On April 1, 2023, a day traditionally associated with pranks and jokes, Asus decided to break the trend and announced its first handheld gaming device, the ASUS ROG Ally. While many tech companies avoid making significant product announcements on April Fools’ Day due to the risk of getting overshadowed by various jokes or being perceived as “fake news,” Asus took a different approach and confirmed the ASUS ROG Ally’s existence through a tweet.
Unlike recent handheld devices from Logitech or Razer designed for online gaming services or Android mobile games, the ROG (Republic of Gamers) Ally takes the form of a handheld PC, similar to Valve’s Steam Deck. According to introductory videos and reviews from YouTubers who received the device from Asus, the ROG Ally is expected to directly compete with the Steam Deck.
The ROG Ally is believed to offer double the performance of the Steam Deck, thanks to its Custom APU based on the AMD Zen 4 architecture with RDNA3 graphics running on Windows 11. This surpasses the Steam Deck’s APU, which relies on AMD Zen 2+ and RDNA2 graphics. The ROG Ally boasts impressive features, including a 7-inch screen with a 1080P (Full HD) resolution, a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, and a brightness of 500 nits, ensuring an enhanced gaming experience. One notable downside is the aspect ratio, with the ROG Ally featuring a 16:9 ratio compared to Steam Deck’s 16:10. Nevertheless, the 16:9 ratio remains the most common for gaming, especially on handheld devices.
In addition to its remarkable technical specifications and display features, Asus claims that its handheld gaming device can connect to a discrete GPU for increased performance through the ROG Xg Mobile connector (previously featured on the ROG Flow series). This means users can further boost the device’s performance for high-demanding graphics games. Furthermore, the device is designed to be compatible with various platforms, including Windows 11 and Xbox Game Pass.
While the official specifications of the ROG Ally are yet to be announced, notable content creators, such as Dave2D (real name Dave Lee), have been fortunate enough to receive a sample for preliminary testing and evaluation. According to Dave2D’s review, the device can run games at high graphics settings with smooth frame rates, avoiding lag issues. Additionally, the ROG Ally offers a quieter gaming experience compared to the Steam Deck, with measured noise levels of 20dB compared to Steam Deck’s 37dB.
The ROG Ally handheld gaming device is expected to play AAA games directly from various gaming libraries, with optimizations to ensure smooth and stable performance. As mentioned earlier, the device can connect to the ROG XG Mobile eGPU, allowing users to connect an external GPU to maximize performance for high-configured games on larger screens and higher resolutions.
Besides its eGPU support, another notable aspect of this device is its slightly smaller design compared to the Steam Deck, lacking the two touchpads beside the two screens. This suggests that the ROG Ally aims to directly compete with the Steam Deck. Steam Deck is not unfamiliar with competition from major players, having faced challenges from Lenovo’s “Legion Play” and Logitech’s “G Cloud.” However, both of these are mobile cloud gaming systems.
As of now, detailed information about the ROG Ally, including technical specifications and pricing, has not been officially disclosed. Asus’s latest tweets direct gamers to the “Best Buy” website, where they can pre-register for pre-orders and receive updates about the ROG Ally.
ASUS ROG Ally brings a promising set of features, including a powerful Custom APU based on AMD Zen 4 architecture with RDNA3 graphics, offering double the performance compared to the Steam Deck. The device’s 7-inch screen, 1080P resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and 500 nits brightness showcase Asus’s commitment to delivering an immersive gaming experience. Although the 16:9 aspect ratio deviates from the Steam Deck’s 16:10, it aligns with the commonly preferred ratio for gaming on handheld devices.
Moreover, the ROG Ally’s ability to connect to an external GPU via the ROG Xg Mobile connector sets it apart, enabling users to enhance performance for graphics-intensive games. Compatibility with various platforms, including Windows 11 and Xbox Game Pass, further positions the ROG Ally as a versatile gaming solution.
Initial reviews from content creators highlight the device’s capability to handle high graphics settings with smooth frame rates and a quieter gaming experience compared to competitors. While detailed specifications and pricing are yet to be officially disclosed, Asus has directed potential customers to the “Best Buy” website for pre-registration, indicating an impending launch.
As the gaming community eagerly awaits the official release, the ASUS ROG Ally appears to be a significant player in the handheld gaming market, offering a unique blend of power, versatility, and a compact design. Asus’s unconventional choice to reveal this innovative device on April Fools’ Day has sparked excitement and anticipation among gamers, making the ROG Ally a notable entry in the gaming industry.