Forget PS5 — Atari VCS offers ‘something different'

atari vcs
(Image credit: Atari)

The gaming world has been focussed on the PS5 and Xbox Series X for months now, but they’re not the only new consoles out there. There’s also the Atari VCS, which is hoping to offer gamers “something different." 

That’s according to Atari VCS COO Michael Arzt, speaking to T3. He thinks the new console provides gamers “who may be weary of the iterative nature of the console wars something different to consider."

The Atari VCS has been in the works for a while now, having been first announced back in 2017. The console was originally pegged for a spring 2018 launch, but the crowdfunded system only made it into the hands of gamers at the end of 2020.

The VCS system itself is also a custom mini PC inside a retro gaming-inspired chassis, and Arzt says that’s key to helping it stand apart. While intended for the living room, the Atari VCS is meant for “merging the benefits of a console, a streaming box, and a multimedia PC.”

That means that not only can the Atari VCS be used to play a range of retro and modern games, including some streaming titles, it can also be used like a traditional PC. You can browse the internet, work on it, and even do some PC gaming. What’s more, the Atari website advertises the system as having a “unique PC mode” complete with Google Chrome and upgradable RAM and storage. Apparently, it’s compatible with Linux, Windows, Steam OS and Chrome OS.

We’ve already seen a little bit of how that works, with one YouTuber installing Windows on the Atari VCS and managing to play Cyberpunk 2077.

“There has been a lot of interest in the VCS as a PC,” Arzt added, “in part because it provides so much incremental value compared to other mini-PCs in our price range." 

Indiegogo backers have already started receiving their consoles, but you still have the chance to pre-order the Atari VCS if you want one for yourself. It currently costs $390, and comes bundled with a retro Atari-inspired joystick, as well as a modern controller that takes a lot of cues from the Xbox Wireless Controller. Shipping is free and your console should arrive this spring.

Specs wise you can expect a machine with 8GB of RAM, 32GB of storage (with USB and SSD expansion), an AMD Raven Ridge 2 APU (a combination of an AMD Ryzen CPU and Radeon Vega GPU), four USB ports, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, HDMI output, and support for 4K.

It may not be as good as a next-gen console, but buying one is a lot easier than working out where to buy PS5.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.