The Asus ROG Ally could be my next favorite gaming handheld. As I wrote in my Asus ROG Ally hands-on preview, this Windows 11 device could be a Steam Deck killer. Not only does it have a better display than Valve’s handheld, but Asus claims the system’s new AMD Ryzen Zen 1 processor makes it twice as powerful as the Steam Deck.
The Steam Deck is currently my favorite handheld of all time, as evidenced by my glowing Steam Deck review. That said, I recognize the system’s limitations — namely its 720p display and old Zen 2-based APU. I’ve eagerly awaited a true Steam Deck rival with better specs that also has the same ease of use. The ROG Ally appears to have most of what makes the Steam Deck great, and more to boot.
As excited as I am for Asus’ upcoming handheld, there are two aspects that worry me. Below, I’ll detail what these concerns are and how they could make or break the Asus ROG Ally. Update: We've seen a leaked price for the Asus ROG Ally at $699, which seems like very good news. More details below.
Asus ROG Ally game compatibility
The Steam Deck’s game library consists of titles available on Steam. Currently, there are more than 2,000 "Verified" games for Steam Deck. This includes games like Elden Ring and Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered.
Four compatibility categories exist. "Verified" titles, such as Elden Ring, run correctly right out of the box. "Playable" games, such as Team Fortress 2, may require you to select a community controller configuration or may require you to use touch controls to navigate a launcher. "Unsupported" titles, such as the VR-based Half-Life Alyx are currently not functional on Steam Deck. Lastly, games such as Day of Defeat are designated as "Unknown."
Knowing which games are or aren’t compatible with the Steam Deck is extremely useful for users. There’s also the fact that some publishers have “Steam Deck” mode as a graphical option, meaning they optimize games for Steam Deck’s hardware. This is one of Steam Deck’s greatest strengths.
Presently, we don’t know if the ROG Ally will have the equivalent of verified games. Asus says that you can run any game or app that’s compatible with Windows 11 on the ROG Ally. Fair enough, but compatibility doesn’t equate to optimization. Just because you can run a game on the ROG Ally doesn’t mean it will run well. On top of that, it’s unclear whether or not developers will optimize their games to run on the ROG Ally’s Zen 1 chip.
The ROG Ally is in big trouble if games run poorly on the system.
Asus ROG Ally pricing
Price is the other big question hovering over the Asus ROG Ally. One of the reasons for the Steam Deck’s success is due to its affordability. The system starts at $399 and goes as high as $650 — which is extremely low for what is effectively a mini PC. Asus claims the ROG Ally is “competitively priced” but we’re not sure if that means compared to the Steam Deck or against pricer competitors like the GDP Win 4 and AyaNeo 2, which cost around $1,000 each.
A supposed leaked image posted on Twitter (via Digital Trends) claims the ROG Ally will cost $650 to $700 — which would put it on par with the high-end Steam Deck model with 512GB of storage. Take that with a grain of salt, but if that leak is real, the ROG Ally will cost as much as a Steam Deck.
A separate tweet from leaker SnoopyTech says the ROG Ally with the AMD Z1 Extreme chip will cost $699, which seems fairly reasonable given the higher-end specs of this handheld vs. the Steam Deck. The other specs for this price are allegedly the 7-inch FHD 120Hz display, 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, AMD Radeon Navi3 Graphics, a 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD and Dolby Atmos Surround Sound.
All you'll be able to "play almost any game that runs on Windows, Steam, GOG, XBOX Game Pass, GeForce Now, Android, and more."
ASUS ROG Ally (AMD Z1 Extreme) = $699.99 https://t.co/GDkz6wZNWIApril 26, 2023
Asus may have a way to have its cake and eat it too regarding price. AMD announced the Ryzen Z1 Series processors: the Ryzen Z1 and Ryzen Z1 Extreme. The ROG Ally is the first device to feature the new processor. Currently, it's unclear if the ROG Ally will have models featuring both chips or if it's only using one of them for the handheld.
This is pure speculation on my part, but if Asus plans to release various ROG Ally models, we might see the entry-level model with the base Ryzen Z1 chip for around $650. This way, Asus can have one Ally model to directly compete with the Steam Deck while also offering another version with the more powerful Zen 1 Extreme chip. Again, that’s speculation, but it could work.
The Asus ROG Ally has the makings of being the next great gaming handheld, based on our hands-on impressions and what Asus has revealed about it. Despite some of my reservations about the system, I’m still excited to test it — and to see if Asus’ machine can topple the Steam Deck. With the right price and with a healthy library of compatible games, the Asus ROG Ally could be a huge hit.
Asus posted that it plans to reveal the ROG Ally’s specs, availability and pricing on May 11. Hopefully, we’ll get answers to our all questions at that time. We plan to review the Asus ROG Ally and look forward to seeing how the device holds up during everyday use and how it performs in our lab tests.