Asus ROG Ally Review - PC gaming just went mobile
- Asus ROG Ally is a handheld gaming PC
- It is powered by Ryzen Z1 Extreme CPU
- The ROG Ally is priced at ₹69,990
The Asus ROG line-up is synonymous with gaming. Over the years we have seen the brand give us some of the most aggressive gaming machines, be it the Strix Skar or the Asus ROG Zephyrous Duo 16. The brand has always pushed the envelope with striking laptops which are powerful and also sometimes very expensive. Now, they have presented the ROG Ally, a handheld gaming PC. I say PC here, because it essentially is a PC running on Windows 11, and packs in a Ryzen Z1Extreme CPU. In a form factor favorable for gaming, the ROG Ally does seem to crack the code for mobile gaming. So what can you expect from this new device? And can it replace your gaming PC? I will tell you in my full review.
Price & Availability
Asus ROG Ally is available in only one variant, which packs in 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. Priced at ₹69,990, you can buy it from Flipkart and Asus offline stores.
Design & Display
My experience of handheld gaming devices is limited to Sony’s Playstation Portable, which back in the day ruled the space. The UMD’s, the Sony exclusive titles and of course the form factor made sure the experience was wholesome. But that’s about it, I have not spent much time with the newer options like Steam Deck or Nintendo Switch. I am admittedly a console guy, sticking to my Playstation for good.
So Asus ROG Ally, is my first proper re-introduction of the form factor, and so far I have been impressed with the design. Asus has paid attention to details here, from the weight distribution to the size, everything feels just right. At 11-inches wide, it is not a small device by any means, but the form factor makes it convenient to hold, and you will get used to the size very quickly. The textured diamond shape grip running across the device, also helps to maintain a comfortable hold.
While yes, it is a fairly big device, Asus has justified the real estate with a very well laid out game pad here. On the front you have two joysticks, and an X-Box style ABXY button array paired with a D-pad. There ofcourse you have multiple triggers on the right and left edge of the gaming device. You also get triggers on the bottom. And yes, all of these buttons are configurable, we will talk about the implication of this element in the performance section.
Aesthetics are of major importance here, since we do see the signature ROG LED set-up running around the joystick. They add a character to the product, and can be configured as well.
We also have dedicated buttons upfront for Asus’ armory crate, menu, and a dedicated button for the full armory launch system. All of which are conveniently placed and provide a tactile feel.
On the top, we find a power button which doubles up as a finger-print sensor for Windows Hello. It is snappy to unlock the device, and provides optimal security. Placed next to it are the volume rockers. There is also a USB Type-C charging port, which can be used to connect mouse and keyboard if you wish to.
Now, since this is essentially a PC equipped to deliver performance through graphically demanding games, it does have a cooling system in place. And yes, you do see vents on the machine as well. They work efficiently, which we will cover in the performance section, but they also make me nervous.
Unfortunately, unlike the other ROG devices, we don’t have the staple Asus MIL-STD rating here. Which is understandable, it is a very different form factor. But there is no IP rating either, a common element in mobile devices. This is discouraging to me, considering this device is meant to travel with a user everywhere. I did put it through some rough usage, like carrying it without a case in my bag and it didn’t falter the performance. However, I would hope the next iteration has some form of protection rating to it. This will instill more confidence in the user.
Another knit pick with the ROG Ally’s design is the lack of a stand that it misses out. The Asus team said it was done to maintain the weight but I hope this too is taken care of in the next iteration.
Now, moving to the display. The ROG Ally features a 7-inch 1080P touch-sensitive display with a 120Hz refresh rate. For a device of this nature, Asus has done a commendable job with the panel. It is optimally bright, and you will enjoy playing your favorite titles on this one.
The display projects crisp video output, and is at par with some of the best smartphone display’s that I have experienced. Which to me, is a big win. As in any mobile device, having a good display is crucial for a user, but here it was even more important.
Convincing a PC gamer to believe in the product required the display to score a home run, and that’s exactly what the ROG ally’s display does.
AdvertisementSo be it a rushed gameplay of CS:GO or cinematic cut-scenes of God of War, the screen projected everything clearly. Having played God of War on a 4K TV, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything when I fired it up here. The display is also quite optimal for watching content if you wish to. And it is very convenient here considering you can browse or stream any platform here.
Since the display is also touch sensitive, and with a very impressive response time you can also scrub through content.
The audio set-up here is a bit underwhelming when put against the display especially when it comes to watching content. The front firing speakers are decently loud, but lack a punch. This isn’t a deal breaker though, because they are optimal for gaming.
Asus’ big win with the Ally has to be the software. This machine runs Windows 11, like any regular PC. And no, it’s not a toned down version of the OS, it is a fully functioning Windows OS, which behaves and reacts like one. This has both pros and cons to the experience.
The most obvious pro is the access to all major online gaming platforms like Xbox Live and Steam. And with that Asus has managed to retain the Armory crate tweaked with a new outlay for the Ally. Of course all of this can be accessed with the help of various shortcut keys which I mentioned in the design section.
While the Windows 11 OS has various benefits to it, it still isn’t very well equipped for mobile devices. Yes, Asus has tinkered the device for you to use joysticks and ABXY pad to browse around, yet I found myself punching the screen more often. This gets very inconvenient after a while. I wish there was a more gaming oriented avatar of Windows 11 which we could see here.
As in any mobile device convenience should be a top priority, and navigating through Windows 11 here can be the opposite. However, it's not all bad.
Since this is essentially a miniaturized Windows PC, you can hook it up with a screen and use it like one. I have, and I was mighty impressed with how smoothly it ran. And this is a silent machine, something we cover in the next section. When I was bored with the hand-held experience I turned it into a PC, and it felt worthwhile.
Asus ROG Ally runs on a brand new AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme CPU, which is built for mobile gaming devices.This is a Zen 4 CPU, built on an advanced 4-nanometer architecture, boasting 8 cores and 16 threads, and a clock speed that can reach up to 5.1 GHz. The CPU is paired with 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and a 512GB SSD storage.
AdvertisementI have tested the ROG Ally with my favorite titles that I enjoy on PC and my Playstation. God of War & CS:GO. And ofcourse GTA V. Apparently no device can be dubbed a gaming device if you don’t play GTA on it.
While yes, the frame rates weren’t very high on the ROG Ally, the performance was respectable for something running on battery. CS:GO saw the device projecting 90FPS consistently, which was smooth. While God of War switched between 40-60FPS non-stop. GTA V had the similar story. I have to mention that the performance slightly jumps up with the device running on power.
Yes, the gaming performance isn’t at par with a high-end PC, but does it tamper the fun? Definitely not. You are essentially running demanding titles on a device 1/5th the size of a PC. This is innovation at its finest.
Asus has also managed the thermals efficiently on the Ally, and I didn’t face any ugly heating issues here. The device ran smoothly at all times without making me uncomfortable, even when connected to power.
The 16GB of RAM efficiently runs most applications on the device, and provides quick boot up speeds. I have not faced any issues jumping between applications and games during my testing.
AdvertisementStorage might be a concern here, with 512GB proving to be limited for some users. However, Asus does provide solutions for storage expansion so you can look into them.
Finally, the battery life. Asus claims 6 hours of gaming and 11 hours of video playback on the ROG Ally. The real number is pretty close to the claim, mostly depending on the setting and game you are playing. I was averaging at four and a half hours of gaming on the device with a respectful HD setting. Video playback was about 9 hours with maxed out brightness. This is a solid number.
Asus ROG Ally can be dubbed the first real moment for a miniaturized PC gaming solution that the market needs. It covers mostly everything that a gamer needs in a form factor that is convenient. Yes there are some rough edges, but they do not tamper with the performance. At ₹69,990, this is a luxury purchase, but it is worthwhile if you have the budget.
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