The Smach Z is a handheld gaming PC that’s been under development in one way or another since the developer released the first rendered images of a so-called “SteamBoy” handheld game system in 2014. Now Smach CEO Daniel Fernandez is getting ready to bring the Smach Z to market, hopefully in 2018.

This week we learned it would ship with an AMD Ryzen Embedded V1000 series processor, and now Fernandez has shared an up-to-date spec sheet and a few pictures that give us a better idea of what to expect.

They also help dispel the idea that the Smach Z is some sort of scam. It may or may not live up to expectations, but it certainly looks like the Smach team is working on some actual hardware.

 

Originally envisioned as a device that would run Valve’s Linux-based SteamOS, the computer features a 6 inch full HD display with physical gaming buttons and dual touchpads on the left and right sides. There’s no physical keyboard, but the touchpads are similar to those found on a Steam Controller, which is designed to let you both play games that would normally use an analog stick and also games that rely on mouse or touchpad input.

The project has gone through several ups and downs over the past few years, so it’s not surprising that many folks were starting to wonder if the Smach Z was ever going to ship. Now that Fernandez is starting to show off actual hardware, the chances are looking better than ever.

If there’s any good news in the long series of delays, it’s that the Smach Z is nearing completion at a time when AMD has a new generation of processors that seem perfectly suited to a handheld gaming PC.

Fernandez says the Smach Z will be powered by an AMD Ryzen Embedded V1605B processor. He says it offers graphics performance that’s on par with what you’d get from an AMD Ryzen 5 2500U laptop-class processor, but the V1605B is a smaller, lower-power option that’s easier to fit into a handheld device.

Here are some key characteristics:

  • 12W – 25W TDP (The Smach Z will have the TDP set at 15W by default)
  • 4 CPU cores (8 threads)
  • 2 GHz base CPU frequency
  • 3.6 GHz boost CPU frequency
  • 1.1 GHz AMD Radeon Vega 8 GPU
  • 2MB L2 cache
  • DDR4-2400 memory support

The Smach Z went up for pre-order through a Kickstarter campaign in 2016, and it will be available in at least two configurations.

A Smach Z Pro features 8GB of DDR4-2133 memory and 128GB of solid state storage, while the basic Smach Z has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

Here’s a table that outlines some of the other differences (and similarities between models.

SPECS

SMACH Z

SMACH Z PRO

CPU

AMD Ryzen™ V1605B

GPU

AMD Radeon™ Vega 8 Graphics

RAM

4GB DDR4 2133MHz

8GB DDR4 2133MHz

Storage

64GB SSD

128GB SSD

Screen

Touchscreen 6” 1920x1080px

Camera

none

5 Mpx

Connectivity

WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/d/e/h/i, Bluetooth v2.1+EDR/v3.0/v3.0HS/v4.0

In/out

USB-C, USB-A, Micro USB, Display Port, SD card, Audio minijack.

Charger

USB-C 20V 2.25A 65W. Plug EU/US/UK

SO

Windows 10 or Linux

If that’s not good enough for you though, Fernandez says those are just the “pre-set configurations.” Customers will be able to customize their orders from the Smach website to get up to 16GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Smach Z has two SODIMM slots that will let you upgrade or replace memory using regular laptop-sized sticks of RAM.

Oh, and if you’re worried that the Ryzen V1605B processor is going to overheat in such a tight space, don’t worry: the Smach Z has a nice big CPU fan. It remains to be seen whether that fan could possibly make this PC any noisier the GPD Win 2, another handheld gaming PC which has a rather active cooling system (in my experience).

According to handheld gaming PC expert Phawx, it’s likely that the Smach Z could offer up to 3 times better gaming performance than the GPD Win 2… at the cost of battery life. He estimates that you’ll only get about 90 to 120 minutes of battery life while gaming on a Smach Z, given what we now know about its specs.

Update: Fernandez tells me the system will have a 46 Whr battery that can provide up to 5 hours of battery life while gaming and that the fan noise “will be very similar to the Nintendo Switch, 31dB.”

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50 replies on “Smach Z handheld gaming PC specs finalized: Ryzen V1605B, up to 8GB RAM”

  1. “Fernandez tells me the system will have a 46 Whr battery that can provide up to 5 hours of battery life while gaming”

    Does Fernandez not realize that battery calculations are easy to figure out? If the TDP is 15w, you’re only going to get around 3 gaming hours out of it with a 46 Whr battery. Even if you dropped it to the chip’s 12w miniumum you wouldn’t break 4 hours…

  2. this will not be delivered on May. This is another fake prototype showing 2 boards that dont talk to each other.
    The board with the AMD chip is a COM board. the other board (the carrier) would have to have a type 6 connector. I dont see it anywhere in there.

    Years have past and they fail to show a real prototype. Its a shame!

  3. It’d be nice if this does well enough for them to put a version with built-in LTE. It’s a long shot though. I’m pretty sure the market this device is pretty small.

  4. What a useless device. The GPD Pocket, Win2, or the Planet Gemini seem much better. Why would you want a Windows PC with such a tiny display and no hardware keyboard?

    Naturally no LTE option either.

    This is a toy for children.

  5. Why doesn’t the left trackpad not have the d-pad indentation like with the Steam controller?

  6. There sure are many components, but I don’t see any traces from them on the PCB… I’d say fake or is everything only connected to the ground plane? xD Of course, there is a possibility, that they would use a multilayer board… But I would think twice about paying beforehand…

    1. looks fake. The CPU board is a COM board similar to the Seco COMe-B75-CT6 or Conga-TR4 or Advantech DPX-E140. The carrier board (the other one) would have to have a Type 6 pin to connect to it. I don’t see it anywhere

  7. Surprising to see this still alive, will be interesting to see one in action but using Steam controller is a terrible idea instead of traditional controller sticks.

    Steam controller never took off, is odd to use and very unpopular with emulators.

  8. These pictures have certainly peaked my interest, a 6 inch computer with user upgradeable ram , what!!!!. Although for all this to work it will need to be bigger than it looks in those pictures.

  9. Hyped for what’s to come. Thanks for all your hustle Brad and for always keeping the site simple and BS free

  10. I wonder how easily accessible the RAM slots will be. That is, would you need to pry the entire case open?

    Hope this goes well. Seems like it’d be a nice gaming handheld.

  11. I noticed the Kickstarter original 4G LTE in pro is missing in the chart, any news on that?

    1. Any device with cellular or mobile radio like 4G requires certification in each country to comply with their local frequency band allocation as well as the country’s own mobile communications services. That could be expensive and may take a long time.

        1. Not for WiFi because WiFi frequencies were already standardized and fixed.

          1. In the USA, Wi-Fi devices need to be certified and approved through the FCC.

          2. Here’s another link about FCC certification for Wi-Fi and any intentional radiation: https://www.embedded-computing.com/embedded-computing-design/new-to-wireless-understand-fcc-certification-for-iot-products

            The FCC has defined three categories of equipment approval for Part 15 devices. One of those categories, Product Certification, is the most detailed and formal process imposed by the FCC. Any product that is utilizing a wireless technology such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or Zigbee will fall under this category. For Product Certification, the testing required must be performed by an accredited laboratory and documentation is then supplied for review by a Telecommunication Certification Body (TCB), or, in some cases, the FCC itself.

            As an example, here’s the Raspberry Pi 3’s FCC test results (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios): https://fccid.io/2ABCB-RPI32

          3. Those certifications are for the wireless modules, no the entire device. The Rasberry Pi 3 does not use any module since its WiFi is on the same PCB itself.

          4. What are you talking about? Any device that intentionally radiates RF needs FCC certification to be sold in the USA. That’s it. Doesn’t matter if it’s Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GSM, LTE, etc.

            If you’re talking about FCC Modular Approval, then it also applies to cellular modules: https://hackaday.com/2016/09/19/preparing-your-product-for-the-fcc/

            There’s another thing to consider, and that’s FCC Modular Approval. If you want to avoid all the hassle and expense of intentional emission testing, you can use a wireless module that has modular approval. There are lots of companies that make these modules for BLE, WiFi, Zigbee, GSM, and pretty much any wireless tech. They go through the painful FCC process for you and sell you their module, which has the chip, balun, antenna, crystal, and shield, all in a pretty package that you can solder onto your PCB. This will avoid the intentional emissions testing and give you an optimized transmitter. You’re still responsible for unintentional radiation on your full board, but this is much cheaper and easier and may not even need to be filed.

          5. Whether the WiFi module has been certified, is indicated by the FCC ID on its label on the WiFi shield itself. Otherwise “Declaration of Conformity” is all that required. Likewise similar with Bluetooth since these are for short range local hotspots. However GSM, 3G, 4G, LTE and 5G all require expensive certification since this affects the cellular and mobile carriers.

  12. So, this is their thinner solution. Are you sure about “nice big CPU fan”? Its about the size of a cheap replacement VGA fan, maybe even smaller.

    1. A cheap VGA fan can easily dissipate 30W. This is for only a 12-15W TDP. All that remains to be seen is how well air flow is channeled within the case itself.

      1. This fan is tiny, around 40 mm or smaller. Certainly looks like a cheap VGA fan to me. The heatsink while only slightly larger than the SoC itself and is also smaller than most VGA coolers on the lowest end graphic cards. Smach Z’s is open air type cooler like those found on lowest end graphic cards, while GPD Win 2’s is blower/exhaust-type coolers like those found inside laptops. Inside a PC casing, a VGA fan can “breathe” easily since it has plenty of open air space. Very different story Inside a very small casing or cramped enclosures. That is why laptops used the blower/exhaust-type coolers.

  13. Definitely interested. Hope this actually comes out. They haven’t proved they’ve solved the technical challenges yet.

    Good to see AMD is working with in some form (hopefully more than just mentioning Smach Z in an AMD press release).

  14. Heatsink too small for 12W or 15W. Noticed its shorter than the SODIMM slot. Seriously, do they know what they’re doing?

    1. They will likely burnt out the SoCs again, like what happened previously. Put that thing into a casing with limited air flow/intake and it becomes recipe for disaster.

  15. This project definitely wasn’t handled well. At best, it was a concept marketed to people several years before it was remotely possible. I’m wondering if the PCBs shown here are representative of what they intend to use. It looks like a separate control PCB. Having the two boards, one with that heatsink and fan, it will be interesting to see what the final product will look like. I doubt it will look nearly as thin as that product render.

  16. Good to see a version with more memory and storage. What is the target retail price?

    1. This seems like it’d be very expensive. Likely to price out many folks.

    1. Yeah, hopefully they show this actually running at next week’s convention. Photos of hardware are nice but who knows if it works.

      @Brad
      Are you going to Embedded World?

  17. Projects fail all the time even with completed working prototypes, R&D done and only waiting for mass production. I’ll believe them when I’ll se one myself. It _is_ more convincing than a year of silence and shady business with 3D printed parts and off-the-shelf Chinese tablets sold as a prototype, and maybe they _did_ have the intention to deliver after all. I was not all that convinced on that for some time now.

    1. Both Vizio Tablet PC and Bungbungame Photon 100 comes to mind. There is also Bungbungame Photon 2 which was delayed many times before finally launched in Japan 2 years late with limited quantities and more like fire sales. By then Bungbungame had gone out of business. All of them had completed working prototypes and were made by companies much bigger and more established than Smach Z.

  18. And on which part of your body do you strap on the battery pack? Seriously, this should be an option. I cannot imagine a built in battery would last very long.

    1. I’m okay with it. I rarely use my Switch without a power source connected to it. As long as it gets 2 hours while gaming and doesn’t drain while plugged in, I may get one once retail. I had the first GPD-Win, and it just wasn’t the right form for me. This may work better.

      1. On psvita the battery life is excellent. It makes not sense if you have to play a handle console with the power source connected all the time, that means that your problem is not playing outside, it is just you don’t want leave your bed.

    2. A user replaceable battery would be nice. Otherwise, I wouldn’t mind carrying an external USB Type C battery around. This isn’t really pocketable so I’d be using a bag anyway.

      1. Does anyone know if the battery will be replaceable while on the go (ie. no tools required). Doesn’t seem likely but it would be nice.

    3. The more they say, the more I feel they are living in fantasy land.

      “Fernandez tells me the system will have a 46 Whr battery that can provide up to 5 hours of battery life while gaming”

      That 46Wh over 5 hours only allows you roughly 9W usage. But these AMD embedded chips leaks 12-25W in heat dissipation alone under moderate load. That is not including the rest of the peripherals such as DDR4 memory and 1080p display.

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