news atari vcs 800 system shipping later this year

Atari VCS 800 system shipping later this year

Three years ago, we reported that a new Atari console was on the way, sporting a custom AMD processor and bearing the name Ataribox. A year later, the name was changed to Atari VCS, matching the console’s name with its visual design, which is a call back to the classic Atari VCS 2600. Atari now plans to release two different systems, the Atari VCS 800 and 400.

The 800 is slated to be the more powerful of the two systems, packing 8GB of DDR4 RAM and supporting 4K video, as opposed to only 4GB and 1080p video. However, it’s unclear what other differences, if any, there will be between the two systems. Both systems are listed as having AMD Raven Ridge 2 APUs with Ryzen graphics. The VCS 800 is further specified to have a new Ryzen multi-threaded Zen processor with Radeon Vega 3 Graphics. No further details are available concerning the VCS 400, but given that the maximum supported video quality is 1080p, it’ll likely ship with a lower power processor than that in the VCS 800.

Both systems will come with 32 GB of internal eMMC storage, which can be increased with the addition of an external USB drive or a subscription to cloud service, likely Atari’s version of Antstream Arcade. The ability to use external USB drives is central to Atari’s marketing the VCS systems as PC/Console hybrids. In console mode, the systems will run a custom Linux-based OS called Atari World. However, you can switch to PC Mode, boot off an external USB drive with your operating system of choice, and hook up a keyboard and mouse, resulting in capable a multimedia PC.

Atari has opened up pre-orders for the VCS 800, promising to deliver the systems ordered in July by December 24th. The All-in Bundle includes the system itself, as well as a wireless modern controller and wireless classic joystick. The bundle will run you $390, if pre-ordered from Atari or Walmart, but you can get it for $10 cheaper from GameStop. However, the retailer from which you order will determine the color of the trim on the front and back of the system, with Black Walnut, Onyx, and Carbon Gold being the three options. The Black Walnut edition, as seen above, comes with the All-In Bundle available on Atari’s website, but you can also order the Onyx version separately on Atari’s website for $280. Both the controller and joystick are sold separately for $60 each.

Regardless of how you buy the VCS 800, it’ll come with 100 classic Atari console and arcade games, with more available for purchase in the Atari VCS store.

8 responses to “Atari VCS 800 system shipping later this year

  1. I grew up with the original VCS, during the Golden Age of arcade games and the video game crash. But I don’t see the point of this machine.
    The Atari Flashback collection for the PS4/Xbox can be had for under $40.
    If you want an arcade experience, buy a cheap Arcade1up machine and mod it with a Raspberry Pi for less than this thing.
    What am I missing?

  2. It’s possible Microsoft could offer a Hyper-V like environment on the Xbox OS to run only an officially supported Linux distribution. That way, users can’t wipe their game OS and Microsoft still gets to be the boss. That could work.

  3. If I could run my regular PC apps off of an XBox then I would buy that Xbox and it would be the first one I’ve ever owned.

    Unfortunately thanks to the need to subsidize costs that won’t happen.

  4. To add to the irony, the original Atari 800 shipped with 8Kilobytes of RAM, so this version has literally 1 million times greater RAM capacity. The L1 cache in a single core of the CPU has noticeably more capacity than the system memory of the Atari 800. Apparently it was possible to expand the 800 up to 48KB of memory, which would still make its total memory capacity somewhat smaller than the combined L1 Data + L1 Cache capacity in a modern CPU.
    Oh, and the 800 was the high-end model while the 400 only had 4K of RAM.

  5. If this console/PC hybrid strategy pays off for Atari, it could pave the way for a similar move from Microsoft. Sony, not so much. I think they still have nightmares about allowing Linux installation on the PS3.

  6. I know, I know.
    But I’ve been assured that there has been 40 years of continuous development to get the memory footprint down small enough so that 8 GB will work. Just remember to pull the cartridge out and blow on it every 15 minutes or so to prevent memory leaks (or is that Nintendo?)

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Nathan Wasson

Inquiring mind, tech journalist, car enthusiast, gamer.