The Smach Z is a handheld gaming computer that’s been in development for so long that it was derided as “Scam Z” in a popular YouTube video more than two years ago.

But after many delays, the developers of the Smach Z started showing off working prototypes this year, letting trade show attendees actually play games on the compact gaming PC.

Now the company has sent one of those prototypes to YouTuber The Phawx, who has started posting in-depth videos showing just what the Smach Z can do… so far.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the unit featured in the videos is a prototype. Some hardware and design features may be subject to change. And it’s possible that software could be tweaked to improve performance.

For now, The Phawx notes that he’s testing a Smach Z with an AMD Ryzen V1605B quad-core processor, AMD Radeon Vega 8 graphics, 32GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a 5MP camera, and Windows 10.

It features a 6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel touchscreen display surrounded by Steam Controller-style gaming controls including buttons and touchpads. Since most of the functions can be mapped to keyboard and mouse controls, you should theoretically be able to play PC games that normally require a keyboard as well as titles that are designed for game controllers.

That’s one thing that sets the Smach Z apart from existing handheld gaming computers like the GPD Win and GPD Win 2, which both have clasmshell-style designs and QWERTY keyboards.

The other thing that sets the Smach Z apart is its processor (although the upcoming GPD Win Max is also expected to feature an AMD Ryzen Embedded processor).

While the Radeon Vega 8 GPU makes the Smach Z one of the most powerful handheld gaming computers to date, The Phawx notes that the prototype he’s testing has a 15 watt TDP which means the chip may not be living up to its full potential.

He was able to get it to run at 25 watts, but the system got too hot for comfort. But he was also able to improve 15 watt performance by disabling two CPU cores (which aren’t really needed for gaming) in order to allow the remaining CPU cores and the GPU to run at higher speeds without generating more heat.

After doing that, he was able to get about 20 frames per second while playing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice at low graphics settings and with the screen resolution set to 1024 x 576 pixels. But he estimates that performance would be roughly double if Smach Z (or modders) are able to get the processor to run comfortably at 25 watts.

In terms of benchmarks, the Smach Z prototype seems to handle itself pretty well. Here are a few scores from The Phawx compared with the scores I got last year when testing a GPD Win 2 handheld gaming PC with an Intel Core m3-7Y30 processor and Intel HD 615 graphics.

Smach Z (Ryzen V1605B) GPD Win 2 (Core m3-7Y30)
3DMark Sky Diver 5117 3272
3DMark Fire Strike 1539 825
3DMark Cloud Gate 6319 5279

Overall, while these videos show a pre-production device, they do at least confirm the the Smach Z is a real thing… and it really is capable of handling modern PC games (Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice came out just a few months ago).

A few other interesting things to note from The Phawx’s videos:

  • This thing is small for a gaming PC, but it’s bigger than a Nintendo Switch and not exactly pocket-sized.
  • There’s a DisplayPort output, but no HDMI so it’ll probably be easier to connect to a monitor than a TV.
  • There’s a fan (with speed configurable in the BIOS), but the Phawx says it wasn’t noisy enough to bother people on a bus or at his office.
  • The Smach Z comes with a 60W USB-C charger

If the markings on the box are accurate, the Smach Z may also be available with up to an AMD Ryzen V1807B processor with Radeon Vega 11 graphics.

According to the Smach Z website, the portable gaming PC is on track to ship this year. Prices start at $699 for a model with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, no camera, and the Linux-based Smach OS.

A fully-decked out model with 16GB of dual-channel memory, 256GB of storage, Windows 10, and a 5MP camera will set you back $1198.

While the device isn’t actually available for purchase yet, you can reserve one for a down-payment of $10.


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