Asus ROG Ally review

The Asus ROG Ally is a notable advancement for Windows portable devices in significant aspects. It is considerably more powerful than the Steam Deck, with the AMD Z1 Extreme handheld being much more robust, yet not thicker or as pricey as other Windows alternatives. The author expresses a desire for their Steam Deck to operate as quietly as the Ally, as well as having a variable refresh rate screen like the Ally’s to enhance the smoothness of gameplay.

The computer’s performance is exceptionally smooth, even though it is small in size. The author is not only referring to games running at 120Hz but also to those running as low as 30fps, thanks to the technology of variable refresh rate (VRR) and low frame compensation (LFC). However, before making a pre-order purchase, the author suggests considering three potential drawbacks: 1) battery life, 2) glitches, and 3) how the Windows operating system, despite being a positive feature, may restrict the handheld experience.

The ROG Ally offers an impressive level of flexibility, allowing the user to configure it to their specific needs. It can be adjusted down to a 7W TDP for longer battery life or boosted up to 35W TDP for a brief period of time while connected to a handheld battery pack. The device can run at different speeds, depending on the user’s preferences, including a mode for optimal battery life, another for enhanced performance comparable to the Steam Deck, and one that allows you to play games beyond the Steam Deck’s capabilities. Additionally, the included 65-watt USB-C power cord sometimes provides a slight speed boost. If that isn’t enough, the device has a unique port with eight PCI-Express lanes, which enables you to attach an external GPU.

To put it simply, the Steam Deck and ROG Ally have the same battery capacity of 40 watt-hours. This means they can run at 40 watts for one hour or 20 watts for two hours, and so on. However, the ROG Ally’s battery life is around four hours at best, while the Steam Deck’s battery life is closer to seven hours in optimal conditions. I managed to get the ROG Ally to use just 9.8 watts of total system power when playing Slay the Spire, but this was with every battery-saving measure turned on, playing at 30fps, minimum screen brightness in a dark room, and with the lowest possible processor wattage. Despite this, my ROG Ally still turned off at three hours and 38 minutes, possibly because the battery tends to drain faster when it’s almost empty.

The less demanding games on the Steam Deck can use as little as six watts, which can last up to 6.7 hours on a charge. Moderately intensive games like Control can usually be played for about two hours with some adjustments. On the other hand, the ROG Ally can only last for an hour and a half when playing similar games. For example, the PC port of the PlayStation 2 game Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time uses around 8.5 watts on the Steam Deck and 12.5 watts on the Ally.