June 15, 2024

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The new Steam Deck competitor lets you swap in more RAM and storage with ease

The new Steam Deck competitor lets you swap in more RAM and storage with ease
Zoom in / The sliding screen is just one of the new features of Adata’s Steam Deck clone.

For PC gamers accustomed to the modular design of a desktop, there are pros and cons to the integrated, forward-looking design of the Steam Deck (and its many subsequent imitators in the growing gaming laptop market). On the one hand, you don’t have to worry about pricing individual parts and making sure they all work together. On the other hand, the only way to upgrade one of these devices is to ditch the old unit and replace it entirely, similar to a console.

Adata, a Korean company that manufactures computer storage units, is looking to balance these two extremes. Lilyboating reports on Adata’s XPG Nia modelWhich was displayed at the Computex trade show. The unit is the first portable gaming console to date to embrace the CAMM (Compression Attached Memory Module) standard which allows for easily replaceable and upgradeable memory modules, as well as a number of other customization-friendly features.

CAMM down

Samsung shared this demo of CAMM ahead of the publication of the CAMM2 standard in September.
Zoom in / Samsung shared this demo of CAMM ahead of the publication of the CAMM2 standard in September.

If you’ve read our previous coverage of the emerging CAMM standard, you know how excited we are about ultra-thin modules that can simply snap into place on a laptop or mobile motherboard. This provides a viable alternative to the now standard soldered LPDDR RAM, which saves space but is extremely difficult to repair or replace.

The CAMM standard provides the same easy-swap design as the older SO-DIMM RAM standard but with a smaller footprint and a thermal and power usage design specifically designed for mobile devices. Reports indicate that the XPG Nia will use a low-power LPCAMM2 version of these RAM modules, which can be easily accessed by lifting the kickstand on the back of the XPG Nia. Combined with the standard M.2 2230 slot to add more storage, this should make upgrading your new laptop much easier than the likes of Steam Deck, which It requires some serious hacking To pay above standard specifications.

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Dell demo showing size differences between SODIMM and CAMM.
Zoom in / Dell demo showing size differences between SODIMM and CAMM.

Dale

The only downside to CAMM2 memory modules, at the moment, is the price; Crucial’s latest CAMM2 demo Priced at $175 for 32GB or $330 for 64GB. That’s significantly more than similar, larger SO-DIMMs, but those prices should come down as more device makers and RAM manufacturers start supporting the standard.

“Circular computer”?

So far, the XRG Nia’s modular design doesn’t appear to extend to the planned AMD Phoenix APU or Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor. However, users will be able to remove the entire motherboard from the portable case, which can then be inserted into a smaller screen-free enclosure for a potential second life as an Arudino/Raspberry Pi-like mini-computer.

Adata says it also plans to release the system’s 3D design files and installation details publicly, allowing third-party modders and manufacturers to design their own cases and accessories. This is all part of what Adata calls “circular computing design” and is part of its “Sustainable Futures” initiative.

GGF Events is in talks with the makers of the Adata XPG Nia prototype at Computex.

There are a few other features that set the XRG Nia apart from my waves of Steam Deck clones as well. In addition to the back kickstand, the entire display casing slides up on a sort of gimbal, providing a shallower viewing angle that requires less neck tilt when holding the device in front of your chest. Adata also promises a front-facing camera that can be used for streaming as well as eye tracking, which could theoretically power some cool display tricks for extra graphical power.

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It’s too early to know how all of these features will change as we move from prototype to final device; Reports indicate The company is aiming for a release sometime in 2025. However, it’s good to see a company trying some new things in the increasingly crowded space of portable PC gaming devices launched by Valve. If Adata can present the mobile device as an actual consumer product at 1.5 pounds and $600, it could be a product to watch.