For those who’ve been eying an Asus ROG Ally gaming handheld however can’t fairly justify the $700 price ticket… you’ll in all probability wish to carry on ready. Right now, the corporate has begun promoting a less-expensive $600 model with a lower-performance AMD Z1 chip, however early evaluations counsel the Home windows gaming handheld is simply too compromised to justify the acquisition.
Backside line: Z1 efficiency is reportedly worse than the $400-and-up Steam Deck, with none vital battery life profit to make up for the lack of energy.
Transient refresher: three months in the past, Asus started transport the ROG Ally, a Home windows gaming handheld designed to compete on value and efficiency with Valve’s Steam Deck. It had loads going for it, together with largely better-than-Deck efficiency, a superb 120Hz variable refresh fee display that makes every part really feel smoother, a delightfully quiet fan, and a plugged-into-the-wall 30W Turbo mode that makes its Z1 Excessive chip much more potent.
However the handheld was held again by impotent software program that doesn’t make Home windows simple to make use of handheld, iffy battery life, a weird performance gap between transport gadgets and the unique evaluate items, and an SD card reader that tended (tends?) to burn out and remains to be beneath investigation.
Asus advised me in July that it could ship me the brand new $600 Z1 mannequin to check towards the unique Z1 Excessive, but it surely by no means did. Now, I see why: Digital Trends, Retro Game Corps, and PC Mag present it’s merely not an enchancment regardless of the additional cash in your pocket.
If Asus had despatched me one, I might have appeared for the silver lining of battery life — maybe AMD’s weaker chip would get extra? However Retro Game Corps, in particular, shows that battery life is simply barely higher with weaker video games and could be comparable or worse with triple-A titles. When absolutely loaded, the Z1 Excessive may really be extra environment friendly.
None of that is sufficient to make the Z1 a foul product; as you’ll see within the video above, there’s a lot this method can play fairly nicely! And with my $700 Z1 Excessive evaluate unit, I’m anecdotally discovering it’s a a lot better Starfield machine than the Steam Deck, significantly in the event you plug it into the wall.
However in the event you’ve solely obtained $600 to spend, it appears fairly seemingly the Z1 ain’t it. And in the event you’ve obtained $700, I positively wouldn’t hassle with it.
(Word: The 512GB mannequin of the Steam Deck does technically retail for greater than the 512GB ROG Ally at $650 vs. $600, however the Steam Deck additionally begins at $400, and it’s simple to swap in a brand new drive your self — only one additional screw in comparison with my fan replacement video. Additionally, it’s on sale right now.)