Hands-on with the Asus ROG Ally X: I'm a believer in the handheld gaming PC revolution

Hands holding the Asus ROG Ally X
(Image credit: Adobe Photoshop Generative Fill/Future AI Image)

Asus has given the ROG Ally X a larger battery, more storage, and more memory than its predecessor. These small hardware tweaks could just make this the best handheld gaming PC to date.

Asus unveiled the ROG Ally X at a live-stream event this week just ahead of Computex Taipei. The ROG Ally X has been highly anticipated since it was first mentioned in a YouTube livestream in May.

The Asus ROG Ally X is more than just a slight hardware update. It is a massive overhaul of one of the most successful handheld gaming PCs we’ve seen yet.

While the massive growth of the handheld gaming PC market raises questions about whether handheld gaming PCs will overtake gaming laptops, one thing is certain: The Asus ROG Ally X is more than just a slight hardware update. It is a massive overhaul of one of the most successful handheld gaming PCs we’ve seen yet.

Which means the Ally X could become THE handheld gaming PC. But while we’re still waiting for the official launch, we were able to get our hands on a demo version of the PC ahead of Computex.

Asus ROG Ally X: Specs

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CPU:AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme
GPU:AMD Radeon Graphics
Display:7-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) 120Hz IPS
Battery:80 Whr
Dimensions:11.02 x 4.37 x 0.97 inches
Weight:1.49 pounds

Asus ROG Ally X: Pricing and configurations

The Asus ROG Ally X starts at $799 and will be available at Best Buy. There are no other configuration options available.

Asus ROG Ally X: Design

Asus ROG Ally X

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The ROG Ally X has a tweaked design from the first version of the Ally. While it is similar in size and weight, the Ally X has redesigned the heating vents and joysticks and moved the mappable buttons on the back of the hand grips to make them less obtrusive. The Ally X is black compared to the original ROG Ally’s white chassis.

The Ally X's most surprising feature is its light weight. The handheld is still under two pounds and has twice the battery size of the original Ally. 

Even if the 80-watt-hour battery in the Ally X doesn’t actually double the battery life of the 40-watt-hour battery in the Ally, it’s impressive that the designers have managed to fit a much larger battery into the same-sized chassis and keep the handheld so light.

I also find that the revamped handgrips feel better than those on the original Ally. The Ally X feels better to hold and more comfortable to grip, while the original Ally always felt a bit like trying to hold onto a slightly ergonomic slab.

Asus ROG Ally X: Ports

Asus ROG Ally X

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The Ally X has more ports: It keeps the 3.5mm combo audio jack, Thunderbolt 4 with support for DisplayPort and power delivery, and UHS-II microSD card read but adds an additional USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port to attach any additional accessories.

Asus ROG Ally X: Display

Asus ROG Ally X

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The Ally X display isn’t much different from the original Ally display. It’s still a 7-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) 120Hz IPS glossy display. We loved the display on the original Ally. While it would be nice to get an OLED panel or a higher resolution display, at only 7 diagonal inches, you don’t necessarily need more pixels. This is very much a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And I can’t say I mind that much.

While I did struggle a bit with glare on the glossy display panel of the Ally X during the demo, it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t keep playing Palworld or checking into the UI updates.

Asus ROG Ally X: Gaming and graphics

Asus ROG Ally X

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

While the action-adventure monster-taming Palworld is not the most graphically demanding game out there, it does require a lot of processing power to run, and the Ally X didn’t stumble or stutter once.

The Ally X's CPU and GPU are the same as those of the Asus ROG Ally (Z1 Extreme) model, so there won’t be much of a graphics upgrade, though the added memory can help. But it's still nice to see the Ally X perform well on a relatively new game title.

Asus ROG Ally X: Performance

Much like the graphics, the performance of the Asus ROG Ally X is very similar to that of the Asus ROG Ally (Z1 Extreme) model, as they use the same CPU and GPU. 

Thanks to the increased memory on the Ally X, there will be a slight boost, but hands-on performance is difficult to judge. We’ll have to see how well the Ally X holds up in our lab benchmarks.

The Asus ROG Ally X could be the best handheld gaming PC

Asus ROG Ally X

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

While we still need to do a lot of testing to confidently say that the Asus ROG Ally X is the best gaming handheld we’ve seen so far, it doesn’t feel out of the realm of possibility. 

Of course, we want to get our hands on a review unit so we can run it through its paces in our benchmarking lab and then do our own game testing. 

The biggest change with the Ally X is the battery size, and I’m just dying to know how well it will hold up against the Laptop Mag battery test and the PCMark 10 gaming battery benchmark. Battery life is the biggest weakness of the ROG Ally, so to see that addressed well would make the Ally X the closest thing we’ve seen to a Steam Deck killer.

With software updates to make swapping keymaps and settings optimizations between ROG Ally users easier than ever, the ROG Ally X is already positioned to be one of the easiest handheld gaming PCs to pick up and play outside of the Steam Deck. Having the reliable performance of the AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme CPU and integrated Radeon graphics in a more power-efficient package, that's the dream.

If any handheld gaming PC could replace a gaming laptop, it could very well be the Asus ROG Ally X.

Madeline Ricchiuto
Staff Writer

A former lab gremlin for Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Tom's Hardware, and Tech Radar; Madeline has escaped the labs to join Laptop Mag as a Staff Writer. With over a decade of experience writing about tech and gaming, she may actually know a thing or two. Sometimes. When she isn't writing about the latest laptops and AI software, Madeline likes to throw herself into the ocean as a PADI scuba diving instructor and underwater photography enthusiast.