May 24, 2024

ROG Ally Review: A Portable Powerhouse

ROG Ally Review: A Portable Powerhouse with Perks

The ROG Ally throws down the gauntlet in the portable gaming arena which is filled with different hand held portable gaming rigs. ASUS’ latest offering boasts a powerful AMD processor, a sleek design, and the unfettered freedom of a full Windows 11 experience. But how does this contender stack up against its rivals, most notably the Steam Deck, Nintendo Switch and the like ? Let’s dive into the ROG Ally’s strengths, weaknesses, and whether it lives up to the promise of “Triple A gaming on the go.” We did a first impressions of the ROG Ally not too long ago.

Unboxing a Pocket-Sized Powerhouse

Initial impressions count, and the Ally makes a good one. Despite being made of plastic, the device has a high-end feel to it. It’s surprisingly roomy and robust, fitting neatly into a big purse or backpack. With a smooth refresh rate of 120 Hz and a sharp Full HD resolution, the 7-inch IPS LCD display is perfect for fast-paced games where every millisecond matters. The AMD Z1 Extreme APU, the Ally’s heartbeat, is housed beneath the hood. With 16GB of DDR5 RAM, this processor packs a mean punch that lets you play a variety of PC games without straining yourself. This is where the Ally really shines. With launchers, the Ally provides access to your complete collection of PC games, unlike the Steam Deck’s tethered library.

Portability Perfected: A Gaming PC You Can Take Anywhere

The Ally’s true strength lies in its unmatched portability and compact form factor. Compared to traditional gaming laptops, it’s significantly lighter and  compact, making it very ideal for long commutes when travelling, gaming sessions on the couch, or even lounging on the beach (weather permitting, and internet connectivity of course). The built-in ports (including two USB-A ports, a USB-C port, and a headphone jack) ensures you can connect your favorite peripherals. This level of portability opens doors for a truly versatile gaming experience, something the Steam Deck or the Nintendo Switch, with its more limited software options, really cannot measure up to.

The weak point: Battery life vs. power

However, battery life is sacrificed in exchange for this incredible portability. When running solely on battery power, the Ally finds it difficult to provide steady performance over long periods of time. Even though ASUS promises three hours of gameplay on a single charge, demanding games will quickly deplete the battery. This reduces the “go anywhere” appeal a little bit because it makes you stay close to a power outlet more often than you might like.

Performance: A Balancing Act

The AMD Z1 Extreme APU delivers impressive performance for a portable device. For the most part, modern games offer fluid gameplay at 1080p resolution on medium to high settings. However, frame rate drops may occur if you try to play at a higher resolution or max out the graphics settings. This is not surprising given the Ally’s size and thermal constraints. Long, intense gaming sessions may cause thermal throttling, but the integrated cooling system does a respectable job of preventing overheating. Here’s where the “eternal trade-off” comes into play. To maximize battery life, you might have to sacrifice some graphical fidelity. However, if you prioritize raw performance and are willing to stay tethered to a power outlet, the Ally can handle most modern games admirably.

Beyond the Games: A Full Windows 11 Experience

The Ally isn’t just a gaming device; it’s a full-fledged Windows 11 PC. You can use it for browsing the internet, working on documents, or even basic video editing (although the processing power might limit your options). This versatility adds tremendous value to the Ally, making it a true portable workhorse that can transition seamlessly from gaming to productivity tasks.

The Verdict: A Powerful Portable PC with Room for Improvement

The ROG Ally is a compelling option for gamers seeking a powerful and portable Windows PC. Its ability to access a vast library of PC games, coupled with its sleek design and impressive performance, makes it a standout in the portable gaming market. However, the limited battery life and thermal limitations hold it back from achieving true “go anywhere” freedom.

Who Should Buy the ROG Ally?

  • Gamers who prioritize portability and want access to a wider library of PC games than the Steam Deck can offer.
  • Users who require a versatile machine that can handle both gaming and productivity tasks on the go.

Who Should Look Elsewhere?

  • Gamers who prioritize long battery life and uncompromised performance might be better suited for a traditional gaming laptop.
  • Casual gamers who primarily play less demanding titles might find the Ally’s price tag a bit too steep

Diving Deeper: Strengths and Weaknesses of the ROG Ally

Strengths:

  • Unmatched Portability: The Ally is undeniably the most portable option for PC gamers. Its compact size and lightweight design make it ideal for taking your games anywhere.
  • Open Platform Advantage: Unlike the Steam Deck’s curated library, the Ally grants access to your entire PC game library. This opens doors to a wider variety of titles, including emulators and older PC games.
  • Impressive Performance: The AMD Z1 Extreme APU delivers smooth gameplay at 1080p resolution with medium to high settings on most modern titles.
  • Premium Design and Build: The Ally boasts a sleek and stylish design with a surprisingly sturdy build quality for a portable device.
  • Full Windows 11 Experience: The Ally goes beyond just gaming. It’s a full-fledged Windows 11 PC, allowing for multitasking and productivity tasks.
  • 120Hz Refresh Rate Display: The smooth 120Hz refresh rate display enhances the gaming experience, especially for fast-paced titles.

Weaknesses:

  • Limited Battery Life: The Ally’s battery life struggles to keep up with demanding games, requiring frequent charging and hindering true portability.
  • Thermal Throttling: Extended high-performance gaming sessions can lead to thermal throttling, impacting performance.
  • Price: The ROG Ally carries a premium price tag, which might be a deterrent for some gamers.
  • Weight and Size: While already impressive for its power, the Ally could benefit from further weight reduction and size optimization for even greater portability.

The Future of Portable PC Gaming: Where Does the Ally Stand?

The ROG Ally is a significant step forward for portable PC gaming. Its blend of power, portability, and versatility sets a high bar for future iterations. As technology advances, we can expect to see even more powerful and efficient processors, improved cooling solutions, and longer battery life in future versions of the Ally or similar devices. This paves the way for a future where true “uncompromised” portable PC gaming becomes a reality, blurring the lines between handheld and traditional gaming experiences.

The Final Verdict: A Silver for the Discerning Mobile Gamer

The ROG Ally isn’t a perfect device, but it’s a bold step in the right direction. It offers a compelling option for gamers who value portability and a vast library of PC games. However, the trade-off in battery life and thermal limitations requires careful consideration. Now we hear rumors of the next iteration of the ROG Ally is coming soon.

Who should buy it? For the discerning mobile gamer who prioritizes access to a wider range of titles and prioritizes portability over unfettered battery life, the Ally is a fantastic companion. It offers the freedom to enjoy demanding titles virtually anywhere, as long as a power outlet is within reasonable reach. Casual gamers or those who prioritize long gaming sessions on battery power might be better suited for a different device.

Overall, the ROG Ally is a powerful and versatile portable PC that pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in the handheld gaming space. Whether you’re a hardcore PC gamer seeking a portable option or a casual user looking for a versatile machine, the ROG Ally is definitely worth considering, but be sure to weigh its strengths and weaknesses carefully before making the plunge.

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