ASUS made waves earlier this year with the launch of the ROG Ally, heralding the arrival of the first Windows handheld from a major PC brand. Boasting an AMD Z1 Extreme chip, it promised to deliver an unprecedented gaming experience on the go. However, as the year progresses, a more budget-friendly model powered by a standard Z1 chip is set to hit the market. Digital Trends recently conducted a review of this variant, uncovering some surprising findings about its performance.
The ROG Ally Z1, equipped with a newer and more potent CPU along with a modern GPU, was put to the test against its main contender, the Steam Deck. The Steam Deck features a semi-custom Aerith processor with eight RDNA 2 graphics cores, doubling the Z1’s four RDNA 3 cores. This disparity in graphics processing capability appears to be a significant factor contributing to the Steam Deck’s superior performance.
In benchmark tests for demanding titles like Cyberpunk 2077, Horizon Zero Dawn, Strange Brigade, and Dying Light 2, the ROG Ally Z1 lagged behind the Steam Deck when both were run at 15W with 720p or 800p resolution. While the performance gap isn’t monumental at this power level, it can be the deciding factor between a playable and frustrating gaming experience.
Battery Life Dilemma
One of the most critical aspects for any portable gaming device is battery life. Unfortunately, Digital Trends reported that the ROG Ally Z1 didn’t exhibit any substantial improvement in this department compared to its pricier counterpart, the Z1 Extreme model. This means users can expect approximately four hours of battery life for lighter indie games, two hours for triple-A titles at 30fps, and a mere hour in Turbo Mode.
The Steam Deck, on the other hand, offers a more respectable battery life without sacrificing performance. This crucial advantage positions it as a strong contender for gamers prioritizing on-the-go playability.
Choosing the Right Model
Given the performance and battery life disparities, consumers looking for a Windows handheld gaming device should weigh their priorities carefully. The top-end ASUS ROG Ally Z1 Extreme model provides a marked improvement in performance, while the Steam Deck offers a well-balanced experience with more reliable battery life.
In the battle of handheld gaming, the ASUS ROG Ally Z1 faces stiff competition from the Steam Deck. While the Z1 boasts a newer CPU and GPU, it falls short in performance compared to the Steam Deck, thanks in large part to the latter’s superior graphics processing capabilities. Moreover, the Z1’s battery life remains a stumbling block, failing to demonstrate a significant improvement over the higher-end Z1 Extreme model. In light of these findings, consumers seeking a top-tier gaming experience on the go may find the ROG Ally Z1 Extreme or the Steam Deck to be more fitting options.