density, in order for it to reach Retina levels, where you can’t make out the individual pixels. I do understand the design limitations at play here though, it’s not like the Iris Pro graphics. We’re gonna be able to drive anything higher than an HD panel anyway, and playing at a lower but still native resolution, is definitely better the alternative, truthfully, I’d have done it exactly the same way.
I just felt that it was a little disingenuous to make the comparisons that they did. Some more good news though is that I absolutely love the built-in controller. As we’ve seen on previous GPD products, there’s a rocker on the side that toggles the controller between mouse model with the shoulder buttons acting as left and right-click, and gamepad mode, which is a standard XInput, meaning that it usually requires no configuration to “just work.”
This is far and away from their best effort so far, the A, B, X, Y buttons are delightfully clicky but not loud. The D-pad is the bestI’ve seen on anything that isn’t a dedicated game controller, and the analog sticks, they might take up a ton of space internally that might have been great to use for battery, but they were totally worth it. The tension on them is just right, the plastic ribbing on the top is the perfect balance of control and durability, and I got no annoying dead zones, putting me in perfect control all the time.
If I had to complain about the gamepad, I would say the shoulder buttons are a little light for my taste. The intake factor on the bottom actually makes my fingers cold when I’m playing, if I’m not wearing a warm hoodie from lttstore.com, that is. The Win Max itself is heavy enough, that you pretty much have to rest it on something if you’re playing for more than about 15 minutes. Back to the marketing though, my final beef is this, while it is true that PlayStation3 emulation is possible with the Win Max, you’re gonna be limited to the much lighter games from that console and the Xbox 360 for that matter if you want frame rates of 30 FPS or more.
Now It did technically run some heavier games. BioShock 2 for example, but as you can see the experience will not be great. One way around this would be to use the Thunderbolt 3 port on the back, to hook up an external GPU, that is super cool. Like Thunderbolt 3 in this thing, all the compactThunderbolt 3 graphics cards that I’m aware of, either never made it to market, or have gone extinct, meaning that, if you want to do that, you’re stuck tethered to a big old brick that’s plugged into the wall.
At that point, I mean, why wouldn’t I just use a normal controller, and play on the larger display of my real laptop or TV or something. Maybe the Win Max is your only computer. You use it as a handheld on the go, and you dock it at home. You simply must have a solution to this problem.
Given the luxury pricing of both the Win Max and eGPU, I find that scenario pretty hard to swallow, but at least hey, the option is there if you’re into it, and performance is shockingly good. The Win Max’s open airflow bottom, might give it a bit more flex than I’d like, and it can get pretty loud, but it allows the dual-fan cooler to breathe extremely well and kept the CPU in the high 60s to low70s, throughout my testing.
I really wanted to like the keyboard and the touchpad, they include dedicated F keys, which I appreciated and it’s pretty neat, how in controller mode, you can kind of thumb the trackpad around, but the arrow keys are terrible. This Caps Lock should absolutely be Tab and it’s just too cramped to really game comfortably on. Not to mention that I can type faster on my phone than I can type on this thing.
That’s really the final nail in the, “I’m gonna make this my only computer pipe dream for me.” I see Win Max as a second or maybe even a third PC, but that does not mean that I don’t like it. This is a really cool device. Once they sort out those stability issues, that prevented me from even testing battery life, I’d expect 10 hours or maybe more in our light office benchmark, which is pretty done good, considering the 57-watt hour battery, that’s 10 nanometers for you.
Like anything though, it’s full of sacrifices and it lacks the kind of polish that you might expect from the likes of Dell if that weird AlienwareNintendo Switch thing ever comes to market. It may come to us in a price segment of 750$ to 800$ price segment, but the bottom line So is it worth buying? that’s up to you.
This is without a doubt one of the coolest PC’s on the market and it may be a long time before something this unique comes along again.