Before delving into the heart of the matter, let’s explore the capabilities of the AMD Ryzen Z1 APUs. Engineered with the burgeoning handheld market in mind, the AMD Z1 series of APUs is meticulously crafted to deliver optimal CPU and GPU performance for low-power devices with efficiency at the forefront. Preceding the Z1 APUs, manufacturers of handheld devices would typically employ APUs designed for laptops, such as the Phoenix “Ryzen 7040,” integrating them into their devices while adhering to a spectrum of power and thermal targets. With the AMD Ryzen Z1 series, users can harness the cutting-edge Zen 4 and RDNA 3 architectures.
All About the AMD Ryzen Z1 APU
In terms of specifications, the Ryzen Z1 boasts 6 Zen 4 cores with 12 threads, 16 MB of L3 cache, and the Radeon 740M with 4 RDNA 3 compute units. This APU can be fine-tuned to operate within a power range as low as 9W and up to 30W. While there is also a higher-end variant, the Ryzen Z1 Extreme, details on that configuration may surface at a later date. In a comprehensive review of the Edge AMD Ryzen Z1 Mini PC, ETA Prime examined a prototype unit with RGB elements planned for the final design, but such cosmetic considerations are not expected to significantly impact performance.
Despite the AMD Ryzen Z1 APU demonstrating commendable performance in basic tasks, its primary area of weakness lies in graphical capabilities. In comparison to its counterpart, the Z1 Extreme, the APU features only 4 RDNA3 Compute Units. During synthetic benchmarking conducted by ETA Prime, the Z1 struggled to deliver satisfactory results. The limited number of Compute Units, combined with TDP constraints, contributes to this suboptimal performance.
Turning to gaming benchmarks, titles such as Spider-Man Remastered, Forza Horizon 5, and Grand Theft Auto V showcased decent performance on the Z1. The reviewer managed to run these titles on low to medium settings. However, a crucial aspect to highlight is the TDP draw by the APU, capped at 44W (at package power). In real-time gaming scenarios, the Z1 was confined within the 30W range, with the mini-PC reaching a peak of 40W despite having a higher in-software target. This underscores how power limitations have curtailed the graphical performance of the Z1. There is potential for significantly improved results if manufacturers find a way, perhaps through BIOS settings, to bypass these TDP restrictions.
The incorporation of AMD Ryzen Z1 APUs in the mini-PC industry is a highly anticipated development, given their impressive capabilities. ETA Prime hinted at the development of a Z1 Extreme variant, adding an intriguing dimension to the landscape. Currently, the standard Ryzen Z1 appears to be an excellent choice for consumers entering the mini-PC market, offering a compelling performance-to-dollar ratio.