If you’re interested in purchasing an Asus ROG Ally gaming handheld but find the $700 price tag too steep, you may want to hold off for now. Asus has recently launched a more affordable $600 model, equipped with a lower-performance AMD Z1 chip. However, early reviews suggest that the Windows gaming handheld may be too compromised to justify the purchase.
The Z1 model’s performance reportedly falls short compared to the $400-and-up Steam Deck, without any significant improvement in battery life to offset the decrease in power. This makes it a less appealing option for gamers who prioritize performance and longevity.
To provide some context, Asus released the ROG Ally three months ago to compete with Valve’s Steam Deck in terms of price and performance. The original model boasted better performance than the Steam Deck, thanks to features like an impressive 120Hz variable refresh rate screen, a quiet fan, and a Turbo mode that enhanced the Z1 Extreme chip’s capabilities.
However, the handheld device faced several setbacks, such as inadequate software that made using Windows on a handheld device challenging, mediocre battery life, a performance gap between shipping devices and review units, and a problematic SD card reader that had a tendency to burn out.
Asus had promised to send the new $600 Z1 model for testing, but they never followed through. Now, it seems apparent why they chose not to. Reviews from Digital Trends, Retro Game Corps, and PC Mag indicate that the Z1 model offers no improvements despite the lower price point.
One potential silver lining of the Z1 model could have been better battery life due to the use of AMD’s weaker chip. However, Retro Game Corps’ review, in particular, demonstrates that battery life is only slightly better when playing less demanding games and can be comparable or even worse when running triple-A titles. Surprisingly, the Z1 Extreme chip might actually be more efficient when running at full capacity.
Despite its flaws, the Z1 model is not necessarily a bad product. As shown in the accompanying video, the device is capable of running many games reasonably well. In fact, in terms of being a Starfield machine, it performs better than the Steam Deck, especially when connected to a power source.
That said, if you only have $600 to spend, the Z1 model may not be the best choice. And if you have the budget of $700, it is advised to steer clear of it altogether.
(Note: Although the 512GB model of the Steam Deck technically retails for more than the 512GB ROG Ally, priced at $650 compared to $600, it’s worth noting that the Steam Deck starts at $400. Additionally, it’s easy to replace the Steam Deck’s drive yourself with just one extra screw, as shown in the fan replacement video. Moreover, the Steam Deck is currently on sale.)
In conclusion, while the Asus ROG Ally Z1 model provides a more affordable option for those interested in a gaming handheld, it falls short in terms of performance and battery life compared to the Steam Deck. Therefore, enthusiasts should carefully consider their budget and gaming preferences before making a purchase decision.