Asus ROG Ally review

Asus ROG Ally review: portable gaming power


As Valve’s Steam Deck remains conspicuously absent from Australia, there’s a big opportunity for a handheld gaming PC to grab the local market by the scruff of the neck. One of the first of such devices to officially launch here, the Asus ROG Ally makes a decent fist of the Steam Deck-sized gap.

Not without its quirks, the Ally is an impressively high-powered piece of portable hardware. For those who persevere through the software oddities of Windows 11 and the device’s short battery life, it’s a great way to play an extensive library of PC games untethered to a desk or TV. After a long day of working at a computer, the last thing I want to do is play games sitting at a desk. I love playing games wherever and whenever I want, which is why the Ally appeals to me.

At $1,299, the ROG Ally sits somewhere between a Nintendo Switch console and a dedicated gaming laptop. Sure, you can import a Steam Deck but run the risk of no local support if anything goes wrong. With the Lenovo Legion Go on the horizon, and Ayaneo launching a new model seemingly every other month, we’re approaching an exciting time for portable gaming hardware.

Asus ROG Ally review

First impressions

Although I’m not the biggest fan of white-coloured gaming hardware thanks to my sweaty hands causing controllers to discolour over time, I concede that the Ally is visually striking. In addition to style, it also sits nicely in your hands, despite eclipsing the size of a Nintendo Switch. For comparison, an ROG Ally weighs 608 grams versus the roughly 400 grams of a Switch. A Steam Deck, on the other hand, tips the scales at a slightly higher 669 grams.

Even with a decent weight distribution, there were times I struggled to hold the Ally aloft for extended play sessions. When sitting in a comfy chair or anywhere with a surface to anchor my grip, it was fine. However, on flights or lying in bed with limited space to lean the device on, discomfort kicked in as my admittedly scrawny hands and wrists quickly fatigued.

Its controls felt comfortable and responsive, and the programmable rear bumpers give you more customisation options. Xbox owners will feel at home here, with a similar button layout and asymmetrical sticks. One drawback compared to the Steam Deck and Legion Go is that the Ally doesn’t include a trackpad, which can help play strategy games on a smaller device.

Broad software support is one of the biggest selling points of the ROG Ally. Running Windows 11, it supports a range of PC game launchers like Steam, Xbox, Epic Games, and more. As with a conventional PC, it’s super easy to link your various accounts to download and access your purchases and subscriptions. Platform-agnostic gaming is a big focus in sectors of the industry now, which the Ally demonstrates capably.

On top of the Windows 11 operating system is a bespoke software wrapper referred to as Armoury Crate SE. It’s a version of Asus’ game optimisation software made specifically for the ROG Ally. It works well enough at navigating your library and enabling quick setting adjustments but does require some patience to navigate at times. A more accurate assessment would be that Armoury Crate SE improves the portable Windows 11 experience. From a user experience perspective, the Ally is at its best when you bypass Windows as much as possible.

It feeds into the ongoing debate between console and PC gaming. One of the biggest benefits of playing on a dedicated game console is using a dedicated operating system made from the ground up for the hardware. Supporting a frictionless experience, the expectation is that you boot up a game and it works.

In sharing more commonality with a PC than a dedicated gaming platform, the ROG Ally functions as a jack-of-all-trades. You benefit from the modularity and customisation afforded by PC hardware, along with the headaches that come with it.

Most importantly, it’s adept at playing a wide range of games. From big blockbuster experiences to smaller indie titles, the ROG Ally overwhelmingly succeeds at handling nearly everything you throw at it.

Asus ROG Ally specifications

ProcessorAMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme
Memory16GB LPDDR5
Display7-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) 120Hz touch-enabled IPS display
Storage512GB PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD
Type-C 65W AC adapter
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6E (802.11ax)
Bluetooth 5.2
3.5mm Combo Audio Jack
ROG XG Mobile Interface and USB Type-C combo port
UHS-II microSD card reader
Price (RRP)$1,299
WarrantyOne year
Official websiteAsus Australia


Software and user experience

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of benchmarks, and the device’s game-playing capabilities, the ROG Ally’s user experience warrants examination. As alluded to before, the Armoury Crate SE software works efficiently but only protects you so much from the awkward influence of Windows 11. On a PC or laptop with a keyboard and mouse, using Windows 11 is fairly straightforward. With the touch-enabled display and gamepad controls of the Ally, it’s unwieldy. Not in any devastatingly deal-breaking way, though. It manifests in lots of small annoyances, like trying to access Task Manager when something doesn’t respond as expected, and the friction of swapping between gamepad, text, and touch inputs.

Software is one advantage the Steam Deck has over its competitors so far. Its SteamOS platform focuses purely on browsing and playing games. Meanwhile, the ROG Ally works best when Windows 11 gets out of the way and lets you focus on gaming. In a couple of ways, the Armoury Crate SE overlay achieves this for the most part. It functions as a series of menus, providing access to different game launchers and installed games without needing to navigate the Windows desktop. Another main use of Armoury Crate SE is a customisable quick-access menu mapped to one of the face buttons. At any time, you can access this menu to adjust many different settings like brightness, resolution, and power options. It also lets you quickly toggle performance monitoring overlays to check frame rates and other metrics in real time. This software doesn’t completely eradicate contact with Windows 11 but optimises an OS not built for gaming the best it can.

Arguably the various ROG Ally performance modes are the most important to tweak. These determine how much power the device uses, which in turn impacts performance and battery life. Out of the box, there are three preset power modes: Silent (10W), Performance(15W), and Turbo (25W). When plugged into a wall outlet, the ROG Ally also supports a 30W Turbo mode if you need an extra bit of grunt. You’re lucky to get more than an hour out of the battery on Turbo when playing graphically demanding games. Not every game needs lots of raw power to run smoothly, which is where the lower wattage settings come in handy, getting you closer to 2-3 hours on a full battery.

Considering the target market of enthusiast gamers, I don’t think the relatively short battery life is a significant factor. It’s rare to not have access to a wall outlet when needed, and USB-C power banks already line the bags of many tech-savvy travellers. Just about every device balances a combination of power, portability and battery life. The ROG Ally is no exception.


My gaming habits are eclectic, to say the least. Between playing the biggest releases like Mario and Spider-Man, I also enjoy playing smaller experiences that drive creativity through gameplay and storytelling. To reflect this, I played a range of games with varying hardware requirements to put the Ally through its paces.

Tapping into my Xbox Game Pass subscription, both Forza Horizon 5 and the recent Hitman trilogy ran well on the portable device. Although I’d normally play Hitman on a TV due to the many visual cues you need to process at any given moment, it demonstrated the hardware’s capacity for big games. Even slightly older games like The Witcher 3 still demand reasonable power levels, which the Ally met without trouble. Firing up the Epic Games launcher, I also easily ran Fortnite at better graphic settings and frame rates than the Nintendo Switch.

Even with such power in a portable form factor, it was the far more understated Dave the Diver that captured my attention the most. A 2D underwater exploration game mixed with a sushi restaurant management sim, it was perfectly suited for the handheld format. Although it’s now on Nintendo Switch too, Dave the Diver launched on Steam well before any other platform. PC games generally cost less than those on console, so a combination of value and availability is a benefit that offsets the higher up-front investment of PC hardware over time.

In a cheeky bid to trip up the Ally, I also attempted to play Returnal, a PC port of a visually spectacular PlayStation 5 game that’s notoriously demanding to run. Try as I might, no combination of settings or power modes succeeded in running Returnal for more than a few seconds before crashing each time. So, the ROG Ally can’t run everything, but it does a mighty fine job at nearly everything else.


In an attempt to quantify the ROG Ally’s performance, I ran several synthetic benchmark tests in addition to a couple of in-game benchmarks. I struggled initially to get some of the tests running properly, likely because they’re aimed at conventional PC and laptop hardware (and Windows 11 on the Ally being tricky to navigate), but I eventually obtained some interesting results.


DeviceTime Spy score
Lenovo Legion Pro 7i (Gen 8)13,796
Asus TUF A169196
Asus ROG Ally (30W)3198
Asus ROG Ally (25W)2972
Asus ROG Ally (15W)2565
Lenovo Yoga 9i1655
Asus ROG Ally (10W)1379


DeviceCPU (single-core)CPU (multi-core)GPU (Open CL)
Lenovo Legion Pro 7i (Gen 8)287017089158787
Asus TUF A161986963269434
Asus ROG Ally (30W)25431218131924

Based on tests using 3DMark and Geekbench, the AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme chip housed in the ROG Ally packs a punch. Its CPU performance compares favourably to other laptops and the graphics outperform more expensive devices without a dedicated GPU, like the Lenovo Yoga 9i. As expected, laptops with discrete graphics cards, like the Lenovo Legion Pro 7i and Asus TUF A16, comfortably record higher benchmark numbers.

It also shows the tangible difference between the Ally’s power modes. I found that CPU performance remained consistent but the GPU figures varied noticeably at different wattage levels.

Forza Horizon 5 benchmark

Asus ROG Ally power settingGraphics presetAverage frame rate (fps)

Hitman Dartmoor benchmark (Ultra settings)

Asus ROG Ally power settingAverage frame rate (fps)
30W (FSR 2 Performance enabled)51.36

Although a relatively small sample size due to time constraints, these figures show the ROG Ally punching out reasonable frame rates across different settings and power levels. Visual fidelity isn’t as noticeable on a smaller display, so you could easily hit playable frame rates by turning down some of the in-game graphical settings.

As shown with the Hitman benchmarks, you can also benefit from AMD’s upscaling technology. Games optimised for AMD hardware contain a setting called FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR). It renders the visuals at a lower resolution before upscaling it to the target output, boosting performance at the same power level. Not every game supports FSR, so Radeon Super Resolution (RSR) is another option that operates at a system level to achieve a similar outcome.

Who is the Asus ROG Ally for?

In the absence of an official Steam Deck release in Australia, I love that the ROG Ally lets me access my extensive PC library away from the desk. I don’t love Windows 11 on a portable gaming device, but the Armoury Crate SE software mitigated most of my frustrations.

Over the past six years, my Nintendo Switch has been my go-to device for on-the-go gaming, but a handheld gaming PC like the Ally could well replace it, pending what eventuates as the Switch’s successor. Granted, the Ally is roughly triple the original Switch’s price but its versatility in playing more powerful games across a range of different launchers is a strong benefit.

Where I see the greatest demand for the ROG Ally is among gaming enthusiasts who don’t want to spend thousands of dollars to play PC games. Most of the PC games I want to play don’t need bleeding-edge hardware. I could get a reasonable productivity laptop and an Ally for less money than many of the gaming laptops available. That said, if you need a laptop also capable of gaming, consider the TUF A16, which regularly sells for less than $2,000.

Made for people willing to navigate and optimise PC settings, the ROG Ally rewards your patience with impressive performance in a convenient form factor.

Asus ROG Ally
A powerful handheld gaming PC, the ROG Ally capably fills the Steam Deck-shaped hole in Australia. If it had a dedicated OS instead of Windows 11, it'd be even better.
Value for money
Ease of use
Powerful and portable
Supports many different games and launchers
Armoury Crate SE is well-implemented
Windows 11 causes some usability friction
Short battery life