– Great gaming performance
– Overwhelming 120Hz screen
– Run all PC games
– Not dependent on any specific cloud gaming service
– Luxurious and intuitive design
– Poor battery life
– software bug
– Does not support LTE
Rogue Alley perfectly supports all the gaming experiences that portable game consoles have to offer. However, there are some drawbacks, and careful judgment is needed to decide whether to buy a device at this price with these drawbacks.
Handheld console products first appeared in the late 1980s, but recently it has become an era where you can enjoy home console games on these devices. A few years ago, the Nintendo Switch was the only realistic option for such a handheld device, but now there are reliable competitors from Valve, Logitech and Onex. Instead of playing traditional physical game cartridges, cards or discs, these consoles stream or download games from services like Steam or Xbox Game Pass.
Asus is trying to take this situation to the next level. It is through a product called ‘ROG Ally’. Unlike its competitors, Rogue Alley runs full Windows 11, so you can play all your games like any other PC. Asus puts a dedicated AMD flagship processor here and even a 120Hz display, literally making it ‘with all its heart’.
So, what are the actual benefits of this product? Will it be worth the high price? In conclusion, I believe so. However, there is a premise that the fundamental disadvantages of the ‘portable’ form factor must be fully accepted.
design and build
- Luxurious but heavy design
- Impressive Xbox-style controls
- various ports
Just by looking at the design of Rogue Alley, you can tell that Asus is a product that was properly ‘decided’ and made. It’s eye-catching and bulky, and has a gaming-specific exterior design, but it still retains its charm with a sleek feel. I’m not a big fan of the design of the latest geisha, but I don’t see any problem using this product in public. It is also a big advantage of Ally that you can take it anywhere with a moderately light weight of 608g and a thickness of 21.2mm. Even though it is a 7-inch display, it is thinner and lighter than the Valve Steam Deck of the same size.
But what’s important in a device this expensive is not sacrificing a premium look and feel for thinness and lightness. The white finish isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it’s definitely a sleek, modern design. Anyone who has used the Nintendo Switch OLED will know what it feels like. The design is great, but I wish there were other colors besides white. Unlike smartphones, this product cannot be used with other cases. On the other hand, contrary to concerns, conspicuous dust marks are not common. While playing the game, both hands were wet with sweat, but the marks did not come out.
Ally’s design is plain, but Asus’ unique characteristics are reflected. From the large logo on the back of her to the RGB lighting on both joysticks, small but distinctive features of Rogue can be found throughout the device. As for the RGB lighting, leaving it in the default ‘rainbow’ mode can quickly get on your nerves, but you can easily change it to your liking. Of course, you can turn it off altogether.
The joystick itself sits comfortably in the thumb’s natural position. Asus has placed an Xbox-style ABXY button in the upper-right corner, with a directional pad diagonally opposite it. Both the buttons and the directional pad are clicky and responsive, so they’re easy to press no matter what game you’re playing. The triggers and bumpers at the top of the alley are nice, but Asus added extras of its own physical buttons, calling them ‘Macro 1’ and ‘Macro 2’. Most games allow you to use a selected function with a single press of a button, but sometimes there are games that don’t, and it’s these buttons that make a big difference. Definitely a good option if you have one.
On the front of the device are shortcuts to the View, Command Center, and Armory Crate sections. Using a combination of physical buttons and a joystick provides a more believable experience than using a dedicated controller. The power button on the top doubles as a fingerprint sensor. It’s a nice addition. It’s quite small, but relatively fast and reliable. Next to it is a volume control and an astonishing array of ports. For example, next to the USB-C port for charging, there is a microSD slot for storage expansion, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a dedicated connector for Asus’ external GPU system, ROG XG Mobile.
Using an external GPU system is expected to significantly improve performance, but we did not receive a product to test. The price is over $1,000, which greatly reduces Ally’s portability. It seems to be an unnecessary option for most gamers.
screen and speaker
- 7-inch full HD screen
- 120Hz refresh rate
- Impressive Dual Speakers
The display is Rogue Alley’s main strength. The 7-inch full HD (1920×1080) touch screen is coated with Gorilla Glass Victus for added durability. Its resolution offers a 16:9 aspect ratio, so you can run almost any game in its native format. In other words, Ally is one step above the Steam deck and Nintendo Switch OLED, which are limited to 720p output. Also, unlike the standard 60Hz refresh rate of the Steam deck and Nintendo Switch OLED, Ally’s refresh rate is 120Hz.
All in all, playing games on Ally’s display is a lot of fun. Colors are rich and vivid, and details are clearly visible. This is the maximum resolution you can expect from a screen this size. In fact, when I first ran the game, I was genuinely shocked at how good it looked. It’s not up to the level of a high-end PC or TV console, but it’s a high-end display that doesn’t make a big difference. Before testing, I thought the Ally’s LCD panel would be inferior to the OLED. However, the dark colors and contrast are still impressive in Rogue Alley and don’t feel lacking.
The display response time of 7ms isn’t the best for modern gaming, but the touch screen allows for text input and game loading, so there’s no shortage of gameplay. In addition, Ally is very portable, so there are times when you need to use it outside, but it is possible enough because the maximum brightness is 502 nits.
My only complaint is the bezel. Too thick than necessary. There is a ROG logo at the bottom of the screen, but there is no webcam at the top of the screen and the camera is missing altogether. Considering that unlike tablets, there is already enough space to comfortably hold the device, it’s all the more unfortunate that Asus didn’t make the bezels a bit thinner.
On the other hand, the Rogue Alley’s dual stereo speakers are certainly excellent. Sound from both the front and back of the device fills a typical room. It’s solid given the device’s size and adds impressive depth to the music and sound effects. In-game character voices are also very clear. However, it would have been better if the bass was added and the maximum volume was increased. For the best experience, we recommend connecting headphones, either wired or wireless via Bluetooth.
Specs and Gaming Performance
- AMD Ryzen Z1 with Radeon Graphics
- Very good console level performance
- Storage space is not large, but expandable by microSD
There is a reason why Asus emphasizes the performance of Rogue Alley. Rogue Alley uses the Ryzen Z1 series, a new AMD chip designed specifically for portable consoles. Asus claims that both the Ryzen X1 model and the Z1 Extreme model offer top-notch performance, but only the Z1 Extreme model is available in the UK, where I live. This product is also tested here.
Integrated AMD Radeon graphics and 16GB of DDR5 RAM aren’t great specs, but actual gaming performance is impressive. After benchmarking, it is similar to cheap gaming laptops ranging from 1 million to 1.3 million won. More importantly, you can enjoy this performance as it is. I played the latest hits from Xbox Game Pass, EA Play, and Steam, and everything ran smoothly at 1080p on Rogue Alley’s gorgeous screen. Most gamers won’t be disappointed with the performance of this device, even if it’s not to the extent of a gaming PC or next-gen console.
Even in fast-paced action games, there were no noticeable frame drops. There were minor lags and lags while playing the game, but it wasn’t to the point of being a problem, and the bugs we found seem to be software related rather than hardware. I’m sure running it on a higher-end machine won’t change anything. It’s a bug worth tolerating for the best gaming performance. A feature that is often overlooked is the vibration motor. Rogue Alley’s vibration motor is so good it provides subtle feedback and really enhances the gaming experience.
Regarding the heat, I felt the heat within minutes of playing the game. However, thanks to its own cooling system, it is lukewarm to the touch. There are two fans on the back of the device that you can’t cover with your hands while gaming. Even with the fan running at full speed, it wasn’t overly loud, which Asus describes as a maximum noise level of 20dB.
Unlike the Nintendo Switch, Rogue Alley cannot remove the controller. You can connect it to a TV or monitor via HDMI, but the picture quality is great and there’s no degradation in performance. However, the ROG Gaming Charger Dock is absolutely necessary, and you have to pay about 100,000 won in the UK. It would have been better if it had simply built an HDMI port into the device itself.
Rogue Alley’s connectivity features are available with both Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. There’s no cellular connectivity, but when you’re away, you can connect to your smartphone’s hotspot. However, it is not a very good way to play the game. Fast game streaming is not possible with a smartphone hotspot connection. Realistically, game streaming is only possible over reliable, high-speed Wi-Fi. The upcoming Android-based Razer Edge supports 5G, but its performance is far inferior to Rogue Alley.
The Rogue Alley Z1 version has a 256GB SSD, while the Z1 Extreme model I tested has 512GB. However, Windows system files take up about 54GB, so there’s not a lot of room for games. When I tried to download the 6th game, even though I only had 5 games actually installed, I got a message saying I was out of space. Most of the games I’ve played, including FIFA 22, F1 22, and Call of Duty: Warzone, are between 50GB and 100GB. Some games, like Forza Horizon 5, are much larger than that. Fortunately, the storage capacity is expandable via microSD.
- Run Windows 11 Home
- All PC games can run
- frequent software bugs
Rogue Alley’s biggest advantage over other handheld consoles is its software. It comes with the full version of Windows 11 Home, so you can play the full range of games on your PC. Since various game services can be used, it is not limited to a specific game service company.
Another advantage of Rogue Alley is that you can stream games via cloud gaming services or download and play them on your device. The latter is best, but having more options always benefits the user. Steam, Xbox Game Pass, the Epic Games Store, and even cloud gaming services all work in Rogue Alley. All downloaded games can be accessed through the Armory Crate SE app.
This app opens by default when you power on your device. It not only serves as a simple app launcher, but also serves as a hub for the many customization options available. You can adjust controls, performance, lighting, display, and audio, most of which can also be accessed via a dedicated Command Center button while in-game. Changing all settings is seamless and intuitive, although many games default to a keyboard and mouse, so you’ll have to opt for a gamepad again.
On the other hand, we have no choice but to repeat the general negative evaluation of the Windows 11 experience. It’s obvious that Microsoft’s operating system isn’t optimized to run on this kind of hardware. For example, I encountered dozens of bugs and issues during my testing, from apps crashing to games stuttering and not going fullscreen. There were several times when the screen would not turn on at all.
All of these bugs were fixed within minutes, but it’s more of a problem that they happen frequently. The performance of the game is very good, but at launch you will also experience software bugs when using Rogue Alley. I was able to fix it by closing/minimizing other apps and restarting the software, but it was very frustrating. The pros of Windows 11 outweigh the cons, but be patient when loading games.
battery and charging
- 40Wh battery
- Cannot be used for 2 hours after fully charged
- Fast 65W charging
Battery life is Rogue Alley’s biggest drawback. It’s 40Wh capacity, but it’s definitely not big enough for 1080p gaming on a 120Hz display. I fully charged the device before running the game, but it always reached 0% within two hours. It didn’t matter what game you played. All AAA games drain the battery extremely fast.
Considering the size of the battery and the performance required to drive PC-level gaming, this is an expected result to some extent, but it is fatal that it cannot withstand even short-distance flights and needs to be charged. That’s because you’re giving up the pleasure of playing games on the go. The Nintendo Switch also has only about 6 hours of battery life, but it’s much better than Ally. Of course, games played on the Nintendo Switch are simpler and not as PC-like, but the problem is that users have fewer choices as a result. If you want true portability, you’ll have to either choose good battery life for simpler games or accept poor battery life for PC-class games.
The results of our 720p video loop test run at 120 nits of brightness are also disappointing. Its battery life is just five hours, which is far behind any other Windows laptop I’ve reviewed. If the battery life is this long, the meaning as a portable console is greatly damaged. Of course, there are ways to extend battery life. 720p gameplay, lowering to a 60Hz refresh rate, or lowering the brightness. However, changing the settings like this greatly hurts the gaming experience.
On the other hand, the charging speed is decent. If you charge Ally with the 65W adapter included in the product package, it will be charged to 54% in 30 minutes and 89% in 1 hour, and it takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to fully charge. However, it is a reminder that battery life equals charging time. The fact that it can be used while connected to the power source is also not a big comfort.
price and where to buyIt’s not just the poor battery life that’s holding me back from buying Rogue Alley. So is the price. The 512GB SSD-equipped Z1 Extreme model I tested costs $699, which is pretty expensive. All models of Rogue Alley come with a free 3-month subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate upon purchase. After the free trial period, you have to pay $14.99 per month. A cheaper version of the regular Z1 with a 256GB SSD will be available in the US in the third quarter and will cost $600.
As a result, Ally is considerably more expensive than the starting price of the Steam deck at $399. The Nintendo Switch OLED is cheaper than both products at $349.99. It’s worth considering other reasonably priced products, but none can match Rogue Alley’s performance and features. So, the decision to buy depends on whether you are willing to pay more for these performance and features.
In summary, Asus has taken portable console gaming to the next level with Rogue Alley, but it also clearly shows what is still lacking in this area. The dedicated AMD CPU delivers top-notch performance across all the most demanding games, and the 120Hz screen is a pleasure to look at. The Xbox-style controls are familiar and easy to use, if not removable.
Rogue Alley is relatively light and comfortable to carry, and runs Windows 11, giving you access to the full range of PC games. However, occasional bugs occur when using the software, and battery life in particular is terrible. You need to think carefully about whether you are willing to put up with such shortcomings at this price. Of course, despite these shortcomings, it’s clear that Rogue Alley is the best portable gaming console currently on the market.
Rogue Alley Key Specifications
- AMD Ryzen Z1/Z1 Extreme Processors
- AMD Radeon Graphics
- 16GB LPDDR5 RAM
- 256/512GB SSD
- microSD card slot
- ROG XG Mobile Port
- USB-C port
- 3.5mm audio jack
- 7-inch 1920×1080 display, 120Hz
- Wi-Fi 6E
- bluetooth 5.2
- 40Wh battery
- 65W fast charging
Source: ITWorld Korea by www.itworld.co.kr.
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