Asus ROG Ally reviewon May 15, 2023 at 10:47 Tech Advisor

At a glance

Expert’s Rating


Superb gaming performance Excellent 120Hz displayRuns all PC gamesNot tied to one cloud game servicePremium, intuitive design 


Poor battery life Some software bugs No LTE optionExpensive

Our Verdict

Despite a few hiccups, the ROG Ally offers one of most complete gaming experience you’ll find on any handheld console. But are you willing to pay its premium price tag and suffer its flaws?

Price When Reviewed


Best Prices Today: Asus ROG Ally


Handheld consoles have been around since the late 1980s, but it recently feels like we’ve entered a new era with home console gaming coming to portable devices.

From the Nintendo Switch being the only realistic option for such handheld quality a few years ago, we now have credible competitors from the likes of Valve, Logitech and Onex. These are consoles that don’t play traditional physical game cartridges, cards, or discs, but instead stream or download games from services such as Steam or Xbox Game Pass.

But with the ROG Ally, Asus wants to take things to the next level. Unlike rivals, it runs a full version of Windows 11, meaning you can play the same range of games as any PC. Alongside dedicated AMD flagship processors and a 120Hz display, Asus means business. 

But does it live up to the hype, and more importantly, that high price? I believe so, but only if you’re willing to fully embrace the handheld form factor and its compromises.

Design & build

Premium but bulky designImpressive Xbox-style controlsGood range of ports

The ROG Ally is a real statement of intent from Asus, and that starts with design. It’s a bulky, imposing device with a distinctive gaming aesthetic, yet still feels slick enough to have mainstream appeal. I’m not hugely into modern gamer aesthetics, but have no issue using this in public. 

A reasonably light weight of 608g and thickness of 21.2mm are a big selling point of the Ally, meaning you can take it almost anywhere with you. For context, that’s thinner and lighter than the Valve Steam Deck, despite both devices having a 7in display. 

But crucially for such an expensive device, the premium look and feel isn’t compromised to get there. The white finish won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but I feel it contributes to a design that’s sleek and modern. If you’ve used the white Nintendo Switch OLED, you’ll know what I mean. 

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

As good as it looks, though, an alternative colour option would’ve been nice. Unlike with phones, you can’t just cover it up with a case here. However, the device does a good job of avoiding picking up visible dirt marks, something I was concerned about. Your hands can get sweaty while playing, but it won’t show. 

While the design of the Ally is fairly generic, Asus has still managed to put its own stamp on the device. Small ROG-specific touches can be found across the device, from a large logo on the back to RGB lighting around both joysticks. The latter can quickly become annoying, particularly if you leave it on the default ‘rainbow’ mode, but this can easily be customised or turned off altogether. 

The joysticks themselves are where my thumbs naturally rest, offering a comfortable experience. My only complaint is the lack of padding, which can become uncomfortable when making lots of quick movements. 

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

Asus has opted for Xbox-style ABXY buttons in the top-right corner, plus a directional pad diagonally opposite. Both are clicky and responsive, making them easy to press no matter the game.

Triggers and bumpers on the top of the Ally are just as good, but Asus has added a few extra physical buttons of its own. The most notable are two on the back of the device, which the company is calling ‘Macro 1’ and ‘Macro 2’.  While not relevant in many games, one-tap access to functions of your choice can make a big difference in some titles. It’s certainly a nice option to have.  

Shortcuts to the View, Command Center, Armoury Crate and Menu sections on the front of the device are more mundane, but still worth having. Combined, the physical buttons and joysticks deliver a more convincing experience than even a dedicated controller.

The physical buttons and joysticks deliver a more convincing experience than even a dedicated controller

At the top, the power button doubles as a fingerprint sensor, which is a cool addition. It’s quite small, but still relatively fast and reliable. Next to it, you’ll find volume controls and a surprisingly good port selection.

Alongside a USB-C port for charging, you get a microSD slot for expandable storage, a 3.5mm audio jack, and dedicated connector for ROG XG Mobile, Asus’ external GPU system. 

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

The latter can supposedly deliver a big boost to the already excellent performance, but I wasn’t sent one to test out. It also costs well over $1,000/£1,000 and makes the Ally much less portable. For the vast majority of people, it’s totally unnecessary. 

Screen & speakers

7in, Full HD display120Hz refresh rateImpressive dual speakers

The display on the ROG Ally is one of its key strengths. It’s a 7in, Full HD (1920×1080) IPS touchscreen, complete with Gorilla Glass Victus for extra durability. That resolution gives it a classic 16:9 aspect ratio, meaning almost all games can run natively. 

It’s a real step up from the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch OLED, which are both limited to 720p output. You also get a 120Hz refresh rate on the Ally, rather than the standard 60Hz on the other devices. 

With all that in mind, it’ll come as no surprise to learn that the display here is a joy to use. Gameplay looks superb, with rich, vibrant colours and lots of detail. On a screen of this size, you certainly don’t need a higher resolution. 

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

When loading up a game for the first time, I was genuinely shocked by how good the screen looked. It’s not quite high-end PC or TV console level, but it’s not far off. This is a premium display.

Prior to testing, I was concerned about how the LCD panel here would compare to OLED. But darker colours and contrast are still impressive on the ROG Ally, and it doesn’t feel like you’re missing out.  

When loading up a game for the first time, I was genuinely shocked by how good the screen looked

The display’s 7ms response time isn’t the greatest in modern gaming, but you only have to use the touchscreen to input text and load up games, so it doesn’t negatively affect gameplay.

Given how portable the Ally is, you might want to use it outside. A maximum brightness of 502 nits means that’s very much possible. 

My only complaint here is the bezels, which are much thicker than they need to be. There’s a ROG logo below the screen, but no webcam at the top – there’s no camera at all. This is a shame. Unlike a tablet, there’s plenty of space to comfortably hold the device already, so Asus has no real excuse for not squeezing one in.

However, the ROG Ally does benefit from dual stereo speakers, which emit sound from both the front and back of the device. The room-filling audio they provide is solid, considering the size of the device, with an impressive depth to music and sound effects. 

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

In-game character voices sound crystal-clear too, though an extra hit of bass and higher max volume would be nice. For the best experience, you’ll still need to connect headphones – whether they’re wired or wireless via Bluetooth.

Specs & gaming performance

AMD Ryzen Z1 and Radeon graphicsSuperb, console-level performanceLimited storage, but microSD expansion

Asus has made a big deal of the performance abilities of the ROG Ally, and it’s easy to see why. 

The device is powered by the Ryzen Z1 Series, new AMD chips that are specifically designed for handheld consoles. Asus claims both Ryzen Z1 and Z1 Extreme models offer flagship-level performance, but only the latter is coming to the UK – it’s the version I’ve been testing. 

The resolution can be increased to 1920×1080 in Settings

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

While integrated AMD Radeon graphics and 16GB of DDR5 RAM (on both models) doesn’t sound particularly impressive, the results are. Performance is excellent, and in line with cheap gaming laptops in the £600-£800 price range – as the benchmarks below show:

Crucially, that’s reflected in real-world usage. I tried some of the most demanding PC games you can play, across three of the most popular platforms: Xbox Game Pass, EA Play and Steam. Everything runs very smoothly at 1080p, with gameplay looking superb on the ROG Ally’s excellent display. 

It’s not quite as good as a full PC gaming rig or next-gen console, but you won’t be disappointed by the performance on offer here. There are no noticeable dropped frames, even during fast-paced action games.

Hesitations and lag aren’t an issue while playing games, and bugs elsewhere seem related to software rather than hardware. I highly doubt more power would change anything, and it’s worth putting up with them for the superb in-game performance. 

One feature which can sometimes be overlooked is the vibration motor. It’s excellent here, offering subtle feedback that really enhances the gaming experience. 

Everything runs very smoothly at 1080p, with gameplay looking superb

After only a couple of minutes of playing, there was a noticeable build-up of heat. But the advanced cooling system means the Ally only ever gets warm to the touch, with both fans on the back of the device where they won’t be covered by your hands. Even when in full flow, they don’t get too loud – Asus claims a maximum of just 20dB. 

Unlike the Nintendo Switch, you have to keep the ROG Ally in one piece at all times. The controllers aren’t detachable, although you do have the option to connect it to a TV or monitor via HDMI. 

It works seamlessly, with great picture quality and no drop in performance. But the feature relies on the ROG Gaming Charger Dock, which costs £60 extra in the UK. Simply including an HDMI port on the device itself would’ve solved this problem. 

In terms of connectivity, the ROG Ally features both Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. There’s no cellular connectivity, but it’s easy to hotspot from your phone while out and about. This isn’t a great way to game though, as hotspotting to a phone is not a fast way to stream games and is not a method I recommend relying on. If you want to stream games, this is only realistically possible on good Wi-Fi.

The upcoming Android-based Razer Edge has a 5G option, but that device is much less powerful than the ROG Ally.

The ROG Ally Z1 version includes a 256GB SSD, while the Z1 Extreme model I tested increases that to 512GB. But with around 54GB taken up by Windows system files, it doesn’t leave much room for games.

Even with only five games installed, I got a pop-up message saying insufficient storage when trying to download a sixth. Most titles I played, including FIFA 22, F1 22 and Call of Duty: Warzone, were between 50-100GB. But some – such as Forza Horizon 5 – were significantly higher. 

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

Thankfully, the storage capacity can be expanded via microSD, but it’s another separate purchase. 


Runs Windows 11 HomeAccess to full range of PC gamesLots of software bugs

A key advantage of the ROG Ally compared to other handheld consoles is software. It runs a full version of Windows 11 Home, meaning you have full access to the same range of games as a PC. You can use several different game services, and you aren’t tied to one company’s.

The great advantage of the ROG Ally is you can stream games if you go via a cloud gaming service, or play using on-device downloads. It’s best with the latter, but having the option is a luxury.

Whether you use Steam, Xbox Game Pass, the Epic Games Store or even a cloud gaming service, they’ll all work on the ROG Ally. All your downloaded games can be accessed via the Armoury Crate SE app, which opens by default when you turn on the device.

It acts as a simple app launcher, but also a hub for the extensive customisation options available. You can adjust controls, performance, lighting, display and audio, most of which can also be accessed via the dedicated Command Center button mid-game.

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

You will need to make sure the gamepad is selected for many games, with keyboard and mouse often set as the default. But changing all these settings feels slick and intuitive. 

Sadly, the same can’t be said for the rest of the Windows 11 experience. Microsoft’s operating system isn’t optimised to run on this type of hardware, and it shows.  

I ran into dozens of bugs and issues during my testing time, from app crashes and stuttering to games that simply refused to display in full screen. On a couple of occasions, the screen wouldn’t turn on at all. 

All of these were resolved within a couple of minutes, but it’s frustrating to encounter them so frequently. As good as the gaming is, software bugs appear to be part and parcel of the ROG Ally experience at launch. I could fix every bug by closing or minimising other apps and restarting software, but it was very frustrating.

As good as the gaming is, software bugs are part and parcel of the ROG Ally experience

But the benefits of Windows 11 can just about outweigh the drawbacks. You will just need to be patient when loading games, though.

Battery life & charging

40Wh batteryLess than two hours of gaming per chargeFast 65W charging

Battery life is the biggest reason not to buy the ROG Ally. It has a 40Wh cell, but clearly that’s not big enough for 1080p gaming on a 120Hz display.  

I fully charged the device before each gaming session, yet would always hit 0% in less than two hours. It didn’t matter which game I played – all AAA titles deplete the battery extremely quickly.

This is somewhat to be expected given the size of the battery and the power needed to drive PC-level gaming. But this console can’t even last a short haul flight before needing a charge, which defeats the point – and the joy – if gaming on the go.

The Nintendo Switch can hit about six hours at best, which is much better. Granted, those games are simpler and not PC-level, but if you want true portability then this is where the compromise seems to be at the moment for such consoles; simpler games with good battery life, or PC-level games with terrible battery life.

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

A 720p video loop test at 120 nits of brightness isn’t particularly relevant here, but a time of just five hours is well behind any Windows laptop we’ve reviewed. Having to worry about battery life so much rather defeats the point of a portable console. 

Of course, there are things you can do to prolong battery life. Dropping down to 720p gameplay or 60Hz refresh rate will mean the ROG Ally lasts longer, as will lowering the brightness. But the gaming experience is nowhere near as good when you reduce these settings.

Having to worry about battery life so much rather defeats the point of a portable console

At least charging speeds are decent. The 65W adapter included in the box can charge the Ally to 54% in 30 minutes and 89% in 1 hour, with a full charge taking around 1 hour 45 minutes. 

But when the battery lasts about the same length of time it takes to charge, this is scant consolation. As is playing the thing constantly plugged into the mains, which is possible.

Price & availability

Poor battery life might not be a dealbreaker for you, but the price of the ROG Ally could be. 

The Z1 Extreme model with 512GB SSD that I tested will set you back $699/£699. Pre-orders are available now (via Currys in the UK), ahead of its release on 13 June.

All purchases do include three months of free Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, after which it costs $14.99/£10.99 per month. 

A cheaper regular Z1 version with a 256GB SSD will cost $600 when it ships in the US in Q3 – sometime between July and September. But there’s no word on when (or if) it’ll arrive in the UK or Europe.

It means the Ally is significantly more expensive than the $399/£349 starting price of the Steam Deck, although there are more expensive models. The Nintendo Switch OLED ($349.99/£349.99) is cheaper still.  

There are other affordable options worth considering, although none can match the performance and feature set of the ROG Ally. It just comes down to whether you’re willing to pay the premium for it. 


With the ROG Ally, Asus has taken handheld console gaming to the next level, but with it highlighted the compromises still needed in the category.

Dedicated AMD CPUs deliver top-tier performance across all the most demanding games, while the 120Hz touchscreen is a joy to behold. Xbox-style controls are familiar and easy to use, even if they can’t be detached. 

The device is relatively light and comfortable to hold, while Windows 11 means you have access to the full range of PC games. However, the general software experience is buggy at times, and battery life is terrible. 

Are you willing to put up with those compromises at this price? That’s down to you. The ROG Ally, despite these downsides, is one of the best handheld gaming consoles you can buy.


AMD Ryzen Z1/Z1 Extreme processorAMD Radeon Graphics 16GB LPDDR5 RAM 256/512GB SSD Micro-SD card slot ROG XG Mobile port USB-C port 3.5mm audio jack 7in 1920×1080 display, 120Hz Wi-Fi 6E Bluetooth 5.2 40Wh battery 65W fast charging 280.4 x 111.2 x 21.2mm 608g 


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