Zotac's Zone handheld gaming PC has adjustable triggers, eye-popping AMOLED display

Zotac Zone
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

One theme of this year's Computex is an emphasis on handheld gaming. This week, we've seen Asus debut its new Ally X, a sequel to the Ally, and MSI show off an upcoming version of the Claw, the Claw 8 AI+, which will be the first handheld console to use an Intel Lunar Lake CPU.

Now, Zotac, best known for its graphics cards and mini PCs, is getting into the handheld gaming console space with the Zone. I had a chance to see and touch the Zone at Zotac's booth and came away impressed with its build quality and absolutely gorgeous, 7-inch AMOLED display. 

The Zone has also a feature we have not seen elsewhere: switches under the trigger buttons on the back allow you to toggle the triggers' springiness. So, if you're playing an FPS where you need to be shooting all the time, you can have a light trigger, but if not, you can have one that requires a little more force to depress. I didn't get to play any games on the Zone -- there were a lot of people behind me who wanted to see it -- but I did try the switch and I felt a huge difference in trigger feel when I toggled it.

The Zone is powered by an AMD Ryzen 7 8840U APU, which is similarly to the Ryzen Z1 Extreme chip that powers the ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go. Both chips have 8-cores and a maximum boost clock of 5.1 GHz. But the 8840U has an NPU that could help it with AI workloads. 

Its 7-inch, 1080p AMOLED display is super bright and colorful. The blues and reds in the tile and background for Horizon: Forbidden West really popped as did the green in the tile for Overcooked. The touch screen is rated for 500 nits of brightness with a 120 Hz refresh rate. Both of those numbers are similar to what we've seen from other handhelds, but most of them do not have OLED.

The joysticks are Hall Effect sticks, which should not only make them more precise, but also help them resist drift as they age. They certainly felt snappy when I touched them. 

I really liked the subtle, gray aesthetic of the Zone as its aesthetic seemed to match Zotac's corporate palette. There's also a hint of Zotac's yellow beneath the sticks. The triggers are a matte silver and a built-in kickstand with the Zotac logo on it completes the look. Having a kickstand is key, but this one felt a little loose and not as solid as I'd like. Perhaps that will change in the final model?

Zotac Zone

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Zotac Zone's other specs are rather pedestrian. It comes with a modest 512GB PCIe 4.0 SSD and 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM. There's no word yet on whether the SSD is upgradeable and whether it's a 2230, 2242 or 2280 form factor. 

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CPUAMD Ryzen 7 8840U
GPUAMD Radeon 780M
Display7-inch, AMOLED touch, 1080p 120 Hz (500 nits)
RAM16GB LPDDR5X
Storage512MB M.2 PCIe 4.0 SSD
Battery48.5 Whr
PortsUSB4, microSD card slot
Wireless ConnectivityWi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2

The Zone has a single USB4 port for charging and Wi-Fi 6E / Bluetooth for wireless connectivity. If you want more storage and can't upgrade the SSD, you can always pop a microSD card into its card slot.

The Zone is due out in Q3 for an as-yet-undetermined price. It seems like a worthy entry into the growing PC handheld market, but we'll withhold final judgement until we get to test it.

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch is Tom's Hardware's editor-in-chief. When he's not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you'll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.
  • Metal Messiah.
    It comes with a modest 512GB PCIe 4.0 SSD and 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM. There's no word yet on whether the SSD is upgradeable and whether it's a 2230, 2242 or 2280 form factor.

    Hey Avram,

    The SSD supports the 2280 form factor. Confirmed via a spec sheet which was leaked few days ago.

    Reply
  • Notton
    Handhelds getting even more interesting.

    The only big players missing are Acer, Dell, HP, and Snapdragon.
    Reply
  • P1nky
    Metal Messiah. said:
    Hey Avram,

    The SSD supports the 2280 form factor. Confirmed via a spec sheet which was leaked few days ago.

    He means you can use all the SSD version sizes.
    Reply
  • Metal Messiah.
    Erm, What ? You mean to say this console will support 3 different form factors for an SSD ? Not possible.
    Reply
  • TechyIT223
    Lol 800 USD for this console as per one report. Gonna be a hard sell for sure
    Reply