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Asus ROG Ally vs Steam Deck: The battle for handheld gaming is on

Discover the pros and cons of the Asus ROG Ally and Steam Deck in this comparison article. Find out which device is best for you and your gaming needs.

Rog Ally Vs Steam Deck

Quick Answer: There’s no clear cut answer, as both devices have pros and cons that will attract certain types of people. The Asus ROG Ally boasts power and compatibility, while the Steam Deck is perfect for Linux lovers who want an impressive OLED screen.

With the battle for handheld dominance heating up, we’re looking at two portable gaming giants, the Asus ROG Ally and Valve’s Steam Deck. How do they compare, and which one is worth investing in?

While there have been a few attempts to dethrone the Steam Deck, such as the newly released MSI Claw, the Asus ROG Ally is the one that seems to be giving the Steam Deck the most competition.

Here’s why and which one we think you should pick up.

Specs

When considering purchasing a new device, such as the Asus ROG Ally or the Steam Deck, specs are one of the most important things to consider. It will either be powerful enough to run the games you play, or perhaps one of them is too powerful and, therefore, a waste of money.

Steam Deck specs

The Steam Deck comes in several different models, with the LCD models slowly being replaced with the new OLED models.

Here’s how the three top models compare:

256GB LCD512GB OLED1TB OLED
OSSteamOSSteamOSSteamOS
CPUAMD Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHzAMD Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHzAMD Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz
GPU8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz (up to 1.6 TFlops FP32)8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.6GHz (1.6 TFlops FP32)8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.6GHz (1.6 TFlops FP32)
RAM16 GB LPDDR5 5500 MT/s16 GB LPDDR5 6400 MT/s16 GB LPDDR5 6400 MT/s
Storage256GB NVMe SSD + SD Expandable512GB NVMe SSD + SD Expandable1TB NVMe SSD + SD Expandable
Display1280 x 800 optically bonded LCD display1280 x 800 HDR OLED display1280 x 800 HDR OLED display with premium anti-glare etched glass
Screen7-Inch7.4-Inch7.4-Inch
Refresh Rate60Hz90Hz90Hz
Wi-FiWi-Fi 5Wi-Fi 6EWi-Fi 6E
Battery40Whr battery50Whr battery50Whr battery
Price$399$549$649

On top of the differences in specs, the more expensive models also come with additional virtual rewards, as well as a premium carry case.

The main difference between the cheapest of the Steam Deck models and the most expensive ones is the OLED screen, which is slightly larger and brings better color accuracy while improving battery life.

Other improvements worth noting are the Wi-Fi, which is much quicker in the better models, and the improved screen refresh rate, which, in honesty, you might not notice unless you plan to dock the Steam Deck.

Asus ROG Ally specs

Unlike the Steam Deck, the Asus ROG Ally only has two models, one which is powerful and expensive, and a second which is extremely powerful and very expensive. No budget options here.

Asus ROG Ally Z1Asus ROG Ally Z1 Extreme
OSWindows 11Windows 11
CPUAMD Ryzen Z1AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme
GPUAMD Radeon 3, 4 CUs, up to 2.5 GHz, up to 2.8 TeraflopsAMD Radeon 3, 12 CUs, up to 2.7 GHz, up to 8.6 Teraflops
RAM16GB LPDDR5 6400 MT/s16GB LPDDR5 6400 MT/s
Storage512GB NVMe SSD + SD Expandable512GB NVMe SSD + SD Expandable
Display1920 x 1080 LCD display1920 x 1080 LCD display
Screen7-Inch7-Inch
Refresh Rate120Hz120Hz
Wi-FiWi-Fi 6EWi-Fi 6E
Battery40Whr battery40Whr battery
Price$599.99 ($399.99 sale price)$699.99

The main difference between the two models is the use of the AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme and a stronger GPU, which will result in higher FPS and an all-around better gaming experience than the standard Z1 version.

Asus ROG Ally Vs Steam Deck specs compared

If you’re looking for the best handheld gaming experience, the best thing to do is to look at both company’s best offerings and compare them side by side.

Asus ROG Ally Z1 ExtremeSteam Deck 1TB OLED
OSWindows 11SteamOS
CPUAMD Ryzen Z1 ExtremeAMD Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz
GPUAMD Radeon 3, 12 CUs, up to 2.7 GHz, up to 8.6 Teraflops8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.6GHz (1.6 TFlops FP32)
RAM16GB LPDDR5 6400 MT/s16 GB LPDDR5 6400 MT/s
Storage512GB NVMe SSD + SD Expandable1TB NVMe SSD + SD Expandable
Display1920 x 1080 LCD display1280 x 800 HDR OLED display with premium anti-glare etched glass
Screen7-Inch7.4-Inch
Refresh Rate120Hz90Hz
Wi-FiWi-Fi 6EWi-Fi 6E
Battery40Whr battery50Whr battery
Price$699.99$649

When comparing both flagship offerings, it’s clear that the Asus ROG Ally is a beast compared to the Steam Deck, with a much faster CPU and a more powerful GPU.

The Steam Deck OLED does have the advantage of having a gorgeous OLED screen, although it is defeated by the Asus ROG Ally’s higher resolution.

The Steam Deck OLED does come in at a lower price, as well as featuring a slightly better battery.

Operating System: Linux vs Windows

When picking between an Asus ROG Ally vs Steam Deck, it’s important to note that both use completely different operating systems, both offering a completely different experience.

SteamOS (Steam Deck)

using game pass on Steam Deck
Image: Kegan Mooney / KnowTechie

The Steam Deck uses its own SteamOS, which is powered by Linux and has been designed to make playing games on Steam run flawlessly.

Running the Steam Deck in its Gaming Mode, as you would expect, runs without issues and requires absolutely no tech experience at all. Even my mom could use the Steam Deck in gaming mode, and she thinks, “Google is the entire internet.”

But, if you want to non-Steam games on your Steam Deck, this is where things get a little more complicated. Running Xbox Game Pass games, for example, requires an awkward workaround instead of simply working.

If you’re a seasoned Linux user, you will feel right at home with the Steam Decks desktop mode, if not, you might want to stick with the Windows 11 powered Asus ROG Ally.

Windows 11 (Asus ROG Ally)

Asus ROG Ally playing Tomb Raider
Image: Kegan Mooney / KnowTechie

With Windows being the most commonly used operating system, as well as the most compatible, it makes sense that Asus decided to run the ROG Ally on Windows 11.

Running Steam, as well as third-party launchers such as EA, Uplay, GoG, and more, couldn’t be easier. You can use the built-in ROG Ally software or simply download their launchers as you would on your PC.

Running Steam on the Asus ROG Ally uses Big Picture Mode rather than the standard desktop mode, making downloading and playing your favorite Steam games feel the same on both consoles.

Design

Rog Ally Vs Steam Deck
Image: Kegan Mooney / KnowTechie

The Steam Deck doesn’t look as nice as the Asus ROG Ally in my opinion. But what Valve has managed is to push a big and bulky design that is packed with tons of controls that make playing PC games on a portable device that little bit easier.

The Asus ROG Ally features two back paddles and the standard buttons you would expect to see on a handheld device or controller.

The Steam Deck features four back paddles and two trackpads that make precision scrolling and gaming much easier.

Back of an Asus ROG Ally
Image: Kegan Mooney / KnowTechie

While the Steam Deck has the upper hand regarding controls, the Asus ROG Ally takes the win on style.

With the all-white design and stunning RGB rings around the thumbstick, topped with the rear vents donning the Republic of Gamers logo, there’s no denying this machine looks cool as shit.

The Asus ROG Ally also features a special connector that allows you to add an official Nvidia RTX 4090 powered external GPU, making it the most powerful handheld gaming to date.

Price

If you’re on a budget, then as it stands, the Steam Deck offers much better value for money. Although, the standard Asus ROG Z1 has been going on sale a lot more recently.

With the cheapest LCD Steam Deck costing $349.99, it is literally half the price of the Asus ROG Ally, so if you’re on a budget and don’t mind the device’s limited performance in comparison to the other devices, the Steam Deck is the way to go.

Asus ROG Ally vs Steam Deck Winner

Had you asked me which was best when it came to the Asus ROG Ally vs. Steam Deck debate before the OLED model was released, I would have said the Asus ROG Ally, no questions asked. Now? It’s not so simple.

Personally, I own a Steam Deck and an Asus ROG Ally, and I prefer the Asus ROG Ally. However, as far as I’m concerned, they’re too different to give a clear winner, and they both have their own strengths that will attract a certain type of person.

Asus ROG Ally portable console Z1 version Asus ROG Ally portable console Z1 version

The ROG Ally is a powerful portable gaming console running Windows 11, with a 1080p 120Hz display for smooth gaming on the go. This is the more affordable version, powered by the AMD Ryzen Z1 processor and with 512GB of storage.

What we liked: Crisp 1080p display running at 120Hz refresh rate
Huge game selection as runs Windows 11
Robust third-party accessory ecosystem
Can use the ROG Mobile XG eGPU for more power
What we didn't like: AMD Ryzen Z1 processor is underpowered
Short battery life
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.

The Asus ROG Ally is a more powerful device with an easier-to-use operating system and much better audio than the Steam Deck. It’s highly compatible with most games and launchers but has sub-par battery life.

The Steam Deck has a slightly better battery than the Asus ROG Ally and a stunning OLED screen that looks much better than the Ally. But it runs at a lower resolution and has a much lower maximum refresh rate.

Steam Deck OLED Steam Deck OLED
$549

The Steam Deck OLED has a slightly larger screen at 7.4 inches but the same 1280x800 resolution, HDR support, an upgraded battery at 50Wh, Wi-Fi 6E, and a new 6nm APU that should be better for battery life.

What we liked: 7.4-inch OLED screen running at 90Hz refresh rate
New 6nm AMD APU for better battery life
Bigger 50Wh battery for between three and twelve hours of playtime
Improved storage capacity on every tier
Limited Edition model with transparent case and 1TB of storage
Wi-Fi 6E
What we didn't like: Low resolution screen
Tricky to use games from non-Steam launchers
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.

To put it simply, if you’re looking for power and an easy ride, go for the Asus ROG Ally; if you want a stunning screen and you love to tinker with Linux, grab a Steam Deck.

Have any thoughts on this? Drop us a line below in the comments, or carry the discussion to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Kegan is an avid gamer and tech enthusiast that has been gaming and building custom gaming rigs from a young age. He started out on his Amiga back in the 90s and hasn't stopped geeking out since.

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