ROG ALLY Stock Photo

With the ROG ALLY stream and reviews coming out, we now have a bit more information about the handheld PC and what it is capable of. While we can speculate about this ourselves, and I definitely have my thoughts on it, I wanted to discuss what we saw in a more casual open-forum with some other prominent creators who have their own take on the device.

Cryobyte33 and Fan the Deck are both prominent Steam Deck YouTube creators in the space and while their content is Deck focused, they were both curious and cautiously optimistic to see what this device is capable of.

ROG ALLY Discussion with Cryobyte33 and Fan the Deck:

Noah (SteamDeckHQ): So, the ROG ALLY Stream premiered last week and gave us a more in-depth first look into the device and opening up for pre-orders. Before going into more specifics, what was your first impression like after watching the stream?

Cryobyte33: Immediately after the stream, I was a bit dismayed. The ALLY looks like a solid device, but the marketing and presentation were somewhere between misleading and false advertising. The numbers and graphs that they used are pretty nonsensical, and the marketing speak was so dense it was hard to interpret any actual data.

Fan the Deck: Honestly the same as Kyle (Cryobyte33) which isn't surprising because we've been talking about this quite a bit. I think the Ally looks like a good device but I'm disappointed in how it was presented and how it was marketed. They invented a new term for a relatively bog-standard cooling setup, and honestly just put numbers up on slides. In particular the 20~30 vs 50~60 slide felt egregious because I don't know of a single game where this trait was exhibited when you compare Steam Deck (which they refused to name) to the Ally.

Noah: So the consensus I see is moreso a general dissatisfaction from what was presented. With that in mind, do you feel from that stream they have made a solid case for using their device over the alternatives?

Cryobyte33: That's a tricky question. Based purely on what they said, yes. Unfortunately, the numbers they presented didn't add up to me as a more technical person, so I was actually turned off a bit. Overall, I think that the less technical crowd was a lot more excited about it than those who are more comfortable with the technology.

Fan the Deck: I think so. I think it's priced right and I expect that Windows on Ally will be a better experience than Windows on Deck. That means that there's absolutely a market for a device like this that I believe is going to do a better job at playing more recent releases and have [obviously] better compatibility for big games like Destiny 2.

Cryobyte33: I quickly want to follow up on what Rich said about pricing. I think the price is still too high outside of the US to be a "$50 difference" for many people.

Fan the Deck: that's a good point.

Noah: Yeah, the difference in pricing is a bit disappointing. $600-$700 in the US, but outside, it grows in price pretty significantly.

Cryobyte33: Exactly. When it comes down to it, you can get a 64GB Deck and a 512GB SSD replacement for about $500 in Sweden, whereas the Z1 extreme model of ALLY is roughly $920. That's a $420 difference for a 5-10% boost in performance over a stock Deck, and only at higher wattages.

Noah: That is brutal. I believe that is common around Europe right now too with Germany having it listed at 799 euros too.

Noah: So the general consensus is that, even though the stream was underwhelming, they still made a good case for why their device has a place in this market. With this in mind, I would love to dive into the specifics. What would you say are the pros of the device? What are the most appealing factors to you?

Fan the Deck: The pros for me are the weight, how quiet it is and I'm still excited about the boost in performance. I have been playing more recent releases like Returnal and TLOU1 and I'd like to have a handheld that allows me to play those games with less compromise than the Steam Deck. I know that the Windows UI will be a bit fussy and I'm typically willing to deal with that.

Cryobyte33: My pros are the stronger hardware, the much more modern USB-C port and the hall effect triggers. I don't find that I need to make many compromises on the Deck, so it's more about tinkering for me.

Noah: The weight and stronger hardware are definitely great parts about the device. Personally, I am a fan of the screen. I don't find 1080p necessary, but having HDR support and a brightness of 500 nits is fantastic.

Cryobyte33: I actually don't like the 1080p screen. Many games will need to be played at 720p for good framerates, as several reviewers have found out, and that means that they'll suffer from non-integer scaling and look blurrier than a native 720p screen. I enjoy the Freesync screen and HDR support, though. Something else to note is that LTT's tests show that the Deck screen actually gets brighter and darker than the ALLY's, despite the lower nits being advertised.

Fan the Deck: I don't have a lot to add but have experienced that blurriness when trying to play 720p on a 1080p screen with the AN2. So I end up going with 1080p resolution but as Kyle pointed out, that means lower framerates.

Noah: That is a good point too. I will definitely need to watch LTT's tests to see this for myself too. Do you have any personal issues with the device? Anything you're personally worried about?

Fan the Deck: Based on the unrelated ASUS videos that released yesterday, from GamersNexus and from JayzTwoCents, I'm generally worried about ASUS support. I personally don't recall having any problems with ASUS hardware but the GN video in particular painted a worrying picture of what it's like to potentially gamble with their products.

Cryobyte33: My main concerns are the ergonomics, the battery life, and most of all the support. As Rich said, a lot has been brought up recently, and this is only a year after the capacitor issues they had with their Intel motherboards. In addition, I've had numerous problems with ASUS support in the past, and an ROG laptop I bought in 2021 has already stopped receiving updates.

Noah: It is concerning looking at ASUS/ROG's track record in terms of support. I hope the device doesn't lump into that crowd as others are mentioning, but it's hard not to when it happens often enough.

Noah: One thing the Ally is utilizing is the Windows OS, which generally isn't optimized for devices like this. Do you have any concerns with Windows being utilized?

Fan the Deck: Not really, I think. Windows is a bit of a known quantity and there's pros and cons when compared to Steam Deck but we mostly know what those pros and cons are so most people already know if they prefer the convenience of SteamOS or are willing to forego convenience for better compatibility.

Generally speaking, I'm actually excited for the possibility that Windows on handheld may actually get better (read: more convenient) over the coming years. That said, I didn't see anything about the Ally software that makes it any better than existing software (either AYANEO software or 3rd party suites like Handheld Control Panel)

Cryobyte33: I'm worried about Windows here. Most of the reviews I've seen thus far are very critical of the usability, even needing to toggle a mouse+keyboard mode through the overlay constantly if you want to interact with the OS. Having used other Windows handhelds, not having a trackpad will hamper comfortable usability of the very input-heavy Windows.

That said, I also share in Rich's hope for the future. I'd personally love if Windows became a better handheld experience, and I sincerely hope it does. In the meantime, I'm concerned for the user experience.

Noah: Hopefully this will be the kick Microsoft needs to optimize and provide a better experience for these kinds of devices.

Noah: As Cryobyte33 mentions, there are a lack of trackpads, which could make navigation harder and some mouse-heavy games near unplayable on the Ally. Do you have any worries about the ergonomics and usability of the device itself with Quality of Life features like the trackpads and a second set of back buttons missing?

Cryobyte33: I personally do, yes. I think the largest omission is a Home button, which will make it hard to bring up overlays in many cases. Aside from that, I'm a big guy and the Deck is the perfect size for me, so the smaller ALLY will likely be uncomfortable to hold. The extra back buttons will definitely be missed but as they're still an "advanced" feature usually reserved for special controllers, people who haven't used the Deck or those controllers will likely find that 2 are adequate.

Fan the Deck: I'm not too worried about ergonomics or general navigation personally. I'm used to navigating Windows on other Windows handhelds. Double back paddles would be nice and I'm curious about the gyro. It seems like the hardware for gyro exists but the software doesn't? Gyro is fairly important to me when it comes to playing boomer shooters

Cryobyte33: It's also my understanding that the gyro hardware is present, but the software support isn't there yet. I don't personally use gyro, though, so it's not a big deal to me.

Noah: I really only use gyro for boomer shooters and some single-player FPS like Crysis Remastered. It is a big miss for me, but I don't use it for the majority of other games I play.

Noah: In your opinions, do the pros outweigh the cons enough to justify buying the device? Would you purchase it over the Steam Deck if you didn't own any handheld PC?

Fan the Deck: If I could only choose one handheld PC, it would still be the Steam Deck. But if someone else asked me what they should buy, I would have questions for them. To be reductionist, if you're the type of player that wants to play the latest tentpole releases, I would lean towards recommending the Ally. For virtually everyone else, the Deck.

Cryobyte33: I agree with Rich in that there are questions for anyone looking to buy an Ally. If you're in the US, don't mind tinkering, are willing to risk not getting support, and want to play the latest games even if you need to be plugged in, then the Ally is probably a good choice for you. If you want a more set-and-forget "console-like" experience, don't want to spend double outside the US, or want better battery life for similar performance, then the Deck is still a better option in my opinion.

I personally won't be buying an ALLY because of my bad experiences with ASUS support, and the nearly $1000 I'd have to pay for that minor performance boost.

Noah: Speaking of the set-and-forget experience, and if I recall correctly, the Ally doesn't have a suspend feature for when you need to set the device down. What is your feeling on the lack of the suspend/resume functionality?

Fan the Deck: so my experience with Windows and Suspend/Resume is that it mostly works. Not quite as dependable as Steam Deck where it's obviously something Valve put a heavy focus on but 80+% of the games I play resume from sleep gracefully in Windows.

Cryobyte33: In my experience, the Windows sleep feature doesn't actually pause a running game in one particular spot, even when I tried it yesterday for another device, so I'll be answering this as if that's the case.

I think that the Deck's immediate suspend-resume feature is one of the best things about it. I've heard many testimonials about how busy parents or people on call can suddenly play games again, the ability to play small amounts is the entire reason many people use the Switch. As someone who is also very busy, I 100% agree, and I can't game nearly as much without my Deck present, so the feature is a must-have for me to actually use a handheld like this.

Noah: I agree that it is quite necessary. Do you think this is something 3rd party software may be able to help with on the Ally?

Cryobyte33: In order to do that they'd have to hook into the Windows kernel in a way that even Microsoft hasn't managed to do quite right yet, so while I think it's possible it'll likely need to be in collaboration with Microsoft and is fairly unlikely.

Noah: Well that is a shame, hopefully they can collaborate for it. Is there anything you were hoping to see with the Ally that you didn’t? When it comes to the Steam Deck, what do you think Valve would need to do to justify a Steam Deck 2 if it were to be more expensive overall?

Cryobyte33: I was personally hoping for a much better battery life, and a more native-feeling experience from the tooling. I'd have also liked to see better low-wattage performance.

Obviously better performance is the easy answer, but a USB 4 port and a larger battery are at the top of my list. I'd also say that a dual-fan design like the ALLY would be nice, since it's apparently very quiet.

Fan the Deck: Better low-wattage performance #1 for me. That, for me, is still the biggest thing that separates the Steam Deck from other handhelds. It just doesn't feel like an upgrade if there are like-for-like scenarios where you get less battery life.

I feel like the standard has been set with the price range. I understand if prices need to be adjusted for one reason or another but I'll be disappointed to see something different than a $400 base option. I don't mind an additional model that's pricier because it has some sort of Premium features (hall sensor sticks, oled, colored shell).

I want to thank both Cryobyte33 and Fan the Deck for chatting with me about the Ally! I highly encourage checking out their channels too as they are both incredible creators and wonderful people. You can also check out Cryobyte33's videos in written format on SDHQ as well!

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back

Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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