Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

A cheaper ROG Ally is coming, but you shouldn’t wait for it

Asus has finally given its hotly anticipated ROG Ally a price and release date (you can read my full thoughts on the device in our Asus ROG Ally review). The flagship model, the one I reviewed, arrives on June 13 for $700. But a cheaper model is on the way for only $600 later in the year.

It rarely pays to be an early adopter, so you might be tempted to wait for the cheaper model. I wouldn’t hold out for it, though. The base model comes with the Ryzen Z1 processor, not the Z1 Extreme, and it’s looking far less powerful.

Performance for the AMD Z1 processor.

The above chart from AMD shows a relative idea of how much weaker the Ryzen Z1 is. Sure, it can hold up decently in a game like DOTA 2 or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but it’s around half as powerful in Red Dead Redemption 2 and even worse in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. 

But the most important thing is that no one has actually tested the ROG Ally with the Ryzen Z1. Those benchmarks above were run in a sample device, not the final ROG Ally that will be shipped. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the ROG Ally with the Ryzen Z1 underperform compared to the older Steam Deck.

Get your weekly teardown of the tech behind PC gaming
Check your inbox!

As you can see in my ROG Ally versus Steam Deck comparison, the ROG Ally is a clear winner. But it’s not as far ahead as its theoretical power would suggest, especially if you want to get any decent battery life out of the device.

Asus ROG Ally with the Windows lock screen.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

My worry with the base Ryzen Z1 model is that you’ll have to sacrifice performance or battery life to get anything nearing the Steam Deck, especially considering that it comes with the same 1080p screen as the ROG Ally with the Z1 Extreme processor.

The main reason why is that the Ryzen Z1 fits into the same power range as the Z1 Extreme: 9 watts up to 30W. It comes withjust six Zen 4 cores instead of eight like the Z1 Extreme has, and a measly four RDNA 3 cores instead of the 12 the Z1 Extreme has access to. That hindered graphics power shows up in AMD’s benchmarks, and I suspect they’ll only be exaggerated once the Ryzen Z1 is properly inside the ROG Ally.

For now, that’s just speculation. The ROG Ally with the base Ryzen Z1 is coming in the second half of the year. Meanwhile, pre-orders for the model with the Z1 Extreme are live at Best Buy. If you’re planning on picking up the ROG Ally, this is a rare case where I wouldn’t recommend waiting for the cheaper model. It’s looking like a different class of device entirely.

Editors' Recommendations

Jacob Roach
Lead Reporter, PC Hardware
Jacob Roach is the lead reporter for PC hardware at Digital Trends. In addition to covering the latest PC components, from…
You just can’t kill the Steam Deck
Steam Deck held between two hands.

Ever since Valve released the original Steam Deck, the PC gaming world has been on the hunt for a Steam Deck killer. Asus went first with its ROG Ally, and Lenovo followed shortly after with the Legion Go. That's not to mention the swath of smaller brands that have been chipping away at handheld gaming PCs for years, such as Ayaneo and GPD.

You can't kill the Steam Deck, though, at least not with the current offerings. Valve has a particular advantage with the Steam Deck that it's been building for years, and it will be hard for a true competitor to emerge in the growing market of handheld gaming PCs.
Priced for everyone

Read more
Asus’ forgotten ROG Ally is now totally worth the money
Starfield running on the Asus ROG Ally.

Asus' ROG Ally Z1 wasn't very good when it released. As you can read in our ROG Ally Z1 review, the handheld was way too expensive to justify at its $600 launch price, with the much faster Z1 Extreme model coming in for only $100 more. That's changing with a big price drop.

Best Buy currently has the , and although it's technically on sale, it's hard to imagine the price will go back up any time soon. The Z1 Extreme model, for example, has been available for around $100 less than its $700 list price for weeks, following the announcement of the Steam Deck OLED.

Read more
WD’s new SSD is the Steam Deck upgrade you’ve been waiting for
The WD Black SN770M hard drive on a Steam Deck.

The SSD upgrade you've been waiting on for the Steam Deck and ROG Ally is here. Western Digital revealed its WD_Black SN770M, which is an M.2 2230 SSD that's built specifically for handheld gaming devices.

The new drive is available in three capacities: 500GB, 1TB, and the coveted 2TB size. It's tough to find M.2 2230 SSDs for the Steam Deck, and even tougher to find them at 2TB. Up to this point, popular options have included the Sabrent Rocket and Corsair MP600. Otherwise, you'd have to stalk retailers like Newegg and Amazon to find a good deal on a Micron drive repurposed from another device.

Read more