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Asus’ ROG Ally X is going to struggle against the Steam Deck OLED

No OLED display, no confirmed power increase, and only marginal changes leave me wondering if Asus will ever catch up with the Steam Deck.

ROG Ally X key art

The ROG Ally X sounds like it will be an admirable gaming handheld, but I have some big issues with how the initial reveal has been handled, and what it means for the market overall. Asus is releasing its third ROG Ally model in under a year, and rather than focusing its resources on a true next-generation model, it’s instead chasing the instant gratification of a shiny new release.

The existing ROG Ally is already among the best handheld gaming PCs, and the ROG Ally X may very well surpass it once we have all the details and can put it to the test. That being said, I’m struggling to understand why it exists, and whether Asus has a plan to tackle Valve’s current market dominance with the Steam Deck.

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So far, we know that the Asus ROG Ally X will be formally revealed on June 2, 2024. Beyond this confirmation, during a ROG Global live stream, it was confirmed that the Ally X would not have an OLED screen. Still, it would increase battery life substantially, have improved repairability, and allow for 2280 form factor M.2 SSDs to be used.

Most importantly, it’s been confirmed that the new design will reposition the microSD card slot that has caused the existing Z1 and Z1 Extreme models a ton of grief in recent weeks, with warranty extensions and damage refunds being issued.

I’m struggling to understand Asus’ motives for releasing the ROG Ally X, though, because this will be the third handheld device in under a year, with the previous release, the underpowered Z1, doing very little to get the market excited.

It’s also slightly ironic that, during the live stream, the hosts used language like “officially set the record straight,” following the slightly awkward reveal that this stream wasn’t actually where the new device would be revealed. They would then further complicate matters by dancing around some of the info Asus is willing to share about the Ally X at this time.

If anything, I was left more confused after yesterday’s livestream. It followed reports of both a ROG Ally 2 and a model refresh, but I then heard firsthand that neither of these rumors was true. Instead, the hosts explicitly stated that this was “more than just a model refresh with one spec change” but also “not a total redesign or totally new generation”.

I want to know why Asus didn’t hold off on the Ally X and push all its resources into a true second generation handheld for next year. The ROG Ally X may very well be a big improvement over the Z1 Extreme model, but no one was necessarily clamoring for this in the way they were for an OLED model, meaning the ROG Ally X still sits behind the Steam Deck in one key area.

Come June 2, I’ll likely be none the wiser regarding my questions, but I’m hoping that Asus can offer some clarity once and for all so I can move on and just be excited for the Ally X, rather than simply questioning whether there’s any need for it.

In the meantime, if you want more information about some of the current handheld gaming PCs, check out our Lenovo Legion Go review, and Steam Deck OLED review, to get an idea of where this new Ally X may stack up.