When the folks working on the upcoming Atari VCS game console first announced plans to launch a gaming PC for the living room with classic Atari design features, the plan was to ship an inexpensive system powered by a 2016-era AMD Bristol Ridge processor.

Now the developers have announced that they’ve retooled their design and the Atari VCS will ship with newer AMD Ryzen chips instead.

That doesn’t mean you’re going to get AMD Threadripper-class performance. The Atari VCS will instead use a low-power AMD Ryzen Embedded chip, like the ones used in single-board computers, mini PCs, and handheld game systems.

But the upshot is that the folks building the Atari VCS says the new chip is “faster, cooler, and more efficient” than the aging Bristol Ridge processor they had been using.

It also brings native support for 4K video, HDCP support for playback of video infected with DRM (from Netflix, HBO, and other streaming providers), and native support for Ethernet.

There is one disadvantage to the processor change — the Atari VCS has originally been scheduled to ship in July. Now the ship date has been pushed back to “the end of 2019” for backers of the Atari VCS crowdfunding campaign.

The Atari VCS is basically a small, cheap computer with modern hardware packed inside a case that’s designed to resemble Atari’s classic game systems from the 70s and 80s. There’s even an optional wood panel design.

While you’ll be able to play some modern games on the system, it will also ship with 100 classic arcade games pre-installed.

More details about the hardware (including exactly which AMD Ryzen Embedded chip is under the hood) should be available closer to launch.

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10 replies on “Atari VCS game console gets pre-release upgrade (to AMD Ryzen)”

  1. “support for playback of video infected with DRM”
    That made me smile.

    1. I also want to applaud Brad for the admittedly editorial phrasing (And honesty) couched in that sentence.

  2. The price is fairly close to an Ryzen 2400G ITX system you can put together yourself (see youtube for component tips).

    That is of course bigger and has active cooling (fan) but also way more powerful than this. Thus, I don’t really see the appeal, unless Atari can really create a strong ecosystem around it.

    This would be more appealing as an official Steam Machine in cooperation with Valve.

    Still, I wish luck to this project, we need more players in the console segment.

  3. I’m going to assume it’ll be a 1605b, since that seems to be a popular choice for other upcoming consumer grade electronics. If they actually release this thing and IF Smach Z actually releases this year, hopefully that pushes AMD to give it a lot of support, which in turn hopefully convinces GPD to try making their own THICC 1605b-based gaming UMPC separate from the Win line (cuz honestly, none of AMD’s current crop of APUs would ever be used in a Win device since htey require too much power, cooling, and a big enough case to house it all with adequate air flow).
    Call it the GPD GPC-Zero

    1. Now that I think about it, I think Atari would be more likely to cheap out so they’re more likely to use the weaker Ryzen Embedded chips. Are those equivalent to their recent Ryzen Athlons?

  4. I can’t believe that they’ve raised over $3 million. $329 for the console plus two controllers seems steep to me, even with 100 retro games included. Oh, well, I wish them luck.

    1. Well if they ended up upgrading to the 1605b, the price would be a bit more tolerable. Expected performance would probably be similar to a laptop Ryzen 5 2500U.
      Of course there are weaker Ryzen Embedded chips………….

  5. Does this mean they will use the same chip as the Smach Z ie the 1605b ?

    1. Nope, its a dual core which should be more like the 200GE. They still cheap out on the CPU.

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