Let’s face it: when ASUS he pulled out of the hat ROG Ally, we’ve all thought of an elaborate April Fool’s Day, considering the date of the announcement. Instead its new console (but it’s actually a PC) handheld, which aims strongly at the market occupied by leading exponents such as Steam Deck, not only really exists – but is also determined to take the lion’s share.
We were invited by ASUS to a digital presentation that revealed everything there is to know, for now, about Ally – while our director Andrea Ferrario had the opportunity to try it first hand.
ROG Ally does it have all the credentials to conquer gamers? What is hidden under its white livery? Let’s take a look at everything there is to know.
ASUS ROG Ally and technical specifications
To immediately give you a clearer idea of the project that ASUS has in mind, we underline some of the technical specifications that have already been disclosed, starting from the CPU. The manufacturer explained to us that Ally will mount a custom processor AMD Ryzen Z1 (or alternatively Z1 Extreme, probably in a more expensive variant) which was developed with AMD specifically for portable gaming.
The chip in question has 6 cores (or 8 cores in the Extreme version) and a Zen4 RDNA 3 architecture. It will animate video games that will also be driven by 16GB LPDDR5 RAM and which will be shown on a display touchscreen who wants to be the flagship.
If, for example, one of the most perplexing things about Steam Deck was its display (1280×800), in this case we will have a 7″ full HD (fino a 1920×1080) con refresh rate a 120 Hz7ms response time and best of all, a 16:9 ratio.
The 16:10 of Steam Deck, you will remember, left annoying black bars at the top and bottom if the game did not provide support for that ratio from the settings: a problem that Ally should solve, keeping the traditional 16:9 and allowing you so you can play comfortably at 1920×1080 or 1280×720, with no black bars whatsoever.
Seen in person, as our director told us, the display leaves some reservations on the management of reflections in the light: ASUS has ensured that it will be treated properly (with a Corning DXC finish) and that it is one of the key points of its proposal – allow you to play even in the sun -, so we are waiting to see a sample of the final version to express ourselves definitively in this sense.
As for it storage spaceduring the presentation we talked about PCI Express 4.0 SSD da 512 GB (which should reach up to 4.5 GB/s), as well as the possibility of using Micro SD UHS-II (in this case, up to 312MB/s). According to the data provided by the manufacturer, from SSD Ally should load Cyberpunk 2077 in 26.86 seconds, in 27.92 from the Micro SD slot. As for Control, it would load in 33.05 seconds from SSD and 34.52 seconds from Micro SD.
In case Ally were to arrive on the market in multiple variants, it remains to be seen if and how the size of the storage space could change and if they will follow a model similar to that of Deck.
With regard to the audio sector, however, ASUS has anticipated that we will have two front speakers with support for Dolby Atmos and Hi-Res Audio.
Below, we summarize all the already known specifications.
Windows 11 (con Armoury Crate SE)
AMD Ryzen Z1 (or Z1 Extreme) with Zen 4 RDNA 3 4NM architecture
7″ 1080p 120Hz touchscreen with Free-Sync 16:9 7ms response time 100% sRGB, 1000:1 contrast ratio, 500 nits Gorilla Glass DXC Victus
16 GB LPDDR5
PCI Express 4.0 SSD M.2-2230 512 GB (fino a 4.5 GB/s)
Slot Micro SD UHS-II (fino a 312 MB/s)
Double front speaker with Hi-Res Audio and Dolby Atmos
Yes, but is it comfortable?
For one reason or another, handheld platforms often fail to please everyone in terms of ergonomics. With regard to Nintendo Switch, for example, some players complain about the very regular and not very “welcoming” design of the Joy-Con, while for Steam Deck there has been a lot of discussion about the handle and the thickness of the device’s body.
In this regard, during the presentation ASUS emphasized several times that it had designed Ally starting from the hands of gamers. In our test, Andrea Ferrario actually found the grip quite comfortable – but it must be said that the game session lasted no more than half an hour and it will be necessary to test it much longer to get a more precise idea.
On Ally’s body, however, there are curvatures and inclinations designed precisely to accommodate the player’s grip, with the buttons arranged at the size of the thumb: we have the Xbox controller patternboth in the figure buttons (A, B, X, Y) and in the layout of the asymmetric analog sticks. We also have a circular d-pad, the triggers are quite solid and with a good texture and two macro keys on the back programmable, more protruding and pronounced than those found on Deck.
The manufacturer explained to us that you will be able to customize some aspects of the controller, such as trigger travel, stick dead zone and haptic feedback strength, to adapt them to the game we are facing. On the back of Ally, in terms of ergonomics, the diamond texture in the handlewhich makes the grip firmer.
ASUS has repeatedly highlighted the weight of 608 grams (slightly less than the approximately 669 grams of Deck, about double the Switch OLED, to give you a proportion), underlining how she managed to keep it more or less contained while also inserting a heat dissipation system with dual fans which generates little noise (we are talking about 20 db, but here too we will check at the right moment in longer and more probative gaming sessions).
In short, the result seems to be that of a handheld platform with a solid but still familiar grip, which does not weigh significantly less than other proposals on the market but which already gives a feeling of great solidity at first glance.
As you will notice, a ROG-style design is added to the ergonomic front, with inserts that recall the logo of the ASUS gaming line and some RGB details, on the back and under the analog sticks, which try to give the eye its not underestimated part.
A PC to hold in hand
We highlight that, a bit like other proposals on the market, too Ally is actually a PC adapted to the form of a portable console. It takes up the concept of the Nintendo Switch in that it is possible to equip it with an optional base (a dock, a bit like the one recently launched for Steam Deck) for casting to an external screen and recharging. Furthermore, being Ally equipped with a single USB port, the base can also be convenient for connecting other accessories, such as mouse or keyboard – if desired.
ASUS has already confirmed to us that there will be specific accessories to wink at different players: someone will only be interested in playing alone and doing it comfortably on the sofa, someone may want to push the graphics to the max by compromising portability – and, in that case, the support of ROG XG Mobile is foreseen, which makes Ally a real computer, with performances that reach up to those of a 4090 laptop GPU.
In short, the idea that emerges is that of an experience that wants to be as scalable as possible, but for which accessories represent an extra. The player who just wants to buy Ally and play on the sofa will be able to do so without the need to add anything else to what you will find already included in the package.
But what are we going to play on ROG Ally?
Why have we said so many times that we are talking about a PC in the body of a console? Because in this case the The operating system on which Ally will run is Windows 11. On this will also be available Armoury Crate SEa special version of the ASUS hub that will allow you to find all the installed games right from the start and run them in a few clicks, without the need to wander around the Windows screens.
If you wish, however, you can access the complete operating system (not very comfortable on a 7″ touch screen, as you can imagine: better to connect a mouse). This means that Ally wants to be compatible with any game client that can run normally on Windows. ASUS has confirmed to us that will include three months of Game Pass Ultimate with your purchaseto underline the idyll found with Microsoft.
The possibility of accessing PC Game Pass games (in addition to those in the cloud) is combined with the confirmation that it will also be possible to play Steam games, for example, those of the Epic Games Store, Battle.Net, EA’s Origin , by Ubisoft and so on. In short, ideally there are no limits because Ally thinks and works like a PC. On the other hand, this may mean that you need to be a little more subtle in setting up individual games to allow them to run as smoothly as possible compared to a more centralized platform like Steam Deck.
Our director was only able to test Doom during the face-to-face event and appreciated the fact that Ally scaled the resolution well, favoring a high frame rate. For more detailed impressions, however, we will have to wait for a more articulated test.
In short, if we started from the idea that it could be a rather fascinating joke, ASUS ROG Ally is instead ready to enter the market with the intention of taking the lion’s share of that “niche” of the market that Steam Deck has made attractive for many.
In this regard, of course, much will make the price. For now ASUS hasn’t gone too far (it is said that it should still remain under $1,000), but presenting itself with a competitive price list compared to that of the other proposals could convince many players to go to Ally, given the high number of supported clients .
In short, the idea that a historic player in the world of PC gaming is trying to wink decisively even at those looking for a gaming platform much more similar to that of a console could give a further shock to the panorama of handhelds . And if there are many proposals that battle to improve and offer great experiences, for gamers it can only be good.
We look forward to bringing you more details on ROG Ally’s pricing and launch when ASUS releases them.