The device features a 7 inch, full 1080p display, 120hz refresh rate with AMD FreeSync Premium which helps avoid tearing and reducing stuttering. Pictures and videos online don’t do this screen its justice, games look incredible on it and after using the Steam Deck for over a year this was one of the things that stood out to me once I started using it. It’s really hard to go back to another handheld display after using this.
The ROG Ally feels great in the hand, at 608 Grams it’s remarkable on how much power they fit into something so light. I played multiple demanding games at full turbo and couldn’t hear anything coming from the inside of the device due to their dual ultra thin fans.
The Ally features one UHS-II MicroSD card slot, one 3.5 audio jack, USB 3.2 Type C input and a ROG XG Mobile interface to connect to one of ASUS external GPU’s turning your Ally into a powerful standalone gaming PC.
Overall I’m really impressed with the audio, its loud, crisp and clear. The Ally features Dual front-firing Smart Amp speakers with Dolby Atmos and a built in mic for voice chats that features two-way AI noise cancelation. I’ve gotten random crackling in the audio at times but ASUS is aware of this bug.
Gyro is not built into the software yet, it’s only available for games that have it built in for now. I expect this to change pretty quickly once the community gets their hands on this and create third party software.
The Ally is running on Windows 11 so it’s fully compatible with all your games regardless of the game store you bought it on whether it be Steam, Xbox Game Pass, Epic, GOG, Origin or Ubisoft connect. No necessary tweaks are needed, just login to your desired game launcher and play your games. Not having to worry about doing workarounds and losing performance to get games running that aren’t in the Steam store is a plus.
Armoury Crate SE
By pressing the top bottom right button on the Ally, the special edition Armoury Crate SE made specifically for the Ally will open up on your screen. The game library will show, the Ally will scan your directories and add the games & game launchers you have installed for a clean all in one location for your games.
One of the coolest features is the customization options, Press X on any game inside Armoury Crate SE to create game specific profiles where you could:
Change analog sensitivity.
Change trigger sensitivity.
Edit the RGB colors on the analogs.
Stock or custom power profiles.
Edit the game artwork.
Personally I would love to see the ability to share and download game profiles through the Armoury Crate SE.
But not everything is perfect, I’ve encountered multiple bugs. I’ve launched a game and multiple times Armoury Crate would pop up overlapping the game while it’s launching. There’s times when I open up Armoury Crate and it only shows half of the screen, forcing me to close the app and reopen. There’s times where the Auto control mode won’t properly switch to the correct mode. Also, all the custom artwork you add in Armoury Crate SE comes out blurry for some reason.
Pressing the top bottom left button on the Ally brings up the Command Center with quick access to performance modes, the option to turn on your FPS data monitor stats, FPS Limiter, change resolution, take a screenshot, screen record, switch from game mode to desktop mode so you can use the right joystick as a mouse and more.
I would like to see them add a kill app option here but for the time being I created my own keymap to do this inside Armoury Crate SE.
The ASUS ROG Ally is stacked with power featuring it’s Z1 Extreme Processor that allows you to choose from three different operating modes to play your games with Silent (9W), Performance (15W) and Turbo (25W or 30W when connected to AC power). There’s also a manual mode where you could adjust the wattage to your liking and adjust fan curves.
As for the Silent mode it is noted by ASUS themselves in a recent interview with the Verge that performance improvements need to be made to match their competition at this wattage. Over the past month the Ally has received updates improving performance and we should expect to see more in the future.
An update that was launched prior to me receiving this ROG Ally showcased a 20% boost at 15-25W from the Ally tests in early May, covered by Dave2D. The 9 watt Silent mode improved but is still behind it’s competitors.
Bios update 319 launched after I received my Ally and it hindered performance by 20% according to reports such as the Phawx who did a deep dive of the performance regression.
Performance issues aside, the Ally is a gaming beast. It handles mostly all current games and older games and gives you performance options like AMD Super Resolution to help you boost framerates while retaining excellent image quality.
There’s no denying the power on the ROG Ally, everything from emulation to the latest triple A games play great on it. Playing most games on a handheld device at 60fps is incredible but it comes with a big drawback and that’s your play time due to the battery draining relatively fast. There’s times where I’m just benchmarking games and the next thing I know the battery is at 20%. ASUS is well aware and have said they expect us who receive the Ally in June to expect a 10 to 20 percent battery improvement.
I’m someone who carries around a portable power bank when I take my devices anywhere so the battery on the Ally doesn’t effect me as much but I understand why this is a concern to some.
Overall, there’s definitely room for improvement when it comes to the bugs, armoury crate software, performance and the battery. Those are thing ASUS can control, what they can’t control is our Windows 11 experience.
At the recent ROG Ally reveal event Microsoft’s Head of Xbox Software said they would love to bring the quick resume feature into the Windows platform. I would love to see Windows get more involved to make the handheld on Windows experience more seamless or even make a dedicated Windows OS for handheld like SteamOS.
We have to remember the Steam Deck didn’t come out the gate with zero bugs and issues, it took months after it’s initial release to get to it’s sweet spot. I think we owe ASUS the same grace period. ASUS seems committed to making the Ally better and that’s all we can ask for. Between future ASUS updates and community mods to come I expect a great future ahead for the ROG Ally.
You can buy the ASUS ROG Ally for $699.99 at Best Buy now.
Thank you to the people at ASUS for sending me a review unit.
ASUS ROG Ally
The ROG Ally is a silent beast gaming PC inside a small form factor handheld with untapped potential if ASUS could fix the bugs, improve the performance and battery issues.