Asus ROG Ally X Hands-On

Ever since the Steam Deck came out a couple years ago, handheld gaming PCs have been going through a bit of a renaissance. And while we’re still waiting for a follow-up to the AMD Z1 Extreme, the chip that powers the ROG Ally and the Lenovo Legion Gothere’s still enough room for improvements to existing systems that significantly change the experience of actually using these things. Enter the Asus ROG Ally X. However much we loved the original ROG Ally for its slim and light design and powerful performance, there were definitely some issues with it – primarily thermal performance and a buggy UI.

ASUS ROG Ally X Gaming Handheld

Out July 22. 7-inch, 120Hz FHD 1080p – AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme Processor – 1TB.

The latter of these problems was essentially fixed by UI upgrades over the last few months, but Asus had to go back to the drawing board to fix thermals. And while I only got to play with the ROG Ally X for a few minutes, it looks like Asus absolutely nailed it this time around.

Asus ROG Ally X – Design and Features

The Asus ROG Ally X is thicker than the original Ally, that much is clear, but what’s incredible is how Asus was able to increase the size, while not drastically increasing how much it weighs. Don’t get me wrong, the weight did go up, but only by 0.15 lbs, which I didn’t even notice as I held the two devices in each hand.

You might ask yourself why Asus thickened the Ally up anyways, and well, it’s all about the thermals. The original Ally had a problem where after long sessions the display would become uncomfortably hot, and because the touch screen is how you primarily navigate Windows, that was a big problem. To combat this, Asus completely redesigned the chassis, allowing for much better airflow, particularly under the display.

The bigger chassis allows for a ton of improvements, though. For one, now you get two USB-C ports, one of which is compatible with Thunderbolt 4, which means Asus was able to axe the proprietary Asus XG Mobile interface. It has the side effect that the external GPUs that were marketed with the original device won’t work anymore, but because one of the USB-C ports is Thunderbolt 4-compliant, you can use pretty much any other external GPU.

All the little bits that make up the Asus ROG Ally X

Asus also changed up the SSD. Just like the Steam Deck, the Asus ROG Ally originally used an M.2 2230 drive, which was annoying to replace. This time around, the Asus ROG Ally X is sporting an M.2 2280 SSD, and as an added bonus, the SSD is now immediately accessible once you take the back of the system off. This will make it the easiest handheld PC to replace the SSD yet, and that’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Another huge problem with the original was battery life – a problem shared with every handheld gaming PC on the market right now. The Ally X is packing a much larger battery, at 80Wh, rather than the 40Wh of the original device. Again, it’s incredibly impressive that Asus was able to essentially double the size of the battery while making the device only weigh 0.15lb more than the original. It remains to be seen how much it’ll impact battery life in practice, but you can rest assured that I’ll be putting it through its paces the moment I get my hands on it in a non-controlled environment.

Asus ROG Ally X – Specs and Performance

At face value, it doesn’t look like much has changed since the Asus ROG Ally came out in 2023. After all, it’s still using the Z1 Extreme processor and 1080p display that graces the flagship model. However, there’s more to a computer than just the CPU and the display.

The Asus ROG Ally X makes major gains in both memory and storage, upgrading to 24GB of LPDDR5X clocked at 7500Mhz, and shared between the GPU and CPU. This is a huge upgrade from the original, which not only had less memory at 16GB, but it was also much slower, clocked at 6,400MHz. Again, I’ll have to wait until it’s in the lab to test how much of an impact this will make on performance, but given how RAM-hungry Windows 11 is, adding 8GB and then making it significantly faster definitely can’t hurt.

The Asus ROG Ally X also sports a 1TB SSD, up from the 512GB of the original models. I don’t have to tell you how much space modern PC games take up, especially when you start looking at AAA games like God Of War or Cyberpunk 2077.

You also can’t discount how important cooling is. Modern chip design is all about pushing chips to their thermal limit in order to reach the maximum performance possible. Because Asus has designed the Ally X with more cooling in mind, it follows that we’ll see a sizable difference in GPU and CPU performance, even if the chip hasn’t actually changed. That’s another thing we’ll have to wait and see, though.

The display is largely unchanged. You’re still getting a 1080p display with a refresh rate of 120Hz and a peak brightness of 500 nits. It would have been nice to see the Asus ROG Ally X get the same OLED upgrade the Steam Deck enjoyed last year, but the display is still really nice.

Jackie Thomas is the Hardware and Buying Guides Editor at IGN and the PC components queen. You can follow her @Jackiecobra



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