ASUS ROG Ally Review: All Sorts of Power Except One

There’s no denying the fact that the Nintendo Switch paved the way for modern handled gaming consoles. It was then taken to the next level by Valve introducing the Steam Deck. Now, ASUS is trying its hand with the ROG Ally. And for the most part, they have managed to check all the boxes with their new device.

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The ASUS ROG Ally comes in two processor options — the AMD Ryzen Z1 and the Z1 Extreme. The company sent us the latter for review. It is priced a lot higher compared to the Steam Deck. In fact, it’s priced similarly to most entry-level gaming laptops. That said, the company does claim that ROG Ally is more powerful than the competition.

But is it so? Has ASUS managed to create the best handheld gaming console out there right now? Let’s find out in our in-depth review of the ASUS ROG Ally.

ASUS ROG Ally Specifications

ProcessorAMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme
iGPUAMD RDNA 3 Graphics
Display7-inch FHD 120Hz IPS
AMD FreSync Premium
RAM16GB Dual Channel LPDDR5 6400MT/s
Storage512GB PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD (2230)
SoftwareWindows 11 Home
ConnectivityUHS-II microSD card reader
3.5mm Combo Audio Jack
ROG XG Mobile Interface and USB Type-C combo port
WirelessWi-Fi 6E(802.11ax) (Triple band) 2*2
Bluetooth 5.2
Charging65W Type-C Charger
Dimensions11.02 in x 4.37 in x 0.83 in

Design and Ergonomics

Starting with the design, the ASUS ROG Ally feels like an Xbox controller with a display between its keys. Except, it’s a lot slimmer, while still maintaining a good sense of ergonomics.

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At a little above 600g, the ROG Ally is very comfortable to hold with both hands, and you get a nice grip as well. ASUS has ensured that there’s a nice slope to the sides, complete with the ROG branding.

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In terms of the buttons, the entire layout is just the way there is on an Xbox controller. However, ASUS has added two buttons on the rear, as well as two extra buttons on the front for shortcuts.

The left button is to launch the Command Center overlay, while the right button is designed to launch the Armory Crate. All these buttons are easy to access and feel comfortable to the touch.

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Another thing worth highlighting is that the power button here doubles up as a fingerprint scanner as well. And in our testing, it worked very well.

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There were slight issues at times, but that felt more down to Windows just being Windows, rather than the hardware being at fault.

Controller Functions

ASUS has worked a lot on their controller buttons, while also giving the users full control. Inside the Armory Crate, you can customize every aspect of the triggers as well as the sticks. You can adjust the sensitivity, change the dead zones, and even fine-tune the haptic feedback.

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What’s more, is that the rear buttons can be used in combination with the other buttons. As such, you can assign macros or system tasks to work when you press two keys together.

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Having said that, compared to the Steam Deck, one stark difference is the omission of a touchpad. While you can use the right joystick as a mouse, it’s not that comfortable.

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Speaking about the joysticks, both of them come with RGB lighting underneath them. And of course, it’s all customizable, thanks to Aura Sync support.


Moving along, in terms of connectivity, there aren’t many ports here. Which is understandable given the form factor. You get a 3.5mm headphone jack coupled with a UHS-II microSD card reader slot. There’s also the ROG XG Mobile interface, which includes a USB Type-C 3.2 Gen2 port.

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This single USB port is used for charging the console and to output to a bigger monitor. I do wish ASUS had included at least one more USB-C port here, which would make connecting peripherals a bit easier.

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If you do plan to use the ROG Ally for tackling the occasional productivity task with a keyboard and mouse, you should consider investing in a good Type-C dock.


The display is another department where the ROG Ally shines. The handheld console packs a stunning 7-inch IPS panel capable of a maximum resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. This easily makes it a lot sharper and crisper when compared to the Steam Deck’s 800p panel.

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Also, while the panel does have a glossy finish to it, the 500-nits of peak brightness makes it brighter than Valve’s console. This also ensures it can be used under direct sunlight without much trouble.

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Of course, since it’s meant for gaming, the display also gets the ability to work at a smooth 120Hz refresh rate. The panel is quite vibrant as well. With 100% sRGB coverage, the colors here look accurate. Whether you’re playing an open-world game, or just enjoying a movie, the display on the ROG Ally wouldn’t disappoint you.

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For protection, ASUS has used a sheet of Gorilla Glass Victus over the panel. You also get Gorilla Glass DX coating to tackle scratches. It’s a coating more commonly used on smartwatches, or on top of smartphone camera lenses. And similar to them, the panel is prone to fingerprints.

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To the point where you constantly need to wipe the panel clean. This ends up being an issue, especially because this is a touch display, and the only practical way to interact with Windows OS is via touch. As such, this is another reason why I feel ASUS really should have included a touchpad somewhere on the body.

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Apart from the fingerprints, there’s practically nothing wrong with the display here. It’s bright, vibrant, smooth, and super responsive.


Aiding the display department is the front-firing dual speaker system. For the most part, the audio is great. It’s a lot louder than what you’d expect from a device of this size.

In terms of quality, let’s be honest, it’s not going to be satisfying any audiophiles. With that being said, the mids are balanced, the highs don’t creak, and there is a slight hint of bass too. All in all, the speakers work very well for all sorts of entertainment needs on the go. Especially when you factor in the size of these tiny speakers.

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The only issue I faced was the fact that the audio in itself is quite uneven. And the power output varies a lot. During games, the audio would suddenly spike up, and then go down quiet. All without me interfering with the volume rockers on the top in any way. Then again, it could be an issue with our review unit, and hopefully, things would be better for you.


Okay so enough chit-chat, let’s get down to the performance section. The ROG Ally is powered by the AMD Z1 Extreme APU coupled with 16GB of dual-channel RAM.

The processor itself has controllable TDP, and ASUS has made things quite easy for the end-user to change them. You get a Silent 10W profile, a 15W Performance Mode, and a 25W Turbo Mode. There’s also a 30W Turbo Mode which the device automatically switches to when plugged into a power source.

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I ran plenty of games on the ROG Ally, and for the most part, the performance was pretty good. Of course, you have to keep your expectations realistic. You can’t go about gaming at the highest settings on it. Then again, on a 7-inch display, you don’t really have to. Even on Medium settings, everything looks pretty good and stunning. And thanks to AMD’s RSR feature enabled, you get better quality in games, even if the game itself doesn’t natively support AMD’s FSR technology.

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Another thing that’s worth highlighting is that the performance of the Ally depends a lot on the game’s optimization. Of course, that’s true for pretty much every entry (as well as mid-range) gaming laptop. Titles like Forza Horizon 5 and GTA V were easily running upwards of 100 fps, without even breaking a sweat.

Even Metro Exodus was able to breach the 60 fps threshold, which is great for a device this size. But then you have titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Far Cry 6 that didn’t fare too well. Even in the case of FIFA 23, while you can get nearly 60 fps on gameplay, the frames drop down to as low as 2 fps whenever any cutscenes are involved.

It’s worth noting that the performance of the Ally isn’t that good on the 10W silent mode, but improves a lot with the 15W mode. You also see a sizeable jump going from 15W to 25W. However, the difference between the 25W and 30W isn’t that noticeable.

With that being said, the performance is still pretty damn solid. I ran some synthetic benchmarks to showcase the raw power of this processor. And as you can see, the AMD Z1 Extreme is a pretty good processor.

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As good as the performance is, our tests were done running the BIOS 322 firmware. ASUS has rolled out a newer, BIOS 323 firmware. It claims to offer significant boosts, especially for the 15W Performance mode. We’ll be testing the newer version and will update this review with our findings.

Thermals and Upgradability

The ASUS ROG Ally is cooled by not one but two fans inside, and they do their job well. The vents are located on the top, so no hot air comes on your hands. And while the processor does get toasty at times, there’s no noticeable surface heat. So you can essentially play on it at the highest settings without having to worry about your hands burning.

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Regarding internals, ASUS clearly stated that we weren’t allowed to pop the back plate off, which is common practice for many first-gen review products. But, ASUS did give us a quick look at the internals during a familiarisation session with the product. So we can confirm that the SSD inside is the only thing that’s upgradable.

On that note, while it is a standard M.2 2230 SSD, opening the ROG Ally on your own would void the warranty. Instead, you can visit an ASUS Service Center, hand them the new SSD that you wish to upgrade to, and they’ll do the job for you.


So far, everything has mostly been positive about the ASUS ROG Ally. But it’s time for the biggest pro as well as the biggest con of this device. The Ally runs on Windows 11 Home. Without a doubt, Windows is just not optimized for touch displays, and navigating through Windows is a task. And the experience translates to the apps you use inside it as well.

The EA Play app just never scales properly, and good luck trying to open the keyboard while attempting to log in to it. Opening folders, searching through the Start menu, or even browsing on a web page for that matter isn’t that smooth.

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With that being said, it’s clear that ASUS knows all about it. And they’ve done their fair share to fix it. Thanks to the Ally running Windows, it’s essentially a Windows laptop only. So when you want to use it as a laptop, just plug in a USB Dock/Hub and connect your keyboard and mouse. Or you can even use the XG Mobile, and output to a bigger display on your desk.

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As for the handheld mode where you want to game, you don’t even need to rely on Windows. Well, at least not to launch the games. Once you’ve installed games inside using whatever store you wish to, the Armory Crate will automatically recognize the titles. You can seamlessly launch your games from the Crate itself.

What’s more, is that you don’t even have to use Windows once you’re done with installing your library of games. Just set the Armory Crate to launch at boot, and voila. You’ll be automatically taken to your games library without you having to interact with the unoptimized Windows 11.

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And it gets even better. The Command Center works as an overlay, which can be used for all your quick settings. So be it changing the TDP, adjusting the brightness, or even changing the resolution, you can do it all with ease. The Ally also allows you to easily capture screenshots as well as screen recording, and there’s a nice overlay to showcase the wattage and FPS meter too.

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As for Windows itself, there’s talk of Microsoft working on a handheld version of Windows, which should theoretically make things better for the ROG Ally. But even without it, it’s only the initial setup that’s tough. When you want to use the Ally for work, just plug it into a dock and when you want to game, you don’t have to rely on Windows. So kudos to ASUS for doing a fantastic job here.

Battery Life and Charging

You read the title and you must be wondering what’s this one power missing from this console. Well, battery life. ASUS outfits the ROG Ally with a 40Whr battery, which is a big boy battery.

However, there’s a lot of horsepower on this thing too. No matter how you use it, no matter what games you play on it, and no matter what profile you’re running on – the maximum this thing will last is a little under 90 mins. That’s genuinely not a lot.

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The good thing is the charging aspect though. ASUS bundles a 65W charger with it with support for quick charging. You can take the handheld from 0 to 60% in less than 30 minutes, post which the charging speed does trickle down a bit.

But here’s another thing you can do. Essentially, just use a USB-PD power bank with it, and you can play while on the go. It’s worth highlighting that previous versions didn’t support unlocking the 30W mode while doing this, but the BIOS 323 update resolves this issue.

ASUS ROG Ally Verdict: Who Is It Really For?

So, the big question: Is the ASUS ROG Ally worth your money?

Currently, only the Z1 Extreme variant is available for purchase at a price of $700 (£699). ASUS is also throwing in a 3-month subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. All things considered, I’d argue that this is a fair price for the device. However, I’d also argue that the ROG Ally isn’t for everyone.

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With most gaming laptops, you can work on-the-go and game with the laptop plugged in. The Ally flips the picture. You can use the ROG Ally to game on-the-go, and work with it plugged into a dock. If that fits your use case, the Ally is a perfect fit.

Then there are the folks who only want a portable gaming console. Without a doubt, the ROG Ally is the most powerful gaming console, with the widest games library out there. You can even install emulators on it to play older-generation games from different consoles. And with how ASUS has been rolling out firmware updates, things are bound to only get better.

What We Like

  • Lightweight and ergonomic design
  • Stunning and smooth display
  • Loud audio output
  • Customizable controls
  • Adjustable TDP
  • Excellent gaming performance
  • Endless games library thanks to Windows

What We Don’t Like

  • No touchpad
  • Navigating Windows is a hassle
  • Screen is prone to fingerprint smudges
  • Poor battery life

So long story short, you should definitely consider going ahead and getting yourself a unit, because this ROG Ally gets a thumbs-up from me.

Last updated on 24 July, 2023

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