The Smach Z handheld gaming PC is a few years overdue at this point… but it’s starting to look like like this might actually be the year you might actually be able to buy one.

After promising a few months ago that mass production would begin in early 2019, the folks at Smach have started posting a series of YouTube videos showing off gameplay on a Smach Z Alpha prototype.

One video showcases GTA V and Firewatch. Another looks at Cuphead, Nuclear Throne, and Downwell, and a third features strategy games including Age of Empires II, StarCraft II, and Civilization VI.

That last batch of games is probably the group I find most interesting for a few reasons. First, I personally tend to enjoy strategy games more than first-person shooters, roguelikes, and platformers. And second, real-time strategy games like AoE and StarCraft might actually help justify the Smach Z’s controller layout.

While most handheld game systems use PlayStation or Xbox-style controllers, the Smach Z has a controller inspired by Valve’s Steam Controller, with touchpads on the left and right sides.

It’s questionable how useful those touchpads are for titles that are optimized for game controllers. But they could definitely come in handy for PC games that are designed for mouse input… like real-time-strategy games.

The Smach Z features a 6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel touchscreen display, an AMD Ryzen Embedded V1605B processor with Radeon Vega 8 graphics, and it has DisplayPort, USB Type-C, Type-A, and micro USB ports as well as a microSD card reader.

The company says the Smach Z will be “available in 2019,” although there’s no promise of exactly when in 2019. But if you’re feeling lucky (and patient) you can pre-order one for $629 and up. Smach says you can cancel your pre-order if you get tired of waiting.

There are three different configurations up for pre-order:

  • Smach Z with 4GB RAM/64GB storage/no camera for $629.10
  • Smach Z Pro with 8GB RAM/128GB storage/5MP camera for $809.10
  • Smach Z Ultra with 16GB RAM/256GB storage/5MP camera for $989.10

Update 2/15/2019: Here’s a new video showing FPS gaming:

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14 replies on “Smach Z handheld gaming PC inches closer to reality (gameplay videos)”

  1. I’m interested to know how they faked this video. This one looked almost convincing.

  2. Disregarding the colorful history of the project, the price, and the usability questions a lot of things kinda come together on paper.

    W10 in tablet mode can be made working even on 6″ FHD (with 250% fonts, but still), a customized Linux distro sounds even better.
    The battery capacity seems fine for about three hours of play (47,36Wh, assuming 3.7V) and Vega 8 is miles ahead of HD 615 you’ll see in core m3.

    But there are too many small red flags for me.
    I’ve got no confidence that the mysterious SMACH OS is built any better than, ahem, SteamOS.
    The sheer number of SKUs they offer is a heavy burden for a new product from a new company.
    The fact that a single-channel option is even on the table (let alone present in two of three “default” configuration) is an enormous footgun, as Vega IGPs benefit from the dual-channel hugely.

    I kinda think they finally have a legit prototype, but no product lined up for manufacturing.
    I don’t think it will be obsoleted by anything in this TDP during this year, but the price/performance ratio seems to be too high.

  3. The input lag on that device means either a) they still have a ton of work to do b) it’s streaming from another device or (a more jaded POV) c) they are faking the game play from a video. Time will tell.

    1. Looks like it’s Option A.
      Again, not an excitable showing if you ask me. Have a look at the tweakers of lowspecgamer and ThePhawx when it came to the original GPD Win. Impressive stuff when you think about the puny Intel a-8750 (X7) that lives inside. Though I’m excited about a 2019 GPD Win3, which looks like it will ship before this does.

      1. If you think a Win 3 would ship in 2019, then you haven’t been paying attention at all. GPD has said that they’ll be doing a Win 3 in 2020. Realistically, that’s just the EARLIEST they could do one. There are currently ZERO viable upgrade paths for the Win line until Intel either ships a 10nm Core M3 or AMD uses their new 7nm Zen 2 architecture to enter the 4-7W arena that Intel dominates. The 1605b in the Smach could definitely be a decent upgrade over the 7y30 in the Win 2 (at 720p), however since the Win line is meant to be pocketable and the Smach Z is a fugly monstrosity it’s not an option for a Win 3. Maybe for a brand new line of more “gamer-y” gaming UMPCs (*hint hint* GPD), but not the Win 3.

  4. Slowly they reach the point they should have before the kickstarter. Not there yet, but eventually…

    1. After what I’ve seen now, I think I’d take the Original GPD Win over this.
      Looks like the GPD Win2 is overkill, let alone an imminent 2019 GPD Win3.

      1. I did choose the Win1 back then. Reason being: the Smatch Z is bulky, it takes up more space than my Core-M based tablet that I can use with a compact X-Box controller and have a better experience with a 10″ screen and still less bulk. The other reason was that the Win1 had a keyboard, and I planned to use it as a sysadmin tool from the beginning (and in fact I use it more for that than for gaming). Looking at it now the Smatch Z will look very outdated even if it were to be released today, not almost a year from now (if ever). I think people who were going for it because of the form-factor had already got a Switch – it runs most current-gen games and almost every major indie titles that you would buy a portable x86 system for, and on top of that the first-party titles. The Smatch Z had missed it’s desirable timeframe 2 years ago, and I’m not speaking about the kickstarter date but the chance to be relevant in any form.

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