The media attention and anticipation surrounding the Asus ROG Ally, the laptop manufacturer’s debut entry into the PC portable gaming market, is beginning to pick up steam as we get closer to its launch date of May 11. And there’s a good explanation for that.
A market for portable gaming systems that are capable of running the top PC games has materialized seemingly out of thin air in the time since the launch of the Steam Deck itself in the previous year. The ROG Ally is ready to take things to an even higher level, with a design and performance that has the potential to extend the market even further.
Despite this, the machine is not without its flaws. There have been hiccups that could end up becoming relatively insignificant stepping stones, or they could end up entirely derailing the launch and momentum of the ROG Ally. And taking into account that Asus invested a significant amount of time and money into the development of this handheld over the course of five years, according to a representative, it would be a shame for all of that to go in vain considering the potential of this machine.
Even at this early stage of the competition, there are a lot of positive things that can be said about the Asus ROG Ally. To begin, the layout strikes the perfect balance between attractiveness and use. The white color jumps out instantly, diverging from the gamer aesthetic in general and notably diverging from the all-black appearance of the Steam Deck.
Additionally, there is the honeycomb design that makes the handheld stand out, in addition to the RGB lighting that is present on both of the analog sticks. However, the chassis is designed with holes and a white hue, both of which help to dissipate heat and prevent sweat from forming on your palms during extended gaming sessions. The RGB reactions to the many different in-game commands, which provide an additional degree of engagement,
A combination of the holes in the chassis and the thin components that make up the insides contribute to the overall system’s incredibly low weight. This is made possible by the overall design of the system. This works particularly well for longer sessions, including for holding specific positions that are unlikely to produce weariness an hour later. It also works well for holding certain positions for longer. It boasts a button layout that’s been seen before, and the analog sticks and six trigger buttons are some of the most comfortable and straightforward controls.
What’s even more striking is the computer’s central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU). The former is an AMD Ryzen Z1 CPU that is powered by Zen 4, and the latter is an XG mobile chip.
Both put in a great amount of effort to ensure that the user has an amazing experience, which includes a combination of a fluid framerate, stunning high-resolution graphics, ray tracing, and compatibility with DirectX 11 and 12. I am still astounded by what Asus was able to achieve with this portable, and I am very excited to see how much further this technology may be pushed in the not-too-distant future.
While putting the Asus ROG Ally through its paces, I, along with a few of my coworkers, discovered a big bug. Even while the temperature of the system as a whole remained relatively low, a significant amount of heat was being expelled from the vents located at the top.
After a lengthy gaming session, this is something that you might normally be able to ignore due to the power of the components. However, the overheating would start happening just a few minutes after the system was turned on.
It’s probably an unintended consequence of packing so many strong features into such a slim and lightweight mobile device. It’s also possible that in contrast to the Steam Deck, the vent on the ROG Ally is located too close to regions in which your hands will need to reach across in order to access other buttons. If Asus decides to offer a BIOS update after the product’s first release, it might assist reduce this problem.
However, overheating in general, and especially when it is severe enough to do so, can wreak havoc on components and significantly reduce the lifespan of those components. We can only hope that a solution will be found either before the game’s release or not long after.
…And the unpleasant
The availability of the product and, more specifically, its price have been a topic that Asus has been very careful not to discuss until the debut of the ROG Ally in May. This is something that the company has been deliberately trying to conceal. Since the United States and the United Kingdom are the only two territories that will be hosting press events, we can safely infer that the launch will be conducted on a global scale, or at the very least, in those two countries.
In contrast to the Steam Deck, which had to gradually distribute units across the world some months after the product’s first sale, a global launch would be a powerful statement of purpose.
However, launch areas are something that can be worked out; the cost, on the other hand, is something that has the potential to either make or kill the ROG Ally. There was a version that cost $399, a model that cost $529, and a model that cost $649 all of which belonged to the Steam Deck.
We have it on good authority from Asus that there will be two models; thus, it is safe to conclude that there will not be a more affordable variant taking into account the specifications that went into developing it. However, in order for this handheld device to be able to compete with the Steam Deck, it will need to have pricing that is comparable.
And the assertion that the ROG Ally will be priced at less than $1,000 is cause for concern. Gamers have demonstrated in the past that it does not matter how powerful a system is; if the price is too high, there will only be a very restricted audience willing or able to pay for it, regardless of how powerful the system is. And taking into consideration the economic crisis that we are currently experiencing, which has already had a negative impact on sales of personal computers and laptops, it is safe to conclude that Asus’s lovely gaming toy will suffer if its price is too high.
Conclusions and musings
The Asus ROG Ally is an extremely impressive piece of technology, based on what I’ve seen and what I’ve had the opportunity to try out during the most recent media preview event. Not only does it possess a great design, but the tailor-made components really optimize its performance potential right out of the gate.
Not only that, but it does it in a very efficient manner. Instead of being a throwaway competitor to Steam Deck, it is a well-crafted handheld that demonstrates how much time, effort, and expense Asus invested into it. This handheld shows how much time, effort, and budget Asus poured into it.
However, despite all of its virtues, it has two key drawbacks that have the potential to hinder its sales momentum or possibly prevent it from ever getting off the ground. If Asus turns out to have all the solutions, then I will completely accept that I reacted too strongly.
However, as of right now, there is simply too much information that is being withheld until the day that the launch takes place, and at this point, we are less than a month away from that date. Asus, I beg you not to screw this up. Please. Everyone who put in a lot of effort on the Asus ROG Ally over the course of more than five years deserves better.
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