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AyaNeo has only been around for a few years, though in that time it has been consistently pumping out quality hardware. While this has mainly included handheld PCs and games consoles, it has dipped its toes fully into Mini PCs with the AM01.
Taking a page – no, a chapter – out of the early Apple handbook, the AyaNeo Retro Mini AM01 PC echoes the same design as the Macintosh 128K. It’s a cute little box, tight and compact, though it packs a base clock speed 225 times faster than its inspiration. For the Ryzen 7 5700U, which ranges between a clock speed of 1.7GHz at its lowest TDP, compared to 4.3GHz when overclocked, the AM01 Mini PC packs a solid punch. Though, a far cheaper model is also available with a 3200U APU instead.
Price and Availability
The AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01 has now left its crowdfunding stage, having raised over $150,000 as of early January, though it’s still available to get in on the early-bird pricing structure:
|SOLD OUT EB: AM01-3200U+8G+256G
|SOLD OUT EB: AM01-5700U+Barebone
No variation of the AM01 is going to be particularly expensive, so it’s a pretty decent idea to target the more powerful variation of the Mini PC.
AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01 Design
I’ll be honest. The AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01 looks good. It’s cute, charming, evokes a seriously retro vibe, and is going to fit into the design of your work (or play) space seamlessly. It comes with an assortment of magnets and stickers that you can spruce up the intentionally flat and basic shell with, and it’s really little too.
AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01 specs
There’s a few different variations of the AyaNeo AM01 available, with the main focus point being the processor. There’s options featuring an AMD Ryzen 3200U or an AMD Ryzen 5700U, alongside RAM configurations that range between 8GB and 16GB for the 3200U variant, or between 8GB and 32GB for the slightly more specced out versions.
If you’re in need of pure storage, there are options between 256GB and 1TB for both CPU variants, though this is also expandable if you’re in need of more.
While the Ryzen 5700U sports the same family name as the Zen 3 processors, it is really a Zen 2 chip in disguise. It is important to note that in 2024 lagging behind by two processor generations is going to make a significant difference in terms of gaming performance, especially when AyaNeo are releasing a sequel Mini PC featuring an AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS capable of running modern AAA games with high fidelity graphics. You’ll really notice this in the fact that the 5700U doesn’t have compatibility with PCIe 4.0, essentially rendering the NVMe SSD inside handicapped at very limited read / write speeds.
It’s not so much of an issue when you factor in the pricing structure of the AM01s variants, each of which are aptly affordable and befitting for the hardware that’s packed inside.
AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01 performance
The AyaNeo Mini PC AM01 is a mixed bag when it comes to performance. At times, I was wildly impressed by the power that’s tightly wrapped inside, and at other times I was left scratching my head as multiple Chrome tabs had nuked the system entirely.
I’d had hopes that the AM01 could run The Finals out of the box, and I was mistaken. I quickly cancelled my downloads for Cyberpunk 2077 and Starfield pretty shortly after that, and set my scopes a little more realistically.
I started with Battlebit Remastered, a low poly title that’s really well optimised for iGPU gaming. Playing on Ultra, with FSR enabled, the AM01 maintained a fairly steady average of 54fps. Bearing in mind, this is the 5700U variant with 32GB RAM. The game was entirely playable, and you can easily optimise it to hit a steady 60fps with slightly lower resolutions instead, however the knowledge that this game could also run on a rig with 4GB of RAM and a GPU with 512MB VRAM means this isn’t really an achievement worth writing home about.
In terms of playing Counter Strike 2 – the AM01 provided a far less enjoyable experience than with BattleBit Remastered. With all the settings turned down to low, and even with FSR enabled, despite running at 1600 x 900 resolution, the game was stuck at a consistently low FPS, sometimes stuttering drastically, other times lagging noticeably. It seems that CS2 is beyond the scope of this piece of kit, unfortunately.
I did have some luck with Persona 3 Reload, which actually ran capped at 60FPS with textures downscaled to a manageable level. I was more than impressed with the AyaNeo AM01’s performance here, and it definitely makes a case for itself as an extremely portable gaming PC capable of attacking really low fidelity games.
I tried Palworld as well which, running on Unreal Engine 5, was still a little too much for the little AM01 to handle at a playable resolution.
Again, I had to aim a little more realistically with the 5700U and its integrated graphics. I booted up Phantom Dust, which got trapped in an infinite loading loop (not the fault of the AM01, but thanks to server issues). At this point, I was a little disheartened with the performance of modern games – despite testing out titles that cross over a range of different performance tiers.
There’s a saving grace though, and it’s what I think this mini PC was really designed for.
Though the AMD Ryzen 7 5700U CPU isn’t quite enough to handle more intensive titles, there’s no reason it won’t be able to handle most emulators for retro gaming. These days, you can play most 2D retro games across a range of consoles; Game Boy, SNES, Nintendo DS and more on your phone, most likely. What we’re most interested in is how the AM01 handles the 3DS, Wii, PS2 and more 3D-centric consoles.
I used Citra to run DK Country Returns 3D and pretty quickly was blown away by the resolution upscaling on show. The AM01 handles the performance extremely well, and maintains a steady 30FPS throughout, even at 3200×1920 which is 8x Native resolution.
I should note that VideoGamer does not condone piracy or the illegal sourcing of ROMs, and also that we have legally dumped games that we own to test on the AM01.
I moved over to PS2 to see how Silent Hill 2 plays and I got a little bit frustrated in the interim. Not anything to do with the actual emulation performance, but rather how the mini PC actually functions outside of gaming. Extracting a 1.2GB zip file is a painfully slow process – and it really shouldn’t be – especially considering the 32GB RAM inside.
It’s an odd one, really, as there’s nothing about the hardware that should be throttling performance in simple tasks such as this. 32GB RAM, a 1TB SSD and a CPU with clock speeds between 1.8GHz and 4.3GHz. According to SysGauge, extracting this file took up roughly 14% of the CPU, 473MB memory, and was writing at speeds between 18MB – 21MB per second.
I cross referenced this with the PC I normally use, which extracted the same file between 50 – 60MB per second. The SSD write speed has been, for me, one of the main issues with the AM01 so far. If you’re just going to be using the PC for emulation purposes, this won’t be an issue really. But, if you’re planning to use the AM01 for productivity and working, as I have been for the past month, you’d better have a decent amount of patience. Or a spare laptop lying around.
Should you buy the AyaNeo Retro Mini PC AM01?
I’ll be honest, I think I went into the AyaNeo AM01 with the wrong set of expectations. Expecting a tiny gaming PC that’s going to run AAA titles at high fidelity graphics, what you’ll actually find is a souped up emulation station packed into a really gorgeous shell.
Performance isn’t paramount to this device. It’s small and cute enough to get away with just being on my desk. At times I’ve been left yearning for a little bit more, like I’ve wanted to stretch the CPU and graphical capabilities just a tiny bit to properly play games in 1080p at the very least. But, if you set your scopes on what the AM01 was really designed for, emulating games all the way up to the PS2, Wii and even Nintendo Switch is going to be well within your grasp.
Would I really recommend the AM01 though? The internal hardware is a few generations behind, and performance suffers as a result. In terms of future-proofing, it’s limited to DDR4 and PCIe 3.0 compatibility. In 2024, it’s a tough sell unless you’re content with it being a device purely dedicated for extremely casual entertainment: emulation, a NAS media device, or even a light workstation. It’s hard to critique though because I’ve got a feeling that none of the outdated hardware should matter for some users, and the fact you receive such a polished ecosystem in such a cute package is where the real worth is. If you are looking for something actually capable of running AAA games, the AM02 is going to fit into your workspace with a much bigger and more capable kick.
If the AyaNeo AM01 didn’t look like Beemo from Adventure Time, I’d be far less interested in it. Luckily, it’s adorable, and that’s enough for me to like it quite a lot.