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The Asus ROG Ally is a handheld gaming PC with a 7 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel IPS LCD display featuring a 120 Hz refresh rate, 16GB of LPDDR5-6400 memory, a 512GB PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD and an AMD Ryzen Z1 series processor featuring RDNA 3 graphics.

First announced in May, the ROG Ally went on sale in June. But at the time there was only one model available: a $700 handheld with an AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor. Now you can also buy a slightly cheaper version: the ROG ALLY with AMD Z1 is now available for $600 from Asus and Best Buy.

So what are you sacrificing if you opt for the lower-cost model? It has the same screen, memory, storage, processor, and Windows 11 software with the Asus ROG Armory Crate game launcher and settings controller.

But while the AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor features 8 Zen 4 CPU cores and 12 RDNA 3 compute units, the entry-level Ryzen Z1 features a 6-core CPU (with a mix of Zen 4 and Zen 4c cores) and only 4 RDNA 3 graphics cores.

And that makes a pretty significant difference. Early reviews of the Asus ROG Ally with a Z1 Extreme chip found that it did indeed deliver on its promise of offering better-than-Steam Deck performance under certain conditions. But it was held back a bit by its software (Windows wasn’t designed from the ground up for handhelds the way the Steam Deck’s Linux-based SteamOS was) and poor battery life.

The cheaper model has far less graphics horsepower and reviewers note that not only is the Rog Ally with a Z1 chip not able to deliver the same level of gaming performance as models with the Z1 Extreme processor, but it also lags behind Valve’s Steam Deck. That’s despite the fact that the Steam Deck uses older CPU and graphics architecture.

While it’s nice to see Asus offer a cheaper option for shoppers on a budget… it’s hard to make the case that this model is enough cheaper to justify the performance cut, when it still costs more than an entry-level or mid-range Steam Deck.

ROG Ally (Z1 Extreme)ROG Ally (Z1)Steam Deck
Display7 inches
1920 x 1080 pixels
120 Hz
7 inches
1280 x 800 pixels
60 Hz
ProcessorAMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme
8 x Zen 4 CPU cores / 16 threads
9 – 30W TDP
AMD Ryzen Z1
6 x Zen 4 CPU cores / 12 threads
9 – 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
Storage512 GB
M.2 2230
512GB high-speed PCI NVMe
M.2 2230
Battery40 Wh
OSWindows 11
Asus ROG Armory Crate (game launcher & settings)
SteamOS (Arch Linux-based)
Windows 11 supported
Price$700$600$399 (64GB)
$529 (256GB)
$649 (512GB)

That said, the Asus ROG Ally, Valve Steam Deck, and upcoming Lenovo Legion Go are still all considerably cheaper than most of the handheld gaming PCs we’ve seen from smaller companies like AYA, AYN, GPD, and One Netbook, while also offering better customer service and support.

So I’m not mad at Asus for offering an additional option. I’m just not sure why anyone would buy one for the list price.

via Digital Trends, Gamespot, PC Gamer, PC Mag, and VideoCardz

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  1. I poked one of these at a store display recently. Glowing RGB rings around analog sticks does in fact look considerably sillier in person than it does in the marketing images.