Handheld Control Panel Lands On GitHub To Level Up Portable PC Gaming Consoles

handheld control panel
The Steam Deck is a killer piece of hardware, but arguably what makes it so superior is actually the secret software sauce that Valve created for it, and the lack of those features is one of the biggest drawbacks of buying a competitor's product, like the Aya Neo, GPD Win, or ASUS' upcoming ROG Ally device.

Well, scratch some of that advantage off the Steam Deck's score, because a new application is bringing much of that benefit to other handheld gaming PCs. It's simply called the Handheld Control Panel, and it's a powerful open-source application that allows users to take control of their portable PC using a pile of controls for the screen and SoC.

Those controls are wide-ranging and include not only the usual stuff like toggles for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi adapters, volume, brightness controls, display settings, and so on, but also stuff like an FPS limiter as well as the ability to adjust the TDP of your system's SoC on the fly. This is a critical feature on the Steam Deck, as it allows players to tune the balance between performance and battery drain to their preference.

on the fly gpu clock adjustment
Raising the GPU clock rate on the fly lowers the CPU clock due to the power limit.

Going even further, the Handheld Control Panel actually supports adjusting the EPP value for the SoC. This is "Energy Preference Performance," and it allows you to bias the CPU cores more toward performance or energy efficiency. In effect, what this allows you to do is limit the amount of power that the CPU cores use so that more of the SoC's power budget is allocated to the GPU. If that's not enough, you can even reduce the number of CPU cores that are active on the fly.

Of course, this is a lot to fiddle with for every game you play, and that's why the app also services as a game launcher with support for application-specific performance profiles. You can include joystick deadzones and display settings (like resolution and refresh rate), and you can even set different profiles up for whether you're on battery or on the charger while playing. The app launcher can automatically find your games, too.

Contrary to what you might expect, the Handheld Control Panel actually works on both AMD and Intel-powered systems. The list of supported devices is surprisingly long, and includes every Aya Neo, the Ayn Loki, every GPD device since the Win 2, every OneXPlayer device, the Anbernic Win600, and even the Steam Deck itself, although it's not quite fully-supported yet. Notably missing from that is the aforementioned ROG Ally, but to be fair, that device isn't actually available yet.

It should work fine when it does come out, though. We know that because mini-PC and emulation enthusiast ETA Prime on YouTube has already tested the
Handheld Control Panel on two different Phoenix-based machines, including a handheld PC and a laptop. If you've got a handheld PC and are keen to get your hands on this handy application, you'll have to wait a bit. It's not publicly-available yet, at least in binary form, but the developer says that an initial release shouldn't be more than a week or two away.