Handheld gaming consoles have enjoyed a resurgence recently, and Qualcomm clearly thinks they’re the future.
The US chipmaker has announced three new dedicated processors, each of which targets a different kind of handheld console. Two of these – the Snapdragon G1 Gen 1 (for game streaming) and Snapdragon G2 Gen 1 (for mobile and cloud gaming) – are brand new.
But the Snapdragon G3x Gen 2 is an upgraded version of 2021’s original, which finally made its way into the Razer Edge earlier this year. It’s a high-end chipset, designed for flagship consoles.
Anyron Copeman / Foundry
No new Snapdragon G Series devices have been revealed yet, and only smaller companies are confirmed to be working with Qualcomm so far: AyaNeo, Huaqin, Inventec, and Thundercomm.
An upgraded version of the Snapdragon-powered Logitech G Cloud would make sense, but will the likes of Valve (Steam Deck) and Asus (ROG Ally) really move away from AMD and Intel components? Only time will tell.
It’s also worth noting one category of device that the Snapdragon G Series won’t be coming to: gaming phones. While the mobile-focused G3x Gen 2 is expected to run Android on some devices, this chip isn’t meant for general-purpose apps. Looks like that will be left to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for today’s best phones.
Snapdragon G1 Gen 1
The G1 Gen 1 is exclusively designed for consoles which stream games via the internet, rather than downloading them for offline use. This can be done either locally (from a console or PC on the same network) or via a game streaming service.
While a strong Wi-Fi connection will be crucial, the G1 Gen 1 aims to then provide “lag-free connectivity”. Its combination of an 8-core Kryo CPU and Adreno A11 GPU should help ensure this.
Battery life is also said to be better than most gaming handhelds, with Qualcomm suggesting a full day of gaming is within reach. Of course, this will depend on the hardware of the device it powers.
Snapdragon G2 Gen 1
The G2 Gen 1 is more versatile and powerful than the G1. It can still be used for cloud gaming, but also mobile titles from the likes of the Google Play Store and Amazon Appstore, depending on the operating system the device runs.
Wi-Fi 6E is the main connection method, but the G2 also has a built-in Snapdragon X62 5G modem (supporting both sub-6 and mmWave standards). It means you can game from anywhere with a decent signal.
You still get an 8-core Qualcomm Kryo CPU here, but it’s paired with a more capable Adreno A21 GPU. To help prevent overheating, there’s also the option for active cooling here.
But with no mention of battery life, don’t expect it to be as good as G1 Gen 1 devices.
Snapdragon G3x Gen 2
The G3x Gen 2 is the high-end of the Snapdragon G Series, designed for premium, enthusiast-level devices. It supports both game streaming and mobile titles, aiming to be the ultimate handheld gaming chip.
Core performance is provided by the 8-core Kryo CPU and an Adreno A32 GPU, which Qualcomm says delivers up to 30 faster CPU performance and the GPU performance of the G3x Gen 1. The same Snapdragon X62 5G modem and active cooling are here, too.
But there are plenty of premium features you won’t find on the other chips, including Wi-Fi 7 support, accelerated ray tracing and Qualcomm’s Game Super Resolution upscaling feature.
You can even connect a G3x Gen 2 handheld to XR glasses, whether they’re designed for augmented (AR), virtual (VR) or mixed (MR) reality.
Qualcomm has indicated that the first product announcements for all G Series chips will take place by the end of this year, with plenty more expected in 2024.
As the resident expert on Windows, Senior Staff Writer Anyron’s main focus is PCs and laptops. Much of the rest of his time is split between smartphones, tablets and audio, with a particular focus on Android devices.