Asus ROG Ally X hands-on: a good, comfy first impression

ROG Ally X hands-on Computex 2024
Image: Chris Button

Asus hit many of the right notes when it announced the upgraded ROG Ally X gaming handheld. Double the battery capacity, more and faster RAM, and a more comfortable design? Music to my ears.

I went hands-on with the ROG Ally X at Computex 2024, where Asus displayed a fleet of new devices about to hit shelves. Without a doubt, the black finish is much nicer than the original model’s white. White tech and peripherals are far more prone to discolouration over time, not to mention a tendency to prominently show blemishes.

Having reviewed the original ROG Ally last year, I’m familiar with the benefits and drawbacks of handheld gaming PCs. They’re great for playing most games, hitting a sweet spot of power between a Nintendo Switch and a dedicated gaming laptop.

The downside? Running hardware-intensive games drains the battery in a flash. You’d be lucky to get much more than an hour playing any graphically demanding game like the latest Forza.

Battery life is one of the biggest improvements touted by the ROG Ally X. Doubling the battery capacity to 80Wh, Asus’ gaming division wants to enable longer handheld gaming sessions.

Naturally, I couldn’t test the battery life on the Computex show floor. However, I did get a feel for the design changes and how they will impact the overall experience.

ROG Ally X is definitely more comfortable

Despite carrying an extra 70 grams than its predecessor, I didn’t notice any substantial difference in how the Ally X felt to hold. I did, however, observe that its controller grips fit comfier in my hands. They’re rounder and deeper, making it easier to hold onto the device. I also liked the grippier texture of the grips, made up of a pattern of tiny “ROG” text.

I struggled to hold the original Ally for extended periods when I reviewed it last year. A combination of its size and shallow grips placed stress on my wrists after a while. I can already tell I won’t have as hard a time with the Ally X; its controller feels more designed for human hands than the 2023 model.

I do need to add the caveat that my time trying the ROG Ally X was limited by the fact it was tethered to a table at the Asus booth. So, while I got a reasonable feel for its design, it wasn’t possible to try playing games at different angles or while seated due to the booth layout.

Other improvements like the increased memory and storage won’t become apparent until testing the device for more than a brief session. Based on the original, I already know this thing will play lots of games and play them well.

Now, the ROG Ally X will play said games for longer and be much more comfortable. At $1,599, $300 more expensive than the base Ally, it encroaches dangerously into entry-level gaming laptop territory. For example, clamshells like the Asus TUF A16 frequently go on sale for less than $2,000.

Regardless, if the handheld gaming PC form factor is what you want, the ROG Ally X is shaping up to be a strong improver. It’s out soon, arriving in Australia on 22 July via JB Hi-Fi and the Asus E-store.

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Chris Button attended Computex 2024 as a guest of Intel.