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When Asus introduced the ROG Ally handheld gaming PC earlier this month the company promised that it would be priced “competitively” with Valve’s Steam Deck. But that promise raised a lot of eyebrows, because Valve’s handheld has a few things going for it that undoubtedly help keep the price low.

But now it seems like Asus may not have been kidding. There’s mounting evidence that a top-tier Asus ROG Ally will sell for $700, delivering better-than-Steam-Deck specs for just about $50 more than Valve’s most expensive model. The entry-level model, however, might be priced much less competitively.

Asus will officially launch the ROG Ally on May 11, so you should probably take anything you see before then with a grain of salt, but word on the street is that there will be two configurations available at launch, both featuring one of AMD’s new Ryzen Z1 series processors:

  • Ryzen Z1 Extreme/16GB/512GB for $700
  • Ryzen Z1/16GB/256GB for $600

Those prices come from leaks including a screenshot allegedly snapped from a (no longer available) Best Buy page shows a $699.99 price tag for the top-of-the-line ROG Ally and info about the Z1 and Z1 Extreme models leaked by SnoopyTech (and confirmed by The Verge and Roland Quandt).

When word first leaked that the high-end model would sell for $700, it generated a fair bit of excitement. For just a little more than the price of a top-of-the-line Steam Deck, Asus could offer a handheld gaming PC with a higher-resolution display, a higher screen refresh rate and a processor that should deliver significantly better CPU and graphics performance. Plus the ROG Ally comes with Windows, which means that most PC games should work.

The lower-priced model though? Sure, it costs just $70 more than a Steam Deck with 256GB of storage, and it could still deliver better-than-Steam-Deck performance… but the margin won’t be nearly as wide.

That’s because while the Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor features 8 Zen 4 CPU cores and 12 RDNA 3 compute units, the Ryzen Z1 chip has a 6-core CPU and just 4 RDNA 3 compute units.

It’d probably be a heck of a deal at $400 or even $500. But I suspect most customers who are willing to spend $600 on a handheld gaming PC would be better served by spending the extra $100 to get a model with a much more powerful GPU.

Both versions of the ROG Ally are expected to feature a 7 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel IPS LCD touchscreen display with a 120 Hz refresh rate, LPDDR5 memory.

There’s currently some speculation that the lower-end model will be positioned as a cloud gaming device though, which explains why AMD and Microsoft have both been quick to point out that Xbox Game Pass Ultimate streaming would work on the ROG Ally.

But $600 is a lot to ask for a cloud gaming system when you could just buy an Android-powered model like the Logitech G Cloud or Razer Edge for $300 to $400… or a $399 entry-level Steam Deck.

All models of the Steam Deck have the same processor, but the entry-level model has 64GB of eMMC storage, while higher-priced versions have 256GB or 512GB SSDs.

ROG Ally (Z1 Extreme)ROG Ally Z1Steam Deck
Display7 inches
1920 x 1080 pixels
120 Hz
7 inches
1280 x 1800 pixels
60 Hz
ProcessorAMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme
8 x Zen 4 CPU cores / 16 threads
15 – 30W TDP
AMD Ryzen Z1
6 x Zen 4 CPU cores / 12 threads
15 – 30W TDP
AMD “Aerith”
4 x Zen 2 CPU cores / 8 threads
4 – 15W TDP
Graphics12 x RDNA 3 compute units4 x RDNA 3 compute units8 x RDNA 2 compute units
RAM16GB
LPDDR5
? GB
LPDDR5
16GB
LPDDR5
Storage512GB
PCIe NVMe
M.2 2230
? GB
PCIe NVMe
M.2 2230
64GB eMMC
256GB PCIe NVMe
512GB high-speed PCI NVMe
M.2 2230
OSWindows 11
Asus ROG Armory Crate (game launcher & settings)
SteamOS (Arch Linux-based)
Windows 11 supported
Price$700 (estimated)$600 (estimated)$399 (64GB)
$529 (256GB)
$649 (512GB)

While it’s disappointing that we’re only expecting to see a $100 price difference between ROG Ally models with Z1 and Z1 Extreme chips, it’s still a little surprising to see that Asus has been able to keep the price for the Z1 Extreme model as low as $700.

Handheld gaming PCs from other companies like AYA, GPD and One Netbook often sell for $1,000 or more. But those are smaller companies that probably have to pay more for components that are ordered in small batches than a larger company like Asus.

 

But it’s been widely speculated that Valve can afford to sell the Steam Deck for $399 to $649 because the company doesn’t need a high profit margin on the hardware itself. Every Steam Deck customers is a potential Steam customer… if people spend enough money on games and other content from the Steam store, then Valve can effectively subsidize the costs of its hardware with software sales.

Asus doesn’t operate its own game store. One of the selling points for a device like the ROG Ally is that it ships with Windows 11 and will support most popular game clients and stores. That includes Steam, but also the Epic Games Store, EA Origin, GOG, Xbox, and other platforms.

The Steam Deck can run games from sources other than the Steam store. But its default Linux-based operating system is designed to put Steam front and center.

Oh, and that’s another thing: there’s no licensing fee required to ship a computer with the Linux-based SteamOS, while PC makers that ship systems with Windows typically do typically have to pay a license fee to Microsoft. But there’s a chance that Microsoft may be offering reduced fees to Asus and/or other handheld makers in order to undercut one of the Steam Deck’s pricing advantages. There’s some history behind that idea: Microsoft has offered cheap or free Windows licenses to companies making small-screen devices in the past in order to stay competitive with Linux-based netbooks or Android-based tablets.

This article was first published April 27, 2023 and most recently updated April 29, 2023 with leaked info about the ROG Ally with Z1 pricing.

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  1. Looks good on paper, but the round D-Pad is an instant fail. These round D-Pads usually only do 4 directions, the 4 diagonals… not fun to use at all.

      1. Are the priced confirmed now?

        $600 Z1 is compelling, and $700 Z1e is an instant-buy. I’m expecting supply issues and scalpers.

        The skeptic in me says these leaked prices are too good to be true, the “ROG” branding has never been associated with affordable prices.

        1. The exact prices haven’t been confirmed, but they seem to be exactly in the ballpark that Asus alluded to. They confirmed that the pricing will be competitive with the top-tier Steam Deck mode.

          The only part of the price I’m not entirely convinced of is the $600 Z1 model, I think it should be cheaper.

          The Z1 model seems far too low-end for only being $100 cheaper. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be $550 or something.

          1. I’m pretty sure they said “competitive” which might exclude the Valve SteamDeck and only focus on direct competitors like GPD.

            ROG is an expensive brand. Initially I thought ASUS would be using the r7-6800u and have one SKU, with different Storage options. Probably one for USD $700 with 256GB SSD, and a 1TB SSD model for USD $999.

            Now with the reveal of the Z1 and Z1e chipsets, we could expect them to charge more. But the “leaks” saying the pricing is $600 / $700 is really suspicious.

            At $700 the Z1e is an instant-buy level. Whilst the $600 is a compelling offer. Only solace for the VSD is the $400 base model. Not much room for competitors outside of that, perhaps a niche for the GPD Win Max-2 for being a competent Handheld Gaming Device and a competent Portable Laptop in one.

          2. @Kangal Asus specifically said the ROG Ally will be competitive with a top-of-the-line Steam Deck.

            I don’t think anything about the price seems suspicious, it seems to be exactly in line with the expectation that Asus set.

          3. @Grant
            Do you have a source?

            According to The Phawx, they didn’t specify. He said they went out of their way to not reference Valve or the Steam Deck in any way. He said they said it would be “competitive in the market”.

            So that might mean this is competing price-wise against the GPD Win-4 ($800) or ($1300) GPD Win-Max-2, and other-like competitors.
            Or it could mean it’s competing against the $400-$650 Valve Steam Deck.

            It’s not like Home Consoles which sees better price and performance constantly, that is a mainstream product. This is a niche market, and in some-terms stagnant. We haven’t had disruption since the SteamDeck. And before that it was the GPD Win2. That is why the “leaks” are very suspicious. As I stated, the $600 Base Ally with the Z1 is phenomenal value, I would rate the best in the industry. But then you have the $700 Pro Ally with the Z1e chipset, it’s even better, and now in the instant-buy category of value.

          4. @Kangal I quoted that line from Brad’s earlier article about it. https://liliputing.com/asus-rog-ally-handheld-gaming-pc-launches-may-11-here-are-most-of-the-key-specs/

            Although I’m not sure where that news came from, the Asus press release linked in the article doesn’t mention it.

            Either way, I’m 100% convinced by the accidental release that Best Buy made last week. They accidentally opened up their product page for the Z1 extreme model with $699 pricing. There was a screenshot posted on Reddit.

          5. @Grant

            Yeah, turns out I was right. We simply don’t know what the price will be. I saw the leaks, and frankly they aren’t too reliable. Best-Buy puts any figure in there as a placeholder, but somehow they made the page go live.

            Brad/Liliputing was wrong. His statement is not factual. The Phawx is correct, ASUS is going way out of their way to refrain from making comparisons to the Valve SteamDeck.

            Despite my skepticism, I’d be glad if the pricing turns out to be real. But then there is really Zero Profits there for ASUS. Hence why that pricing is very suspicious. So hope for the best, expect the worst.

  2. I hope another largish company takes on the smaller handheld with physical keyboard space.

    1. Physical keyboard or not, they have to be smaller.
      They are size of medium keyboard, at least Steam Deck.
      I wonder if we would use smartphones in size of keyboard 300 mm length.
      PORTABLE doesn’t mean POCKETABLE. And this has to be pocketable.

  3. Probably subsidized by Microsoft who doesn’t like gamers getting away from their bloated unstable anti-consumer opaque spyware.

    1. …Or perhaps by tencent, who has sponsored hardware products in the hopes that people will use their software, although they’ve mostly stuck to Android devices in the past. Asus also doesn’t have to do as much work maintaining the operating system, and since they can speak Chinese, they can probably have a much easier time getting supply contracts for components.

    2. Plenty of ryzen 5 mini pc under $300 and ryzen 7 $400 p, why do you think it’s impossible to use same cpu in $700 handheld without subsidize?

      1. I’m not sure about the specific mini pcs you’re referring to, but those are probably equipped with older Ryzen parts, a barebone Asus PN53 with a 6600H comes at $430 on newegg. And we should keep in mind that we’re talking about a newer and higher end part and we need to add memory, storage, high refresh screen, battery and whatnot.

        On the other hand AOKZOE has announced a 7840U handheld with 32GB ram, 512GB storage and an 8-inch screen for $800 (early orders, $1000 retail price), so it’s possible that in general the costs of electronics has decreased significantly enough to make similar deals possible now.

        1. Am Talking about New Minisforum mini pc, they are Rdna2 but cost around $400 or sometime cheaper.

  4. I’m definitely interested in both models, depending on what eGPU options Asus offers.

    If they offer a 4070 option, I’ll consider buying the Z1 Extreme model, and I’ll try to use it as a handheld/desktop combo and replace my aging gaming PC.

    If they’re going to stick to the 4090 being the only option, I’ll buy the cheaper model Ally, and I’ll just use it as a handheld.

    1. “…I’ll consider buying the Z1 Extreme model, and I’ll try to use it as a handheld/desktop combo and replace my aging gaming PC.”

      I’m right there with you.

      1. The only concern I have with using it as my desktop (aside from the current lack of a reasonable eGPU), is storage.

        There’s no way I could use a gaming PC with only 512gb of storage. That’s like 3 games these days.

        I’m also not sure what kind of experience you get using external storage on Steam. I’m not sure how annoying it would be to get Steam to agree to sync seamlessly when I dock it.

        2tb M.2 2230 drives are like $200 for a reputable brand like WD.

        Based on Asus’ past pricing for lower end XG Mobile eGPUs, I’m expecting to pay about $1000 for a lower end GPU.

        So with an SSD upgrade, and a potentially reasonably GPU, I’m looking at about $1900.

        This doesn’t really seem worth it. I’ll probably just get the Ally alone and use it as a handheld.

        1. I just wish they’d take it a step further and offer 32GB RAM to help future-proof it a little.

          But at least the SSD is upgradeable…

          I dunno. I just hope they allow access to the BIOS and booting from optical or USB. That could make an interesting portable linux machine.

          1. p.s. I think what I would personally do if I got this, is buy a second SSD and swap it, leaving the windows one untouched, and see if I could put linux on it.
            I’ll let others be the guinea pig and see if they can get linux working with it before I decide to buy or not.

  5. The speculation about the Deck being subsided by software sales is a big fat nothingburger. It all arose from the one word “painful” about “price” that Gabe Newell threw out there that had the most obvious connotation of margins and profits, but that is the not true meaning. The other connotation and what was the actual reason that was painful was they had to use cheaper, lower quality components such as the slow micro SD card reader and the sub-sRGB, washed out 800p display.

    1. It might not be confirmed, but it’s certainly a contributing factor: the fact that Steam makes money through game sales means they don’t need a high profit margin on hardware to break even on Steam Deck sales.

      That’s not an advantage that Asus, AYA, GPD, One Netbook, or any other company has. And that means that in addition to sourcing materials and paying for R&D and manufacturing costs for non-standard hardware, they need to make enough money from hardware sales to justify the pricing.

      For smaller Chinese companies that’s typically meant products that cost more than a laptop with similar specs that have inconsistent quality controls and spotty customer service and support.

      So one of the key reasons people were excited to see a more established company like Asus enter this space was that there was a high chance that the product would be better supported. The fact that it’s priced this competitively priced is a bit of a surprise.

    2. I don’t know how you could possibly deny the fact that Valve profits from the games that Steam Deck owners purchase…