Gamers have been able to play games on-the-go for decades, but playing on portable devices usually results in less than perfect recreations of games they could play on more powerful consoles or PCs. These days that disparity is becoming less and less with devices like the Nintendo Switch, and even high end smartphones and tablets, but one gamer population has still been left out in the cold. This group is none other than the PC master race, which has never truly had a legit portable gaming platform to play high-end PC games on.
The SMACH Z is aiming to change that by offering PC gamers a fully portable handheld gaming machine that can play some of today’s most advanced games on middle to lower quality settings. I checked out the SMACH Z while at E3, and even though the demo unit wasn’t fully operational, I at least got to hold it in my hands to see what a portable gaming PC rig would feel like, and I did get to play Diablo 3 on the same board and chipset that will be used in the SMACH Z.
The unit is a true handheld gaming PC, so it will allow for upgrades to most of its components, as well as up to five hours of playtime on a single charge. It can be recharged in the less than an hour, which bodes well for gamers on the go. It’s chipset is based off of an AMD CPU/GPU, and the tech company even worked with the SMACH Z team to design the most efficient form factor to work with the handheld unit, so nothing looked slapped together in terms of how the hardware was assembled.
In addition to the included storage on the main board it will also support microSD for expanding storage, which is just another nod to the PC space and how customizable devices within it are. Speaking of customizable, it’ll also offer interchangeable faceplates, and I bet those with 3D printers will be able to get creative with that feature if the developer offers up blueprints.
In terms of connectivity the SMACH Z will support BT, Wi-Fi, and eventually cell signals, so you should be able to get online with it wherever your life takes you.
The device feels very much like a Nintendo Switch in your hands, so it has the same wider profile, and honestly it doesn’t feel that much heavier than the Switch either. It feels good to hold, and the Steam-controller-esque thumbsticks seem perfectly suited for the hardware and the portable nature of it. The controls also include traditional face buttons, and savable profiles for those that want to tailer controls for each game they play.
Like I mentioned earlier the demo unit I got to explore wasn’t playable, but the team did have the SMACH Z motherboard hooked up to a TV playing Diablo 3 so I could see how it handled the game. I have to say that the tiny board handled it pretty well there were a few stutters when the screen filled up with enemies, but nothing game break. The visuals weren’t on max settings either, but they were crisp enough looking to not give me concern, even on a big screen. Besides, on the smaller screen that the device features the resolution and higher quality settings missing won’t even be that noticeable because of the more condensed viewing area.
The SMACH Z is on track to ship to its Kickstarter backers this September, so 1500 PC gamers should be getting their hands on final production units this fall. Pre-orders are also open for September for three different models of the SMACH Z, so if you’re interested you can check them out and save 10% on the total cost over at the SMACH website. I would have much preferred to demo a playable unit to give you the best preview I could, but I can say that the team is very passionate about their product, and based on what I got to see and hold I do believe that it can pay off on its promises to allow PC gamers to take their style of gaming experience on the go, albeit with a slight reduction in visuals. The team did say that a playable unit will be at Gamescom, so more details and impressions should be coming out on it this August.
You can check out a trailer for the SMACH Z below.
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