If you’re considering an Asus ROG Ally gaming handheld but can’t justify the $700 price tag… you’ll probably want to keep waiting. Today the company began selling a cheaper $600 model with a less capable AMD Z1 chip, but early reviews suggest the Windows gaming handheld is too compromised to warrant purchase.
Bottom line: The Z1’s performance would be worse than the $400+ Steam Deck, with no significant battery life benefit to make up for the power loss.
Quick refresher: Three months ago, Asus began shipping the ROG Ally, a Windows gaming handheld designed to rival Valve’s Steam Deck on price and performance. It had a lot going for it, including generally better performance than the Deck, an excellent 120Hz variable refresh rate screen that makes everything run smoother, a delightfully quiet fan, and a plugged-in 30W Turbo mode that makes its Chip Z1 Extreme even more powerful.
But the handheld was held back by helpless software that doesn’t make Windows easy to use, uncertain battery life, a strange performance gap between shipping devices and Apple’s review units. original, and an SD card reader which had a tendency (tendency?) to burn. has been released and is still under investigation.
Asus told me in July that it would send me the new $600 Z1 model to test against the original Z1 Extreme, but it never did. Now I see why: Digital trends, Retro gaming bodyAnd PC Mag show that it’s just not an improvement despite the extra money in your pocket.
If Asus had sent me one, I would have looked for the positive side of battery life: maybe AMD’s weaker chip would have more? But Retro gaming body, in particular, shows that battery life is only slightly better with weaker games and can be comparable or worse with triple-A titles. When fully charged, the Z1 Extreme might actually be more efficient.
None of this is enough to make the Z1 a bad product; as you’ll see in the video above, this system can play a lot of things quite well! And with my $700 Z1 Extreme review unit, I anecdotally find it to be a much better Star Field machine than the Steam Deck, especially if you plug it into the wall.
But if you only have $600 to spend, it seems highly likely that it won’t be the Z1. And if you have $700, I definitely wouldn’t worry about it.
(Note: The 512GB model of the Steam Deck technically costs more than the 512GB ROG Ally at $650 versus $600, but the Steam Deck also starts at $400, and it’s easy to swap one out yourself new drive – just one extra screw. compared to my fan replacement video. Plus it’s on sale right now.)