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Asus ROG Ally Z1 unveiled as $599 Steam Deck rival

Asus officially launches the lower-tier variant of its Asus ROG Ally, which takes on the Steam Deck and Legion Go with its AMD Ryzen Z1 APU and $599 price.

Asus ROG Ally Z1

Asus’ Steam Deck and Legion Go rival, the Asus ROG Ally launched to much excitement back in May 2023. At the time, Asus talked about there being two variants of the gaming handheld, but when the Asus ROG Ally release date came around, there was just the one higher-end model available. Today, though, Asus has officially launched the lower-tier version, the Asus ROG Ally with AMD Ryzen Z1 processor, which is priced at just $599 – $100 lower than the Z1 Extreme model.

The new lower-priced variant uses the AMD Ryzen Z1, rather than the AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme. That means, instead of having eight CPU cores, it has just six, although these can still process 12 threads at a time. The bigger downgrade for most gamers, though, will be the lower-tier integrated GPU, which drops from 12 RDNA 3 compute units (CUs) to just 4 CUs. This essentially drops graphics power by two-thirds, from 8.6TFLOPS to just 2.8TFLOPs.

While this drop in GPU performance is significant, the lower-tier ROG Ally still has more GPU compute power than the Steam Deck. That device has an 8CU GPU, but it’s based on the previous-generation RDNA 2 architecture so only has a total of 1.6TFLOPs of GPU compute power.

Aside from the new processor, the Z1-powered Ally uses all the same components as the Z1 Extreme model. That means you still get the 7-inch, 120Hz, 1080p touchscreen, which unlike the Lenovo Legion Go includes Freesync support for tear and stutter-free gaming. The screen also boasts 500 nits of brightness, which hardly rivals the latest 2000 nits iPhone 15 but is still enough for gaming in well-lit areas and outside.

You also still get 16GB of LPDDR5 6400MHz memory which should help feed the GPU with data as quickly as possible. A plentiful 512GB of PCIe Gen 4 storage is also onboard, and there’s a microSD card for expanding that storage.

A single USB-C port provides the ability to charge the device and attach all manner of gaming peripherals. Meanwhile, Asus’ XG Mobile docking port lets you hook an external GPU (with support for up to RTX 4090 cards). Given the lower-tier internal GPU, an external GPU might be a tempting option for any users who are tight on space at home so can’t fit a normal gaming PC, and that don’t mind playing more basic games on the move, when they don’t have access to an external GPU. However, external GPU housings are expensive.

While the ROG Ally supports any conventional game installation, thanks to it simply being a Windows 11 tablet under the hood, it comes bundled with a three-month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate code, so you can access the wide range of titles on that platform.

Our sister site, PCGamesN, reviewed the first ROG Ally and were impressed with its processing power and general abilities. However, for just a $100 saving over the higher-tier model, the ROG Ally Z1 seems like a slightly tougher sell, given how much processing power you lose. Still, we’ll hold back judgment until we actually get our hands on one of the devices.

Both variants of the Asus ROG Ally can be bought directly from Asus here or from Best Buy via the link below. You can also pick up the Z1 Extreme version on Amazon via the link below.

In the meantime, we’d love to know your thoughts on the new Asus ROG Ally Z1 variant. Let us know what you think on the Custom PC Facebook page, via Twitter, or join our Custom PC and Gaming Setup Facebook group and tap into the knowledge of our 420,000+ members.