Qualcomm is taking a step into mobile gaming with its new G3x Gen 1 gaming platform, which will be featured in a development kit designed by Razer. Qualcomm is only announcing the development kit at this time. It isn’t making any commitments regarding final hardware from Razer or other hardware companies, suggesting that it will come once developers have made games that warrant the hardware selling in the first place.
Razer's hardware looks largely like an Xbox controller with a screen on it. Qualcomm is pushing this device — and its G3x — as a design meant to stream games from the cloud, your console, or a PC. It's not designed to replace local gaming but rather as a way to get it when you're not at your desk or couch.
The chip is designed for gaming devices running Android. The development kit features controller mapping for Android games that are meant to be played with touch. Other OSes may be considered in the future, a Qualcomm representative said, but that this is the largest market right now.
The G3x SoC takes some elements from Qualcomm's compute business, including a Qualcomm Adreno GPU and a Qualcomm Kryo CPU. More detailed specs weren't made available as of this writing. The chip supports up to 4K resolution at 144 fps on external monitors via a USB Type-C to HDMI cable, as well as 10-bit HDR. Qualcomm is claiming "industry-leading performance per watt for sustained performance," but it hasn't released any numbers.
Razer's kit features a cooling system (read: fans) for sustained performance while gaming. It also uses haptic feedback for vibrations in supported titles. In addition, it features four-way speakers that use Qualcomm's Snapdragon Sound technology, as well as a 1080p webcam for if you want to stream directly from the device. Qualcomm claims that the G3x has the processing and thermal headroom to livestream without any issues.
Razer's kit also holds a 6,000 mAH battery, though no estimated battery life was provided. Materials from Qualcomm suggest the screen on the unit runs at 1080p, 120 Hz and is an OLED panel that works with HDR content.
The G3x and the Razer Development kit use 5G, which makes sense for those streaming intense games on the go (though that may run up against data caps quickly). It also has onboard Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.
While the G3x is first being tested in Razer's kit, Qualcomm senior director of product management Micah Knapp teased that while this isn't a consumer device yet and the company isn't talking about commercial partners, the chip could potentially be used for other types of gaming devices, including consoles, laptops, sticks or set-top boxes, but those decisions haven't been made yet.
Razer and Qualcomm's efforts come as handheld gaming appears to be seeing a new renaissance. Nintendo's Switch, based on the ancient Tegra X1 from Nvidia, is still selling well, and the newest version with an OLED screen is very difficult to find. Valve plans to ship its (once-delayed) Steam Deck in February with a custom AMD APU, focusing on local gaming rather than streaming. Some reports earlier this year showed leaked renders of a Lenovo Legion handheld running Android, suggesting some OEMs are raring to get in this space. Lenovo, Asus and Razer have all released gaming phones on Android, too.