Asus has begun teasing its own portable game console, the ROG Ally, which the company is positioning as a high-end offering for the handheld PC gaming market. With its ROG Ally, Asus is certainly trying to join in on the rise of portable x86-based game consoles, which have been inspired by the Steam Deck system and further stimulated by game developers' enthusiasm to optimize their titles for these portable low-power PCs.

This weeks reveal, which included a questionably timed April Fool's joke that was, in, fact, not a joke, is less of an announcement and more of a teaser on what Asus is working on. As such, Asus hasn't revealed much in the way of detailed specifications, let alone a release date or pricing. None the less, the company feels confident enough in the product at this point that they're showing off a prototype to whet gamers appetites ahead of what's presumably a proper release later this year.

Starting at the heart of Asus's handheld console, CPU and GPU are corner stones of every gaming system. So for its ROG Ally Asus picked up what they are calling a custom AMD system-on-chip featuring Zen 4 general purpose cores as well as an RDNA 3-based integrated GPU. The SoC is made by TSMC on one of its N4 process technologies (4nm-class), though its configuration is unknown and we have no idea whether ROG Ally uses what's just a semi-custom configuration of one of AMD's Phoenix APUs, or if indeed uses a truly custom-designed SoC with certain perks exclusive for the console. 

(Image credit: Dave2D)
(Image credit: Dave2D)

The Asus ROG Ally comes with a proprietary connector which is divided into two part: one part transmits PCIe 3.0 x8 data, while the other part is a USB-C connector responsible for transmitting power and USB data. That connector, in turn, can be used to attach an external Asus ROG XG Mobile dock with an external GPU (up to GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU) and external display connectors, essentially transforming the portable game console into a higher performance desktop gaming system. While most portable game consoles can work with external displays and some can even attach an external GPU (albeit with some tricks), enabling this capability by default is one of the major features Asus is counting on to differentiate its ROG Ally.

(Image credit: Dave2D)
(Image credit: Dave2D)

The Alloy's custom APU, in turn, will be used to drive a 7-inch Full-HD (1080p) display, which offers a maximum brightness up to 500 nits brightness as well as an up to 120 Hz refresh rate. The inclusion of such a high performance display on a battery-constrained device is certainly an interesting choice, and while at first blush it sounds like it may be overkill, YouTuber Dave2D, who was one of only two people to get an early look at the console, says that the built-in GPU can indeed take advantage of a higher refresh rate.

As far as other hardware peculiarities are concerned, the Asus ROG Ally console uses soldered-down (presumably) LPDDR5 memory, an M.2-2230 NVMe SSD, a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth adapter, a MicroSD card slot, a USB Type-C port for charging and display output, and a TRRS audio connector for headsets. 

(Image credit: Dave2D)
(Image credit: Dave2D)

When it comes to software, Asus ROG Ally runs Microsoft's Windows 11 operating system and should be compatible with all contemporary games developed for the Windows platform, including those available from Steam, Epic Games Store, and Xbox Game Pass. This is of course a significant trump that the Asus ROG Ally has over Valve's Steam Deck, which runs a custom version of Linux and is not compatible with all games – but getting desktop Windows to play nicely with handheld computers has also historically come with its own set of challenges.

With all of that said, Steam Deck still has an edge over ROG Ally when it comes to ergonomics, according to Dave2D. Yet, the Asus portable game console is quieter and can run cooler when working in a 15W mode.

(Image credit: Dave2D)
(Image credit: Dave2D)

The Asus ROG Ally game console certainly looks impressive from hardware standpoint. Meanwhile, its software is in the early stages of development, according to the Dave2D, which suggests that this one is not going to be available shortly. This is perhaps why Asus decided not to disclose final specifications of the game console and only gave it to two YouTubers for a test run.

Asus reportedly says that the price of the ROG Ally console will be competitive, though this is a pretty vague statement as if it performs two times faster than Valve's Steam Deck ($699) and is priced roughly 50% higher (say $999 - $1099), one may say that as its price performance ratio is so good, its price is competitive. Meanwhile, good news is that Asus will release its unit globally.

In any case, Asus's attempt to enter the market of portable gaming console looks inspiring from hardware standpoint (i.e., on paper). It remains to be seen how comfortable it is to use the console, as well as how much it ends up costing and just how long the high-specced device can be used on the go.

Source: Asus

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  • thestryker - Wednesday, April 5, 2023 - link

    I get why you'd think that, but it doesn't actually make sense when you put together all of the parts. It's a Zen 2 mobile CPU based part with RNDA2 graphics (which weren't available in any AMD SoC yet) with a bandwidth optimized LPDDR5x memory controller (no other part used this either). The configuration only makes sense for a low powered graphics optimized product and given that the only thing it appeared in is the Steam Deck it's safe to say this was driven by Valve.
  • brucethemoose - Wednesday, April 5, 2023 - link

    But what about Dragon Crest, which was supposed to be a Van Gogh sucessor and a contemporary to Rembrandt? Why would AMD plan that if Valve didn't even know the Deck would succeed?

    The leaker describes it as a "Premium APU," which to me means an APU for media heavy small laptops and tablets that ultimately never materialized.

    Many details of the 2020 leak (including Van Gogh/Rembrandt specs) were panned out, other than some apparent cancelations, so I am willing to put stock in that leak.
  • lmcd - Friday, April 7, 2023 - link

    It's a die shrunk Van Gogh. LPDDR5x is just an overclock that AMD validated (it's not even a spec).
  • phoenix_rizzen - Wednesday, April 5, 2023 - link

    This is an interesting piece of hardware. Especially with the external GPU dock support from the get-go. It's too bad they didn't go with a 16:10 screen, there's enough room in the top/bottom bezels for one (and would make all 4 bezels the same width; it looks lopsided right now).

    Hopefully they add some tweaks to the bottom to make it fit the hands. Could be just the pictures, and using bright white plastic, but the bottom looks too flat to be comfortable to hold for hours on end.

    This looks like something that could be used/supported for awhile. Wonder how long Asus will support it. Hopefully, they're able to keep the price tag under $1000.
  • meacupla - Wednesday, April 5, 2023 - link

    I see what you mean with a 16:10 screen being a better match with the bezel width.
    It would also give more screen space for 4:3 screens in emulators.
  • Dahak - Tuesday, April 11, 2023 - link

    I know LTT did a video about this and mentioned it too about the hand fit, but cannot find the time stamp
  • Silver5urfer - Thursday, April 6, 2023 - link

    Everyone talking about the SoC.

    The major point of discussion should be the longevity since x86 hardware is longer life. Be it the Junk consoles like PS4, XB or the better PS3, X360. Esp with PS3/4 &X360 with Jailbreak.

    As for Steam Deck it's garbage because the major flaws are - Battery design is L Shape custom with tight glue, and the Heatsink is an abomination. The battery will die, the pathetic battery life cannot be helped at all and without possible user repair it's a joke, the heatsink plate is stupid as if you remove it for SSD upgrade that thing may lose mechanical tolerances and cause issues, then the screws go into that plate onto the shaft of the heatsink design, a total dumpster.

    ASUS engineering on Motherboards is already shoddy with their poor QC and their Armory Crate malware junk. ASUS Android OS support is also bad. They ruined their forum software too, check the new ROG forums, absolute destruction of what's left good of ROG brand.

    Now this console wannabe, it is not good since it is already having worst ergo and then the whole battery will be same as Steam Deck, the retail market will be poor. Then the lack of Steam Deck like UI and OS. Gamepass is just garbage, since Steam/Proton is light years ahead, it will work even on bootleg copies and relying on UWP is a joke esp with mods etc.

    All in all, long story short. Modern portables are just use and throw garbage, be it BGA lapjokes or mobile phones, or portables like Switch and this. Look at past 3DSXL solid battery design, Xbox Series and old Controllers with Li-Ion pack OR Ni-MH AA batteries option that's how "Environment" should be considered for improving longevity and serviceability not this fake garbage use and throw dumpster class hardware selling for $1000+
  • PeachNCream - Monday, April 10, 2023 - link

    It would need a decent, reputable reviewer. Also not so interested in the color for something held in-hand. ROG branding is pretty stupid and infantile so there's that. Thumb sticks would need to be hall effect.

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