It’s been almost 4 years since the first concept pictures for a handheld gaming PC called the SteamBoy were released. A year later the developers changed the name to Smach Zero… and then changed it again to the Smach Z and launched a crowdfunding campaign at the end of 2015.

A few days later the crowdfunding campaign was put on hold due to, among other things, the lack of an actual working prototype or any real details about the processor that would power the Smach Z.

In 2016 the team launched another crowdfunding campaign, and the following year one of the company’s key partners exited the project and the Smach Z failed spectacularly to meet its estimated delivery date of April, 2017.

But against all odds, it looks like the Smach Z might not be vaporware. The company plans to show off the progress its made at the Embedded World show in a few weeks, and a set of leaked images show that the Smach Z team has printed circuit boards, case samples, and processors.

It looks like the Smach Z might actually ship… eventually.

A few details have leaked in various places on the web, and The Phawx has put together a YouTube video that provides a pretty good overview of the details we can glean from those leaks.

Update: Due to the DMCA request mentioned below, where Smach asked us to remove a specific image, Phawx has removed his video, but plans to upload a new one without that copyrighted picture. 

Update 2: Phawx has posted an updated video:

It looks like the basic design of the Smach Z hasn’t changed much: there’s a display in the center and game controller buttons including two touchpads and a set of buttons on the left and right sides of the display.

Under the hood, the system will have a motherboard and a daughter board, with room for an M.2 2242 solid state drive and an unspecified AMD processor, although there are clues that suggest it’s some new form of Ryzen processor that will probably run at somewhere between 15W and 25W and provide CPU performance that’s on par with an Intel Core M3-7Y30 while offering 2-3 times better graphics performance.

In other words, this computer could give the GPD Win 2 a serious run for its money… if it ships this year, and if it offers decent battery life, a good display, and all the other things it takes to make a mobile computer usable.

There seem to be 2 SODIMM slots, which means you’ll be able to replace or upgrade the RAM, which is something you cannot do on a GPD Win or Win 2. And one surprising thing is that the CPU seems to connect to an AM4 socket, so you may even be able to upgrade the processor… maybe.

That said, the developers still haven’t shown off a working prototype yet. We don’t know the ship date. And while The Phawx found a picture showing some sort of cooling system on the bottom of the handheld, we don’t know how well it’ll work (or how loud it’ll be) yet.

But at this point I’m just pleasantly surprised that the Smach Z still seems to be under development. I’m sure folks who pledged $330 or more to get one are probably pretty happy about that too… especially since it seems like the computer is now expected to ship with a better processor than originally promised… you know, if it ever does actually ship.

Still, I’d say the odds of getting your hands on a Smach Z eventually are still a lot better than those that you’ll ever find yourself playing games on a PGS Handheld.

Update: A photo has been removed from this post due to a DMCA copyright claim. 

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36 replies on “Smach Z handheld gaming PC might actually ship one day (Leaks show signs of life)”

  1. this has a better chance of competing with Coleco Chameleon, Phantom Console and the PGS console in a vaporware universe

  2. Smach Z is clearly a scam. There is no hope of it ever becoming a legit product. StopDrop&Retro’s youtube channel has a pretty good video detailing why.

    1. I tend to agree with your analysis regarding the Smach Z. I backed the GPD Win2. While the Win2 has lesser specs than the Smach Z great specs on an imaginary machine are in fact lesser specs. If the Smach Z is delivered as promised (or beyond) I will consider selling my Win2 and replacing it with a Smach Z.

  3. Huh? Video is removed. Is it due to complaints from salty Smachz diehard fans or simply a copyright issue invoked by Smachz? Saw a few of those diehard fans complaining about the video in the comments there earlier. Whatever it was, reputation of Smachz certainly going further down the gutter.

    1. Phawx saw that I’d received a DMCA notice for one picture and preemptively decided to remove his video.

      He plans to upload another one without that image.

      1. Oh! Another copyright issue again by Smachz. That figures. Smachz don’t want the free publicity showing the project is at least progressing somewhere? Maybe simply there wasn’t enough progress to show after all since those circuit boards don’t have any components on them yet.

          1. You mean those engineering samples? There is too little information about them. That model number points to Ryzen 5 2400G from my search. Since its going to be at the Embedded World 2018 then these will likely be Great Horned Owl or Banded Kestrel. Problem is why can’t Smachz simply use a normal laptop mobile processor that has already been released? The current crop of gaming oriented ultra mobiles are using normal mobile processors.

  4. Always been hearing about Smach Z getting delayed from a backer in my local forum. This is why Smach Z wants to keep updates private from the start. Smach Z knew there would be lots of negativity and bad news surrounding its progress. Nonetheless bad news do leak out. Just wondering if they are going to burn these engineering samples like they did previously with the Merlin Falcon ones? That could happen since Smach Z is trying to squeeze 15W to 25W into something this small. Also from the pictures of those PCBs, can see that the SODIMM slots are too close to the main SoC. How are they going to fit the heatsink and fan with the SODIMM taking up the space above? Batteries will also be a major problem. This thing is going to be very thick and heavy.

  5. Smach Z’s saga of delays is very similar to ZX Spectrum Vega+ console by Retro Computers also. At least Retro Computers had ZX Spectrum Vega+ console PCBs with final chips soldered on it and even real working prototypes. Added bonus was their updates were public, very unlike Smach Z’s. But still got delayed and delayed.

  6. What I’m curious about here is how they solve the cooling. The form-factor wouldn’t allow anything more than 7W, and they first wanted to go with passive cooling, so more like 4W is realistic. The possible CPU choices here is 4-5 times more.

  7. Progress still too slow. Began with a scam also. Betcha these guys will keep pushing the release date back with more delays. By the time they are about to release it, IF they could release it, GPD Win may have a third iteration coming already. Can’t trust these guys on any of their release dates nor their promises. Last update I saw, they mentioned having PCB production delays. Bummer.

  8. No actual working Smach Z prototypes so far, and yet aimed for May deadline? The original April delivery back in 2017 was already a big farce, and Smach Z knew it all along. The “prototype” they were showing around was fake which does not represent any progress in development. Thats is why they were so secretive all the time. Also some things not correct there. The price of Smach Z has increased tremendously. Most of the latest prices are on their Indiegogo campaign page Secondly believe it or not, PGS is still ongoing despite being exposed as a scam much like Smach Z. Just check out their latest Looks like PGS Lab still wants to make their handheld despite all the bad press received and dropping out of public attention. So, who is going to release first?

    1. I think that Smach Z.
      i am in the two campaign and PGS lab is changing specifications all time.

      1. Usually I will say neither, especially with Smach Z dragging its heels heaping upon more delays. PGS despite having a Chinese developer is also taking too long, although PGS is in the finalization phase having settled on Intel’s Core m3 just like the one used in GPD Win 2. But Chinese developers are much quicker than Smach Z thus likelihood PGS being released has a much higher chance. One needs to look at how quickly Chinese developers like GPD and Vastking could design and produce these handheld hardware. In particular, GPD has already had GPD Win, GPD Pocket, GPD Win 2 and soon GPD XD+ during the time Smach Z spent on their still unfinished development and delays.

      1. LinX Vision 8 also beat Steamboy a.k.a Smach Z although not as portable as GPD Win. Not quite in the same UMPC gaming category. Awaiting for some added competition that could bring GPD’s prices down.

  9. It’s a scam. They don’t have working prototypes.
    The samples they used and showcased to get their funding were just a tablet repurposed to look like a Handheld Console. Most backers know this now, and there’s very little in the way of hope.

    If you want a Handheld Console, get the GPD Win 2.
    If the price is the barrier, get the GPD Win 1, GPD XD 2, or a GPD XD 1.
    If you don’t want Windows, there’s also Nvidia Shield Portable, JXD S192k, JXD S7800b.
    If you want dedicated gaming, get the Nintendo Switch. Or a the PS Vita. Or a Hacked PSP-3000.

    And if you want a DIY solution you could combine your (A) media device and (B) bluetooth controller:
    A) iPega PG 9055, GameSir T1S
    B) iPad Pro, iPad mini 4, iPhone 8 Plus, Galaxy S9, OnePlus 5

    1. The one with the tablet PCB was really a proof-of-concept, not a prototype. They’re going to be presenting the alpha prototype along with AMD in the same booth at Embedded World in Germany end of February, so we’ll know for sure by then.

      1. Wasn’t the alpha prototype delayed to March? Right now they can only show unfinished parts on the table only.

        1. I think they’re going to assemble it for the event, but there’s no time to debug it so it may not turn on. I know the date March 9th was thrown around so can’t be certain.

          1. By the way “proof of concept” and actual prototype are very different things. Prototype is represents development progress towards the final product and must have the final hardware inside. Smach Z labelled the hardware shown at Gamescom was “prototype” which was highly deceptive, and later exposed as a fake prototype. They even lied about the “prototype” using ClickARM technology also. You can still find this all on their Kickstarter campaign page.

          2. Proof of concept a.k.a Rough prototype or early prototype… Are not prototypes? English is a very curious langage then

          3. For your information, proof of concept is never a true/actual prototype. Rhombio called it “proof of concept” instead of prototype in their AMA. However it was Smach Z who called it “prototype”. If they had an actual prototype already then there should be no problems producing final hardware in just a few months time, or even send out pre-production test units to reviewers. But that was not the case. Their “prototype” shown was really a dead end, and started actual development from scratch. The original April 2017 delivery was a farce indeed, and they probably knew it.

            “A proof of concept (POC) is a demonstration, the purpose of which is to verify that certain concepts or theories have the potential for real-world application. POC is therefore a prototype that is designed to determine feasibility, but does not represent deliverables.”

          4. “POC is therefore a prototype” just on the definition you pasted… Its a prototype that is not a prototype?

          5. Much like using an old F-104 Starfighter with minor modifications and repainting, then calling it F16 Fighting Falcon prototype. That is very disingenious because the F-104 Starfighter will not perform like the real F16 Fighting Falcon. Airframe, aerodynamics, handling and engines are all going to be different. Similarly that is what Smach Z has done when they threw in an off the shelf parts including Intel powered tablet board into DIY quality casing complete with messy wiring and hot glue. An actual prototype is a real prototype with hardware thats nearly indentical to the final shipping product. Smach Z “prototype” was a fake, rather more like the dead end “proof of concept”. The chips, boards, batteries and especially the casing are all going to be different in the final design. That GPD Win 2 prototype Liliputing been testing is an actual prototype that is going to be close to the final shipping product.

          6. The discussion so far:
            A) An ostrich is not a bir bla bla bla
            B) An ostrich is a bird!
            A) No look at the definition “An ostrich is a bird that cant fly…” so if it cant fly isnt a bird
            B) The same definition you posted it says it is a bird…
            A) no because blablabla…
            So the next question is are you a biologist or you feel entlited to discuss it because have seen a lot of kitten videos on the internet?
            Translating: Do you work on the field? Because i have seen things that would make babe jesus cry and they where called prototypes and no one doubted it.

            Have you looked what occulus prototype looked like when he started the kickstarter for example? It was a scam?

          7. Smach Z began as Steamboy back in 2014 and then renamed to Smach Zero in 2015 which got subsequently cancelled. Tried again in 2016 And now already 2018, almost 3 to 4 years later Smach Z still could not produce an actual working prototype. Reason why its taking such a long time is incredibly simple, Smach Z never been able to build any actual working prototype with final hardware inside to begin with. If they could make one then the actual Smach Z would have been released much quicker. Smach Z’s use of a fake prototype is primarily a marketing move to get funding. That fake prototype is a big red flag for any Kickstarter or crowdfunding campaign. Look at what happened with PGS and Coleco Chameleon with their fake prototypes. Now do you see the problem with fake prototypes and “proof of concept” hardware? These are never developed into the final product and does not represent any stage of the product’s further development. Crowdfunding investors and enthusiasts should be aware of that especially from small startups like Smach Z and PGS Labs. But with already well established companies like GPD on the other hand is a different story altogether. Oculus Rift is made by a division of Facebook Inc.

          8. Lol oculus rift is part of Facebook NOW. Look what was their prototype AFTER their launch in kickstarter,0-J-351235-13.jpg and yes despite whatever you say its a prototype. What you are talking about are final prototypes and even these sometimes dont have final hardware because it was not made in time and some off the shelve parts taped snd glued.
            Seriously take a look at the occulus kickstarter and tell me it was not meat for stopdrop (thats you?) video. Same red flags, presented by people not in the proyect, a prototype made by off the shelve parts glued, very late…

            Also in relating breaking news, a tomato is a fruit discuss it with a botanic if you wish

          9. This one is better Looks like a LCD monitor dscaler PCB there for connecting the LCD panel inside the headset. At least they have demonstrated a working VR headset, although rough in many edges. Oculus has shown VR headsets can be made simpler unlike earlier more expensive VR gear, which attracted attention since it was something new for the average consumer. Also they never concealed anything as the PCB used can be clearly seen. Despite the campaign started in 2012, the first actual final Rift unit was delivered in 2016, thats is still 4 years late because of multiple delays. Otherwise only developer units were available as early as 2013. If Facebook had not acquired them in 2014 then this project would sunk long before they delivered the final product. However Smach Z is different as numerous mobile gaming handheld devices has been around for a long time. That said, the choice of their main chip as rather questionable due to its high TDP and passive cooling solution. Most mobile devices like tablets and smartphones are usually 2W to 4W. The first GPD Win used a 2W Intel Atom chip but still had to use active cooling to avoid overheating and throttling during gaming. Definitely shows that Smach Z have no inkling of actual physics nor hardware development. Smach Z’s fake prototype was actually using an Intel Atom chip inside plus active cooling also. Smach Z never tested a high TDP chip inside small sized devices so definitely big problems will crop up. Furthermore honesty isn’t their strong points as Smach Z tried to conceal as much as possible. Sure enough leaks reveal numerous problems within, including getting the chips to overheat and fail. Again, do you start to see the problem of using fake prototypes or “proof of concept” hardware? That was even before Smach Z and split. Perhaps was correct about Smach Z about their lack of experience developing such hardware and production. How many years will Smach Z able to last until the funds run out?

    2. Yet to be released Vastking G800 beat Smach Z to an actual working prototype as well. Intel’s Apollo Lake launched one month before Smach Z campaign started. Lots of DIY mobile PC handhelds already made, like this one Also lots of other examples, like Project Scout…

  10. I funded to get one of these, watching their progress they’re on the right track, I believe AMD is wanting to use this to showcase their new Ryzen mobile.

  11. I feel like you need to wait 1 or 2 more years before these become viable.

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