Review: Asus ROG Ally

Ever since the release of the Nintendo Switch in 2017, the dream of carrying an entire gaming library on the go has been alive. Valve’s Steam Deck made significant strides in this direction, offering an impressive handheld gaming experience. Now, Asus aims to challenge this with the ROG Ally, a Windows-based device promising access to every PC game in a handheld format. However, the author, after testing the ROG Ally, expresses skepticism about its ability to compete with the Steam Deck and questions its overall usability.

The ROG Ally is described as a Windows PC built into a large controller with a screen, emphasizing game compatibility but presenting challenges in other aspects. The reviewer faced issues right from the beginning, with the Armoury launcher crashing when trying to launch Steam without an internet connection, and a cumbersome on-screen keyboard during Wi-Fi setup. The author found himself struggling with the form factor, leading to interruptions such as a low battery warning during a game of Doom Eternal.

While the Ally has the advantage of running Windows without a compatibility layer, the actual performance raises concerns. The device struggled to maintain playable frame rates, even after significant adjustments to settings, particularly in a demanding game like Doom Eternal. The review highlights difficulties in achieving satisfactory performance and mentions UI glitches while making adjustments, like switching screen refresh rates.

Battery life appears to be a significant drawback, with the device draining quickly, especially during graphically intensive gaming. The power draw was notably high even during less demanding games like Stardew Valley, leading to a disappointing battery life of less than three hours. The presence of pre-installed bloatware and background-running apps further contributed to excess power consumption.

Overall, the review expresses disappointment with the Asus ROG Ally, suggesting that it feels half-baked and requires substantial effort to configure for gaming. The device’s usability, performance, and battery life shortcomings are highlighted, making it less competitive in the handheld gaming market compared to the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch. The author suggests that future software updates may improve the situation but acknowledges the inherent limitations associated with running Windows on a handheld device.

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