ROG Ally vs. Steam Deck: Battle of the Gaming Handhelds

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The competition is heating up in the gaming handheld market. Valve’s Steam Deck, the device that ignited the current trend, now faces a formidable rival in the ASUS ROG Ally.

Both of these portable PCs aim to claim the top spot, but which one will come out on top when we compare the ROG Ally vs. Steam Deck?

Key Takeaways

  • We compare the ASUS ROG Ally vs. Steam Deck across essential aspects such as specs, performance, and operating system.
  • The ASUS ROG Ally boasts more powerful hardware and runs on the Windows 11 OS.
  • The Steam Deck is seamlessly integrated with Valve’s Steam library and operates on a custom SteamOS.
  • Each handheld has its own strengths and weaknesses – the best choice depends on your specific needs and preferences as a gamer.

ASUS ROG Ally vs. Steam Deck Specs: Head-to-Head Comparison

Let’s begin by comparing the key specifications of the ROG Ally and Steam Deck side-by-side.

ROG Ally Steam Deck
CPU AMD Ryzen Z1 (6-core) Custom AMD Zen 2 (4-core)
GPU AMD RDNA 3 (12 CUs) AMD RDNA 2 (8 CUs)
Storage 512GB PCIe 4.0 SSD 64GB eMMC, 256/512GB NVMe SSD
Display 7″ 1080p IPS, 120Hz 7″ 800p IPS, 60Hz

When it comes to raw power, the ROG Ally has an edge over the Steam Deck. The Ally features a newer, faster AMD Ryzen processor with two additional cores compared to the Deck’s custom Zen 2 chip. In terms of graphics, the Ally also uses the latest RDNA 3 architecture with 50% more compute units than the Deck’s RDNA 2 GPU.

Both devices include 16GB of fast LPDDR5 RAM, but the Ally offers a quicker PCIe 4.0 SSD across all configurations, while the base Steam Deck relies on just 64GB of slower eMMC storage. To get NVMe SSDs on the Deck, you’ll need to opt for the more expensive 256GB or 512GB models.

While the Ally’s stronger hardware is impressive, it’s worth considering if it makes a noticeable difference at this screen size and resolution.

The ROG Ally’s crisp 1080p, 120Hz display is certainly a step up, but the Steam Deck’s 800p, 60Hz screen is still quite capable. At a mere 7 inches, discerning a significant difference in visual quality may be challenging.

However, the new Steam Deck OLED model provides more vibrant colors and deeper blacks, making it a worthy contender in the ROG Ally vs. Steam Deck OLED matchup.


The spec comparison reveals some interesting contrasts in the ROG Ally vs. Steam Deck face-off, with the Ally flexing its extra power. But the true test will be seeing how that translates into real-world performance.

ROG Ally
ROG Ally
Source: ROG

ROG Ally vs. Steam Deck: Which Is Better?

Steam Deck vs. ROG Ally Price

The Steam Deck’s lower entry point gives it an advantage in pricing. The base model, with 64GB eMMC storage, starts at $399. Upgrading to the 256GB NVMe SSD model will cost $529, while the top-tier 512GB variant is priced at $649.

In contrast, the ROG Ally’s base model with a 512GB SSD is priced at $699, putting it in line with the maxed-out Steam Deck configuration. ASUS does offer a 256GB model for $599, but this has a slightly less powerful AMD Ryzen Z1 processor compared to the flagship Ryzen Z1 Extreme found in the 512GB version.

It’s worth factoring in the cost of accessories when comparing the overall value of these devices. The Steam Deck has an optional Docking Station priced at $89, while ASUS offers a similar ROG Ally Docking Station. Both handhelds also have official carrying cases and screen protectors available at an added cost.

When considering price vs. performance, the ROG Ally’s higher cost does come with tangible benefits in terms of processing power and storage speed. However, the Steam Deck’s more affordable pricing makes it an attractive option for budget-conscious gamers who don’t mind sacrificing some performance for savings.

Our choice for pricing: Steam Deck 

Steam Deck
Steam Deck
Source: Steam

Processors & Performance

At the heart of the ROG Ally vs. Steam Deck battle are the custom AMD processors powering each device.

The Steam Deck uses a 4-core/8-thread Zen 2 CPU paired with an 8-compute unit RDNA 2 GPU. This APU is capable of running at 2.4-3.5GHz in CPU mode and 1.0-1.6GHz in GPU mode.

The ROG Ally, on the other hand, features the newer Ryzen Z1 and Z1 Extreme processors. These chips use the latest Zen 4 architecture for the CPU and RDNA 3 for the GPU.

The Ryzen Z1, found in the 256GB model, is a 6-core/12-thread part with a max boost clock of 4.9GHz. The flagship Ryzen Z1 Extreme, exclusive to the 512GB Ally, bumps up to 8 cores/16 threads with a 5.1GHz boost clock.

On the GPU side, both Z1 processors feature 12 RDNA 3 compute units clocked at up to 2.7GHz.

In terms of real-world gaming performance, the ROG Ally’s superior specs do translate into higher frame rates and better visuals.

Battery life is another crucial consideration for handhelds. The Steam Deck has a slight edge here, averaging around 2-4 hours in demanding games compared to the ROG Ally’s 1.5-3 hours.

Lighter fare can extend those numbers to 4-6 hours on the Deck and 3-5 hours on the Ally.

While the ROG Ally has a clear performance advantage, the question remains: How much does that extra power matter on a handheld screen?

There’s an argument to be made for diminishing returns past a certain point. The Steam Deck’s hardware is more than sufficient for an enjoyable handheld experience, and its lower price point may be more attractive for folks who primarily play less demanding games.

But for those who want the absolute best performance and visual fidelity possible in a handheld gaming PC, the ROG Ally is the clear choice.

Our choice for performance: ROG Ally

Gaming Benchmarks
Gaming Benchmarks
Souce: IGN

Steam Deck SteamOS vs. Windows on ASUS ROG Ally

One key difference between the Steam Deck and ROG Ally is the operating system each device uses out of the box. The Steam Deck runs on Valve’s custom SteamOS, a Linux-based operating system designed specifically for handheld gaming. The ROG Ally, in contrast, comes with the familiar Windows 11 pre-installed.

SteamOS is tightly integrated with the Steam platform, providing a seamless experience for accessing and playing games from your Steam library. The interface is optimized for handheld use, with large, easy-to-navigate menus and a focus on gamepad controls.

However, the Linux foundation of SteamOS does come with some compatibility issues. Not all Windows games are supported natively, requiring the use of compatibility tools like Proton. This can lead to performance issues or games not working at all in some cases.

Windows 11 on the ROG Ally offers a more versatile and open platform. With Windows, you have access to a much wider range of games, including titles from other storefronts like the Epic Games Store, GOG, and Microsoft’s own Xbox Game Pass.

You can also easily install and use other applications, such as streaming software or video editing tools, making the ROG Ally a more flexible device overall.

However, Windows 11 isn’t quite as streamlined for handheld gaming as SteamOS. The interface can feel a bit clunky when navigating with a gamepad, and you may need to spend more time tweaking settings for individual games to get the best performance.

ASUS has included some handheld-specific features, like a quick-access game launcher and performance profiles, but it’s not as cohesive as Valve’s purpose-built OS.

When it comes to customization and tinkering, the ROG Ally vs. Steam Deck comparison leans in favor of Valve’s device. While both handhelds allow you to install alternative operating systems, the Steam Deck’s community has embraced this aspect.

Numerous guides and resources are available for installing Windows on the Steam Deck, other Linux distributions, and experimental projects like the Android-based LineageOS. The ROG Ally can also be tweaked and modified, but the community and support around this aren’t as robust yet.

Our choice for operating system: Tie (depends on user preference) 

Form Factor & Ergonomics

The Steam Deck and ROG Ally take somewhat different approaches to the handheld form factor.

  • The Steam Deck is the larger and heavier of the two, weighing in at 669 grams and measuring 298mm x 117mm x 49mm.
  • The ROG Ally is a bit more compact and lightweight at 608 grams and 288mm x 112mm x 17mm.

In terms of ergonomics, the Steam Deck features prominent hand grips that make it comfortable to hold for extended play sessions despite its size. The ROG Ally has a more slender profile but still includes some subtle curves and texturing to enhance grip. Both devices are comfortable to use, but those with smaller hands may prefer the more compact ASUS handheld.

The control layouts also differ between the two devices. The Steam Deck places its analog sticks high on the face of the device, in line with the D-pad and face buttons. It also includes two small trackpads beneath the sticks for additional control options. The ROG Ally goes with a more traditional analog stick placement, with the left stick positioned lower than the D-pad. It forgoes the trackpads for a cleaner look. Both layouts have their merits and will largely come down to personal preference.

As for the screens, both devices feature 7-inch IPS touchscreens, but the ROG Ally bumps up the resolution to 1920×1080 compared to the Steam Deck’s 1280×800.

The Ally also supports a higher 120Hz refresh rate vs the Deck’s 60Hz. The ROG Ally does have slightly larger bezels around the screen, though, so the actual difference in usable screen real estate is minimal. The Steam Deck offers an OLED model with richer colors and deeper blacks but at a higher price point.

Our choice for form factor and ergonomics: Tie (depends on user preference)

The Bottom Line

In the battle of ROG Ally vs. Steam Deck, both contenders prove to be highly capable gaming handhelds.

The ROG Ally takes the lead in raw power and performance, while the Steam Deck excels in its seamless integration with the Steam ecosystem and more affordable price point.

Ultimately, the choice between the two will come down to your individual needs and preferences as a gamer. If you prioritize the highest possible performance and flexibility, the ROG Ally is the clear winner. But if you’re primarily a Steam user who values a curated, purpose-built experience and a cheaper entry point, the Steam Deck is still a compelling option.

That said, our choice for the overall winner is the ROG Ally.


Is Steam Deck better or ROG Ally?

Is there anything better than a Steam Deck?

Can ROG Ally run Steam?

Is the ASUS ROG Ally more powerful than the Steam Deck?


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Alex McFarland
AI Journalist
Alex McFarland
AI Journalist

Alex is the creator of AI Disruptor, an AI-focused newsletter for entrepreneurs and businesses. Alongside his role at Techopedia, he serves as a lead writer at Unite.AI, collaborating with several successful startups and CEOs in the industry. With a history degree and as an American expat in Brazil, he offers a unique perspective to the AI field.