- Asus has just announced the Asus ROG Ally , a new competitor to the Steam Deck.
- Initial specs reveal that it could be twice as good as a Steam Deck based on refresh rate alone.
- Official specs, pricing, and release date for the Asus ROG Ally have yet to be announced.
The Steam Deck is one of the hottest gaming devices right now since it’s literally a handheld computer, but with better mass appeal. However, its victory and spot at the throne might be short-lived because a new challenger in the form of the Asus ROG Ally is poised to fight for the crown.
Just to get this out of the way, the Asus ROG Ally was no April Fools’ joke despite being announced on April 1st. Asus merely picked an unfortunate date to announce the ROG Ally.
At the moment, the details regarding the Asus ROG Ally remain sparse, since it’s just in its prototype stage, but the situation is already looking worrisome for Steam Deck. Because once the Asus ROG Ally gets released eventually (and likely soon), the Steam Deck would quickly become outdated.
Here are some of the following notable specs we currently know for the Asus ROG Ally:
- 7” IPS panel
- 1080p display with 16:9 aspect ratio
- 120 Hz refresh rate
- 500 nits max brightness
What’s under the hood seems classified for the moment but seeing those specs mean the Asus ROG Ally should theoretically be well-equipped for playing games out at 100+ FPS due to the refresh rate.
The other jaw-dropping spec would be the 1080p resolution; by comparison, here’s the Steam Deck’s display specs:
- 7” IPS panel
- 800p display with 16:10 aspect ratio
- 60 Hz refresh rate
- 400 nits max brightness
As you can see, the difference is more than significant.
The Asus ROG Ally Could Be Twice as Good
Spec-wise, at least, it’s fair and reasonable to expect that the Asus ROG Ally is twice as good compared to the Steam Deck, based on its presumed capacity to run a 120 Hz display at 1080p nonetheless.
There’s still the possibility that whatever hardware it has at release might not be able to max out 120 Hz, but even so a 120 Hz display will still be miles ahead compared to a 60 Hz display even at double-digit framerates. You could always reduce the resolution of the game you’re playing on the Asus ROG Ally to 720p and it would still be better than gaming on the Steam Deck.
That brings us to another point of comparison, which is resolution. It might not look like it, but the jump from 720p to 1080 is big enough to be noticeable to the regular and even the untrained eye. Not to mention the hardware needed to run a 1080p display is vastly superior to the one needed for a mere 720p display.
But it’s not just the display that’s making the Asus ROG Ally more promising than the competition…
Early Tests Are Out, the Asus ROG Ally Is Cooler
You might be thinking, with all these upscaled hardware requirements and demands, the Asus ROG Ally is certainly power-hungry and runs hot and loud. But that’s not the case; Asus’ engineering has managed to impress even the most meticulous of tech reviewers.
Asus actually sent some prototype copies of its ROG Ally to a couple of the biggest tech reviewers today and the results blew the competition out of the water.
Despite the more powerful hardware, the Asus ROG Ally still ran cooler and quieter compared to the Steam Deck. It’s worth mentioning that they popped the ROG Ally open and it revealed a twin radial fan and heatsink cooling system similar to gaming laptops (but on a handheld device).
Besides, Asus is no stranger to manufacturing powerful yet quiet and relatively cool devices in its ROG lineup.
It’s also not just the hardware department that gets the advantage but also (and subjectively) the software or OS. The Asus ROG Ally runs on Windows 11 as opposed to the Steam Deck’s proprietary OS. So it should be more familiar to a wider range of users and could have many other accessible applications apart from gaming.
Assuming Asus sticks with the Windows 11 OS in their prototypes, the ROG Ally is looking more and more like a 7-inch laptop with a gamepad.
Steam Deck Looks Weak by Comparison
While Asus has yet to drop official info regarding the ROG Ally’s components, it’s safe to assume that it will be better than the Steam Deck’s APU and other components which are currently:
- CPU: Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz (up to 448 GFlops FP32)
- GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz (up to 1.6 TFlops FP32)
- APU power: 4-15W
- 16 GB LPDDR5 on-board RAM
- Storage based on price, starting at 64 GB eMMC
As we’ve previously covered, if you want to run the latest games on this hardware, or any AAA title from the past three years, you’ll have to make compromises on the visuals. People usually set the graphics settings to “Low” or the lowest to make the Steam Deck output a stable 30 FPS or more– at 720p.
Now, since the ROG Ally is expected to have much better hardware, you can also expect it to run games on a higher framerate with far less visual compromise. Again, we currently don’t have trusty numbers or benchmarks available, but the ROG Ally wouldn’t just be better than the Steam Deck (presumably), it would be superior if the prototype versions are anything to go by.
The Steam Deck Still Has Its Strengths
With that said, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here with excitement. The ROG Ally is still just a prototype, after all. And just as Asus hasn’t announced the official specs yet, neither has it given any information regarding pricing. That’s the deciding factor for most people.
If you’re pessimistic based on Asus’ penchant for pricier hardware, then you could also expect it to cost twice as much as a Steam Deck, whose max price is $650 USD for the 500 GB version and $400 for the measly 64GB storage. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to predict Asus charging $800 to $1200 for the ROG Ally, depending on the actual specs and performance.
Or it could be a different story since at those pessimistic predicted price points for the ROG Ally, Asus would be cannibalizing its own laptop sales. Instead, it could price the ROG Ally closer to the Steam Deck since that’s its direct competition and not gaming laptops.
But again, this is Asus we’re talking about. They’re known for their more expensive products among other things. There’s a chance that they might price the ROG Ally manageably higher than the Steam Deck since it has significantly better hardware.
At best, we could only speculate until Asus drops more information.
The Steam Deck Has Trackpads
One thing that’s conspicuously absent in the ROG Ally prototypes would be the trackpad which is one of Steam’s most revolutionary features for its gaming hardware. Taking the control philosophy behind the Steam Controllers analog touchpad, the trackpad lets users control and aim as though they would with a mouse which is still the superior option for precision and dexterity.
It’s not clear whether Asus plans to add something similar to the ROG Ally, but its prototype doesn’t have it, meaning the controls are only as good as most non-Steam Deck consoles can get. A lot of users who have tried the Steam Deck swear by the trackpads and their game-changing capabilities, especially in shooter games or strategy games.
Depending on how Asus plans to handle the ROG Ally’s release, it could well be putting a lot of pressure on Valve and its Steam Deck. But for now, it’s best to wait for more announcements and how well they can further improve or remove from the Asus ROG ally prototypes.