ASUS ROG Ally gets new firmware and significant boost for low-power gaming
Dave2D was among the first reviewers to lay hands on the ROG Ally consoles. He was quick to notice that there was a problem with the console, which struggles to compete with Valve’s Steam Deck at lower TDPs (CPU power target).
The ROG Ally’s AMD Ryzen Z1 APUs are not full custom chips, but a derivative of the Ryzen 7040U series. ASUS and AMD worked together to implement a new voltage/frequency curve for the Z1 series, to enable higher power efficiency at lower TDPs, something that Deck’s AMD Vang Gogh custom APU was designed for. However, despite those changes, the Ally still struggled to compete with Deck at lower TDPs.
Valve’s handheld gaming console features AMD Van Gogh APU with quad-core Zen2 architecture, so half of the CPU cores and 4 GPU clusters less (based on older RDNA2 architecture). Yet, despite those limitations, Deck was still doing fine in comparison to ROG Ally at 9W and 15W gaming, and in fact, it was even faster in some cases.
ASUS has just released a new firmware for ROG Ally that works only with the newest GPU drivers. This firmware provides a substantial boost in low-power gaming, so exactly what this console should be designed for.
Dave says that the new firmware finally puts the console on pair with AYANEO 2S, the newest console based on Ryzen 7 7840U Phoenix APU (basically a standard version of Ryzen Z1). The boost, which is shown as a green bar vs. original firmware in yellow, is between 15% to 20% in 720p gaming. The Ally is now just as fast as AYANEO 2S, so at those power targets both “Phoenix” consoles are clear winners vs. Steam Deck.
However, Steam Deck still has an advantage at ultra-low power. The custom APU was designed to work even at 3W, although this mode should only be used for light 2D isometric games, but even at 9W, the Steam Deck is actually faster than ROG Ally in all games that were tested. That said, if one is not after high-fidelity gaming with ray tracing, Steam Deck should still be a better and cheaper option.
Unfortunately, there are no details on Ryzen Z1 non-Extreme performance simply because ASUS did not bother to send any review samples for this variant, which is launching later in the third quarter. Meanwhile, the Z1-Extreme model launches on June 13th, so make sure the first thing you do is the firmware update.
|Handheld Gaming Consoles|
|VideoCardz||ASUS ROG Ally||ASUS ROG Ally||Valve Steam Deck|
|Architecture||AMD Zen4 & RDNA3||AMD Zen4 & RDNA3||AMD Zen2 & RDNA2|
|APU||Ryzen Z1 Extreme|
8C/16T up to 5.1 GHz
6C/12T up to 4.9 GHz
|AMD Van Gogh|
4C/8T up to 3.5 GHz
|SoC GPU||AMD RDNA3 12CU @ 2.7 GHz||AMD RDNA3 4CU @ 2.5 GHz||AMD RDNA2 8CU @ 1.6 GHz|
|External GPU||ROG XG Mobile (up to RTX 4090)||ROG XG Mobile (up to RTX 4090)||Not officially|
|Memory||16GB LPDDR5-6400||16GB LPDDR5-6400||16GB LPDDR5-5500|
|Storage||512GB PCIe Gen4x4||256GB PCIe Gen4x4||64GB eMMC (PCIe Gen2x1)|
256GB/512GB NVMe (PCIe Gen3x4)
|Display||7″ 1920×1080, 120Hz (VRR), 500 nits, 7ms||7″ 1920×1080, 120Hz (VRR), 500 nits, 7ms||7″ 1280×800, 60Hz|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2||Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2||Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5|
|Battery||40 Whr, 4S1P, 4-cell Li-ion||40 Whr, 4S1P, 4-cell Li-ion||40 Whr|
|Weight||608 g||608 g||669 g|
|Dimensions||28.0 x 11.3 x 3.9 cm||28.0 x 11.3 x 3.9 cm||29.8 x 11.7 x 4.9 cm|
|OS||Windows 11||Windows 11||Steam OS/Win 11|
|Release Price||$699/€799 (16G+512GB)||$599/€699 (16G+256GB)||$649/€679 (16G+512GB)|
|Release Date||June 13th, 2023||Q3 2023||February 2022|
Many thanks to SlickR for the tip!