ROG Ally handheld Gaming PC has arrived

Pleased to say that my Republic Of Gamers (ROG) Ally handheld PC has arrived as my early birthday present to myself! Let's take a closer look at the setup and also upgrades I did straight away! 

I enjoy playing modern PC games on my Windows 11 Alienware PC when I am at home. When travelling, I have been using a very awful Surface Go for my gaming needs, and it is of course extremely limited in what games it can actually play, and the speed of the machine is slow - really slow.
I wanted to replace it for quite a while, but the options have been limited. Gaming laptops are very expensive, heavy and large (I still have an older Alienware laptop), making them useless for air travel with the strict carry on weight limits. I have to bring my work laptop also...
Low end lighter laptops are not good for gaming without external PCI-e graphics cards that can't really be used on the go.
Valve has made the Steam Deck, which is a handheld gaming device running their SteamOS setup (essentially Linux), with limited compatible games available to use on it from the Steam library. 
No other apps used by other game companies (Epic,, Ubisoft, Microsoft Xbox GamePass Store) are supported on the Steam Deck due to running on Linux, only the Steam library games (some) work on it.
And, most importantly, it is not yet officially available in Australia.
Republic of Gamers (owned by ASUS) created the Ally handheld to resolve these issues, by running it on Windows 11, and supporting any games and game company app stores that can run under Windows 11. It costs AUD$1299 and is available direct from them or from JB-Hifi here in Australia.
Here are the specs of the Ally, taken from ASUS website:

Operating System

Windows 11 Home


CPU:AMD Ryzen™ Z1 Extreme Processor ("Zen4" architecture with 4nm process, 8-core /16-threads, 24MB total cache, up to 5.10 Ghz boost)
GPU:AMD Radeon™ Graphics (AMD RDNA™ 3, 12 CUs, up to 2.7 GHz, up to 8.6 Teraflops)
TDP: 9-30W


FHD (1920 x 1080) 16:9
glossy display
Gorilla® Glass DXC
Gorilla® Glass Victus™
Touch Screen (10-point multi-touch)
Refresh Rate:120Hz
Response Time:7ms
FreeSync Premium


16GB LPDDR5 on board (6400MT/s dual channel)


512GB PCIe® 4.0 NVMe™ M.2 SSD (2230)

I/O Ports

1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack
1x ROG XG Mobile Interface and USB Type-C combo port (with USB 3.2 Gen2, support DisplayPort™ 1.4)
1x UHS-II microSD card reader (supports SD, SDXC and SDHC)

Control and Input

A B X Y buttons
L & R Hall Effect analog triggers
L & R bumpers
View button
Menu button
Command Center button
Armoury Crate button
2 x assignable grip buttons
Thumbsticks: 2 x full-size analog sticks
Haptics: HD haptics
Gyro:6-Axis IMU


AI noise-canceling technology
Hi-Res certification
Dolby Atmos
Built-in array microphone
2-speaker system with Smart Amplifier Technology

Network and Communication

Wi-Fi 6E(802.11ax) (Triple band) 2*2 + Bluetooth® 5.2 (*Bluetooth® version may change with OS version different.)


40WHrs, 4S1P, 4-cell Li-ion

Power Supply

TYPE-C, 65W AC Adapter, Output: 20V DC, 3.25A, 65W, Input: 100~240V AC 50/60Hz universal




608g (1.34 lbs)

Dimensions (W x D x H)

28.0 x 11.1 x 2.12 ~ 3.24 cm (11.02" x 4.37" x 0.83" ~ 1.28")

Xbox Game Pass

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate_3 months (*Terms and exclusions apply. Offer only available in eligible markets for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Eligible markets are determined at activation. Game catalog varies by region, device, and time.)


Built-in Fingerprint Sensor
Microsoft Pluton security processor
They claim it can run all the latest games at a decent pace, and this got me quite excited. Perhaps finally there is a solution for my need! :-)
One problem I could see straight away was the storage. 512GB is not even close to being enough space for my game collection.
I realise you didn't need all games on the go, but I want to have as many as possible!
So, to solve this, I picked up some upgrades from I got a 1TB MicroSD card to use in the MicroSD slot on the Ally to store music and non-game related content, so it wouldn't use space I need on the system drive.
I also got a NVMe M.2 USB converter.

Opening the M.2 NVMe SSD enclosure from Green, you can see it can fit a normal M.2 SSD, and the smaller type used in the Ally. It has different alignment hole to push in the SSD retainer that is also included, rather than needing a screw.

Lastly, I got a Western Digital 2TB NVMe SSD, which is the same type of small form factor M.2 NVMe SSD used in the Ally, but 2TB instead of 512GB - this will hold the operating system and most of my games once prepared:
Here is the ROG Ally as I received it.

Opening the box there are some quick start instructions above the unit itself:

And some QR codes underneath the top flap for more help. You can see the screen cover also has instructions too:

Here it is, all removed from the box - manual, power supply and cable for charging, and the unit itself.

The unit is quite striking in the white colour scheme, I like it better than the black steam deck design to be honest.

Turning the unit around you can see the power button, volume controls, external GPU bridge connector and usb-c power connector, and the MicroSD slot.

On the back of the unit you can see the additional buttons halfway down, located in the right place to reach when holding the unit with two hands, and vent holes on left and right sides.

They also include a simple plastic "dock" to hold up the Ally, which I find I use quite often. I believe there is an official dock you can buy from ASUS, but it is not available in Australia yet as of when I wrote this.

The dock is simple but does the the job - probably quite useful when travelling and you want a break from holding it, for example are watching movies on a plane/train or listening to music with it.

I guess I could buy one of the many USB-C docks designed for the Steam deck, which I expect would also work with the Ally as well.

Unlike many modern devices, the ROG Ally is very easy to disassemble, with six screws to remove at the rear to gain access to the internals.

Once opened, we can see inside the Ally:

Underneath the black removable cover (sticky on one side) is the 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD:

I need to image this SSD before I power it on, since it contains the not yet activated Windows 11 setup with all the required drivers, customised apps and utilities ASUS prepared to use with the Ally.

So I remove it from the Ally:

I then connect it to the uGreen M.2 SSD to usb converter:

I then connected it to my Alienware PC and use Win32diskimager to image the 512GB SSD to a file on my system. Time for a coffee.

With that done, I then removed the converter and took out the 512GB and put in the 2TB SSD into the converter.

I then connected it to the alienware PC again:

The WD PC SN740 SSD volume appears in Windows 11 as not initialised, as below. Without a drive letter, I can't write the image to it with win32disk imager:

Even though it is a bit dumb since the partition will be overwritten by the image, I need to initialise one partition so I can do it. I use GPT GUID partition type:

I format as one drive. To be honest, it doesn't matter. Just need a drive letter.

Partition created, with F:\ now on my Alienware PC, ready to image to it.

Using Win32disk imager again, I write out the 512GB image from the old SSD to the new 2TB one.

Definitely time for a coffee.

Eventually though, it completes.

I remove and reinsert the usb to SSD converter to force Windows to redetect the newly written drive - as you can see, it is now called OS, and reflects the original 512GB disk setup:

If I view the 2TB disk in Disk management, you can see the details of the drive as below:

The drive itself is segmented into the usual OS, Windows recovery partition and the remaining space, currently unallocated.

My original plan was just to extend the OS partition to use the remaining space on the drive. There is a change size function in disk management to do just that.

However, it doesn't work - it fails to show the remaining unallocated space as available space for some reason:

In the end after some more mucking around and failures to extend, I decided it was better to have two partitions after all. The OS partition for Windows and the other online game store apps, and the new one for Steam games specifically. I created the new 1.465TB partition:

Now I have the two partitions on the 2TB SSD, ready to go. The OS one contains all the files from the original 512GB SSD for the Ally, so we are good to go.

With the SSD now prepared with 512GB system, and 1.465TB data partition for games, I then removed the converter from the Alienware PC, and put the 2TB SSD into the Ally:

I then put the black cover back in place, and put the unit back together:

Ok, all done. Ready for first power on.

I walked through the usual Windows 11 first time setup wizard:

I connected the Ally to local WiFi to download updates and proceeded with the installation:

Time to name the computer...

I connected the usual online Microsoft services at this point, which I don't show for privacy reasons.

Almost there:

Installation complete - we now have a working Windows 11 setup on the Ally using my larger 2TB SSD. Very nice.

Being a touch screen, there is an onscreen keyboard for when you need it. If you connect the Ally to a USB-c dock you can also connect a real keyboard, mouse, external hdmi and other devices too.

But I bought this for portable gaming - I have the Alienware PC for when I am at home.

This is where the applications written for the Ally come in - namely Armoury Crate SE. This is a weird name for what is essentially a game launcher and place to modify the unit settings using the joystick controllers on the Ally, with no keyboard needed.

There is a button on the right side of the screen to bring up Armoury crate at any time.

Initially I went to the Game Platform section to download and connect Steam, Epic, GOG, EA, Ubisoft, Xbox and several other online store fronts for buying and launching games. I was surprised is not included here - not sure why. I hope they add it in the future.

The software built in help explains the functions of the unit and how to personalise it, which is very helpful for getting up to speed.

One game is included, but naturally I want my Steam game library linked, which has the most number of games I have purchased. The games then appear in Armoury crate library to launch. 

This is nice since all the games appear in one place rather than different online store front applications. There is another important reason for this also, but more on that later.

Running the setups for Team and other app store applications is a bit fiddly, since the joypad acts as a mouse, and you need the online keyboard for installations.

I got Steam installed though, and quickly got it up and running on the Ally - interestingly it launches in "steam deck" mode on the Ally, which means the joypad works well here:

That said, I ran quickly into a problem using the stripped back Steam deck mode. 

I don't want to use the default Steam library location on the smaller 512GB c:\ drive for the games. I want to create another steam library on the d:\ drive, and make it the default. There is no way to do this in the "steam deck" mode of Steam. I can see the storage in it, but no way to add other locations.

So, I switched the Steam app back to normal Windows client mode, so it runs like it normally does as a full windows app. I could then get the option I needed to add another storage location in Steam:

I add the D:\ drive as a new Steam library folder:

I then change the settings so that the D:\ steam library location is the default location.

I can then change Steam back to "Big Picture mode" to navigate and use with the joypads, which is much easier.

Then important work of installing my favourite games now begins. 

Having my Alienware PC running with Steam open makes this install process much less painful, since Steam is smart enough to recognise when another Steam client is running on the same network. 

Steam will transfer the game content from my Alienware PC to the Ally over the local network instead of downloading it from the internet again.

I have to say that it took much less time than I expected because of that!

I then tried out some games launched from Steam - they look fabulous and run great on the Ally - the screen is great and the games run flawlessly:

I hit a problem quickly though - the joypad controls didn't work as expected. I tried another game with the same result:

To solve this on the Ally, the games have to be launched from Armoury crate, not from Steam or other app stores directly.

Within Armoury crate, you can change the settings for each game so it uses Gamepad mode, which then maps the joypad controls correctly to the game being launched.

This is important information, and I think ASUS should have made the requirement to do this clear from the beginning!

That sorted, I could then try out some more taxing modern games on the Ally. F1 2023 on the go? No problem.

Forza Horizon 5 also works perfectly. I am really impressed with the speed of the games running on the Ally.

It also looks amazing to play such beautiful games on the go...

There is a patch for the BIOS to resolve some bugs which I applied:

I read that some people stated it impacted the speed of the games after doing this patch, as it does some optimisations for the battery to maximise its life. That maybe true, but I didn't really notice it using the default settings of the Ally.

I know you can tweak the speed of the Ally to maximise battery life at the expense of the detail in the games. I didn't want to do that, so left it as it was delivered.

What is a problem that I expected, is that the battery life is just under 2 hours. If you have an Alienware laptop you would probably get something similar on the go. 

The good news though is you can connect a USB-C power bank to the Ally to extend its life when on the go. Time for Fall Guys and Uno testing to confirm the battery life...err. that took a while :-)

I hope that ASUS release a rear mounting solution for connecting a usb-c power bank for easier on the go playing. 

I saw on YouTube that PewDiPie 3d printed one for his Steam deck for the same reason. It surely can't be difficult to release something like this ASUS? I would buy it in a heartbeat.
Hell, someone has already created a 3d print file for it - link below. Wish I had one or knew someone who did, so I could get it printed and have a solution for it now...let me know if you can help!
I was thinking about live streaming possibilities too. Doing it live from the Ally would be difficult, as you would need the usb-c dock for a webcam, potentially hdmi out to a separate machine to stream out, given streaming from the device itself would mean poor game performance and even worse battery life. You would probably end up using one of those separate IRL streaming backpack setups with hdmi export to the setup, and a mountain of spare batteries which you could never bring on a plane anyway! I wonder if anyone does it?
I don't think it would be worth the cost and effort in my case. I may as well use a tower/desktop PC for gaming/streaming live at home instead and forget about doing it when travelling.
Moving on beyond games, this is an entertainment device, not a workstation for Email, Excel and Word. No MS Office installed on this machine. Maybe when Microsoft Copilot goes mainstream availability and I can dictate to chatgpt to make all my documents without using a keyboard. :-)
Accordingly, as an entertainment device I wanted to be able to playback music and videos, and play some emulated retro computer and console systems too. 
I thought the joypad support would be a roadblock for this, but I found a neat solution to this in the form of software that is used to control PC's as media centre devices. 
I chose Kodi for the Ally, and it allows hundreds of plugins to extend its functionality beyond just music and videos. It also works perfectly with the joypad on the Ally. I can playback music stored on the 1TB microSD card with ease.

I got to work installing MAME for Arcade games, Amiga emulators and Vice for C64 emulators too!

There are many more plugins available as shown:

Megadrive, PlayStation and others too:

Here is the C64 running on the Ally.

I also added the Weather plugin to Kodi, just because.

In summary I am really glad to have the ASUS ROG Ally for portable gaming in 2023. Being able to play all my favourite Windows games on the go, that normally need high end heavy laptops or gaming at home is wonderful!

I haven't had the opportunity to use it on a trip as yet, but thanks to the Ally I am now looking forward to the long plane/train trips and lonely nights in hotels rather than dreading them!