AMD Pushes the Envelope on Gaming Graphics With New Ryzen Z1 Processors

May 05, 2023 by Jake Hertz

The new processors target power efficiency and performance in portable, handheld gaming consoles.

NVIDIA and AMD lead the industry in providing the best graphics processing and computing ability in a single PC. Within the graphics field is a smaller, more niche subset with unique design requirements: handheld gaming.

Recently, AMD established itself firmly in the handheld gaming market with the release of its new Ryzen Z1 processors. In this article, we’ll take a look at the rise of handheld gaming and the details surrounding the new Ryzen Z1 releases.


AMD Ryzen Z1 Series processors

AMD Ryzen Z1 series processors. Image courtesy of AMD


The Rise of Handheld Gaming 

Historically, gaming has been confined to larger, more powerful computing platforms like desktop computers. The power consumption required to support graphics processing limited gaming to wall-powered setups like a desktop. More performant and power-efficient processors have moved gaming beyond desktops to laptops, portable computers, and now, handheld gaming platforms

Unlike gaming on laptops, which are larger and less gaming-specific, handheld gaming stations offer gamers a platform that is lightweight, portable, and purely optimized for gaming. Handheld gaming devices must blend low-power consumption with high performance. This keeps batteries lightweight and prolongs their lifetimes while providing great graphic quality and minimal latency. Achieving these two goals simultaneously requires specialized hardware that is both efficient and performant.


Ryzen Z1 Specs

To help address the unique needs of the handheld gaming market, AMD recently announced a new series of Ryzen Z1 processors. Within this offering, AMD is specifically releasing two new offerings: the AMD Ryzen Z1 and the AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme.

The less performant of the two, the Ryzen Z1, is a processor for the handheld market, which consists of six Zen-4 cores capable of supporting 12-threads. Alongside the CPU cores are four GPUs based on AMD’s RDNA 3 architecture. The compute in this system is supported by 6 MB of L2 Cache and 16 MB of L3 cache and provides a configurable TDP from 15–30 W.


Ryzen Z1 and Z1 Extreme specs

Ryzen Z1 and Z1 Extreme specs. Image used courtesy of AMD


Ryzen Z1 Extreme, on the other hand, beefs up the performance of the Z1 by offering eight Zen-4 PCU cores with 16-thread performance. This goes along with 12 GPUs based on the RDNA 3 architecture, as well as 8 MB of L2 cache and 16 MB of L3 cache. Both offerings are built on 4nm process nodes.

According to AMD, the Z1 and Z1 Extreme offer graphics performances of 2.8 TFLOPS and 8.6 TFLOPS, respectively. 


First Appearing in the Asus ROG Ally

The new releases from AMD mark a concerted effort and interest in the handheld gaming market. Compared to previous AMD handheld offerings, like the SteamDeck GPUs, AMD’s new offerings are said to provide greater performance at low power consumption.

According to the company, the Z1 and Z1 Extreme processors will be first introduced to the market via the Asus ROG Ally handheld gaming PC, which hits markets on May 11, 2023.