Love handheld gaming, but wish you could play full-fledged PC games rather than smartphone titles or games made for a Nintendo DS? The Smach Z is a handheld game system that is a full-fledged PC.

It looks a bit like a PlayStation Vita, but the Smach Z runs Windows 10 or Linux, has a 6 inch, full HD display, and is powered by an AMD processor with Radeon R7 graphics.

The folks behind the Smach Z launched a Kickstarter campaign last year, but quickly canceled it to focus on building a prototype and finalizing the design.

Now the Smach Z is back on Kickstarter and the team hopes to ship the handheld gaming PC in April, 2017.


You can reserve a system for a pledge of 299 Euros or more (that’s about $328). Early birds can get in on the action for a little less.

Here’s what you get for that price:

  • 6 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel capacitive touchscreen display
  • 2.1 GHz AMD Merlin Falcon RX-421BD quad-core processor (12-15W)
  • 800 MHz AMD Radeon R7 graphics
  • 5 hour battery
  • USB 3.0 Type-C port
  • HDMI port
  • WiFi and Bluetooth
  • Gaming buttons including joystick, 4 action buttons, 4 trigger buttons, 2 rear buttons, and 2 haptic touchpads

There are two models: a basic Smach Z with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and a Pro model with 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 1.3MP front camera, and 4G LTE support.

The Smach Z is available with Windows 10 or a Linux-based operating system called Smach Z OS, which has been optimized for the system’s small screen and gaming-centric features. While there are probably more games available for Windows, both operating systems support the Steam game client and the developers of the Smach Z “recommend choosing Linux for better performance.”

This handheld game system has been in development for a long time. It was originally called the SteamBoy, then the Smach Zero. Now it looks like it’s finally close to become a real product. Here’s a video showing a working prototype in action:

While the system doesn’t exactly have the horsepower to handle bleeding-edge games, it seems to do a pretty good job with a variety of PC titles.

It should also be able to handle Steam’s in-home game streaming, allowing you to stream games installed on a more powerful gaming PC over your home network.

And since there’s a full-fledged PC under the hood, you could probably use the Smach Z for non-gaming activities… but you’d need to connect a keyboard, mouse, and maybe an external display. Unlike some other handheld game systems in the works, the Smach Z doesn’t have a physical keyboard.

The Kickstarter campaign has a goal of €250,000 (about $275 thousand), and with more than a month left to go, the project is already pretty close to meeting that goal.


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20 replies on “Smach Z handheld gaming PC returns to Kickstarter for another try”

  1. Hello, can I change processor and RAM on the new Smach Z? Thank you for answer

  2. I don’t get 1080p decision it would be a lot better on battery life at 720p

  3. Sounds like a crap concept.
    Major concerns about:
    – Heat
    – Battery life
    – Weight/Heft
    – Performance
    (full-blown Windows 10 and games tax the hardware moreso than Android games)

    And to add insult to injury:
    – The design looks tacky
    – Its not that affordable at >$450

    And to seal-the-no-deal… it’s on Kickstarter.
    Dream on you guys!!

  4. What LTE bands does this support? I’ve been looking for a mobile device that runs Windows or a desktop Linux distro that supports Verizon’s main LTE band: band 13.

    I was going to get the Pyra when it’s released but unfortunately it doesn’t support band 13 for LTE.

  5. Lookit the part ‘The current case prototype doesn’t has the final hardware, so we’re streaming from the AMD development board to the case prototype to make the video’. I detect some dishonesty here. And once ya put that APU into dat handheld thing, hello throttle city! Even at 15W cTDP, this handheld is too small to handle that TDP……

    1. At 15W I don’t see how you can get around without getting a fan. Even the GPD Win ended up having one, but you can turn it off there.

      1. But tis Smach Z has no coolin fan! Tis part in their Kickstarter site, lookit… ‘One of the main focus of our work on the final version will be keeping temperature low only using passive cooling.’. With such statement means they haven’t solved the TDP issue yet. Who are they kiddin?

        1. At some point they’ll have to go back on this. Or maybe some oil-cooling magic, but I just can’t see the surface big enough for a radiator, and besides it’s idiotic to increase the weight twofold instead of a tiny fan. I’m all for passive cooling myself, but it needs a big surface to work, that you just don’t have on a handheld.

          1. Yeah, also with 12W to 15W to dissipate on bare hands, Smach Z may redefine the meanin of ‘too hot to handle’…. Also if Smach Z developers intend to just stream videos of games runnin on remote PCs, then could have chosen either ARM SoCs or Intel Atom SoCs which solves TDP problems, longer battery life, shorter product cycle and Android gamin option….. So not sure why Smach Z developers chose that 15W to 35W AMD APU which was never designed to be used for handheld devices let alone small tablets. Did Smach Z developers get those chips for free? Jelly bean ARM SoCs are already very cheap to begin with…..

      2. I agree. I think a core m would have been a better goal for them

  6. There isn’t a chance in hell I would buy one of these, much less support a Crowdfunding

    I love portable game consoles, but this one is just asking for incredulity. I honestly don’t believe it will have more than a 3 hour battery life.

    I would so much rather buy the GPD Win. Even though the Smach’s AMD SOC has about 2x more CPU power, and almost 2x more GPU power, I would still take the GPD Win’s 8 hour battery life. And better yet, I believe their battery quote.

    1. AMD CPU’s aren’t know for their stellar battery life on portable devices.

    2. My GPD Win is shipping out tomorrow, if geekbuying is to believe. Yeah, in the end I couldn’t hold back. And not for gaming, but for sysadmin stuff, I’m fed up with bulky laptops and got tired of windows tablets that I have to lug around keyboards and adapters and have to look for a table to set up. I expect great things from this, can charge it with my phone charger and powerbank, and only need an Ethernet-to-USB adapter (which I already have). And even if it’s not as good as I imagined, I think I would be able to sell it without loosing too much on it.

    1. This SOC can be configured for 15w or 35w. It seems they are configuring it for 15w (which is still absurd for a handheld device)

  7. Backed already lest hope that they pull out this time.
    At least the 6 inches is going to be better than the GPD win and more powerful
    I want active cooling fan with batteries, more batteries, the screen sun readable, Ethernet port and I hope the two pads are not clickable and make noise or sound like the steam controller

    1. 6″ vs 5.5″, but 1080p instead of 720p. The Windows interface will be harder to use, and games will have a harder time on native resolution (but a better SoC, so maybe it’s okay). The GPD Win has a cooling fan, that you can turn off with a switch on the bottom. As far as I can see, this is all passive. The SoC uses about 3 times more power, than the GPD (15W vs 4.5W), the screen is bigger and higher resolution, so even with a bigger battery it gets about half as much time, and I imagine some thermal throttling with more demanding games, since you don’t have a fan. Sunlight-readable display? Ha-ha, dream on! You can’t make an IPS screen sunlight-readable, so you’ll need either an AMOLED (very expensive) or a TN+f that has horrible viewing angles. There is no way you’ll find a handheld console with ethernet. I don’t even see the point, if you have an USB, you can connect an Ethernet adapter, otherwise you’ll get a pretty fast 802.11ac WiFi by default. The pads seem like a touch sensitive area, that you can put overlays on, or just use as touch areas, like you would on a screen. It writes haptic feedback so I would imagine some dual-shock like thing. Anyways it will be interresting comparing this to the GPD Win, and it’s good to see the UMPC’s of yore getting a new chance as gaming handhelds! I hope there are many new models to follow!

      1. They talk about the Amoled screen maybe a goal, the Ethernet for steady and future docking station and the USB stand alone just one no more, yes bigger batteries, no doubt of throttling that’s why active cooling fan system and I like the form factor like PS vita, the only thing get use of the game controller

  8. Well, it looks nice and i’m actually the person who would really buy something like this (well, i bought the original archos gamepad), but I’d never give them money via Kickstarter.

    And currently I can’t imagine any other person under my friends and coworkers to even just want something like this.

    So calling it “niche market” might be a bit of an understatement.

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