It’s been a long time coming, but the Smach Z handheld gaming PC is now a real thing that people who don’t work for Smach have actually used. As promised, the company is showing off the final production hardware at the E3 gaming show this week.
Given this project’s history, it’s probably too early to say whether it’ll ship later this year as expected or if it’ll live up to the hype Smach has tried to generate if and when it does. But at least we now have some third-party photos and videos of the Smach Z thanks to Tom’s Hardware, HobbyConsolas, Kyle Orland, and p64imp.
Update: Scroll down for some more hands-on videos from E3.
If you need a refresher, the Smach Z is a handheld computer powered by an AMD Ryzen Embedded V1605B processor with Radeon Vega graphics.
It features a 6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel touchscreen display with game controllers on the left and right sides. The controllers are inspired by Valve’s Steam Controller, and include two touchpads that theoretically make it easier to play games designed for mouse input (like real time strategy games).
So far folks seem underwhelmed by those touch controllers, but the analog stick and buttons are reportedly pretty solid, and Smach will offer software that lets you reamp functions so you may be able to work around the wonky touchpads if they’re not improved by the time the Smach Z ships.
According to Tom’s Hardware, Rocket League runs at around 50 fps on the Smach Z, and the 2016 version of Doom stays just over 30 fps, while other games such as Monster Hunter World could only hit 17 frames per second. So while the Smach Z does seem to be exactly what’s promised — a handheld gaming PC, it’s not exactly a super powerful one. I can’t help wondering why Smach didn’t opt for a 720p display panel to reduce the strain on the system’s 15 watt processor (Tom’s Hardware does note that Smach is developing a “powered dock that will allow the processor to run at 25 watts).
Smach says to expect 2-7 hours of battery life from the Smach Z, so it seems safe to assume that some games will drain the battery pretty quickly (although maybe not as quickly as some folks have estimated).
One other thing to keep in mind is that while the Smach Z is certainly a handheld, it’s not exactly pocketable. It weighs about 1.3 pounds and it’s a lot wider than a PlayStation Vita or GPD Win 2.
It’s also not exactly cheap — pre-orders have officially ended and now the Smach Z website offers visitors a chance to “reserve” a Smach Z for $10.
An entry-level model with 4GB of RAM and a 64GB PCIe NVMe SSD will set you back $699 if you opt for a version with Smach’s Linux-based operating system. The price goes up to $799 if you want Windows 10.
A top-of-the-line model with 16GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and a 5MP camera starts at $1299.
Update: PCDIY has some more hands-on photos from E3, as well as a few pictures of the Smach Z booth at the show.
And here are a few more hands-on videos from the show floor:
Well, they now have quite a few working devices. I wonder how production will go. If they can make it to retail, I’m buying one.
Cool. Looks like they have working hardware now. Let’s hope they’re able to mass produce and distribute now.
Is this like a handheld Steam Machine? Are those still a thing nowadays?
Anyway, from the videos, this is looking good. I may end up buying one.
Congratulations to Smach for finally showing a working device. Still a lot of work involved for mass production and distribution. If they can make that final hurdle, then I’ll be buying one.
Murmurs of very laggy haptic touch controls, that is why the joycon is mostly used. This thing is not ready yet. Mumurs of stuttering in some games also.
Wow, they’ve come a long way. When it goes retail, I’ll be buying one for sure.
Reminds me of Atari Lynx.
Reddish light on that big Z button=Battery running very low.
This thing a power guzzler. I’m sure battery life would be very bad.
Looking forward to seeing some reviews of this.
What parts are replaceable? Definitely interested in getting this.
Looks like I’ll be spending $799. Too bad they dropped LTE support.
Nice. I’d buy one if I can get it from Amazon Prime.
Should had went with 720p screen. The frame rates would improve a lot.
Nope, you could just dial down from the in-game-settings.
But if you have a 720p screen you can’t quite dial upto 1080p graphics.
And so you would’ve had people instead complaining “why’d they go with a 720p screen instead of a 1080p screen”.
However, the biggest factor between the two would be battery life, but I can’t see the spec bump having that much of an effect. The sheer size of the display is likely to be a bigger factor. And the biggest factor for battery life in a system such as this will definitely be the x86-SoC.
Based on what I’ve seen, the GPD Win2 still looks like the better machine overall. So a GPD Win3 with even better portability, battery life, and performance is going to be an even better solution.
(Me personally, waiting to have a look at the ASUS ROG Phone 2)
Go check the MHW running on Smach Z video. He said it was 720p or 480p setting but still stuttery.
Fail is written all over it.
Apparently a lot of those components are user-replaceable, so you could hypothetically buy the cheap one and upgrade it yourself for cheaper. Still, I wouldn’t spend any money on this until those pre-orders get filled. Hopefully by then we’ll know more about the Win Max, too, and can make some reasonable comparisons between the two.
That’s what I have planned, got some memory stashed away, will do some testing with SSD’s when it arrive, since it has nvme, but it might get too hot inside that tiny case for that.
Yeah some of the larger 2242 SSD’s people have used with the Win 2 get crazy hot. I’m personally not sure I want less than 512GB in a machine like that, so it’s something I’m keeping an eye on.
NVMe should be able to use less power, because you can do away with the (for sata necessary) cache on the SSD, and just use host memory. Theoretically an NVMe device should not need gallons of DRAM, because it should be able to DMA out of host memory to a small buffer for writes, or directly DMA into host memory. Only the wear leveler process should have extra memory to copy and merge pages to new pages.
Yeah, I’m thinking of getting the base model and upgrade RAM and SSD.
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