ASUS ROG Ally evaluation: One of the simplest ways to recreation on the go

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The unconventional success of Valve’s Steam Deck and the Nintendo Swap has confirmed a deep urge for food for handheld gaming exists, and opponents are popping up left and proper in an try to take a chunk of that pie. ASUS is the newest firm to step as much as the plate, and if it aimed to create a sooner, nicer-looking, better-feeling Steam Deck, the ROG Ally is a convincing success.

The hand-held PC recreation console, out there for preorder now and can launch June 11 for $599, is quick sufficient to play lots of the newest titles, provides a shocking quantity of customization, and achieves shocking stability for a first-generation piece of {hardware}. But what holds the ROG Ally again from near-perfection is the one piece of the puzzle it couldn’t totally management: Home windows.

Brandt Ranj / Widespread Science



  • The ASUS ROG Ally is the primary mainstream Steam Deck competitor, and on a technical stage, it bests Valve’s fashionable gaming handheld in nearly each manner.
  • The hand-held’s Home windows system is extra versatile than a streamlined working system like SteamOS but in addition will increase energy consumption and complexity.
  • For severe PC players who favor customizability and energy, the ROG Ally provides the very best stability of efficiency and worth.


  • Unimaginable worth
  • Wonderful efficiency
  • Good battery life
  • Ergonomic design
  • Easy-feeling analog sticks
  • Expandable storage
  • Surprisingly full-sounding audio system


  • Working system not designed for handheld gaming
  • Might be advanced to entry sure settings

Verdict: The ROG Ally is the hand-held gaming system to beat if you may get over the ache of Home windows gaming on a transportable machine.

The ASUS ROG Ally construct

I’ve been enjoying handheld recreation consoles because the unique Recreation Boy, and I used to be instantly smitten with how the ROG Ally seemed and felt out of the field. Its 7-inch display is similar measurement as my Swap OLED version and the Steam Deck. ASUS’ show is 1080P and helps refresh charges as much as 120Hz as a substitute of the 720P 60Hz panel on Nintendo and Valve’s methods. The distinction in sharpness and constancy in comparison with the Swap was noticeable and made up for the truth that the ROG’s great-looking LCD show isn’t fairly as vibrant as an OLED display.

PC Gaming photo
The ASUS ROG Ally and the Nintendo Swap have the same-sized display however radically completely different outer circumstances.

An analog stick and directional pad flank the hand-held system’s display on the left facet, whereas an analog stick and 4 face buttons are on the correct. A pair of buttons and triggers on prime of the hand-held are complemented by two on the system’s bottom. A headphone jack, quantity controls, and energy button line the system’s prime, together with two vents for the followers.

This is kind of the identical button configuration popularized by the Xbox 360 in 2005, which made the ROG Ally really feel acquainted earlier than I even booted up a recreation. 4 further buttons provide you with fast entry to frequent actions, like citing the ROG Ally’s efficiency choices and going to a game-select display. Extra importantly, the hand-held feels nice in hand. The angular cut-outs on the entrance of the machine make it simple to grip, whereas the curves on the again contoured to my fingers. ASUS designed the ROG Ally to really feel good whether or not you’re holding it or have it propped up on a desk, and the result’s a house run the place ergonomics are involved.

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I used to be happy—although not shocked—to see the hand-held’s USB-C charging port, which ASUS opted to placed on the highest somewhat than the underside of the system. The mass adoption of a single charging port for many electronics is likely one of the finest current developments in shopper tech. The ROG Ally’s MicroSD card slot, which can be utilized to broaden its storage to carry extra video games simply, can be situated on prime of the system, which makes it instantly and simply accessible with out opening the console’s case. Generally, my impressions of the {hardware} have been very constructive.

PC Gaming photo
The ROG Ally’s prime ports enable storage enlargement, charging, quantity management, and energy.

The ASUS ROG Ally setup

ASUS did its finest to make sure the ROG Ally’s setup course of was as simple as potential. I used to be greeted with a well-recognized Home windows 11 lock display. Tapping the OK button—my evaluation unit got here pre-configured with a consumer account however no password—introduced me to Microsoft’s desktop. Preinstalled software program referred to as ASUS Armoury Crate launched inside seconds and introduced me to a user-friendly display the place I may log into my Steam and Xbox accounts to obtain video games from their respective digital libraries. The one actual roadblock throughout my setup was navigating to Home windows’ WiFi settings and typing in my password.

All my downloaded titles appeared as icons in Armoury Crate, making them simple to launch. This method isn’t as slick because the Swap or Steam Deck’s consumer interface, however these methods are solely designed for gaming. The ROG Ally runs a full model of Home windows, which suggests it could possibly be hooked as much as a monitor and be used for Google Docs and the Adobe Artistic Cloud suite of purposes along with booting up the newest PC video games.

PC Gaming photo
Navigating with out a mouse can typically be a bit of difficult.

General, the ROG Ally’s consumer interface is fairly user-friendly. Nevertheless, it took a bit of time to get the grasp of downloading video games and navigating the Xbox Recreation Cross portal, which is annoying to make use of on a PC with out a keyboard and mouse. Switching the ROG Ally from handheld to desktop mode allowed me to copy the performance of a mouse with the correct analog stick shifting the cursor, however the expertise was nonetheless type of clunky. Steam was designed for use natively with a recreation controller, and I had no points there.

Even the ROG Ally’s management panel, which might be toggled with a button press, was neatly organized. This settings menu permits you to swap between quiet, efficiency, and turbo modes, which mechanically ratchet up the system’s processor to the detriment of its battery life. Different settings embody altering the display’s decision between 720P and 1080P, adjusting the show’s brightness, switching between handheld and desktop modes, and different frequent controls. It’s clear ASUS needed to make the ROG Ally as accessible as potential, and it succeeded.

The ASUS ROG Ally efficiency

I’ll be the primary to confess my PC gaming wants are fairly primary, however the ROG Ally nonetheless exceeded my expectations. The older and indie titles like The Legend of Heroes: Trails In The Sky, Tales of Zestiria, Hello-Fi Rush, and Tunic all ran with out a hitch utilizing the hand-held’s quiet setting. I attempted extra resource-intensive 3D video games throughout my demo at an ASUS occasion two weeks earlier than my evaluation unit arrived, and people ran nice, too—albeit solely when the battery-sucking turbo setting was enabled. The one time I bumped into hassle was attempting to play Jet Grind Radio, which refused to launch regardless of what number of instances I attempted enjoying it. I deleted and re-downloaded it in case of a bizarre one-time bug, however the system didn’t play good with SEGA’s high-octane, early-2000s title.

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ASUS outfitted its handheld with an eight-core Z1 processor, designed in-house explicitly for gaming. The system’s lower-end mannequin comes with the usual Z1, which provides 2.9 teraflops of graphical efficiency, whereas the premium system’s Z1 Excessive tops out at 8.6 teraflops. There’s solely a $100 distinction between each configurations, and I like to recommend going with the higher-end one should you primarily play PC video games. Informal customers like myself may get away with the entry-level model with out a hitch. Each ROG Ally handheld fashions are extra highly effective than the Steam Deck and blow the six-year-old Nintendo Swap out of the water.

PC Gaming photo
The high-end mannequin of ASUS ROG Ally is highly effective sufficient to deal with any recreation you throw at it.

I didn’t discover any stuttering or dropped frames when enjoying my video games, which I anticipated, given their modest system necessities. Nonetheless, the expertise of enjoying video games on the ROG Ally was so good it felt pure to select up the system and play. I may hit the ability button mid-game, realizing I may return to it instantly as soon as it was time to start my subsequent play session. The good thing about enjoying smaller titles with the display brightness at roughly 75% was I may prolong the battery life fairly far. I may get about 4 hours of gameplay per cost, which has extra to do with the inefficiency of Home windows than the ROG Ally’s battery measurement or the vitality consumption of my video games. There’s merely quite a lot of overhead to run a recreation on Home windows, which is a disgrace.

I used to be happier with the truth that I may play the system for a number of hours at a time with out my fingers or arms feeling fatigued. The system’s angled form made resting the system on my thighs whereas curled up on the sofa really feel as pure as holding it in entrance of me. The system’s 1.34-pound weight makes it really feel appreciably lighter than the Steam Deck, which is available in at 1.47 kilos. In handheld gaming, each tenth of a pound counts and might make the distinction between placing the system down since you wish to and pausing your recreation session out of necessity.

PC Gaming photo
You possibly can handle the ROG Ally’s efficiency settings in a single handy location.

The ROG Ally’s Z1 processor, 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM (reminiscence), 4GB of VRAM (video reminiscence), and 512GB of storage provides the hand-held sufficient overhead to future-proof it for a number of years. The fact is enjoying a handheld PC will at all times be limiting as a result of there’s solely a lot area for elements and cooling. That mentioned, it’s potential to play lots of the newest video games at excessive settings should you’re okay with limiting your battery life or maintaining it plugged into an influence supply on a regular basis.

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The ASUS ROG Ally software program

Each a part of the ROG Ally’s expertise that ASUS had direct management over is a grand slam. It’s the platonic ultimate of a contemporary handheld gaming system, and I’m gobsmacked that the corporate obtained a lot proper on the primary technology of a product. We’re speaking unique iPhone ranges of {hardware} polish, and the design group ought to really feel happy with the {hardware}’s efficiency, given its extremely cheap worth.

Sadly, the system is hamstrung by Home windows, the dominant working system for PC gaming—and computer systems basically. It’s laudable that ASUS designed its Armoury Crate software program to make gaming on the ROG Ally potential, however there’s no denying the system runs on a general-purpose working system. Each the Steam Deck and Nintendo Swap boot instantly into software program explicitly designed for video games which can be optimized for optimum efficiency. There are not any pointless background duties draining energy and sources—the streamlined methods can obtain and play video games, that’s it.

PC Gaming photo
Even should you don’t see the Home windows interface typically, you’ll understand it’s there.

There are issues ASUS can’t deal with or repair due to Home windows, even when the versatile working system opens the door to turning the ROG Ally into an emulation powerhouse for nostalgic players who wish to relive their childhood alongside enjoying the newest PC video games as they arrive out. However the occasional awkwardness of navigating an working system designed for conventional peripherals somewhat than analog sticks and buttons was a reminder of the ROG Ally’s major limitation.

ASUS’ choices to handle this difficulty are restricted. It may develop its personal working system like Valve’s SteamOS, however that will take a number of years and untold sources to perform with very restricted upside. it may store the software program round to different handheld PC makers, however that will mitigate its market benefit. The corporate may accomplice with Valve to launch the system with SteamOS put in. Nevertheless, that’d require them to get the working system up and working on custom-designed {hardware} and disallow players from enjoying titles on Xbox Recreation Cross or related streaming providers.

The ASUS ROG Ally vs. Valve’s Steam Deck

Many handheld PC players might be deciding between the Steam Deck and a Home windows-based handheld for his or her moveable gaming; actually, there’s no proper or flawed alternative. The Steam Deck has worse tech specs—most notably a sub-1080P show—and a much bigger chassis, however the streamlined nature of SteamOS makes it simpler to select up and play. The ROG Ally is svelter and extra highly effective, however you need to cope with the complexities of Home windows and its fixed further energy drain. If you happen to’re a severe PC gamer, go along with the ROG Ally; should you’re extra informal, the Steam Deck is the higher alternative. If you wish to play The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, properly, get the Nintendo Swap OLED.

Remaining ideas

The rationale I maintain harping on the downsides of Home windows is that the ASUS ROG Ally is a virtually excellent piece of {hardware}. It’s higher than all of its mainstream direct opponents and undercuts boutique handheld PC makers on worth to the purpose of absurdity. Let me be clear: If you wish to play PC video games on the go, that is the best choice by an extended shot. However choosing up the ASUS ROG Ally means coping with the compromises of constructing a recreation console working general-purpose software program. ASUS has completed all it might to make the consumer expertise as seamless as potential, however it’s arduous not to consider the grand slam the corporate may have had if it had full management over the {hardware} and software program expertise.