Nintendo Switch 2 isn't the only handheld Nvidia is apparently planning to power

Steam Deck OLED with Nvidia chip graphic on wood desk
(Image credit: Future / Phil Hayton)

Fresh Nvidia handheld rumors are making the rounds, and this time they tie to a potential partnership with a company that isn’t Nintendo. Both parties are allegedly working on a SoC designed with portable PCs in mind, but there’s a good chance it’ll feel more like a Steam Deck than something like the Asus ROG Ally or Lenovo Legion GO. 

If I were Nvidia right now, I’d be pretty cheesed off about AMD dominating the best gaming handheld scene. Sure, all signs point towards the green team helping make the Switch 2 a reality, but most other new-age portable PCs use some sort of RDNA 2 or 3 chip. So, it’s hardly surprising that we keep hearing rumblings that other devices with Ampere-based chips are coming, with the latest round of whispers adding substantial fuel to the rumor pyre. 

The latest round of rumors comes off the back of a leak by analyst Dan Nysterdt that covers a joint venture between Nvidia and fellow chip-makers Mediatek. The initial tidbit actually relates to an Arm-based chip for AI purposes that could be revealed during Computex, but leaker XpeaGPU expands upon the original claim by stating the companies are “also working on a gaming handheld SoC.”  

In addition, it sounds like it’s not just Switch fans who are ticked off with Nintendo about the sequel console, as XpeaGPU says Nvidia president Jensen Huang is also frustrated. Again, I imagine it’s irritating watching your biggest rival power a majority of handhelds while you wait on one of the biggest console makers to decide on a release date, especially if the Switch 2 ends up sticking with a less impressive custom Tegra chip.

As always, keep a grain of salt handy when ingesting these latest handheld rumors, as Nvidia hasn’t revealed any plans for the SoC in question. However, if these new leaks do hold true, there’s a good chance we could hear more about the project at Computex 2024, even though it might not become a thing you can actually buy this year. Not that we might have to wait long for such devices to enter the fold, as if Nvidia made its chip available to portable PC makers like Ayaneo, we could end up with a steady stream of new Steam Deck rivals. 

Should you wait for a Nvidia handheld? 

Steam Deck OLED next to Game Boy and Game Boy Advance on wood desk

(Image credit: Future / Phil Hayton)

With powerful portables like the Steam Deck OLED and the mighty Asus ROG Ally already providing cutting-edge performance, you might be wondering why you’d even want an Nvidia handheld. It admittedly feels like all corners of the market are effectively covered, but there’s one feature that could completely change gaming on the go as we know it.

If you’ve got one of the best graphics cards by Nvidia, you’re likely already aware of DLSS. It’s a collection of fps boosting tools that can enhance performance using AI upscaling and Frame Generation tech, which works to fill in frame rate gaps when running demanding games. Simply put, if those superpowers were available to handhelds, we’d be able to potentially hit that 60fps sweet spot at higher resolutions without having to dial back on settings and fidelity. 

Now, before any AMD fans reach for their pitchforks, I’m well aware that FidelityFX Super Resolution, the Radeon equivalent has been present within the Steam Deck from day one. It’s also worth noting that the red team’s solution is pretty effective, but lacks the accuracy of AI provided by DLSS. If Nvidia can bring its frame-gen tech to a Valve competitor, we’d almost certainly benefit from speedier visuals that feature fewer artifacts and caveats associated with traditional upscaling methods.

Naturally, I’m praying that the above is something that’ll end up included with the Switch 2, and previous rumors point towards the next Nintendo handheld using DLSS. Nevertheless, if we end up with just some elements included with the portable successor, we can perhaps find comfort in the  fact that Frame Generation and other powerful features may end up in a true portable powerhouse.

Looking for more Nvidia-powered machines? Swing by the best gaming PC and gaming laptop for fully-fledged rigs. Alternatively, check out the best Steam Deck accessories and best Steam Deck dock if you already own Valve's portable powerhouse.

Phil Hayton
Hardware Editor

I’ve been messing around with PCs, video game consoles, and tech since before I could speak. Don’t get me wrong, I kickstarted my relationship with technology by jamming a Hot Wheels double-decker bus into my parent’s VCR, but we all have to start somewhere. I even somehow managed to become a walking, talking buyer’s guide at my teenage supermarket job, which helped me accept my career fate. So, rather than try to realise my musician dreams, or see out my University degree, I started running my own retro pop culture site and writing about video games and tech for the likes of TechRadar, The Daily Star, and the BBC before eventually ending up with a job covering graphics card shenanigans at PCGamesN. Now, I’m your friendly neighbourhood Hardware Editor at GamesRadar, and it’s my job to make sure you can kick butt in all your favourite games using the best gaming hardware, whether you’re a sucker for handhelds like the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch or a hardcore gaming PC enthusiast.