Asus ROG Ally (Ryzen Z1)
MSRP $600.00

“The ROG Ally with the Z1 is weaker than even the Steam Deck, leaving it with out a clear viewers.”


Gentle and comfy to make use of

Lovely 1080p display screen


Weak battery life

Worse efficiency than the Steam Deck

Home windows 11 is a problem to make use of

After I reviewed Asus’s ROG Ally earlier this yr, I used to be floored by its efficiency. The hand-held debuted AMD’s Ryzen Z1 Excessive chip, which shot previous the Steam Deck and established Asus’ handheld as the brand new efficiency king.
Now, we’ve got the bottom Z1 mannequin. It’s a stripped-down model of the chip we noticed earlier this yr, and it is available in cheaper than the Z1 Excessive mannequin ($600 as an alternative of $700). there’s much less energy, however the machine nonetheless comes with the identical 512GB of storage, similar shared 16GB of LPDDR5 reminiscence, and similar stunning 1080p, 120Hz display screen. It’s simply the processor that’s totally different.
And what a distinction that makes. The ROG Ally Z1 isn’t a catastrophe, but it surely’s a tool that doesn’t have any clear objective. It’s a transparent step under the Z1 Excessive, and it loses in a head-to-head battle with the Steam Deck. It’s a tool that exists as a result of it may, and I’ve a tough time believing it caters to any particular viewers.

Let’s speak concerning the Ryzen Z1
Jacob Roach / Digital Traits
You would possibly assume that the Ryzen Z1 Excessive is a beefed-up model of the Ryzen Z1, however the line really strikes in the wrong way. The Z1 Excessive units the usual, and the Ryzen Z1 is large step backward.
For starters, the Ryzen Z1 solely comes with six Zen 4 CPU cores, in comparison with the eight obtainable on the Z1 Excessive. The extra essential cutback is in GPU cores, although. The Ryzen Z1 has 4 RDNA 3 GPU cores, which is simply a 3rd of what the Ryzen Z1 Excessive affords.
It’s an enormous step again, and that comes out within the efficiency of the ROG Ally Z1. There’s additionally a slight minimize to cache, from 8MB of L2 on the Z1 Excessive to 6MB of L2 on Z1. It’s not an enormous deal, however I did must allocate extra of the shared 16GB of LPDDR5 reminiscence to get video games like Returnal to launch.
The Ryzen Z1 is highly effective sufficient to run video games, but it surely’s a big step again from what the Z1 Excessive affords. It’s even a minimize in comparison with the Steam Deck. Valve’s handheld has twice as many graphics Compute Models (CUs). They’re utilizing an older structure, however the larger core depend means the Steam Deck edges out larger efficiency, as my testing exhibits.
By the numbers
Jacob Roach / Digital Traits
The Steam Deck comparability is the very best place to start out as a result of it units the stage for the facility you possibly can count on out of the ROG Ally Z1. As you possibly can see from my testing, Asus’ new handheld is behind the Steam Deck in each recreation I checked out. There are some minor variations, similar to in Horizon Zero Daybreak, however in video games like Dying Gentle 2, the efficiency hole is the distinction between playable and unplayable.
In equity to the brand new ROG All Z1, it’s technically cheaper than the Steam Deck. It comes with 512GB of storage, and also you’ll must spend $650 for a Steam Deck with the identical quantity. Nonetheless, you possibly can choose up a Steam Deck for as little as $400 with 64GB of storage and increase it with a micro SD card — at the very least there aren’t issues about bricking your Micro SD card like there may be on the ROG Ally.
Jacob Roach / Digital Traits
You’ll be able to see the comparability with the Z1 Excessive mannequin above. Digging down, on the default 15-watt Efficiency mode, the ROG Ally Z1 is about 37% slower than the Z1 Excessive mannequin in 3DMark Time Spy, and a clear 30% slower in Fireplace Strike.
Jacob Roach / Digital Traits
That’s not the worst of it, although. With the Turbo mode and each units plugged in, providing 30 watts of energy, the Z1 Excessive clobbers the bottom Z1 mannequin. The ROG Ally Z1 finally ends up 51% slower in Time Spy and 42% slower in Fireplace Strike.
Jacob Roach / Digital Traits
That’s an enormous hole between the Efficiency and Turbo modes, and that’s one thing I noticed throughout my assessments. You’ll be able to see a breakdown of efficiency throughout the varied modes within the ROG Ally Z1 above. There are some video games, similar to Unusual Brigade, the place further wattage helps. However most often, the distinction is just a few frames, all whereas draining your battery a lot sooner.

That’s not the scaling we see with the Ryzen Z1 Excessive mannequin of the ROG Ally. Within the Efficiency mode, you possibly can see the Ryzen Z1 is about 20% behind the Ryzen Z1 Excessive mannequin. Soar as much as the Turbo mode, nonetheless, and the Ryzen Z1 mannequin is 35% slower.
All through my testing, it’s clear that the Ryzen Z1 model of the ROG Ally simply can’t reap the benefits of the extra energy. It’s hitting a tough wall, seemingly as a result of its low core depend, and also you don’t have choices to enhance efficiency such as you do on the ROG Ally with the Z1 Excessive.
The subjective expertise
Jacob Roach / Digital Traits
The numbers are essential for comparability, however the actuality of units just like the ROG Ally and Ayaneo 2S is that you just’ll must fiddle with settings and upscaling to get playable efficiency. How does that have maintain up on the ROG Ally with the Ryzen Z1? It’s not nice.
Let’s begin with the principle situation: battery life. I didn’t expertise any main variations in battery life on the ROG Ally Z1 in comparison with the mannequin with the Z1 Excessive. Meaning you possibly can squeeze about 4 hours of life in low-lift indie video games, two hours in an enormous AAA recreation with a cap at 30 frames per second (fps), and about an hour when you shoot as much as Turbo mode and let the frames run wild.
The problem with battery life grew to become significantly obvious after I was taking part in Sea of Stars. This 2D indie RPG can run for hours on a tool like a Steam Deck with out points, however the ROG Ally with the Z1 was half lifeless after 90 minutes of taking part in. A few of that may very well be as a result of Home windows 11 operating within the background on the ROG Ally, but it surely primarily comes right down to the display screen.
Identical to the Z1 Excessive mannequin, this model of the ROG Ally comes with a brilliant 1080p display screen with a 120Hz refresh fee. It’s simply as stunning as earlier than too, highlighting the attractive pixel artwork in Sea of Stars. It’s only a huge drain on the battery, even in a recreation that isn’t demanding like Sea of Stars. 
It’s true that Asus supplies choices to preserve battery life: flip down the refresh fee or run the show at a decrease decision. That defeats the aim of getting the ROG Ally for video games like Sea of Stars, although. If I want to show down the decision and refresh fee to get acceptable battery life, I’m simply going to play the sport on my Steam Deck. A minimum of there I get entry to issues just like the Steam overlay and the power to place the machine into relaxation mode.
Jacob Roach / Digital Traits
What about one thing extra demanding, although? I performed by way of a couple of hours of each Pink Lifeless Redemption 2 and Lies of P. In Pink Lifeless Redemption 2, I used to be lastly in a position to get a secure 30 fps with Low settings, however I needed to butcher the picture with the built-in Radeon Tremendous Decision (RSR) to get there. It was playable, however the fixed flickering from the upscaling was distracting.
Equally, in Lies of P, I used to be solely in a position to hit 60 fps with the sport’s Extremely Efficiency mode of FidelityFX Tremendous Decision (FSR) and the Turbo mode on. Inside half-hour, I had already drained half of the battery, and that was with the display screen brightness turned down.
I additionally tried Starfield, however given the messy 720p picture high quality mixed with efficiency across the 15 fps mark, I couldn’t abdomen taking part in for lengthy.
It’s laborious to justify the ROG Ally with the Ryzen Z1. With the Z1 Excessive mannequin, it’s a must to cope with getting round Home windows 11 and low battery life in comparison with the Steam Deck, however you’re getting a way more succesful machine when it comes to efficiency. With the bottom Ryzen Z1, the ROG Ally turns into barely slower than the Steam Deck, with all the identical quirks that maintain the ROG Ally again.
Troublesome to suggest
Jacob Roach / Digital Traits
I’ve a tough time recommending the ROG Ally Z1 to anybody. It doesn’t match any position that isn’t already stuffed by the Steam Deck or the ROG Ally with the Z1 Excessive. If something, the $600 checklist worth looks as if a method to push you towards the dearer $700 mannequin. It’s greater than price that upcharge.
With the Steam Deck and ROG Ally Z1 Excessive, there are trade-offs. The Steam Deck isn’t as highly effective, but it surely’s way more secure, on high of being simpler to make use of and coming in at a lower cost. For my private use, that was sufficient for me to stay with the Steam Deck. The ROG Ally Z1 Excessive is dearer and cumbersome, however it may additionally play any recreation that runs on Home windows, and with the next peak stage of efficiency. It even comes with some bonuses like the power to hook up the Asus ROG XG Cellular for desktop gaming.
Sadly, there’s nothing tipping the scales in favor of the ROG Ally Z1. It makes the identical concessions because the mannequin with the Z1 Excessive with none of the upsides.

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