Last week, I was lucky enough to be among a group of journalists invited to the official launch of the Asus ROG Ally in Sydney. The event was held to showcase the new handheld Windows gaming device, designed to take your AAA PC games from your desk to your couch, bedroom, train, or park. I was excited to get my hands on the device and see what all the fuss was about.
Design & Features
The Asus ROG Ally is a handheld gaming PC that looks like a Nintendo Switch. It has an AMD Ryzen APU, a 7-inch 1080p touchscreen, 16GB of memory, and 512GB of storage. The device is a beautiful piece of kit, with a sleek design that is both ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing. The joysticks are designed in the ‘tried and true’ Xbox asymmetrical style, and on the top edge are shoulder buttons and triggers with two extra grip buttons on the underside. The main L/R triggers use Hall Effect design, and the thumbsticks have RGB light rings. There are haptics built into the Ally, so you get some good rumble when gaming. The device is also surprisingly lightweight, weighing only 608gms, which is 60 grams less than the Valve Steamdeck, its closest competitor.
The Ally needs plenty of ports to connect to the outside world, and these primarily live on the top edge of the device. There is a power button with a built-in fingerprint sensor for Windows Hello sign-in, a 3.5mm combo audio jack, a UHS-II microSD card reader, and a unique ROG XG Mobile interface and USB-C combo port. The Ally is using a lot of the same Dobly Atmos, Hi-Res Audio, and AI noise-canceling tech found in the ROG laptops. The device is also equipped with wireless connectivity that is top-notch. It supports the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard and uses Bluetooth version 5.2, which is recent enough to handle some low-latency audio with certain wireless headphones and earbuds. The Ally has front firing stereo speakers that are located beneath the controls and away from accidental covering by your hands.
Turning to the display, the ROG Ally is rocking a 7-inch, Full HD(1920 x 1080) IPS-level, glossy panel. It’s pretty bright with a peak of 500nits that should be fine for use outdoors in the Aussie sun, but the glossiness does pick up reflections and might get annoying in bright environments. Colors looked great in my testing with good saturation and contrast. The display has a 120Hz refresh and 7ms response time which really puts the Steamdeck’s 60Hz to shame. Everything flows smoothly, and the inclusion of FreeSync Premium means tearing and stuttering won’t be a concern. The display is touch-sensitive, which is handy for quickly navigating some of the apps. Asus was smart enough to use some Gorilla Glass Victus to protect the screen.
Performance and Gaming
The ROG Ally is equipped with a custom-designed AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme APU, which is built on the 4-nanometer Zen 4 architecture and features 8 cores, 16 threads, and 8.6 teraflops of graphics performance and a maximum TDP of 30W – double that of the Steamdeck. The graphics are RDNA 3, so you also get support for Radeon Super Resolution(RSR) and FidelityFX Super Resolution(FSR). Additionally, you get 16GB LPDDR5 on board (6400MT/s dual channel) and a 512GB PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD.
Because the Ally runs Windows 11, you can theoretically play any game that you would play on your gaming PC or laptop. In fact, several of the test units were running Steam as well as Xbox Game Pass clients. I played mostly Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite natively at 1080p and low-medium settings, and both games were running between 40-50 frames per second. It would be interesting to see how it performs in games like CS:Go or Valorant but clearly, don’t really expect to be hitting 120Hz ceiling often.
Temperatures and noise were practically negligible. The battery life is yet to be determined, but Asus says you should be able to get 2–3 hours depending on how you use it. The Ally allows you to run in a lower powered mode for less demanding games or full blast for AAA games. I can see this being a great feature for users who want to conserve battery life or don’t need the full power of the device for certain games.
It took me a while to get used to the wider controls on the Ally compared to a standard Xbox controller. However, I could pair an Xbox controller and use the bundled kickstand to play games more comfortably. The Ally is designed for three key scenarios: Me time for handheld use and casual gaming on the go, We time for couch co-op with external controllers and a big screen, and Pro time for serious gaming sessions with an XG Mobile, external monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
Price and Availability
The ROG Ally is available now for pre-order through JB Hi-Fi and the Asus eStore for $1299. That gets you the AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme variant with 512GB and 3 months of Xbox Game Pass to get you started. Asus told us that a lower powered Z1 variant is coming out, but pricing for Australia is yet to be announced. The price point is definitely on the higher end, but it is still cheaper than most gaming laptops and yet far more portable and versatile too.
After my brief hands-on, I’m excited for the Asus ROG Ally. The power, performance, and versatility of the Ally will be highly attractive to students and PC gamers who want a way to continue playing their games away from the desk. The device is a truly impressive piece of kit that offers an immersive gaming experience. While it may be on the pricier side, I believe that the Ally is worth the investment for those who are serious about gaming and want a portable device that can handle any game they throw at it.
I can’t wait to get my hands on a review unit to really test out all the ways you can use it and see how it performs over a longer period of time. Overall, I think the Asus ROG Ally is a game-changer for the gaming industry, and I’m excited to see how it will impact the market in the coming years.
Asus Australia provided flights and transport to PowerUp! for the purpose of covering this event.