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Circuit Breaker

People are still trying to put PC gaming in a handheld

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For ages, humankind has wondered what would happen if you tried to combine a PS Vita together with Valve’s Steam controller. Okay, not really. But wouldn’t a portable Steam PC be kind of neat?

That’s the thought of Spanish company Smach, anyway, which has been working to try and make the Smach Z, a portable gaming PC that claims to be able to run over thousands of Steam games. And given the fully funded Kickstarter campaign, it seems that the company isn’t alone in wanting to make this happen.

And while the idea of a fully portable console like this is bound to bring up comparisons to the upcoming Nintendo Switch, the Smach Z actually predates the Switch by a considerable amount. Smach had originally announced the Smach Z — then called the Steamboy — back in June 2015, with an intended release date in 2016. Now, a few delays and a successful Kickstarter campaign later, it seems that the Smach Z is back on track and may actually become a real, shipped piece of hardware.

The Smach Z runs off an AMD RX-421BD system-on-a-chip, with an integrated Radeon R7 GPU, which Smach claims is enough to run games like Skyrim or Overwatch (albeit in 720p and at 25-30 FPS). The base €299 (~$328 USD) model of the Smach Z has 4GB of RAM and a 64GB hard drive, while the more expensive €499 (~$548 USD) Smach Z Pro doubles RAM to 8GB, hard drive space to 128GB, and adds a front-facing camera and 4G connectivity. Both models feature an integrated 720p screen and haptic touchpad controls that are very much inspired by Valve’s Steam controller.

As always, the Smach Z is a first-time hardware Kickstarter from a company that’s making some pretty big promises, so use your own discretion when deciding on backing it or not. The company is also still finishing the design of the final version of the hardware, which has me skeptical of the estimated April 2017 release date to backers. Plus, we’ve been down this road before, with plenty of companies promising to take PC gaming mobile and failing to deliver. But if you’re interested in the idea of a portable gaming PC, the Smach Z is still available to back on Kickstarter for another day.