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Atari VCS goes on $250 pre-order with Linux running on Ryzen R1000

Jun 12, 2019 — by Eric Brown — 1259 views

Atari has opened $250 pre-orders for its Atari VCS retro game console, which will run Linux on the new AMD Ryzen R1000 SoC. Indiegogo backers are set for a December release while new orders will be fulfilled in Mar. 2020.

At E3 Expo this week in Los Angeles, Atari announced that public pre-orders will launch this week for its Atari VCS game console, with shipments due in March 2020. The long delayed, Linux-powered product will ship to some 12,000 Indiegogo contributors at the end of December, up from the revised July 2019 ship date.

Atari VCS
(click images to enlarge)

Atari says it has signed exclusive distribution agreements for the Atari VCS with and, which are also opening pre-orders this week. The announcement, which was covered by Liliputing, also detailed some special configurations. The Atari VCS 400 Onyx model with 4GB RAM sells for $250. There’s also an Atari VCS 800 Onyx with 8GB RAM for $280 and a similar Black Walnut version for $390 sold only on Atari’s website.

Finally, Gamestop is offering an exclusive “All in Bundle” version of the Atari VCS 800 Onyx for $390 that tosses in the Atari VCS Modern Controller and Atari VCS Classic Joystick. These are available separately for $60 and $50, respectively, however, so it adds up to the same thing.

The Atari VCS was announced in Sep. 2017 as the Ataribox. In May 2018 it launched on Indiegogo where it received over $4 million in orders. Earlier this year, Atari announced a delay as it planned to move from an AMD A1 CPU to an AMD Ryzen processor. As we found out in April, Atari chose the new Ryzen Embedded R1000, a slightly stripped-down sibling of the Ryzen V1000.

Atari VCS in black walnut
(click image to enlarge)

The 8GB Atari VCS model now supports 4K 60fps HDR video with HDCP 2.2 while the 4GB model remains at HD. It’s unclear if the 8GB version uses the slightly faster Ryzen R1606G, which clocks its Radeon Vega GPU cores to 1.2GHz vs 1GHz on the R1505G, although both chips are said to support 4K. The R1000 certainly reduces the power consumption compared to the A1 — the new system is said to offer a low TDP architecture with “less heat and noise.”

The Atari VCS ships with its Atari Custom Linux OS, but also supports other Linux distros including SteamOS and Chrome OS, and it even runs Windows. The dimensions have been adjusted slightly to 11.6 x 5.9 x 1.9 inches, but the design is similarly sleek and tapered, based roughly on the blockier, circa-1977 Atari 2600.

The system ships with 32GB eMMC, but the earlier microSD slot appears to be missing. As before you get HDMI 2.0 and GbE ports, as well as 4x USB ports, which are now USB 3.1 instead of 3.0. The WiFi/BT module is now listed as dual-band 802.11b/g/n with Bluetooth 4.0.

Atari VCS Modern Controller (left) and Atari VCS Classic Joystick
(click image to enlarge)

It appears that Atari may have removed the originally promised 4-mic array with support for voice commands. The specs mention only that it supports a microphone as an external input. The system is compatible with typical Bluetooth and USB controllers in addition to Atari’s Bluetooth-connected joystick and controller.

The Atari VCS ships with more than 100 classic games pre-installed. Cloud storage will be available on a subscription basis. The console is touted for its “unique” Atari Sandbox Mode, which “unlocks an open and expandable multimedia PC enabling complete freedom and versatility.” This was previously described as an environment for developing or porting games and apps.

Further information

The Atari VCS is now on pre-order for North American customers, with shipments due Mar. 2020. “International distribution preparations are ongoing and more details will be announced in due course,” says Atari, which announced the product here.

The Atari VCS 400 Onyx with 4GB RAM sells for $250 while the Atari VCS 800 Onyx (8GB) goes for $280. A Black Walnut version of the VCS 800 sells for $390 only on Atari’s VCS website. The Black Walnut version is currently the only model listed.

The Onyx VCS 400 and 800, as well as the $390 All in Bundle VCS 800 model are available at Gamestop, which also sells the bundled controller and joystick separately for $60 and $50, respectively.

Walmart had not yet posted a shopping page by publication time. An Atari VCS developers blog is available on Medium.


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2 responses to “Atari VCS goes on $250 pre-order with Linux running on Ryzen R1000”

  1. Chroma Key says:

    Brand necrophilia. I can’t conceive of how or why this console would expect to take market share from Nintendo or Sony, nor what incentive gamers would have to take the leap of faith necessary to pre-order it. It’s even more distressing to see two vastly different hardware specs, suggesting software developed for one model may play differently or not at all on the other, further fragmenting their already-nonexistent library. Ugh.

    Just build a $250 gaming PC and call it done.

  2. asteroids says:

    Not a gamer. Want this anyway.

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