The Asus ROG Ally runs Windows, eats battery, and needs time to cook

Enlarge / With the arrival of the Asus ROG Ally, you may take Home windows gaming wherever! Do you have to? That may be a good query.

Kevin Purdy

Geralt of Rivia seemed good, moved easily, and responded swiftly to instructions. There was only one drawback: He was continuously sucker-punching the villagers of White Orchard. Over and over, he raised his fists in opposition to tavern keepers, children working on the street, and detachments of Nilfgaardian troopers. That final one begat a brutal demise. Generally, proper after taking an unprovoked swing, the digicam would furiously spin round my white-haired avatar, making me really feel like I, too, had caught one within the head.

Specs at a look: Asus ROG Ally
Show 7-inch IPS panel: 1920×1080, 120 Hz, 7 ms, 500 nits, 100% sRGB, FreeSync, Gorilla Glass Victus/DXC
OS Home windows 11 (Residence)
CPU AMD Ryzen Z1 Excessive (Zen 4, 8 core, 24M cache, 5.10 Ghz, 9-30 W (as reviewed)
RAM 16 GB LPDDR5 6400 MHz
GPU AMD Radeon RDNA3, 4 GB RAM (as reviewed)
Storage M.2 NVME 2230 Gen4x4, 512 GB (as reviewed)
Networking Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
Battery 40 Wh
Ports ROG XG interface, USB-C (3.2 Gen2, DPI 1.4), 3.5 mm audio, Micro SD
Dimension 11×4.3×0.8 in. (280×111×21 mm)
Weight 1.34 lbs (608 g)
Worth as reviewed $700 (plus mini dock)

I performed the most recent model of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on Asus’ new ROG Ally handheld gaming PC ($700, accessible June 13, preorders start today) as a private benchmark. Having accomplished the sport thrice beforehand (Xbox/PC/Change, Yennefer/Triss/neither), I used to be trying to spot variations on this rising platform. Asus’ new machine can run The Witcher 3—and Murderer’s Creed: OdysseyForza Horizon 5, and Hitman 3—extra powerfully than the Steam Deck or virtually every other “transportable” machine round, minus questionably transportable gaming laptops. The machine runs Home windows, so it has fewer sport compatibility points than Valve’s Steam Deck (nevertheless admirably far that system has superior). What would make The Witcher or every other playthrough completely different on the Ally, a Change-sized machine that boasts 7–13 times the power of that platform? “Random violence” wasn’t the reply I anticipated, so I dug in.

My first thought was that the thumb sticks could possibly be the issue, as they appear to have larger lifeless zones and really feel much less sturdy than those on the Steam Deck. Or perhaps it was pre-release video {hardware} reacting to a sport identified for uneven performance. I up to date all the pieces I may, recalibrated the sticks, and double-checked my in-game settings. I performed the identical construct of the sport on a Steam Deck with Home windows loaded, in the identical location, however could not recreate the issue.

Finally, I figured it out: It was the touchscreen. The Ally’s proper stick is simply too shallow, and it is too near the proper aspect of a display screen with small bezels. Every time my thumb glanced too shut, the overly delicate touchscreen picked it up as a left click on. The default left-click mouse motion in The Witcher 3 is an assault. Like some malevolent specter of Polish folklore, the Ally had made Geralt’s world richer, however it whispered violent ideas to him at any time when the Thumb Moon solid its shadow over the 1080p sea.

Apparently, my big thumbs get very active when I'm moving the camera in <em>The Witcher 3</em>, enough to trigger a phantom single-click tap on the touchscreen.
Enlarge / Apparently, my huge thumbs get very energetic once I’m shifting the digicam in The Witcher 3, sufficient to set off a phantom single-click faucet on the touchscreen.

Kevin Purdy

You possibly can, after all, disable a touchscreen in Windows 11 by way of a sequence of tiny-target Machine Supervisor faucets on the Ally’s 7-inch display screen. Somebody may even make a batch script or tiny executable that allows or disables the touchscreen on the fly. Or Asus may add a touchscreen toggle to the Command Middle, which pops out roughly 95 p.c of the time that you just click on its left-side button, or it may enable me to set that up within the Ally’s complicated per-game profile system.

However when I’ve time to commit to concerned, graphically intensive video games, the very last thing I wish to do is repair up a Home windows set up—and an awkwardly scaled one at that. I discover it simpler to put in, launch, and configure video games on Valve’s Steam Deck, a handheld PC rooted in Arch Linux, than on the Ally’s mixture of Home windows 11 and Asus’ personal Armoury Crate software program. I legitimately forgot my Steam Deck had a touchscreen till I ran Home windows 11 on it for side-by-side comparisons. Asus has much more work to do earlier than its machine reaches that type of game-focused stream.

While you’re inside a sport, the Ally performs higher than practically any machine its measurement—you will see that within the benchmarks. However all the pieces else about my expertise with the Ally makes it arduous to suggest as a $700 machine you should purchase from Asus this month. If you wish to get 39 frames per second in Cyberpunk 2077 as a substitute of 33 with the identical settings on the Steam Deck or eke out some ray tracing at simply over 30 frames per second, the Ally can do this. The identical goes if you happen to’re determined to play Home windows-only, cheat-detecting PC video games like Future 2 in your sofa (and you have determined in opposition to high-end streaming).

However most individuals ought to most likely wait till Asus, like Valve earlier than it, will get lots of suggestions and hopefully improves its software program. Not that some {hardware} fixes could not assist, too.

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