The Asus ROG Ally X is official — and I took a peek inside SuperNayr

When Valve introduced the Steam Deck OLED, I called it “everything the original should have been.” Asus is trying to do the exact same thing with the new ROG Ally X.

After months of leaks, teases, and exclusive early details from yours truly, it’s official: the ROG Ally X handheld gaming PC is going on preorder today for $799.

When it ships on July 22nd, it’ll come with double the battery, double the storage, double the USB-C ports with quadruple the USB bandwidth, 50 percent more (and faster) 7500MHz memory for up to a 15 percent performance boost, dramatically revised ergonomics, an overhauled internal layout, and an extensive list of other tweaks.

ROG Ally (top) vs. ROG Ally X (bottom).

There are so many changes, in fact, that I spent two hours on the phone with Asus technical marketing director Sascha Krohn to hear about them all. I also went to the company’s US headquarters to open up an ROG Ally X with my own screwdrivers and play with the new build. I took plenty of pics, because I want you to nerd out with me.

But first, let me remind you what the ROG Ally X is not. Here’s what I wrote last month:

Don’t call it an Ally 2: when it ships in the second half of the year, the Windows-based Ally X will have the same AMD Z1 Extreme chipset and the same 7-inch 48–120Hz VRR screen. It’s not quite like the Steam Deck OLED, where Valve got AMD to revise its chip for better battery life and stability and added a larger, brighter, gorgeous new OLED panel with improved response time and slimmer bezels.

The ROG Ally X is a revision, not a sequel, and it’s a pricier one. It still runs Windows, and I still firmly believe Windows drags gaming handhelds down. But the Ally X might be the best Windows handheld yet — because Asus has crammed a monster 80 watt-hour battery into a handheld that doesn’t feel heavy, one that fits my average-sized hands better than any Windows handheld I’ve tried.

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Want to see some comparisons to the original ROG Ally and Steam Deck? Here’s a quick hardware tour:

At 1.49 pounds (678g), the ROG Ally X is only 0.15 pounds (70g) heavier than the original, and it’s only 0.18 inches (4.5mm) thicker at its thickest point. It’s almost exactly the same weight as the original Steam Deck, and almost half an inch thinner, but with twice as much battery capacity inside.

How? While the bigger battery added over 120 grams of weight, Asus was able to offset half of it by making other components lighter. Krohn says a stronger, thinner, lighter chassis offered the biggest savings — the weight of the talcum-filled ABS / polycarbonate composite went from 176 grams to 134 grams by the time Asus was done. (I did run into one side effect of the stiffer plastic blend: it’s harder to pop it open for repair.)

The Ally X has lighter circuit boards, too, shaving away lots of unnecessary board, and a lighter cooling module — including 23-percent smaller fans that are actually more powerful, because the company’s in-house design team created its own custom set of 77 ultra-thin blades that trump the 47 of the original. Krohn says you might see the Ally run a couple degrees cooler, and the thinner blades help reduce the audible noise bump at around 5,000Hz, too.

And, there’s a new series of vents that let the Ally X cool its touchscreen more effectively — up to 6°C cooler.

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Let’s tour the Ally X internals, starting with the 80Wh battery.

The joysticks are another place where they’re both better and lighter: completely revised modular boards now use the same high-grade potentiometer based ALPS sticks you’ll find in a PS5 or Xbox gamepad, with far tighter throw than the original Ally, delightfully tacky concave tops a la Steam Deck OLED, wider bases for better dust resistance, and low friction POM plastic stems for smoother action when they scrape against the joystick ring’s edge.

They’re rated to 5 million rotation cycles, up from 2 million, and if that’s not enough, they’re modular — ready for a drift-resistant Hall Effect magnetic joystick upgrade kit that Gulikit already has in development. (Krohn says not enough gamers prefer Hall Effect sticks for them to come standard, which… maybe?)

And, Asus has seemingly addressed almost all of the biggest complaints about I/O:

You get a full-length M.2 2280 PCIe 4 SSD slot now, one which supports double-sided drives too, opening up both the highest capacity and the most cost effective storage options on the market.

Asus has also ditched its proprietary XG Mobile eGPU port for a second USB-C port, one that offers all the benefits of Thunderbolt 4 too: 40Gbps speeds, 100W USB-C PD charging, DP 1.4 video output, and 4 lanes of PCIe for standard eGPUs. (No Oculink, sorry.)

Both ports are top-mounted, but Krohn says that lets even the weaker one offer 100W charging and 10Gbps data.

And yes, Asus says you get a new SD card reader that is not the same as the one that Asus won’t admit has an issue.

The ROG Ally X one-pager. 24GB RAM means the GPU and system basically no longer need to share.

Here are some of the smaller details I learned:

  • The D-pad is not only eight-way now, it’s also larger and more comfortable. I vastly prefer it.
  • The face buttons are 3mm taller, inside a longer tube for more stability. I found they have a flatter press.
  • The speakers have a slightly larger chamber for slightly more volume and bass.
  • The haptic actuators have moved to the edges of the device, beneath palms, for more pronounced feedback and weight distribution.
  • The shoulder buttons are mounted differently on the board so they don’t break as easily in a fall.
  • The triggers are wider and made of smoky semi-transparent plastic that looks cool.
  • The rear intake vents are slightly larger.
  • The joystick tops are now attached with screws, so you could theoretically 3D print your own tops or stem extenders.
  • Similarly, the new back buttons are screwed into the rear shell now, so you could theoretically move their position in your own 3D printed rear shell.
  • There’s a ring around the fingerprint power button now to find it easier by feel.
  • The Turbo mode still operates at 25W, but Silent has been bumped from 10W to 13W, and Performance from 15W to 17W.
  • The battery is now rated to have 80 percent remaining capacity after 3 years of cycling, up from 70 percent
  • The handheld uses a different IMU now.
  • It still has magnetic Hall Effect triggers, but revised slightly to make sure they don’t interfere with the speakers or vibration motors.
  • While it does support 100W charging now, it still comes with the same 65W adapter.
  • It’s not compatible with existing cases and mounts, but Asus is in touch with fan favorites JSAUX, Deckmate and Dbrand to offer new ones.
  • Existing Ally owners will be able to migrate settings to an Ally X with a cloud backup.

Last but not least, there’s an easter egg in the comfy new grips — just like the PS5’s controller is studded with incredibly tiny PlayStation symbols, the ROG Ally X’s grips are covered with “ROG ROG ROG”:

I can’t wait for a review unit of this handheld, because battery is king in handheld gaming PC world, and the Ally X is about to be king of handheld battery packs. Just don’t necessarily expect it to dethrone the Steam Deck OLED, because there’s only so far Asus can go without a more efficient chip and screen — and because I’m still not sure how I feel about Asus’ deteriorating reputation for support.

Some small news today there too, though: Asus has just announced that all ROG Ally devices in North America now have a two-year warranty.

Photography by Sean Hollister / The Verge



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