The sauce has taken well to finance the development of the third iteration of GPD Win, a series of laptops with all the controls of a gamepad. this new Win Max, so called because it has a much larger screen than the two previous versions, the little geniuses of GPD have once again exploded the threshold of their crowdfunding. While their Indiegogo campaign only asked for € 22,277 to be viable (HK $ 200,000), it ended at over a hundred times that amount – € 2,558,220 to be exact (HK $ 22,967,891).
A record for these Hong Kongers passionate about “mini-machines”, already responsible for two iterations of portable gaming PCs, the GPD Win 1 (which we tested) and the GPD Win 2. And it was with pleasure that we were able to take charge of the first copies to arrive in France.
Bigger with its 8-inch screen, the GPD Win Max is a logical evolution of its previous iterations. If many ergonomic and technical improvements are noticeable, it benefits first of all from the important graphic progress made by Intel in its latest generation of “icelake” chips. Thus, in addition to the integrated processor being a Core i5, powerful for such a small machine, the GPD Win Max development teams have mainly chosen it for its GPU. It integrates the most high-end mobile version of Intel, the Iris Plus G7.
The one found in the most powerful icelake, the Core i7-1065G7, which has 64 execution units. A GPU that doubles the performance of the previous generation and offers a first-rate performance / power consumption ratio, quite close to an Nvidia MX250. Not enough to replace a RTX2080 Ti, but enough to play all the games in extreme mobility.
All PC games seem within reach
YouTube abounds in videos where the GPD teams as well as the users of the first units illustrate the power of this PC / console hybrid. And after having not only played with the console / PC, but also having seen the multitude of feedbacks around driver updates, hacks of .ini files and other sub-voltages of the machine, we are entitled to ‘claim that this is the first GPD machine to be able to run your entire library – as long as you make concessions on the level of detail.
Configurable in the bios in 15W, 20W and 25W versions, GPD Win can switch from an “I play my old 2D games for a long time” mode to a muscular mode capable of running even the most recent games. We were able to play Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order for a few minutes to verify these statements. And the game was perfectly smooth, over 30 frames per second on average – apart from a few slowdowns in zone changes due to shader loading. The level of detail was certainly low, but with such a small screen at 1200 x 800, it still looks pretty. We will not fail during the test to make him swallow Witcher 3, Doom 2016 and others to see what the machine has in the belly.
Complete connectivity, the TB3 in support
You only need to take a look around the connector owner to realize that not only the GPD teams have thought of everything, but also that Dell, Apple and others don’t put in much effort in comparison. In this small machine, admittedly a little thicker than the ultraportables of the PC world, we benefit from a horde of connectors.
The back is best equipped with a full-size HDMI socket, two USB 3.1 Type A sockets, a USB 3.1 Type C socket. And a magic socket: a Thunderbolt 3 in USB type C format. Enough to connect to the machine an external GPU box (eGPU) in a more sedentary configuration. And increase the graphics capacity of the machine tenfold by adding a large card which will certainly not give all its power, but will allow to consider a minimalist office connected to a miniature PC.
On the right side, there is a gigabit RJ45 (again for sedentary use) as well as a Micro SD card slot. On the left side, we find the switch that switches from a mode where the touchpad is active to a mode which activates the “console” buttons.
On the front there is a 3.5 mm jack for headphones and other headphones. Impossible to find anything to complain about in the field of connectivity!
Clean construction, credible gamer ergonomics
On the construction side, GPD has made huge strides. No part has a priori play, nothing creaks, the adjustments are perfect. The “gaming” mechanical equipment marks a real move upmarket for the series. The directional pad that seems to come from the PS Vita is much better than on previous versions and is pleasant to use quickly – a real “console” touch.
The same goes for the buttons as well as for the two clickable analog sticks. The L / R buttons seemed a bit sensitive to us, but maybe it was a matter of taste. The only small downside: off-center and small-format Menu, Start and Select buttons. But nothing that could not affect the grip.
This grip that reassured us about our doubts about the weight. No, the 800 grams does not seem to hamper the player who would be coiled in his train or plane seat. In the long term, the presence of a table or tablet to support the elbows seems desirable, however, in terms of balance, we feel that the GPD teams have done a good job.
More anecdotal in use, but appreciable: the chiclet keyboard seemed impeccable to us. Tolstoy might not have enjoyed writing War and peace above, but the touch is straightforward, the typing is clean and pleasant, given the rigged size of the device.
The commitment of the French community
Who is responsible for the marketing and promotion of this device in France? Legally, no one. If the machine has arrived in our hands, it is thanks to the work of two enthusiasts, Benjamin L. and Florian J. The first ensures the link with local journalists, the second is a cultural relay and technical advisor in direct connection with the Hong Kong teams. A ” simple passionate volunteer As it defines itself, which has nevertheless had real impacts on development. Involved since the end of the crowdfunding of GPD Win 1, Florian « maintains friendly relations “With the GPD teams and his opinion weighed on things like” the addition of a fan on the GPD Win1 […], keyboard changes […] on the GPD Win 1, the modification of the mouse mod of the controller with Phawx from Discord, the addition of the media keys and the menu key of the keyboard, etc. “.
It must be said that far from the Chinese or Taiwanese behemoths, the Hong Kongers of GPD are a small team of real enthusiasts who produce in small series. And the Francophone community is in its image, ” at best a hundred people “. This explains why if the presence of an AZERTY keyboard seems technically possible – ” it would take a single pre-order of at least 500 machines on the French market Explains Florian, who got the numbers by asking the GPD teams directly – this is unworkable at the moment. Due to the exotic character not only of the brand, but also of the format of the machine. Only a handful of passionate distributors take the financial risk of bringing in such a machine, like the Belgian team at Belchine, renowned for its seriousness in the field of gaming. ” They are the only ones to offer the European 2-year warranty on the products they sell », Explains Florian.
Let’s bet that if the test is good – we should release it by the fall – the spotlighting of such a device could create emulation. Because far from being a bizarre and imperfect “thing” like the first model, the GPD Win Max has not only made good progress, but is also much more fashionable.
Large manufacturers are starting to experiment with this kind of device, like Dell who presented their Alienware prototype at CES last January. And although marketed at a little over 800 euros, the PC GPD remains the cheapest “console” in terms of software: either you already have a large PC game library, or you can build one at a lower cost thanks to the many sales and lower prices charged by the IT world for this type of product.