Here's another Switch-a-like PC prototype, but it's about time someone pulled the trigger

The Lavie Mini handheld gaming PC from the front with controllers either side of screen
(Image credit: NEC Personal Computers)

Almost one year on to the day from Alienware's Project UFO announcement at CES 2020 and we're still waiting on the promise of a Nintendo Switch-style mini PC. It's cool, I'm not bitter about it. Well, things are looking up for our portable PC dream, as NEC Personal Computers (a joint venture between Lenovo and NEC Corp.) has announced a prototype for a product called the Lavie Mini that'll do nicely... if it actually ships.

It looks the part, at least. Following the tried and tested approach, the Lavie Mini features twin controllers on either side of an 8-inch touchscreen. That's a touch bigger than the Nintendo Switch's 6.2-inch touchscreen, and it's also higher resolution at 1920 x 1200. To round off the Switch-a-like operation, there's an optional dock attachment for 4K60 TV output, with additional USB Type-C and Type-A ports.

The Lavie Mini differs in a couple of ways pivotal for PC gaming. For one, it's actually a tiny 2-in-1, complete with diminutive keyboard that swivels away behind the unit. It's also powered by Intel Xe graphics and a Tiger Lake CPU in the Intel Core i7 1180G7 chip. That's a chip not currently listed on Intel's ARK database, but it has appeared in a couple of benchmarks brandishing 96 EUs and a 15W TDP. That would have it sit below the 25W Core i7 1185G7, the current flagship.

That chip also delivers Wi-Fi 6 support, and to round off connectivity there are two USB Type-C ports on the unit itself, a headphone and microphone combo jack, and Bluetooth 5.1 support.

Inside there's also a 256GB NVMe SSD, and 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM running at 4,266MHz effective. Those dual-channel sticks are soldered, mind, as you might imagine at this size, and therefore your lot for the lifetime of this product.

Screen queens

(Image credit: Future)

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Although that's not really an issue you need worry about today, as this Lavie Mini remains in prototype status for the course of CES 2021. Therefore no price, no availability. CES is a popular prototype destination, and last year the Alienware Project UFO delivered a similar product for us to gawk at. Sadly, that hasn't seen the light of day all year, but there is one glimmer of hope for mini PC fans looking for a fix.

That's the GPD Win 3, a product that's soon to be available on Indiegogo and likely to actually launch after that, judging by the company's track record with such projects.

So perhaps we'll see more of the Lenovo x NEC Corp Lavie Mini in good time, perhaps not. At least we're seeing some further interest in the concept, and that should mean at least some availability in 2021. Fingers crossed.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would later go on to win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top team as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. He also enjoys making short videos for TikTok and believes everyone reading this should go follow our account immediately.