More hardware makers are getting serious about handheld gaming PCs following the success of the Nintendo Switch and the Valve Steam Deck. The ASUS ROG Ally was announced earlier this spring as a high performance alternative to the Steam Deck, but there were still a lot of questions regarding whether it could compete on price and as a platform. Reviews and other important info dropped for the ASUS ROG Ally today including prices and the release date for the flagship model.
ASUS confirmed today that the ROG Ally launches June 13 with the high performance Z1 Extreme APU chip starting at $699 USD and the mainline performance model with the standard Z1 starting at $599 USD. There are a lot of specs to unpack in this device, but in short it’s impressive for the money. The Z1 Extreme version sports a 7 inch 1080p 120Hz display, 512 GB of fast NVME storage, a smaller size and lower weight than the Steam Deck, Windows 11, up to two hours of gaming time per charge, and a docking station.
It cannot be understated how much cutting-edge tech is packed into this thing. You should delve into the tech specs in comparison to the Steam Deck to get the full picture. Therefore take this as a briefing on why the ASUS ROG Ally matters.
ASUS ROG Ally vs Steam Deck – Pros and cons
The driving force behind the Ally is the AMD Z1 Extreme APU chip which easily outperforms the Steam Deck in most games and the Switch by miles. It’s possible to play modern AAA games at 1080p with 60 fps on the ROG Ally provided you use the right settings. There will also be plenty of ways to game at 120 fps on this handheld in lightweight and older games which is wild to think.
Once you start comparing prices, it’s essentially a $50 USD markup over the flagship Steam Deck for much better hardware. Optimization does matter though, and to be fair, the Steam Deck holds its own against the Ally in some game benchmarks.
It’s not until you consider the user experience where the Steam Deck seems to win out. The Steam Deck uses SteamOS and benefits from seamless integration with the Steam store. This makes the Steam Deck far more accessible to those used to the console experience. The downside to this perk is the lack of support for apps like Game Pass, the Epic Games Store, and any other game that’s not supported via Steam.
You have to use the workaround of installing Windows as a second OS on the Steam Deck, and then deal with all the issues that come with unofficial support. Take a look at our various Steam Deck guides for what it takes to get popular games like Warzone running on the Steam Deck and you’ll see why there’s a clear opening for the ROG Ally to serve wider audiences.
Valve also goes beyond just the hardware though and is really about the total product experience. The Steam Deck has touchpads designed for the SteamOS, whereas the touchscreen on the Ally reportedly lacks fine input control and comes across as a bit awkward to use at times. Valve also makes it easy to modify storage on the Steam Deck and order replacement parts if you run into issues. You can add an SD card to the Ally to expand storage, but ASUS has not advertised any accessible user maintenance and repair efforts at this time which calls into question what will need to be done if something simple breaks.
The Ally officially runs off of Windows 11 and features the ASUS Armoury Crate control app for launching games and more. ASUS has partnered with Microsoft to improve the handheld experience, though the user experience comes up lacking compared to SteamOS according to reviews. However, the Ally is compatible out of the box with Game Pass and there’s a large audience that will appeal to. The Ally also runs on Windows, so yes Steam support is a given.
There’s a clear case for handheld PC competition now, not to mention that Nintendo will need to innovate if it wants to maintain its dominance in the handheld space with the now ancient hardware within the Switch.