Asus might have muddied the waters by announcing its new gaming handheld on April Fool’s Day, but it’s not joking any more. The Asus ROG Ally is an impressively powerful portable, and will be going on sale next month for a very tempting £699/$699. With an all-new Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor from AMD, a 1080p display and support for external GPUs, the firm has every intention of taking on Valve’s Steam Deck at its own game.
The ROG Ally runs Windows 11 on a Ryzen Z1 Extreme, a mobile chip designed specifically for handheld gaming machines. The CPU side is based on AMD’s newest Zen 4 architecture, with eight cores, 16 threads and a whopping 5.10GHz boost speed, while the GPU has 12 RDNA3 cores that can clock up to 2.7GHz, for a polygon-crunching 8.6 TFLOPs.
Those are a lot of numbers, but essentially the ROG Ally will be more than happy to chug through modern AAA titles, either at the console’s native 1080p resolution or with AMD’s FidelityFX and Radeon Super Resolution upscaling tech. That’s a lot more juice than the Steam Deck can call on, and it’s screen doesn’t have as high a pixel count either.
A dual fan cooling system promises to keep temperatures under control while also staying quieter than the competition. Asus says the heatsinks were designed to work in any orientation – which is kind of crucial in a handheld device you can play just about anywhere. There’s also 16GB of LPDDR5 system memory and a 512GB NVMe SSD on board, with microSD expansion for adding extra storage later.
The 40Wh battery can charge at 65W speeds using the bundled power brick, but how long it lasts between top-ups will depend on how hard you’re flexing its graphical muscle.
An optional ROG Gaming Charger Dock lets you hook the console up to a TV for couch co-op using external controllers. Anyone with an ROG XG Mobile external graphics dock can also hook it up smash through even more demanding games without having to dial down the graphics settings.
A 7in IPS touchscreen dominates the front of the machine, with a 16:9 aspect ratio and Full HD resolution. It’ll manage 500 nits peak brightness and supports Dolby Vision HDR. It’ll cover 100% of the sRGB colour space, but more importantly for gaming it has a 120Hz refresh rate and AMD Freesync adaptive refresh to deliver smooth motion. There’s also Gorilla Glass Victus over the top to protect it from scratches.
That’s a step up from the Steam Deck in several areas: the Valve handheld’s 7in panel uses a taller 16:10 aspect ratio, but makes do with a 60Hz refresh rate, 1280×800 resolution and 400 nit peak brightness.
The handheld itself is quite clearly an Asus product, with lashings of RGB lighting around the dual analogue thumbsticks up front and a reflective strip along the back, next to an ROG logo that doubles as extra cooling vents. It’s an angular machine, with sculpted grips at the sides to let you hold it comfortably for extended sessions. A built-in fingerprint sensor saves having to mess about with passwords.
It doesn’t have an alternative to the Steam Deck’s excellent touchpads, but you do get Hall Effect analogue triggers, which shouldn’t start to drift over time. As well as the usual ABXY face buttons and D-pad, the front of the machine also has dedicated View, Menu, Command Centre and Armoury Crate buttons; the latter opens Asus’ dedicated game launcher software. There are two assignable grip buttons on the rear, a 6-axis gyroscope for motion controls, and Asus also promises HD haptic rumble.
At £699/$699, the Asus ROG Ally commands a higher price than the most expensive Steam Deck – but it’s also a lot more powerful. It will go on sale from the 13th of June, with pre-orders open right now, from both the Asus ROG web store or UK retailer Currys.