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Asus ROG Ally Review: A Powerful Competitor in the Handheld Gaming Market

The Asus ROG Ally, introduced earlier this year, stands out as a formidable competitor in the handheld gaming console market. Running on Windows 11, it distinguishes itself with a powerful AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme chip, 16GB of RAM, and a capacious 512GB SSD. Priced at £699 in the UK and $699 in the USA, it positions itself as a premium option, offering a more potent alternative to the Steam Deck.

Design-wise, the ROG Ally showcases Asus's renowned design prowess, featuring a comfortable plastic shell with textured grips. The attention to detail is evident, with RGB lighting around both analogue sticks adding a touch of flair. The device is lightweight at 608g, contributing to its portability. The inclusion of a ROG XG Mobile connector for external graphics support is notable, although requiring a separate accessory.

The 7-inch Full HD IPS touchscreen display is vibrant, boasting a peak brightness of 400 nits. While the 120Hz refresh rate adds a welcome bonus, its utility is limited by the varying frame rates of games. The display covers 100% of the sRGB gamut, ensuring accurate and vivid colors, but the contrast ratio of 1000:1 raises concerns about displaying darker shades effectively.

Performance-wise, the Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor delivers commendable power, outclassing the Steam Deck by a margin of 10-15fps. Turbo mode provides an extra performance boost, although its impact varies across different games. The ability to run games at a 1080p resolution sets the ROG Ally apart, enhancing visual quality. However, the integrated graphics fall short compared to dedicated GPUs found in gaming laptops.

The ROG Ally's SSD performance is impressive, boasting a read speed of 4310.31 MB/s. Thermal management is well-executed, with effective cooling preventing overheating, even under load. Despite its gaming capabilities, the device struggles with demanding AAA games, and the need to compromise on visual quality or resolution becomes evident.

Battery life emerges as a significant drawback, lasting around 90 minutes with AAA games in Performance mode and dropping further in Turbo mode. While a 60-minute full recharge time is reasonable, the limited battery life is a notable concern for a handheld device.

The inclusion of Windows 11 enhances user-friendliness, allowing access to a wide range of applications, including streaming services like Xbox Game Pass and GeForce Now. The Armoury Crate SE app streamlines the gaming experience, offering customization options and easy navigation.

In conclusion, the Asus ROG Ally excels in delivering a more powerful gaming experience than the Steam Deck, accompanied by a stylish design and user-friendly software. However, its premium price, coupled with poor battery life and the Steam Deck OLED and Lenovo Legion Go as strong competitors, challenges its overall value proposition. The device caters to users seeking a potent handheld with Windows functionality but may face tough competition in the increasingly competitive handheld gaming market.


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