If you love gaming, you'll likely already have a gaming setup. That might include a gaming laptop, and maybe even a gaming keyboard and a gaming chair.
But what happens when you're away from your setup and fancy a game? You could always opt for one of the best gaming phones, but they won't give you the same experience.
Enter the Asus ROG Ally. This is – in essence – a handheld Windows PC. It runs a full version of Windows 11, allowing you to login to all of your different gaming clients wherever you go.
So, is it any good? Well, lets have a look.
Asus ROG Ally review: Price and Release Date
The Asus ROG Ally was officially unveiled on the 11th of May 2023, after several weeks of information being released. The device was available to pre-order straight away on the ROG site, with Currys also carrying the device in the UK. Their pre-order window doesn't begin until the 16th of May, though.
The Asus ROG Ally is priced at £699 in the UK.
Asus ROG Ally review: Design and Hardware
The ROG Ally comes in a matte white finish, with some gentle branding and styling on the edges and the back. The handset has been sculpted for ultimate comfort, and it really does deliver. The unit – despite being much bigger than I'd anticipated – if comfortable to hold and feels natural in use.
Inside, a custom designed AMD Ryzen processor handles both the CPU and GPU functionality. That's a 4nm, 8-core chip, and it performs really well. AAA games are no problem, with smooth animation and faultless gameplay.
On the front, there's a 7-inch FHD panel, with a 120Hz refresh rate and 500 nits of peak brightness. It also features a 7ms response time, for rapid actions and button presses in game.
Controls are Xbox style. On the front panel, you'll find joysticks on both the left- and right-hand side of the device. There's a D-pad on the left, and ABXY buttons on the right. On the top, each side has a bumper and a trigger, with an additional bumper mounted on the back of either side of the device.
There's a dual-speaker audio system on board, too. That's Dolby Atmos certified, so you know you're going to be getting some top notch sound. In use, it is really good, too. There's more than enough volume on tap – I generally kept it around the 20% mark and that was plenty loud.
Asus ROG Ally review: Performance
When it comes to what this device was made to do – play top-tier games – it really is fantastic. Calling it a console-level experience will sound inflated, but it really is on that level. For pure gameplay alone, I'd put it in league with the likes of the PS5 and the Xbox Series X.
I never once noticed a drop in frame rate, nor did I detect any noticeable lagging. Input lag is also pretty much non-existent, with button presses translating into action accurately and quickly.
There are a couple of features on the ROG Ally which make it effortless to use. First is the Armoury Crate software, which can also be found on their range of phones, like the Asus ROG Phone 7.
Armoury Crate allows users to open all of their gaming libraries in one location, meaning you don't have to login to multiple platforms to bring all of your options up at once. That's really handy, and makes selecting a game much quicker.
It also has a really great options menu which is always accessible with a physical button on the left-hand side. This Command Centre allows users to quickly make changes to crucial settings like control settings, refresh rate and resolution. It's also where you can access the on-screen keyboard.
The Ally comes with desktop and gamepad controller settings as standard. These work okay, but can sometimes be a little less intuitive, particularly for games that have quite specific control layouts. Don't fret though – mapping a custom layout is easy with Game Profiles, and can be done individually for each game you play.
Where the ROG Ally is really let down, though, is the battery life. I mainly tested two games on the Ally, with wildly different results. Playing Football Manager, I was impressed. The ROG could comfortably get through around 5-6 hours of gameplay without needing a top-up.
That's a really strong showing. When I loaded up Grand Theft Auto V, though, performance was completely different. I burned through just over 40% in half an hour, suggesting the battery might have lasted around 80 minutes before needing a charge.
It's totally understandable – AAA games are intensive, and use a lot of processing power, particularly when they play as well as they do here. But it does limit how much you can do with this.
Fortunately, when you do need to recharge, it's pretty snappy. A full 0-100 refill happens in around an hour, which is pretty handy.
Asus ROG Ally review: Verdict
Ultimately, if you want a portable solution that will allow you to play all of your games, this is it. It's a really brilliant gaming experience, and it's effortless to use.
Is this the final boss for this format? Absolutely not. But I do think Asus have nailed the blueprint here. With updates to the internal hardware, this could be a total knockout.
I definitely think it's a more appealing proposition than competitors like the Nintendo Switch and the Steam Deck, though. It offers a more complete package, and will surely be the best option for gamers on the go.