Hands-on With the ASUS ROG Ally – Launch Impressions
ASUS invited us to the launch of their highly anticipated ROG Ally mobile gaming console, which is based on Windows 11. The event took place at Copper Bar, Bryanston, and it was a fantastic opportunity for me to test the Ally for a few hours.
What is the ROG Ally?
The ROG Ally is a Windows 11-based gaming console featuring an AMD Ryzen Z1 or Ryzen Z1 Extreme system-on-chip, 16GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD. This powerful processor ensures a solid gaming experience in a compact package, allowing users to enjoy their games during load-shedding (as long as the 40-watt-hour battery permits).
At the event, we saw three different setups:
- ROG Ally connected to a TV via a Thunderbolt dock
- ROG Ally with an eGPU
- Standalone ROG Ally unit
I had the opportunity to try out all three scenarios, and in each setup, it was possible to use the Ally as a controller. ASUS also provided Xbox controllers for couch co-op and a ROG XG Mobile setup with an AMD 6850 12GB GPU, running on a 165Hz 1440p screen. The hardware and software combination offered strong connectivity.
Comfort and Ergonomics
The ROG Ally felt very comfortable to use, with ASUS seemingly focusing on making it as ergonomic as possible. It feels familiar to an Xbox controller, with every button easily reachable. However, I missed having haptic feedback on the triggers and am curious to see if ASUS will address this in the future with future models or software updates.
The screen runs at a responsive 120Hz, and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much detail playing Forza Horizon on the standalone unit, considering the size of the unit and screen.
Battery Life and Performance Modes
The Ally offers three modes: Turbo, Performance, and Power Saving. It’s unclear how long the battery life will last, given that it uses a 40Wh battery same as the Steam Deck. Any future updates improving battery longevity will be interesting to see. We did get to play with it while plugged into a USB-C charger, though.
Windows 11 Performance
Windows 11 as an operating system seemed to be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, the Ally ran Windows games very well and provided smooth transitions between control schemes. However, navigating the Windows operating system with the touchscreen proved to be less than smooth due to the small screen size. Controlling the mouse with the right joystick didn’t feel very intuitive either. On a positive note, the screen felt responsive, and there is Bluetooth connectivity if you don’t have a Thunderbolt dock or USB-C hub.
In South Africa, the base model Ally is priced at R15,999. It’s a considerable investment for a mobile gaming device, but if you’re looking for a portable option without sacrificing performance, the Ally is an intriguing choice.
Stay tuned for our comprehensive review in the future.