ROG Ally review: Unleashing next-level gaming in the palm of your hand
The ROG Ally gaming handheld boasts impressive features. Find out if it lives up to the hype and deserves your attention.
Photo: Cheryl Kahla/The Citizen News
The ROG Ally is ASUS’s answer to the much anticipated – and unfortunately for us here in South Africa, mostly unavailable – Steam deck.
It’s a real non-starter of a comparison so, Valve, if you are reading this, please make them available in South Africa.
The ROG Ally runs Windows 11 so you can run any custom launcher or emulator out there.
Rog Ally review
Either way, it’s handheld gaming on steroids. After all the hype online I was super excited to get one in my hands and ROG has not disappointed here.
On to my review; allow me to sort through the marketing and find out if it really does deserve your attention or not.
Display and design
It’s quite an impressive package even for the most discerning eyes out there.
The ROG Ally comes with a 7-inch IPS panel that can display up to 1080p at 120Hz. For the non-techy people out there, it’s a gorgeous screen and it gets pretty bright.
In an age of 4K, don’t let the FHD resolution discourage you. The colours are vivid and accurate and at this size; you cannot see the individual pixels.
We had Marce Bester in our podcast studio to talk all about the ROG Ally:
Listen: About that new ROG Ally
The ROG Ally felt really comfortable in my hands I was surprised at its weight and just how good it feels in general.
Stats for nerds
It’s paired with 16GB of super-fast DDR5 memory and a 512GB SSD (solid state drive).
It is also powered by AMD’s new Ryzen Z1 SoC, which packs 6 cores and 12 threads.
The marketing hype was that this is the fastest handheld gamer money could buy. And since there is a lack of competition, ASUS was really smart here.
But first… nostalgia
So let’s step back for a second and try and figure out where all this nostalgia for handheld gaming comes from.
My first handheld was the Nintendo Gameboy colour and it ended with the PSP. While the Nintendo Switch did pique my interest, it lacked the grunt next-gen consoles had.
What ASUS has done here essentially is give the Ally the grunt it needs to power all of your favourite Triple-A titles.
ROG Ally gaming experience
Gaming on the Ally was a truly smooth and super enjoyable experience, especially during load shedding or at night in bed.
Turbo mode ramps things up a whole bunch, and just like Clarkson was bewildered by the now-famous clip of him and the M5’s M button, I too was astounded at the difference between normal and Turbo mode!
It was the difference between normal settings and ultra-settings. Things get even crazier once it’s plugged in where it might even draw up to 45 Watts of power.
I played Cyberpunk 2077 and Harry Potter, both in turbo mode, and I never experienced any stutters or dropped frames showing a steady 60fps.
Battery and cooling
As for the battery, I got just under 2 hours, so it’s not without some sacrifices.
I was surprised at how well the heat was dissipated though. It has two vents at the top which aren’t in your way, and it’s super silent as well.
So who is it for?
The ROG Ally is really aptly named and depending on its price, which we will know at the launch end of June, it’s truly a notable ally.
To add, it could also be seen as a travelling companion or a load-shedding champion.
Disclaimer: This review was written in May. ROG has since confirmed Ally pre-orders are open in South Africa for R15 999.
Rog Ally review: Conclusion
The ASUS ROG division has done it again and it’s a win for gamers everywhere.
Does it live up to the marketing? I don’t think so, but it does deserve your attention!
So I’ll be in line to pre-order mine come the end of June, depending on the price. It might offer great value if it comes in under the Steam Deck, so between R15 000 to R18 000.
Tech Check podcast
Cheryl Kahla and I host The Citizen’s Tech Check With Kahla and Kruger podcast series where we discuss the latest gadgets, tech news, and talk to industry experts about a variety of fascinating things.
In a previous podcast, we talked to Marce Bester from ASUS about the brand-new ROG Strix Scar 18, one of the best gadgets we ever reviewed.