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AYANEO AM02 Review: An NES-inspired Mini PC with a built-in touchscreen

Published Feb 19, 2024
Includes affiliate content

AYANEO’s latest Mini PC combines impressive specs and a striking design with a lovely touch of nostalgia.

AYANEO has certainly been very busy lately, bringing a number of new releases from their “REMAKE” collection to the market. If you’ve been following my recent reviews, you know I’ve been seriously impressed with products like the AM01 Mini PC and the AYANEO Slide gaming handheld, which are part of this collection. These devices are compelling not only from a performance perspective but also the unique designs and innovative features they bring to the table.

The AYANEO Retro Mini PC AM02 continues that trend. While the AM01 was inspired by the original Macintosh, the AM02 is designed as a modern take on the classic NES console. But when it comes to performance, this new device packs a lot more power than its predecessor with a Ryzen 7 7840HS processor, and it also includes a versatile built-in touchscreen.

What’s in the box?

The AM02 comes in this neat package that includes the user manuals for the device and AYASpace software, as well as a few smaller boxes for all the included accessories.

Inside those boxes you’ll find the power supply (which comes with regional adapters), an HDMI cable, a couple of USB-A to USB-C adapters and a set of tools that can be used to open up the unit and upgrade its internal components.

Specs & Pricing

The AM02 is equipped with the AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS processor, with 8 cores and 16 threads, and a Radeon 780M GPU. It’s currently available for pre-order on Indiegogo and comes in the following configurations and pricing (for the early bird period):

  • Barebones version: $439
  • 16GB of RAM + 512GB storage: $529
  • 16GB of RAM + 1TB storage: $569
  • 32GB of RAM + 1TB storage: $629

The unit I received for testing came with 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, so we can expect some great gaming performance with the 7840HS at 45W. Since this isn’t a handheld and battery life isn’t a concern, we can unleash its full potential by always running it at maximum TDP.

In terms of connectivity, the AM02 comes with an Intel AX210 wireless card, which supports WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. You’ll also find a great selection of ports around the device, starting with a USB-C 4 port, two USB 3.2 Gen2 A ports and a 3.5mm audio jack hidden under the front cover.

Around the back we can see two USB-A 2.0 ports, one DisplayPort 1.4, one HDMI 2.0 port, one RJ45 2.5G Ethernet port, one RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port, a Kensington security slot and a USB-C for the power adapter.

Design & Build Quality

The unique retro-futuristic design of the AM02 is clearly inspired by the beloved Nintendo Entertainment System, including nods like the front flap, which has been repurposed to conceal some of the ports on the device. It also has an integrated 4-inch display with touch capabilities, which opens up a lot of possibilities for functionality and customization.

I had seen lots of photos of the device before I got my hands on it, and I gotta say this little unit looks a lot better in person. I absolutely love the design.

Instead of the NES beige and grey aesthetic, the outer shell on the AM02 sports a beautiful two-tone metallic texture. The build quality of the device is excellent, with high quality materials and finishes throughout.

The front cover of the AM02 can be flipped open by pressing the red button on the unit to reveal a selection of ports. There’s no audible click when you push it back down and close it, so I imagine AYANEO must be using magnets to secure it in place, making the whole operation incredibly smooth. AYANEO sure knows a thing or two about creating satisfying mechanisms for their devices, just like the slide-out screen of the AYANEO Slide.

If you want to upgrade the device, you can use the tools included in the box to open it up. However, similar to the AM01 model, the RAM and SSD slots are located below the cooling system and motherboard. So if you plan on upgrading the memory and storage of the AM02, you’ll have to take the entire unit apart in order to get to those slots. It would be great if AYANEO could make these components more readily accessible in their future Mini PC releases.

The overall dimensions of the unit are 5.74 x 5.27 x 2.08 inches (146 x 134 x 53mm) including the rubber feet at the bottom, and it weights only 1.18 pounds (538g), making this device very compact and lightweight. Here’s how it compares to AYANEO’s first Mini PC, the AM01:

Built-in touchscreen

The integrated 4-inch display on the AM02 allows you to monitor a number of stats of this PC without the need for a performance overlay on your main screen while playing games.

It can display a lot of useful information such as a real-time FPS counter, fan speed, SSD usage, CPU and GPU loads and temperature, and other stats.

You can also make TDP and fan speed adjustments on the fly by tapping on the screen, and if you swipe left you get more display options like a simple clock or clock and weather interface, and a screen that allows you to make volume adjustments.

From the volume adjustment screen you can also turn the display off entirely if that’s your preference, and it can be easily reactivated through the AYASpace software, under the “SubScreen” menu.

AYANEO has been busy working on updates to enhance the user experience on this integrated screen, with plans to introduce additional features down the track, including personalized screensavers. Unfortunately that feature wasn’t available during my review period, so I haven’t been able to test it on my pre-production unit. I’m particularly excited to see what the community can do with this display in the future, as there’s a lot of potential here for all sorts of widgets and useful tools.

The AYASpace software

AYASpace is AYANEO’s proprietary software which can be used as a game launcher and also gives you access to various device settings. It comes pre-installed on their devices, including the AM02.

It has been recently updated to accommodate the unique capabilities of the AM02, including options to control the built-in display or “SubScreen”.

From this menu you can change the style of the clock, region settings, temperature units and other types of information that appear on the display. As mentioned previously, AYANEO is planning to give users the ability to personalize the 4-inch display with a custom screensaver in an upcoming update.

The latest version of AYASpace also includes a floating desktop widget that sits on the bottom right corner of the screen and displays useful stats like CPU/GPU loads and RAM usage. This widget also gives you access to the quick settings panel and you can go back to the full AYASpace experience by clicking and holding the “AYA” symbol for a few seconds.

In my experience, this widget was mostly getting in the way while gaming as it can obstruct some HUD elements, but thankfully it can be completely turned off in AYASpace settings, under the “Startup & Optimization” tab.

The performance menu allows you to choose one of the preset TDP options or create your own custom setting.

Under the monitor tab, you can switch on the performance overlay for real-time monitoring of FPS, CPU and GPU load, device temps and more, but as mentioned previously I kept this and the desktop widget mostly switched off as I was able to simply glance at the AM02’s built-in screen to keep an eye on all those stats.

In general, AYASpace has improved significantly over time and it has the potential to be a useful all-in-one solution, but for now it’s still a work in progress. Having said that, AYANEO has been consistently pushing out new updates. While it may currently lack some features and could use some polishing, I believe it has the makings of a great launcher and system management tool, particularly on handhelds.

Gaming on the AYANEO AM02

The AM02 version that was sent to me for this review has 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, paired with the Ryzen 7 7840HS and Radeon 780M graphics. These are very impressive specs for such a small PC, and the AM02 certainly delivers when it comes to performance.

Since this is a pre-production unit, I haven’t really delved into benchmarks yet. My main focus has been testing out the device through actual gaming to see what it can do.

While the AM01 was more suited for indie games and emulation, the AM02 goes above and beyond, being able to manage AAA gaming at 1080p with great results. A few examples from my testing include Forza Horizon 5 which ran consistently above 90 FPS at 1080p, medium settings, and Cyberpunk 2077 where I managed an average of 72 FPS at 1080p low settings.

Other games like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and GTA V also run really well on this machine, and you can even get some good performance out of Palworld, a game that still hasn’t been fully optimized.

One important thing to note when playing demanding games at heavy loads is the fan noise, which can get quite loud. This isn’t very surprising given how compact and powerful this device is, and it might be something you won’t even notice while playing with headphones or speakers at a high volume, but it’s still worth mentioning.

Emulation

If you’re looking to use the AM02 as an emulation machine, you will absolutely love this thing, and I highly recommend using EmuDeck to make the process of setting up your favorite emulators as easy as possible.

The AM02 can handle all the classic consoles with no issues at all and it also performs incredibly well with more advanced systems like the PS3, Wii U and even the Nintendo Switch.

PS2 games that are usually hard to emulate like God of War II and Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal run beautifully at full speed on the AM02, upscaled to 3x (1080p) or even 4x their native resolution (1440p).

Overall, the AM02 has proven to be a highly capable unit, being able to handle anything from indie games and high-end emulation, all the way up to modern AAA games at 1080p. The powerful specs on this machine also make it a great fit for tasks like photo and video editing or everyday work.

Batman: Arkham City (PS3) on the AM02.

Pros and Cons

Let’s sum things up with a look at the pros and cons of the AYANEO AM02 Mini PC:

Pros

  • Gorgeous retro-futuristic design
  • Unique and useful built-in display
  • Great AAA gaming performance
  • Outstanding emulation performance
  • Good selection of ports

Cons

  • The fan can get loud under heavy load
  • RAM and Storage are not very easy to upgrade
  • The AYASpace software is still a work in progress

Verdict

The AYANEO AM02 is a premium Mini PC that combines a beautiful retro-futuristic design with powerful gaming performance. Its awesome NES-inspired aesthetic will surely add a nice touch to any living room or office environment. Plus, the unique built-in touchscreen provides useful information on the fly and opens up a range of exciting possibilities for the future. Overall, the AM02 is a Mini PC that offers great value for money, and if you’re into aesthetics like I am, this one is definitely worth checking out.


This post contains affiliate links to partner brands. We earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase. There is no extra cost to you, so it’s just a nice way to help support the site. The product featured in this article was provided by the manufacturer for review purposes, however, the opinions expressed are entirely our own.

POSTED BY

Flavio Argemi

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