AMD Ryzen Z1 mini PC proves dynamite comes in small packages

A wild Z1 mini PC prototype appears!

AMD Ryzen Z1 Mini PC case via ETA Prime.

AMD’s Ryzen Z1 APU has become increasingly popular in the handheld PC gaming market. It turns out there’s a prototype Ryzen Z1 mini PC that could offer users a compact and versatile computing solution. With the added benefit of a larger form factor that negates the thermal limitations encountered in those handheld PCs.

YouTuber ETA Prime managed to get his hands on a prototype unit of the Phoenix Edge Z1 mini PC. The manufacturer plans on releasing the device through crowdfunding. Should the little beast get approved for production, we could see a Z1 Extreme version down the line.

The Ryzen Z1 Series was designed specifically for handheld PCs, and are found in the Asus ROG Ally, and Lenovo Legion Go. There are two chipsets in the series offering two vastly different performance capabilities. The Z1 Extreme is the creme of the crop, offering an eight-core, 16-thread CPU to 12 RDNA 3 compute units, delivering 8.6 TFLOPs of compute power. The Z1 is no slouch either, albeit underpowered, offering a six-core, 12-thread CPU configuration plus 4 RDNA 3 compute units totaling 2.8 TFLOPS graphics performance.

The main disadvantage of these chipsets are their tiny chassis. As such, AMD has tweaked their voltage curves to maximize power efficiency and battery life. Two equally important factors when you’re on the go. Now imagine the possibilities of an unconstrained chipset, with adequate cooling, and limitless mains power. This is what ETA Prime’s testing investigates, among other things.

AMD Ryzen Z1 Mini PC Specs via ETA Prime.

The breakdown

ETA’s comprehensive coverage details the unboxing, spec overview, and a detailed breakdown of the mini PCs TDP. Of which, it is important to note that despite being rated for 54W, the prototype mini PC could only manage a 40W maximum TDP in testing, even with a software target of 68W.

AMD Ryzen Z1 Mini PC Thermal and Performance Metrics via ETA Prime

Nonetheless, the synthetic benchmarks yielded some positive results. Despite the limitations set, the tiny machine achieved a 3DMark Fire Strike score of 1,755. A little over what the ROG Ally Z1 can muster. This is possibly due it maintaining higher boost clocks without thermal throttling.

On the hand, gaming benchmarks revealed that it can at least compete with Valve’s Steam Deck in certain titles. However, it falls short when directly compared to the ROG Ally Z1. Thus, arriving to the conclusion that increasing TDP can offer some improvements, but it cannot fully compensate for the limitations of a cut-down APU. Them’s the breaks, kids.

AMD Ryzen Z1 mini PC 3D Mark FireStrike Score via ETA Prime.

As for the price, ETA speculates it could be priced around $299. Interestingly, the source also mentions the existence of a planned Z1 Extreme model. However, the fact that they are still in early development stages, means the fate of both machines remains uncertain. An enticing prospect, nonetheless.