ARTICLE: Asus Rog Ally Official Written Review
Mr. Mike here with what I am calling an EASY Review of the ASUS Rog Ally in which I had purchased myself from my local BestBuy store. I picked up the Ally launch day on June 13th 2023 for the retail price of $699.99. My reasons for getting one was simple I originally was intrigued and wanted a Steam Deck due to its ability to play a large portion of its catalog of PC titles on a portable on the go device. The reasons I did not get a Steam Deck were simple the Deck uses a Linux based system in which not all PC games work with the device, secondly the Steam Deck uses an older hardware chipset meaning that future games might not work as well on the device longevity wise, lastly for me anyway the most important thing was No GamePass which was the biggest deal breaker. I held hope that Valve and Xbox would get together to support GamePass on the device due to Xbox titles already are being sold on Steam, but nothing ever became of that so I kept waiting. Then later ASUS had announced the Rog Ally and I got very excited but still cautious till they announced the exact specs of the device.
As I got the device day 1 I ran the unit to register Windows 11 on it then opened it up to upgrade and install a larger 2TB M.2 drive compared to the 512GB drive the unit comes with. The opening and install was very easy and fast plus it helped keep the longevity of the device certain for the many games I wanted to install onto it. Installing the OS and drivers on the new drive would have been easy but I took the wrong route and installed everything raw and ran into lots of issues with games crashing constantly. After my minor blunder I had found out that I could have just used the My ASUS app from the Ally to make a recovery media drive that would install the OS and drivers all at once on the device, all I needed to do after was Install Armoury Crate and My Asus app again, then do all the Windows Updates plus a few from the My Asus App. Now I was ready to install my games which ran properly after the OS/drivers were correctly installed. The only game I ran into not really trouble but a slight annoyance with was Forza Horizon 5 which during my gameplay sessions would keep popping up an upper small screen stating that I was running low on memory on and off. The game would still run decently most of the time but still was a tiny annoyance at the least. The memory on the Rog Ally has half of the 16gbs to play with for games but starts with the use of 4 but in the Armor Crate app can be upped to 8gbs which I highly suggest doing, just don’t do the auto feature because that setting will cause instabilities in the games be played on the Ally. I do wish in future renditions of this device ASUS will opt to add more on board memory at least 32gbs, which sure the cost of the device would go up but running memory intense games or other software on the device would be a much greater experience overall.
NOTE: Other games I’ve tried and played on the system run very well from Yakuza 0 ran at full settings at 1080p 60fps, Gears Tactics ran on most settings on High at 1080p 60fps, Minecraft ran perfectly nothing more to say on that title, then I installed steam again before finishing this written review and played Teardown which can be a game that struggles to run smoothly on most PCs but ran surprisingly well on the Rog Ally running at 1080p 60fps but didn’t look and the games settings, Lastly I played a bit of Spiderman Miles Morales which again I was surprised to see all the settings in the game set to High. I also had to turn off some of the game’s settings not for making the game run worse just because I don’t like film grain or blur motion effects LoL, also ran at 1080p 60fps.
I wanted to see how some emulated games ran on the system but didn’t have enough time to configure the emulator software to work well with the controls so I could not truly test out any games. I did some games running like Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country but could not play them with the Rog Ally’s on board controller, will be trying again soon down the road when I figure out how to map the controls properly.
Next I wrote down the Goods and Bads about the system in bullet points, you can read those next then my closing to this article.
ASUS ROG ALLY TOP NOTED POINTS:
1. This is a portable Windows 11 device Not just a gaming system
2. This device can RUN Mostly anything a gaming PC can with some limitations
3. The Ally has a 1080p 7inch screen that can go to 500 nits of brightness (Good for playing Most games outdoors)
4. To get the MOST out of this system there are a lot of accessories for it official from ASUS and Unofficial from 3rd parties (Nice because the device just came out but given the Steam Deck came out earlier most items can work with both)
ASUS ROG ALLY THE GOOD:
1. Great portable way to play PC games on the GO or just outside your house Not having to boot up your power-hungry Rig.
2. Design and ease of holding and playing games on the device, meaning fits in your hands nicely if you have normal or smaller hand sizes. (Might be a little harder for larger hand folk)
3. Powerful device in the palms of your hands (Great powerful SOC processor semi low wattage made by AMD with Both processor and GPU on the die)
4. BIG & colorful 7inch screen with a 1080p screen that can go up to 120hz, 7ms response time perfect for any gamer
5. Very Easy to open and upgrade the M.2 drive or anything in the device if it needs fixing!
6. I personally love the Xbox control scheme with the look of an Xbox controller look and feel (The Only thing missing is a dedicated Xbox home button which I can get use to but wish was there)
7. Super-Fast Boot times and games load fast on the M.2 storage inside (Loading Most PC games on this device take less time to run than my Big PC Rig)
8. Nice Audio Speakers onboard (except most of the time I use my Bluetooth headphones for outside use, But indoors the speakers can get nice and loud sounding amazing!)
9. You can use this as a full fledge PC if wanting. (You’re going to want to get a USB hub, Keyboard & Mouse, plus a monitor or TV to hook it up to)
10. Even though still expensive, this device is a good price compared to Most gaming PCs on the market, Plus they are Not as portable!)
ASUS ROG ALLY THE BAD:
1. Windows 11 (I don’t like Win 11 it feels too dumbed down more like Win 8.1 was) The OS isn’t optimized for portable devices like this yet! (I wish it had Windows 10 But hopefully in the future WIndows 11 will be better or Win 12 capable)
2. Like I said before Windows 11 isn’t portable ready yet and I wish ASUS was able to go through the OS better to turn off anything NOT needed and optimize better its performance for gaming and basic tasks, and if needed later the customer can turn back on extra stuff if needed!
3. Armoury Crate not that good of software if wanting to launch games from it, which mostly don’t load when clicking on the titles that the software scrapes when they are installed. Asus should either make Armoury Crate run better as an app or just strip it down to using it for easy access settings and customization for the Ally because those features work well! Plus maybe tie it the My ASUS app into it so we don’t have to have another app to get our updates from plus another app running in the background. Nice Try ASUS but not good enough.
4. The system shared memory, you get 16Gb of LPDDR5 on board Not able to upgrade to more, This is fine for most games now but future more intense memory based games might not fair to well (Only one title right now Forza Horizon 5 gets constant Low Memory Warnings throughout the game. Still runs fine Most of the time But what other NON optimized games won’t run so well) My recommendation to ASUS hopefully in future renditions of the Rog Ally they will opt for high tiers like 32 or even 64gb memory inside the device. Sure it would make the system more expensive But it would help the overall longevity of the device)
5. The most outrageous gripe I have isn’t really about the Rog Ally but ASUS itself with its really crappy tech support and NO dedicated number to call for help, Sure tech support can be expensive BUT for the $700 I’m paying for this device I don’t want to just email or app text I like a live person on the line! At least ASUS could do is give us a 3-month true tech support number then after I would be willing to pay for Live tech support through the phone, that would be nice!
OK the one thing I did not put into this EASY review was that sure the battery life on this device is really bad BUT no device this powerful and this small has good battery life, not even gaming laptops heck even normal laptops have any good battery life to them. So as I have been testing per game, I get around 56mins to 1hr 45mins of battery life and it’s usually at 3% life left before I plug it in. The solution for me at least is to just suck it up and use it when plugged in that what I do, also I purchased a 6ft USB-C extension cable so I can plug it in the house and play it on my front deck porch due to not having plugs outside, so this works well for me, plus the USB-C connection is on the top of the Ally so It’s not getting in my way as I play! This is my solution because until someone in the world creates a new better longer lasting battery technology our technology will always be susceptible to today’s tech shortfalls. And just like the SteamDeck you can’t blame ASUS for poor battery life in their tech.
In conclusion should you buy or not to buy that is the only question you can answer for yourself. As you have read my review and seen all my pros and cons on the device hopefully this can help you decide, I know at least for me I love what this device offers even for some of its shortfalls and time will tell how this device stands the test of time. The ASUS Rog Ally makes for a great Xbox portable device even a decent PC (if you can stand Windows 11 that is) Not all PC games are going to be good to play on it due to being on a smaller screen but if you can adjust this could be the device for you!
As one last Note 1 year later on June 13th 2024 I will do a follow up on the Rog Ally to see how it held up in the years’ time, also to check if ASUS will decide to make more of the devices in the future.