Log The portaNUC - turning a NUC into a UMPC handheld system

Elaman

Cable-Tie Ninja
Sep 13, 2020
155
119
I mean we have just seen a rather functional portaNUC running DmC4 at 60 FPS... pretty decent, I don't imagine the commercial competitors are going to be much ahead of that.
Plus there's the modularity, and the possibility of doing it exactly to your liking.

For example when I read 7'', the "pocket" form factor is kind of over for me, I wonder what's stopping people from going all the way to 11'' like a tablet.
 

Valantar

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
2,201
2,225
I mean we have just seen a rather functional portaNUC running DmC4 at 60 FPS... pretty decent, I don't imagine the commercial competitors are going to be much ahead of that.
Plus there's the modularity, and the possibility of doing it exactly to your liking.

For example when I read 7'', the "pocket" form factor is kind of over for me, I wonder what's stopping people from going all the way to 11'' like a tablet.
Likely because even the original OneXPlayer at 8.4" is ... rather huge. For a handheld, that is. Unless you want some sort of "half controllers glued to the sides of a tablet" look (which would also make for a pretty terrible carrying experience in any bag, with the protruding handles, almost necessitating the handles being removable), 11" is just far too large to hold like this in a comfortable way. A 11" device would also likely weigh quite a lot more just from the bigger screen. The Switch is 400g, the Steam Deck is 670g, and the OneXPlayer is 825g. An 11" device would likely tip 1kg - that's starting to get really heavy for this type of usage. There's a rather fine balance between screen size and controller size for these things, and judging by the OneXPlayer, 8.4" is on the bigger side of what is feasible.
 

Elaman

Cable-Tie Ninja
Sep 13, 2020
155
119
Likely because even the original OneXPlayer at 8.4" is ... rather huge. For a handheld, that is. Unless you want some sort of "half controllers glued to the sides of a tablet" look (which would also make for a pretty terrible carrying experience in any bag, with the protruding handles, almost necessitating the handles being removable), 11" is just far too large to hold like this in a comfortable way. A 11" device would also likely weigh quite a lot more just from the bigger screen. The Switch is 400g, the Steam Deck is 670g, and the OneXPlayer is 825g. An 11" device would likely tip 1kg - that's starting to get really heavy for this type of usage. There's a rather fine balance between screen size and controller size for these things, and judging by the OneXPlayer, 8.4" is on the bigger side of what is feasible.
Sold. I the two links, especially the photo with the tablet controllers, have convinced me.
I guess portable games are stuck with the fact that most games are made for the x86 architecture. Which brings with it bigger demands for a cooling solution, generally more thickness of the device, etc.
Perhaps in the end we all transform into super-software developers and port all those damn x86 games to ARM, once and for all.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Valantar

0ofinz

What's an ITX?
New User
Mar 11, 2022
1
0
i am thinking of making my own handheld out of a intel NUC and also a mxm gpu attached, one problem i had is that the apparent tdp altogether is like 120w. If I want a 4 hour (at least) bettery life, how big of a battery would i need?
 

Valantar

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
2,201
2,225
i am thinking of making my own handheld out of a intel NUC and also a mxm gpu attached, one problem i had is that the apparent tdp altogether is like 120w. If I want a 4 hour (at least) bettery life, how big of a battery would i need?
That's not even remotely doable in a handheld form factor - or in a portable form factor at all. Remember, most gaming laptops severely limit their power draws when running off battery, and still last for an hour or less. For any reasonable battery life while gaming you need APU-level power draws - 15-35W at most.

A reasonable reference, the Asus Flow Z13, with a 56Wh 4-cell battery, a 12900H (operating in a low power mode when running off battery, limited to 30W) and a 35W (+5W boost) RTX 3050 Ti lasted 47 minutes playing The Witcher 3 in Notebookcheck's review. That tablet barely exceeds 100W total (including the display, I/O, motherboard, RAM, and everything else in addition to the CPU and GPU) during stress testing, and consumes ~70W in their Witcher tests. It's pretty easy math, really: you'd need a 120W*4h=480Wh battery to sustain a 120W load for four hours. That's a huge battery. Here's an example of a 12V 480Wh LiFePo battery kit, and while it's clearly not optimized for low weight but rather durability, it weighs 6.4kg/14.1lbs. You can drop that mass significantly with a higher voltage battery pack, with 48V ones ranging from ~1.7-2.5kg from what I've seen, but then you need to contend with conversion losses getting the voltage to a usable range, plus the space for a high current buck converter (and its heat output). And, of course, 2kg+the weight of your hardware isn't even remotely doable for a handheld - even things like the 825g OneXPlayer gets complaints for being too heavy.
 
Last edited:

msystems

King of Cable Management
Apr 28, 2017
800
1,400
Perhaps there might be another way to put some power into handheld.


What about a handheld that only has internals of batteries for its screen, the display control board, plus button controls, and relies on an umbelical of mini hdmi port and usb ports for input.

Then a backpack NUC with 50 amp hour battery. A bit gimmicky, perhaps defeating the purpose?
 

jakejm79

Average Stuffer
Mar 22, 2021
67
56
What about a setup like a Wii U. You have a dedicated smallish device (like maybe a NUC or something) that can have a large battery and even remain in a backpack or something if travelling, you then have a very light weight device that is basically a screen, controls and basic media player that can local game stream from the base unit.
 

msystems

King of Cable Management
Apr 28, 2017
800
1,400
Exactly, you just need an HDMI over Wireless module. These are mass produced for the filmmaker and video production industry. I don't see a pcb sized wireless hdmi transmitter, but there are small DC consumer ones as cheap as $100 which could be broken out of their plastic enclosures and repackaged within the handheld. At such a short range, no way you need to have a giant antenna on the transmitter either. There's also a video on Youtube of someone creating a diy wireless transmitter, however it is an analog RCA signal.

As for the controller, hopefully the controller buttons could be transmitted over Bluetooth, by existing solutions. Lots of options there. There is also a diy guide on Adafruit.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Valantar

Valantar

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
2,201
2,225
Honestly it is hard to justify making something able to play Witcher 3, while being ultra-portable but only lasting 47 minutes. At <1h one has to wonder, why making it so portable in the first place, or why does it have to play Witcher 3 ...
They're just trying to do a tad too much at once. I mean, it does decently with lightweight tasks - 6h H.264 video or 5.5h web browsing isn't bad - just mediocre. It clearly does a passable job at tamping down power draw when not under heavy loads. But for gaming it is clearly meant to be a tethered experience - you just get to choose if you game at home with the XG mobile dock or somewhere else with the built-in GPU. You could probably extend its battery a bit with a decent USB-C PD powerbank, but even something very much made-for-purpose like the Steam Deck - or even the Switch! - only lasts for a handful of hours. And even the lowest power dGPU will double power draws from a well tuned APU. The Flow X13 is likely better for on-the-go gaming, especially the upcoming/newly launched versions with 6000-series APUs, as they should deliver good gaming performance even on the iGPU, and the battery is slightly larger too. But of course those aren't handhelds either (even if they do transform into a "tablet" mode). Putting SteamOS on one of these would be interesting though ...
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,234
2,557
For me, I think GPD got the mini gaming laptop form factor down pat. The Win Max packs a lot of power still, has a physical keyboard and comfortable to hold in your hands for extended periods of time compared to normal sized laptops. Steam Deck is great, but there's still something about the clamshell style devices for portability.
 

jakejm79

Average Stuffer
Mar 22, 2021
67
56
Exactly, you just need an HDMI over Wireless module. These are mass produced for the filmmaker and video production industry. I don't see a pcb sized wireless hdmi transmitter, but there are small DC consumer ones as cheap as $100 which could be broken out of their plastic enclosures and repackaged within the handheld. At such a short range, no way you need to have a giant antenna on the transmitter either. There's also a video on Youtube of someone creating a diy wireless transmitter, however it is an analog RCA signal.

As for the controller, hopefully the controller buttons could be transmitted over Bluetooth, by existing solutions. Lots of options there. There is also a diy guide on Adafruit.
That is an even better idea, then it's just a dumb screen and controllers and not much else. Battery life would be much better and you could make it much lighter too.
 

Valantar

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
2,201
2,225
Exactly, you just need an HDMI over Wireless module. These are mass produced for the filmmaker and video production industry. I don't see a pcb sized wireless hdmi transmitter, but there are small DC consumer ones as cheap as $100 which could be broken out of their plastic enclosures and repackaged within the handheld. At such a short range, no way you need to have a giant antenna on the transmitter either. There's also a video on Youtube of someone creating a diy wireless transmitter, however it is an analog RCA signal.

As for the controller, hopefully the controller buttons could be transmitted over Bluetooth, by existing solutions. Lots of options there. There is also a diy guide on Adafruit.
That's a pretty good idea. The main challenge with things like that is that many of them require line-of-sight to work (WiGig, for example), and are severely hampered by tings like your body getting in the way of the signal. But still, making a battery powered handheld wireless HDMI display + controller combo would overall be relatively trivial - and you could probably get really good battery life too, as long as the display and receiver don't gobble up too much power.
 

msystems

King of Cable Management
Apr 28, 2017
800
1,400
Ok, sorry to drag this off topic again but to elaborate on the idea, what would work is getting switch controllers and holding everything together with a 3d printed frame to mimic the receptacle on the switch.

But apparently this would even work with a phone, which is a lot more practical than buying a videography monitor. Like in the video below. Just imagine the console is actually a portable NUC with a battery. The extra hardware needed for doing it with a phone is a HDMI to usb capture dongle.

 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Valantar

Valantar

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
2,201
2,225
Ok, sorry to drag this off topic again but to elaborate on the idea, what would work is getting switch controllers and holding everything together with a 3d printed frame to mimic the receptacle on the switch.

But apparently this would even work with a phone, which is a lot more practical than buying a videography monitor. Like in the video below. Just imagine the console is actually a portable NUC with a battery. The extra hardware needed for doing it with a phone is a HDMI to usb capture dongle.

That's pretty cool, though having used similar solutions on PC before I'm worried about input lag (and, on a larger screen, compression artifacting from the input). Still works in a pinch though!
 

jakejm79

Average Stuffer
Mar 22, 2021
67
56
That's a pretty good idea. The main challenge with things like that is that many of them require line-of-sight to work (WiGig, for example), and are severely hampered by tings like your body getting in the way of the signal. But still, making a battery powered handheld wireless HDMI display + controller combo would overall be relatively trivial - and you could probably get really good battery life too, as long as the display and receiver don't gobble up too much power.

Maybe a device that takes advantage of some video encoding/decoding, not quite a dumb screen then, but the latency you get with cloud gaming over the internet would be severely reduced, the base unit could setup its own ad-hoc network connection so you wouldn't even need an internet connection.

You can already kinda do this with an xbox, phone and controller/holder. As long as both are on the same LAN then it's pretty simple to setup, I've done this on the laptop before and the experience is really good, compared to xCloud game streaming or similar. Input lag isn't really a problem, lets not forget that even natively you wouldn't be playing super high FPS on NUC like hardware.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Valantar

msystems

King of Cable Management
Apr 28, 2017
800
1,400
That's really cool. I had no idea you could avoid the laggy cloud & send the signal on these remote play apps thru lan, even ad hoc. That's such a simple solution.
 

Valantar

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
2,201
2,225
Maybe a device that takes advantage of some video encoding/decoding, not quite a dumb screen then, but the latency you get with cloud gaming over the internet would be severely reduced, the base unit could setup its own ad-hoc network connection so you wouldn't even need an internet connection.

You can already kinda do this with an xbox, phone and controller/holder. As long as both are on the same LAN then it's pretty simple to setup, I've done this on the laptop before and the experience is really good, compared to xCloud game streaming or similar. Input lag isn't really a problem, lets not forget that even natively you wouldn't be playing super high FPS on NUC like hardware.
Steam Remote Play lets you do the same thing too. Lag can still be an issue though, especially over WiFi, but it's highly dependent on the game and your network conditions. I've used it with some decent success over wired home networks though, even for relatively latency sensitive games. And I agree, I trust native encoding/decoding like this far more than external dongles when it comes to latency - as long as the hardware is up for it, that is. But it's much more of an "either it works or it doesn't" situation rather than the iffy in-between laggy/artefacting of low quality capture devices. For example, I've used my laptop as an external display for my travel gaming PC with both an Elgato HD60S and a Genki Shadowcast, and both work very well if it's connected to power - but if it isn't, things get really laggy. I would assume the video signal from those devices is decoded using QuickSync (and CPU loads are low during use, so that seems correct), but things still get unusably laggy unless the laptop is on its charger.
 
  • Like
Reactions: thewizzard1

jakejm79

Average Stuffer
Mar 22, 2021
67
56
Steam Remote Play lets you do the same thing too. Lag can still be an issue though, especially over WiFi, but it's highly dependent on the game and your network conditions. I've used it with some decent success over wired home networks though, even for relatively latency sensitive games. And I agree, I trust native encoding/decoding like this far more than external dongles when it comes to latency - as long as the hardware is up for it, that is. But it's much more of an "either it works or it doesn't" situation rather than the iffy in-between laggy/artefacting of low quality capture devices. For example, I've used my laptop as an external display for my travel gaming PC with both an Elgato HD60S and a Genki Shadowcast, and both work very well if it's connected to power - but if it isn't, things get really laggy. I would assume the video signal from those devices is decoded using QuickSync (and CPU loads are low during use, so that seems correct), but things still get unusably laggy unless the laptop is on its charger.
Yep something like that. I haven't really tried with Steam, just the Xbox, and while it isn't perfect like playing natively, with casual games it's not a problem. Meanwhile my brief uses of xCloud has been pretty terrible and I have decent wireless setup too.

But this would definitely be how I tackled the handheld problem, it would give you the full power of your gaming PC at home and then just bring small portable NUC like item on the road for less power but still a way better experience overall than trying to make a portable NUC.

Or just buy a Steam Deck, hard to beat the hardware for that price.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Valantar