Getting Hands-On with the ROG Ally X: Discover Why I’m Eagerly Anticipating Its Arrival

The ROG Ally X running Armored Core VI.
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This article is part of our report on Computex, the largest computing event globally.

We’ve been aware for a few weeks now of what the ROG Ally X includes. It’s equipped with the same Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor, the identical 7-inch 1080p screen at the front, and a design overall akin to the original model. While there are some enhancements in specifications, this is more of a refresh than a new iteration. Yet, after experiencing the ROG Ally X at Computex 2024, I’m eager to acquire this handheld for myself.

Similar to how the Steam Deck OLED represents the ultimate version of the Steam Deck, the ROG Ally X stands as the definitive edition of the ROG Ally. However, Asus takes it a step further. There’s a substantial boost in battery life that could position this as the longest-lasting handheld available, a range of software improvements, and even a slight performance increase.

Indeed, an enhancement in performance

Z1 processor for the Asus ROG Ally.

Let’s delve into this performance enhancement, as it’s a facet of the ROG Ally X that hasn’t received much attention. It retains the Ryzen Z1 Extreme chip like the original model, that remains unchanged, but there’s additional performance potential here. This is attributed to the RAM. Now, you’re provided with 24GB of LPDDR5x, operating at a faster 7,500 MT/s. This has significant implications.

The Ryzen Z1 Extreme functions as a system-on-a-chip (SoC), with both the CPU and GPU sharing a memory pool. By increasing both the amount and speed of the RAM, the ROG Ally X has much more flexibility. You can now allocate a full 8GB to the GPU while reserving 16GB for the system.

Asus isn’t claiming improved performance with the ROG Ally X, but it wouldn’t be surprising to witness enhancements in games like Forza Horizon 5, Hogwarts Legacy, and Resident Evil 4. While I didn’t have the opportunity to thoroughly benchmark these games during my hands-on experience with the device, it won’t be long before I can conduct proper testing with a device in hand.

More than just a black finish

D-Pad on the Asus ROG Ally X.

Externally, the ROG Ally X closely resembles the original model, yet this understates the extent of the updates. The chassis design has been entirely revamped, featuring more rounded edges. Asus has also adjusted the angles of the buttons and triggers for a more ergonomic grip, and replaced both the joysticks and D-pad, which were points of contention on the original model.

The overall feel is significantly improved. Particularly, the triggers offer a better tactile experience. On the original Ally, the triggers are flat and align with the bumpers, but now they have a slight curvature. Additionally, Asus has fine-tuned the positioning of the joysticks and buttons, creating a more controller-like feel. The most notable upgrade is the macro placement. They are neatly positioned out of the way, allowing you to disregard them if desired.

The major enhancement

The Asus ROG Ally X sitting on a stand.

While the improved feel and performance boost are advantages, the spotlight undoubtedly falls on the battery. The ROG Ally X is equipped with an 80 Whr battery, double the capacity of the original model. Consequently, the handheld is only marginally heavier — weighing 678 grams instead of 607 grams; the difference is imperceptible without a direct comparison.

Assessing battery life in a brief hands-on session is challenging, but I observed significantly extended battery longevity during demanding gaming sessions. In Armored Core VI, I consumed approximately 10% of the battery in 20 minutes of gameplay — and this was on Turbo mode drawing 25 watts. Extrapolating from this, you can expect slightly over three hours of gameplay in a demanding AAA title on the highest power setting. This is roughly double the capability of the base ROG Ally, which wouldn’t be surprising.

Battery life is a crucial aspect for a handheld device, extending beyond just capacity (I’m referring to you, MSI Claw). Nevertheless, we already have a solid foundation with the ROG Ally X. The additional RAM may consume slightly more power, but considering everything from the screen to the Ryzen Z1 Extreme chip, we have an understanding of the power requirements of this handheld. It wouldn’t be surprising to witness a potential 40% increase in real-world battery life once in use.

For now, we have the capacity and my brief hands-on experience to rely on. Once the ROG Ally X is available, we’ll conduct thorough battery benchmarks to gauge the actual impact of this increased capacity.

The ultimate iteration of the ROG Ally

The Asus ROG Ally X sitting on its stand.

The redesigned shell, expanded RAM, and larger battery take the spotlight, but Asus has made other enhancements as well. You’ll receive a 1TB SSD, for instance, in the form of an M.2 2280 SSD, making upgrades easier and more cost-effective. Asus has also replaced the proprietary XG Mobile connection with dual USB-C ports, one of which supports USB 4 for external GPUs.

I can confidently state that if you’re considering the ROG Ally, it’s worthwhile to await the ROG Ally X. This represents a significant upgrade, and I don’t need an array of benchmarks to convey that. The more intriguing question, which I’ll delve into once I have the device in hand, is whether it’s worth upgrading from another handheld. The Steam Deck OLED continues to pose strong competition at a lower price point, and if the original ROG Ally sees a price drop, it might present a more compelling option. However, based on my initial impressions, these handhelds face a formidable challenge against the ROG Ally X.

Jenifer Yesmin

Dan is an enthusiastic and versatile content producer with a background in pop culture, entertainment, and sports. Over the course of his professional journey, Dan… More »

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