Asus ROG Ally vs Steam Deck: Which Handheld Gaming Powerhouse Should You Choose?

Apr 06, 2023

Asus rog ally

In recent years, the handheld gaming market has seen a resurgence of interest, and it's no surprise that tech giants are stepping up their game to capitalize on this trend. The Asus ROG Ally and Steam Deck are two of the most anticipated handheld gaming devices vying for gamers' attention. With both devices boasting impressive specs and features, it can be a tough choice deciding which one to invest in.

As someone who has spent years dissecting and analyzing tech devices, I've scoured every bit of information I could find on these two contenders to bring you an insightful comparison. So, buckle up and get ready for an epic battle between the Asus ROG Ally and the Steam Deck, where we'll explore every aspect, including design, performance, display, features, battery life, and price.

Design and Ergonomics

Handheld gaming devices need to strike the perfect balance between portability and comfort, and both the Asus ROG Ally and Steam Deck seem to have taken this into consideration. Let's dive into their individual design elements before comparing them head-to-head.

Asus ROG Ally

The Asus ROG Ally features a sleek and slim design, reminiscent of the Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck. Sporting an analog stick and a D-pad on the left side, as well as face buttons and another analog stick (at an offset angle) on the right side, the device appears to be built with user comfort in mind. The handheld measures 11.0 x 4.4 x 0.5 inches and weighs in at a relatively light 1.3 pounds.

Air vents and additional buttons for navigating the user interface are strategically placed on either side of the device, with power and volume buttons, a PCIe port for connecting to the XG Mobile and a USB-C port located along the top. The back of the device features even more air vents and two additional buttons.

Steam Deck

The Steam Deck, on the other hand, measures 11.73 x 4.60 x 1.93 inches and weighs 1.5 pounds, making it slightly larger and heavier than the Asus ROG Ally. The design of the Steam Deck also includes an analog stick, a D-pad, face buttons, and an additional analog stick (with a similar offset angle). This layout closely resembles that of the ROG Ally.

The Steam Deck is designed with a focus on ergonomics, featuring additional grip surfaces and uniquely placed trackpads that could potentially enhance the gaming experience. A USB-C port, headphone jack, and other essential buttons and controls are also present on the device.

Design Comparison

When it comes to design, both the Asus ROG Ally and the Steam Deck have adopted similar approaches, opting for a layout that prioritizes user comfort and familiar controls. However, the ROG Ally edges out the Steam Deck in terms of size and weight, making it a more portable option.

While the Steam Deck's additional grip surfaces and trackpads might seem enticing, it's essential to consider how they will affect the overall gaming experience, especially during longer sessions. Ultimately, it may boil down to personal preference and how each device feels in your hands, as both devices have been designed with user comfort in mind.



Performance and Power

When it comes to gaming, performance is crucial. A powerful handheld gaming device can provide a more immersive and enjoyable experience. Let's analyze the performance and power of both the Asus ROG Ally and the Steam Deck to see how they stack up against each other.

Asus ROG Ally

The Asus ROG Ally boasts a custom AMD Ryzen chip, which the company claims to be the fastest AMD APU yet. This custom Zen 4 RDNA3 4nm APU is said to provide double the performance of the Steam Deck, allowing gamers to enjoy games at higher graphics settings without sacrificing performance. YouTuber Dave2D, who went hands-on with the device, has also expressed his confidence in the handheld's powerful performance claims.

Furthermore, the ROG Ally can be connected to the ROG XG Mobile, an external GPU powered by an RTX 4090 laptop GPU. This compatibility could potentially give the ROG Ally a significant performance boost, allowing it to handle even more graphically demanding games with ease.

Steam Deck

The Steam Deck is powered by a custom APU developed by AMD, featuring a Zen 2 CPU and RDNA 2 GPU architecture. While it may not be as powerful as the ROG Ally, the Steam Deck still offers impressive performance for a handheld gaming device. It's designed to run AAA games and support the entire Steam library, albeit at lower graphics settings and resolutions compared to the ROG Ally.

Performance Comparison

In terms of performance and power, the Asus ROG Ally takes the lead, offering superior performance capabilities and compatibility with an external GPU. For gamers seeking the best possible handheld gaming experience, the ROG Ally is a clear choice. However, the Steam Deck still delivers a solid performance that should satisfy most users, especially those who prioritize portability and access to the Steam ecosystem.


Display Quality

A high-quality display can significantly enhance the overall gaming experience. Both the Asus ROG Ally and the Steam Deck feature 7-inch displays, but there are notable differences in resolution, refresh rate, and brightness.

Asus ROG Ally

The ROG Ally comes with a 7-inch 120Hz 16:9 display, offering a resolution of 1920 x 1080. Asus claims that the display can reach up to 500 nits of brightness, which should provide excellent visibility in various lighting conditions. The 120Hz refresh rate ensures smoother gameplay and a more responsive gaming experience, especially for fast-paced games.

Steam Deck

The Steam Deck, in contrast, features a 7-inch display with a maximum resolution of 1280 x 800 and a 60Hz refresh rate. Valve states that the Steam Deck can achieve 400 nits of brightness, but tests have shown that it peaks at around 170 nits. While the display is still capable of delivering a satisfactory gaming experience, it falls short when compared to the ROG Ally's display specs.

Display Comparison

When comparing display quality, the Asus ROG Ally is the clear winner, offering a higher resolution, refresh rate, and brightness than the Steam Deck. The ROG Ally's display should provide a more immersive and visually stunning gaming experience. However, the Steam Deck's display is still adequate for most gaming needs and should not be entirely dismissed, especially for users who are more focused on access to the Steam ecosystem.


Features and Compatibility

Handheld gaming devices should offer features and compatibility options that enhance the overall gaming experience. Let's take a look at the Asus ROG Ally and the Steam Deck in terms of their unique features and compatibility with other devices and platforms.

Asus ROG Ally

The ROG Ally is a Windows 11 handheld, which means users can install a variety of applications and programs, providing a high level of customization and flexibility. The ability to connect to the ROG XG Mobile, an external GPU, further enhances its capabilities and allows for even more demanding games to be played on the device. While the XG Mobile is undoubtedly a powerful add-on, its $1,999 price tag might be a significant barrier for many potential users.

Steam Deck

The Steam Deck runs on SteamOS, a Linux-based operating system designed to work seamlessly with the Steam platform. This handheld offers compatibility with the entire Steam library, providing access to thousands of games. The device also features a USB-C port for connecting peripherals and charging, a microSD card slot for storage expansion, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The Steam Deck supports Proton, a compatibility layer that allows users to play Windows-based games on the Linux platform. However, the compatibility of certain games may vary, and some may require additional tweaking to run smoothly.

Features and Compatibility Comparison

In terms of features and compatibility, the Asus ROG Ally offers the advantage of running Windows 11, providing greater flexibility in terms of software and gaming options. The option to connect to the powerful ROG XG Mobile further expands its capabilities. However, the Steam Deck's seamless integration with the Steam platform and its access to a vast library of games make it an attractive option for gamers who prioritize access to the Steam ecosystem.


Battery Life and Cooling

Battery life and effective cooling are essential factors for handheld gaming devices. Let's compare the Asus ROG Ally and the Steam Deck in terms of their battery life and cooling capabilities.

Asus ROG Ally

The ROG Ally utilizes the same ROG Intelligent Cooling technology found in Asus laptops, which could potentially offer longer-lasting battery life. While specific battery life details are not yet available, early hands-on experiences, like that of Dave2D, suggest that the ROG Ally's fans are remarkably quiet, even when running graphically demanding games. The device reaches only 20 decibels on load, compared to the Steam Deck's 37 decibels.

Steam Deck

The Steam Deck's battery life ranges from two to seven hours, depending on the games being played and the settings used. Valve has implemented a custom cooling solution that includes a heat pipe and a fan to dissipate heat effectively, ensuring that the device remains cool during prolonged gaming sessions.

Battery Life and Cooling Comparison

While it's still too early to determine the exact battery life of the Asus ROG Ally, its utilization of ROG Intelligent Cooling technology and its quiet fans suggest that it may offer a competitive battery life and efficient cooling. The Steam Deck, on the other hand, offers a wide range of battery life, depending on the games and settings used. Until more concrete data is available for the ROG Ally, it's difficult to declare a definitive winner in this category. However, both devices seem to have taken the necessary steps to ensure efficient cooling for a comfortable gaming experience.

Price and Availability

When deciding between two handheld gaming devices, the price and availability are crucial factors to consider. Let's examine the Asus ROG Ally and the Steam Deck in terms of their pricing and potential availability.

Asus ROG Ally

Asus has yet to reveal the exact release date and pricing for the ROG Ally. However, according to YouTuber Dave2D, the company has mentioned that the device will be "competitively priced." With the highest-end Steam Deck model priced at $649 and other powerful competitors like the GPD Win 4 and AyaNeo 2 hovering around the $1,000 mark, it's possible that the ROG Ally may fall somewhere within this price range. Pre-orders are expected to become available at Best Buy, suggesting a potential release later this year, although no specific date has been confirmed.

Steam Deck

Valve's Steam Deck is available in three different configurations, with prices starting at $399 for the 64GB eMMC model, $529 for the 256GB NVMe SSD model, and $649 for the 512GB NVMe SSD model. The device began shipping in December 2021, and pre-orders filled up quickly. As of now, the device is available for purchase in the Steam Store with expected delivery date of 1-2 weeks.

Price and Availability Comparison

While it's challenging to compare the Asus ROG Ally and the Steam Deck in terms of price and availability without concrete information on the former, it's evident that the Steam Deck offers a more affordable entry point for handheld gaming. However, the ROG Ally could potentially justify a higher price tag if it delivers better performance, battery life, and display quality.

The Asus ROG Ally and the Steam Deck are both shaping up to be formidable contenders in the handheld gaming market. While the ROG Ally boasts impressive performance capabilities, a superior display, and the flexibility of a Windows 11 operating system, the Steam Deck offers seamless integration with the Steam platform, a more affordable price point, and a proven track record of availability.

Ultimately, the decision between these two devices will come down to individual priorities and preferences. Gamers who prioritize performance, display quality, and the versatility of a Windows-based device may lean towards the Asus ROG Ally. On the other hand, those who value access to the vast Steam library, a lower entry price, and the familiarity of the Steam ecosystem might find the Steam Deck to be a better fit.

As more information becomes available on the ROG Ally's pricing, availability, and real-world performance, gamers will be better equipped to make an informed decision. For now, both the Asus ROG Ally and the Steam Deck present promising options for those seeking a powerful and portable gaming experience.