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Over the weekend Asus released a video showcasing a handheld gaming PC called the ROG Ally. Unfortunately since that video came out on April Fools’ Day, it led to plenty of speculation that the product is a joke – something that the head of product management for Asus Republic of Gamers (ROG) seemed to confirm with a post on LinkedIn.

But it turns out the ASUS ROG Ally is real. Asus has begun sending pre-release hardware to testers, and YouTuber Dave2D has posted a hands-on video with some additional details about the upcoming device. So here’s what we know about the Asus ROG Ally so far. Update: Linus Tech Tips has a hands-on video as well.

The ROG Ally has a 7 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel IPS LCD display with a 120 Hz refresh rate and up to 500 nits brightness.

In other words it has a higher-resolution screen than the Steam Deck, while supporting higher frame rates. And it has a processor with the horsepower to deliver those rates. And while both have 7 inch displays, the 16:9 aspect ratio on the ROG Ally means that you’ll probably be able to play more games without seeing black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

Asus says that, like Valve, it’s partnered with AMD to develop a custom processor. But while the Steam Deck has a custom chip that combines Zen 2 CPU cores with RDNA 2 graphics, the Asus ROG Ally’s chip has Zen 4 CPU cores and RDNA 3 graphics. In other words, it uses architecture similar to the AMD Ryzen 7040 series to deliver what Asus says is roughly twice the performance of the Steam Deck.

Dave2D says the version he tested was an early engineering sample, which is why he was unable to talk about specific details like the battery capacity, battery life, or processor core counts of frequencies.

Despite the higher-performance processor, Dave2D says the ROG Ally is quieter than the Steam Deck. It does have two fans inside the case to help keep the system cool. But they generate far less noise (around 20dB compared to 37 dB for the Steam Deck, according to Dave2D). So you’re a lot less likely to hear them.

Under the hood, the ROG Ally has a user-replaceable M.2 2230 SSD. And along the top of the Asus device you’ll find a headphone jack, microSD card reader, fingerprint sensor, and Asus ROG XG connection port that can be used to attach the handheld to an Asus ROG XG Mobile external GPU using a PCIe x8 interface. Originally developed for the company’s gaming laptops and tablets, the XG Mobile is available with up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 GPU, enabling high-performance gaming when your mobile device is docked.

Part of that XG Mobile connector is a USB-C port, which is the handheld’s only USB port. So it’s also what you’ll use to charge the ROG Ally or connect other wired peripherals.

Another thing that makes the ROG Ally different from the Valve’s handheld is that the Steam Deck ships with the Linux-based SteamOS, while the ROG Ally comes with Windows pre-installed. That means that it’s compatible with more PC games out of the box. But it also means that instead of a complete operating system designed for gaming on a small screen, you’ve basically got a desktop operating system with a custom version of the Asus ROG Armory Crate app for adjusting system settings and launching games.

Valve’s Steam Deck also has two touchpads for emulating mouse input, while the ROG Ally does not. And the Steam Deck is one of the most affordable Windows handhelds to date, with a $399 starting price. Asus hasn’t announced how much the ROG Ally will cost, but it’s almost certainly going to be more than that – Valve can afford to sell hardware for below cost because the company makes money when customers buy games from the Steam game client. Asus just sells hardware.

Asus also hasn’t said when you’ll actually be able to buy the ROG Ally. Folks in the US can sign up at Best Buy to be notified when it goes on sale, while Canadians can express interest at the Asus Canada website. But there’s no telling when that will be.

Asus and Valve aren’t the only games in town when it comes to handheld gaming computers. Over the past few years we’ve seen a bunch of companies jump into this space, including GPD, AYA, One Netbook, and Anbernic. But these are all relatively small Chinese companies with a limited presence outside of Asia… which means that while the hardware is innovative, it tends to be expensive while coming with very limited customer service or support (and sometimes with quality control issues).

There are many reasons that Valve’s Steam Deck shook up the handheld space when it launched (including price, performance, Valve’s existing ecosystem, and the company’s push to turn Linux into a viable gaming platform). But one of the most exciting things about the Steam Deck was that it was sold by a company that would offer the kind of support you’d expect for a device that sells for $399 – $649.

Asus would likely offer the same level of reassurance to customers, while delivering an even more powerful device… most likely at a higher price point, although Dave2D says Asus assures him the price will be “very competitive.”

via @ASUSROGJP and @ASUS_ROG

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19 replies on “Asus ROG Ally is a handheld gaming PC with a custom AMD chip (it’s real, despite the April 1 announcement)”

  1. I hope this’ll run HoloISO(community built SteamOS). If it can do that better than the steamdeck, great. But, I’d still prefer to support the steam-team’s development of proton, than Asus’ bottom-line.

  2. How’s Asus’ warranty support? Is it actually decent (maybe better in certain countries?)? At least compared to the current handheld companies besides Valve.

    Sometimes I wonder if Valve’s generally good post-sales support of the Steam Deck is even an outlier among larger brands.

  3. This is definitely something I’m interested in, but probably only for the improved screen, and improved overall specs. If price and specs look good, I’ll be buying one for sure. I’m happy to finally see another option from a company that offers warranty in my country.

    For me personally, a major downside to the Asus Ally is that they made the same design mistake as the Steam Deck, they put the only USB connector on the top of the device. I absolutely hate when devices connect cables at an angle that could potentially damage the connector due to weight/tension.

    And that enormous XG GPU connector is even more weight on that connector. I get it, they want people to be able to hold it while connected to a GPU. I still don’t like it.

    I don’t think I’ll be interested in the eGPU. I’m not hot on the Asus XG eGPU concept, with its proprietary connector.

    However, if Asus releases a compatible eGPU enclosure, I would be interested in the eGPU option. I just don’t feel good about spending $1500-2000 on an eGPU that has no resale value, and can’t be repurposed.

    1. I don’t like having the connector at the bottom while using it since these handhelds are relatively large and heavy compared to a pocketable handheld and, at least for me, I eventually end up resting the bottom on something. Hard to do that with a cable plugged into the bottom without risking breaking the port/cable.

      A top side port has its downsides but if there’s only one, I prefer the top. Of course these companies should add multiple ports in the first place.

      1. That’s a fair point. I think there are probably a few different use-cases that would interchangeably require either a top or bottom facing USB connector.

        Most of my concerns about only having a top facing USB connector relate to having the device docked. The upwards-standing USB cable is just bad design.

        If they make a dock with a stupid little USB cable that reaches up to the top of the device (like the Steam Deck dock does), I’m going to 3D print my own dock that mounts the device upside down.

  4. I wonder how this fits in with the RoG phones. Are they losing faith in the viability of the whole concept of gaming phones, like Lenovo? One could argue that this product might be totally unnecessary if they could (somehow) port Windows 11 to the most recent RoG phones, but then again I’ve never tried to run an x86 game on ARM windows so I have no clue how bad that could be.

    1. Oh. I didn’t even notice the graphics dock port. I suppose that’s certainly something the phone couldn’t do. But I’m still wondering if they’ll soon just give up on RoG phones. It may depend on how well this does and how much worse the “I don’t text green bubbles” problem gets.

  5. Next year, maybe.
    So awful by this companies, they announce something than it tooks a million years to roll out and than is already outdated.

  6. Steam is an annoying ecosystem. It has even absorbed many formerly FOSS games that were once decent.

    Asus should develop its own gaming ecosystem, maybe some healthy competition could drive Steam prices down.

    1. I don’t see why offering FOSS games is a mark against Steam. It sounds like a mark against developers who are on the fence over FOSS. Sounds to me like they were just swayed towards earning money.

      Depending on the game, it was probably the right move too. Lots of FOSS games are limited in what they can accomplish without revenue.

      1. It hinders the FOSS community especially if multiple developers were involved in the project only to have one cash in is a great way to boost Steam community at the expense of FOSS community. FOSS is unique, whereas what Steam is doing is not. I am not against the existence of Steam, it needs other ecosystems to compete against. Anything to make the gamer’s life better.

        1. But again, how does this count as a mark against Steam? It’s a mark against the paid software model.

          Steam isn’t doing anything unique, they’re just more accessible than retail distribution/publication. They don’t even ask for exclusivity of titles.

          If an FOSS project gets forked for Steam distribution, it’s not Steam’s fault if the FOSS fork dies from lack of developer interest, or user interest.

          1. I’m not a gamer so I have nothing against a game being developed solely for profit, I only take issue when a FOSS game is converted into a paywall game. The developer could instead use their programming talents to create a entirely new for profit game that is unrelated to the original FOSS game. This FOSS bait and switch approach doesn’t help FOSS. As I don’t care about gaming I honestly don’t care at all about what can benefit Steam. Valve is already doing well rolling in gamer money.

    2. This is a ridiculous statement to make, when in fact Valve has put a lot of effort into porting many Steam games to Linux and Wine, to the great benefit of the FOSS community. Neither Valve nor Steam controls or have any say in the pricing model game developers decide on for their title, whether it is free initially or paid, etc.

      Further more, what OS will Asus be installing on their device?!? Windoze. How will that in any way help the FOSS community, but will in fact dissuade game makers even more from ensuring their titles run in an FOSS ecosystem. Asus has done nothing and never have made any significant contribution to FOSS. So again believing that some gaming platform created by Asus will help FOSS in any way is delusional.

      That is why I support Valve with my Steam deck purchase because they actually promote FOSS.

      1. I suppose that is a good argument. It is too bad Linux won’t ever have the proprietary hardware accessories support to appease the demands of AAA gamers like Windoze has.

        1. Of course that is not the fault of Linux for not having accelerated drivers but have to rely on the half-baked and buggy junk released from the vendors. Instead of having to spend time reverse engineer proprietary hardware, if AMD, Nvidia and others released relevant documentation for their chips without NDA, you don’t think the community would have full functioning graphics within a month. Linux would be able to play any AAA games, run better with higher performance that other platforms and allow plethora of tweaks. Valve has proven this with all the games they have successfully brought over to Steam deck – all they have done have been simply software mods.

  7. The styling reminds me of the OneXPlayer and AOKZOE. Not really my preference.

    Hopefully other large companies enter the market. I’d like to see some more competition in the handhelds with built-in keyboard space.

  8. This is pretty cool though I found that I rarely used my SteamDeck. I enjoy FPS games and the controls lacked the precision of an XBOX or PS controller so the experience for me was never that good. If I can’t get my wife to use it then I may repurpose it as a multimedia device to replace a 4K Fire TV box. I’m sure there is a large market for these but I think I’ll stick with laptop form factor devices going forward. I’m really excited about the idea of an Zen4 based laptop in the 8.9 to 10 inch space.

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