At a glance, it's easy to see the similarities in shape with the popular Nintendo Switch or SteamDeck, and that's not a bad thing at all because we know both of those are great. The ROG ALLY advantage comes from having the latest hardware specifications inside, and of course that it comes with Windows 11 pre-loaded, so it's more like a very portable gaming laptop with a controller built onto the sides.
In the early hours of this morning, the Asus team revealed details about the new ROG ALLY in a live stream YouTube shown below! (the live stream starts around 31 mins in)
ROG ALLY specifications at a glance! (RC71L-NH001W version)
- 1920x1080 120Hz Display
- AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme with Radeon Graphics
- 16GB RAM + 512GB Storage + Expandable MicroSD Memory Card Slot
- AX WiFi 6E + BT 5.2 + Windows 11
- 1x Type-C (Gen 3.2) USB Combo Port, also functions as DisplayPort 1.4 Output & Charging
We've been lucky enough to get our hands on a ROG ALLY ahead of the official release date, so we've spent some time gaming to check out the controls, performance, thermal design and battery life, and the results are excellent!
The ROG ALLY handheld design is much like a Xbox controller with a big screen in the middle, there are 2x Analog controllers, a D-Pad, XYAB buttons and 6 triggers spread over the top and back.
Gameplay visuals are beautiful, that display is also a touchscreen making windows 11 super easy to navigate, and you can save yourself some fingerprint smudges by using the right-side analog stick as a mouse pointer controller too, with top triggers above acting as left/right mouse clicks. The screen does great in bright settings as well. Firstly, the Asus display on the ROG ALLY is 500 nits brightness, to be compared with the Nintendo which is around 400nits brightness. Asus have tackled reflections also by using the special Gorilla Glass DXC coating which help a lot when gaming outdoors.
It has speakers and a microphone built-in too, the volume output is very good with game audio pumping out 75.5Db in tests using an app on my smartphone to measure the forward firing speakers. The built-in microphone is super solid too, and while you'll want to get yourself a nice gaming headset so the world around you doesn't hear your teams screams, you won't need one to communicate clearly, that noise cancelling tech ASUS have built into their microphone array does such good job!
Battery life lasted just over 138 minutes with everything turned up to MAX, this was tested a full brightness with the speakers up by running the Final Fantasy Endwalker Benchmark in endless loop, so it's a very good indication of how long the battery will last with no compromise, rather than light gaming. Watching YouTube videos or browsing the web etc was much longer as expected, with the ROG ALLY lasting 393 minutes in a streaming stretch.
Much like a Windows 11 laptop, when the battery gets low, the enjoyment takes a hit as it goes into power saving mode so you can save your game. To compare using the FF benchmark at the start of our loop the score was between 4817 - 5099 points at 1080p (Full Screen, Maximum Graphic Setting), but in the final 20% battery mark the power saving mode performance dipped hard as did the screen brightness, making most real PC games tricky without lowering the graphic settings down, but you can turn PowerSaver off like we did by using the Windows 11 power settings menu on the bottom right of the taskbar. There are more ROG specific options you can play around with too, but the pre-set performance mode is a really winner.
Testing the battery in such a heavy way also allowed us to get a good feel for the thermals too, and even with such a long heavy load with a bright vibrant screen and speakers pumping out the sound, we're happy to report that the ROG ALLY did not heat up to any degree that would make it uncomfortable to hold - and at no time did it get loud in terms of internal cooling either, the thermal design is top-notch!
The ROG ALLY runs Windows 11, so we can install our regular Gaming PC launchers such as STEAM, EPIC GAMES, BATTLENET or GAME PASS without any hassle, but it's important to factor in those built-in controls when thinking about what games will play best on the ROG ALLY. Thankfully all launchers mentioned above have the filter for 'Controller' savvy games, making it all easy. It's fair to expect that following the launch the steam community will start sharing controller maps for more games too, giving us even more to play.
The partnership between ASUS & Microsoft Xbox Gaming teams here is as clear as the buttons on the device, and the ROG ALLY comes with a 3-month Game Pass Ultimate subscription pre-loaded, so new owners will start there gaming adventures with a massive range of games ready to play, download or stream.
Via XBOX News "I can’t overstate how exhilarating it is to load up a brand-new device, launch the Xbox app, and immediately have so much to play. Ghostwire: Tokyo, let’s do it. The Last Case of Benedict Fox and Ravenlok just dropped; added to the queue! Vampire Survivors on the go is a must. And Persona 3 Portable is actually portable once more!"
If you're wanting to connect the ROG ALLY to your TV for a bit of big screen gaming, you'll need a ROG adaptor accessory named the 'ROG GAMING CHARGER DOCK', this is because the Type-C display output is shared with power input. To the right of that port on the ROG ALLY is a wider connection that can be used to connect an external ASUS graphics card enclosure too, good news for those looking for even greater performance when using the ROG ALLY in a more traditional desktop PC gaming setting.
Exciting times ahead indeed! The new ROG ALLY Gaming Handheld is available today in the ASUS Store at PB Tech, and be sure to keep your eyes on Hardwired News for more of the latest!