The ROG Ally X’s Bigger Battery Is Its Best Chance to Topple the Steam Deck

The ROG Ally X’s Bigger Battery Is Its Best Chance to Topple the Steam Deck

It’s barely been one full trip around the sun, but Asus and its ROG Ally are back for another crack at the gaming handheld crown. Like the Steam Deck OLED before, Asus now has a new version called the ROG Ally X. It has a better battery, RAM, and redesigned chassis. And yes, it now comes in black.

It’s been talked up by Asus and leaked from hell and back. Still, the most interesting things about the redesigned Ally aren’t necessarily its specs (though you should be excited by potentially double the battery life) but its rejiggered ergonomics. This gaming handheld was the most comfortable device I’ve held since the Steam Deck, thanks to some subtle but welcome changes to the backplate, the joysticks, and its triggers.

It’s way too early to tell if these upgrades will make the best Windows handheld out there. However, in my short time with it, I’ve already put it in the running for best Windows gaming handheld and a clear, expensive competitor to Valve’s Steam Deck OLED.

Take a look at the ROG Ally X in all its black, glowy glory.

The Ally X Costs More than the More Expensive Original Ally

Photo: Kyle Barr / Gizmodo

The Ally X is not quite a sequel to the original. It’s more of an upgrade, especially since the first Ally will still be on sale with both its $US700 Ryzen Z1 Extreme configuration and the $US500 Z1 version. Instead, the $1,599 Ally X has a base 1 TB SSD storage and an 80Wh battery compared to the 40Wh of the original Ally. Otherwise, it’s still powered by the same AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme chip that’s also found in the $1,299 Lenovo Legion Go. It still has the same 7-inch FHD 120Hz screen.

The ROG Ally X Has More Memory and Better RAM

Photo: Kyle Barr / Gizmodo

More storage is obviously a plus, but the question then becomes if double the battery also multiplies the battery life. Well, the Ally X does have upgraded RAM, going from 16 GB of LPDDR5 6400 MT/s memory to 24 GB of LPDDR5 7500 MT/s. Better memory might not greatly impact overall battery life, but we’ll need to run our tests before we find out how much extra juice is packed into the updated handheld.

Palworld Isn’t the Best Game to Show Off the Ally X’s Capabilities

Photo: Kyle Barr / Gizmodo

I spent about 30 minutes fiddling with the Ally X. The updated Armoury Crate SE 1.5 UI was still in beta as I played around with it, which led to some awkwardness and a full restart before I could jump into Palworld, which was the only game that seemed to be working on the new hardware and software.

The less said about Pokémon with guns, the better, though it did help me get used to the new controls. The original ROG Ally felt fine, though its shell didn’t really feel like it fit snugly into the palm. With a few small adjustments, the Ally X fit like it belonged there. And that’s just the start of the ergonomic improvements.

The Redesigned Controls are a Great Move for ROG

Photo: Kyle Barr / Gizmodo

The triggers now have a more slanted design that makes them far easier to access, and the R1 and L1 buttons were similarly renovated, so you no longer feel a different depth whether you hit it closer or further from the side of the handheld. The back buttons are slightly smaller, and the D-pad has also been made a bit more responsive. The thumbsticks were a sore point for me on the original Ally, but the new version has a much tighter design that Asus promises won’t see any drift for a long while. Even better, ROG’s senior marketing manager, Whitson Gordon, showed me how the company redesigned the internals to make swapping out thumbsticks much easier. For those who demand Hall Effect sticks, take note.

The Ally X Is Almost the Same Size as the Original

Photo: Kyle Barr / Gizmodo

Despite the new battery and RAM, the revised Ally X feels no larger than the first iteration. It weighs only .15 pounds more and is the same total length. It’s just a little thicker, but the updated ergonomics don’t hamper the overall feel. The ports along the top have also been remodeled to allow for two USB C ports (one Thunderbolt 4) rather than the single ROG XG combo port. If you are curious, ROG moved the micro-SD card slot conspicuously away from the top vents and over to the right. Some users have complained that the old Ally got hot enough, and it cooked their SD card and made it unusable, though we’ll have to test for ourselves if the new one fixes that issue.

The Ally X Already Seems Like a Solid, Though Costly, Upgrade

Photo: Kyle Barr / Gizmodo

At first glance, it’s certainly an improvement over the original Ally, but at $1,599, it’s still going to be one of the most expensive handhelds you can buy today. That’s going north into the territory of budget gaming laptops. It’s also what the MSI Claw ships for MSRP, though we’re still testing that device to compare it to the original Ally and its contemporaries.

The Rog Ally X is $1,599.

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