Asus has at long last disclosed the eagerly awaited pricing and launch schedule for their highly anticipated ROG Ally (feel free to peruse our comprehensive analysis of the device in our dedicated Asus ROG Ally review). The foremost model, which I personally evaluated, is set to make its debut on the 13th of June with a price tag of $700. However, it is worth noting that a more affordable variant is slated to be released later this year, priced at a mere $600.
Prudence often dictates caution when considering early adoption, leading one to contemplate awaiting the arrival of the less expensive iteration. Nonetheless, I would advise against holding out for it, as the base model comes equipped with the Ryzen Z1 processor rather than the Z1 Extreme, resulting in noticeably diminished performance capabilities.
It rarely pays to be an early adopter, so you might be tempted to wait for the cheaper model. I wouldn’t hold out for it, though. The base model comes with the Ryzen Z1 processor, not the Z1 Extreme, and it’s looking far less powerful.
The above chart from AMD shows a relative idea of how much weaker the Ryzen Z1 is. Sure, it can hold up decently in a game like DOTA 2 or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but it’s around half as powerful in Red Dead Redemption 2 and even worse in Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
But the most important thing is that no one has actually tested the ROG Ally with the Ryzen Z1. Those benchmarks above were run in a sample device, not the final ROG Ally that will be shipped. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the ROG Ally with the Ryzen Z1 underperform compared to the older Steam Deck.
As you can see in my ROG Ally versus Steam Deck comparison, the ROG Ally is a clear winner. But it’s not as far ahead as its theoretical power would suggest, especially if you want to get any decent battery life out of the device.
My worry with the base Ryzen Z1 model is that you’ll have to sacrifice performance or battery life to get anything nearing the Steam Deck, especially considering that it comes with the same 1080p screen as the ROG Ally with the Z1 Extreme processor.
The main reason why is that the Ryzen Z1 fits into the same power range as the Z1 Extreme: 9 watts up to 30W. It comes withjust six Zen 4 cores instead of eight like the Z1 Extreme has, and a measly four RDNA 3 cores instead of the 12 the Z1 Extreme has access to. That hindered graphics power shows up in AMD’s benchmarks, and I suspect they’ll only be exaggerated once the Ryzen Z1 is properly inside the ROG Ally.
For now, that’s just speculation. The ROG Ally with the base Ryzen Z1 is coming in the second half of the year. Meanwhile, pre-orders for the model with the Z1 Extreme are live at Best Buy. If you’re planning on picking up the ROG Ally, this is a rare case where I wouldn’t recommend waiting for the cheaper model. It’s looking like a different class of device entirely.