The global launch of the Steam Deck’s biggest competitor, the Asus ROG Ally, announced on April 1 (I like jokes like that!), will take place as early as May 11, 2023. Unfortunately, we still do not know the price of the device.
The latest information shows that the portable PC from Asus will offer full access to Windows 11 without any additional combinations. For convenience of use and in order to provide the most console-like experience possible, an overlay somewhat resembling the one known from SteamOS will be enabled by default.
Asus ROG Ally’s slogan is “Play all your games.”
The biggest drawback of Steam Deck, i.e. numerous compatibility problems and inconvenient access to games outside Steam, will be completely solved here. Of course, nothing prevents you from installing Windows on Valve hardware as well, but this requires some knowledge, time and patience, and in the end the handling is not perfect anyway.
In the case of the Asus ROG Ally, literally a few simple operations are enough to enjoy games available in any store. If the issues of controller detection and integration with the Percentage overlay work exemplarily, we will get here an almost perfectly console-like experience enhanced with the capabilities of modern computers. Convenient access to distribution platforms such as Xbox Game Pass, EA Play and Epic Games Store along with seamless multiplayer titles with anti-cheat protection is a real gamechanger.
Asus ROG Ally is also more powerful components, better screen and sound
It’s impossible to get past the technical performance of the Asus ROG Ally. Unfortunately, already many of the new titles on Steam Deck are struggling to maintain 30 frames per second, even after the biggest reduction in graphic details. I don’t want to bring up The Last of Us Part 1 here, because it’s a port that is absolutely kicked and unworthy of a PC release, but productions such as Hogwarts Legacy, Ghostwire Tokyo or Returnal have problems maintaining fluidity even at such a basic level. The current generation of consoles hasn’t even kicked in yet – it’s bound to get harder and harder to play a AAA title on a portable console from Valve in the future.
The ROG Ally will debut a new AMD RYZEN Z1 processor with integrated Radeon graphics based on RDNA 3 architecture, and the whole thing will be complemented by 16GB of fast RAM (LPDDR5). In the graphic above, the performance increase over Steam Deck appears to be almost double. However, it is worth noting that it shows the performance of games on low graphics settings, which are natively rendered at 1280×720 and only scaled up to 1920×1080.
At native resolution, it’s not so pretty – the red color is the performance of the chip used in the ROG Ally
Yes, ASUSA’s new proposal relies on FullHD resolution with a refresh rate of 120Hz. At first this idea seemed very strange to me, because such a panel requires making a lot of compromises – both in terms of the quality of graphic detail and battery life. On the other hand, Steam Deck showed that a well-implemented AMD FSR 2 image scaling technology can significantly increase the smoothness of games, while maintaining a level of detail not at all so different from the native image.
Great possibilities of using a 120Hz screen were perfectly presented to gamers by PlayStation 5, and the matter will be analogous in the case of Asus. For here we can without any problems take advantage of the fixed lock at 30, 40 and 60 frames per second with proportionally low latency, but in addition we get AMD FreeSync support (also known as VRR). This is a great technology that automatically adjusts the screen refresh rate to the smoothness of the animation ensuring the most stable gameplay.
With such solutions, we will ensure that we can enjoy better graphics settings with the right fluidity or longer battery life.
Asus ROG Ally will debut in only one version, but with an ultra-fast 512GB PCIe Gen 4 drive additionally supported by a state-of-the-art UHS-II standard MicroSD memory card slot (speeds of up to 312MB/s!).
But what do you mean without touchpads?
And that’s what hurts me the most. Touchpads work great for all desktop operations and for games that require precision and don’t have controller support. The ROG Ally has a touchscreen, but I can’t imagine using it for strategy games, and after my tests of Windows 11 on Steam Deck, I’m sure that the system operation will be a morass as well. I think anyone who has tried to emulate a mouse with the help of an analog will agree with me that it is not a pleasant solution.
Undiscovered ASUS ROG Ally cards
The price, performance culture and battery life still remain a mystery. Especially the first element will probably be the most important issue influencing the purchase decision – I myself do not know if I will be able to afford it. I’m almost convinced that the price will exceed 500 USD, and I would very much like it to close in on 800USD. Will the ASUS ROG Ally be worth it?
Everything depends on how refined the overlay will be and how convenient it will be to create profiles for specific games. At the beginning of the text, I mentioned that if everything goes well, the ROG Ally could become the most convenient, almost console-like experience on the market while maintaining the greatest advantages and openness of computers. With good performance, a great screen and almost unlimited Windows capabilities, it will be worth paying far more for it than for a Steam Deck – only those touchpads are a shame. I’m already looking forward to the release, and I’m incredibly curious to see what kind of a stir it will create in the market!