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Ctrl+Alt+Del: The Asus ROG Ally X has solved PC handhelds’ greatest flaw

OPINION: This week, Asus confirmed that it will be launching the ROG Ally X, a new PC handheld system that will coexist with the original model as a more high-end option. 

Asus is keen to point out that the ROG Ally X won’t act as the sequel, as The Verge reports that the new model will still feature the same AMD Z1 Extreme and  7-inch 120Hz LCD screen. 

It’s admittedly disappointing that Asus isn’t upgrading to an OLED display, as it’s been a question mark over the ROG Ally ever since the introduction of the Steam Deck OLED. But on the other hand, I’m pleased to see that Asus will be addressing the great flaw of the ROG Ally, and handheld PC systems in general: battery life. 

Asus ROG Ally X
Asus ROG Ally X

I’m a big fan of the original Asus ROG Ally. It’s powerful enough to play all of my favourite PC games, and is remarkably light considering the specs it’s packing. However, all of that portable power arguably goes to waste when you consider how poor the battery is. 

When testing the handheld with modern AAA games, the ROG Ally was only capable of lasting around 90 minutes when set to Performance mode. That’s poor stamina, and sadly not long enough to last long long trips on a plane or train. 

This isn’t a problem exclusive to the ROG Ally though. I found that the Ayaneo 2S only lasted 100 minutes in the same test, while the Lenovo Legion Go was only able to hit two hours. The Steam Deck OLED is the best of the bunch in this regard, but even then you need to make compromises to performance settings to last more than three hours. 

Steam Deck OLED
Steam Deck OLED – Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Asus is opting to fix this problem with the upcoming ROG Ally X. With the official launch still a couple of months away, the company has been coy on exact figures, but when speaking to The Verge, Asus claimed there will be a significant improvement for battery life. 

“We’re not looking at 30 to 40 percent more capacity,” Asus SVP Shawn Yen told The Verge. “We’re looking at way more than that.” When pushed further, Asus even hinted that we can expect a battery life longer than three hours, which would double the stamina of the original. 

Since Asus isn’t changing the chip, it seems that this stamina boost will come from a larger battery pack. This will likely have significant consequences for the rest of the device, especially in terms of weight. 

Asus ROG Ally in hand
Asus ROG Ally – Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

I don’t think that will be an issue though. The vanilla Asus ROG Ally only weighs 608g, which is even lighter than the Steam Deck. This leaves plenty of wiggle room for more heft, while still ensuring it’s portable enough to easily carry around. That’s a great compromise in my eyes, considering how important the battery life is for a gaming system designed to be used on the go. 

My biggest concern is that the ROG Ally X will come with an inflated price. The gaming handheld is already rather expensive at £599/$699, yet Asus has confirmed that the X model will have a higher price. For those who already own a ROG Ally, I’m not convinced that a longer battery life, boosted RAM and a M.2 SSD slot will justify an upgrade.

Nevertheless, the introduction of the Asus ROG Ally X shows that handheld PC makers are going in the right direction. Battery life should be one of the most important considerations when designing these devices, even if that results in compromises to performance and design. 

And with both Asus and Valve focusing specifically on this area with their latest revised models, I’m growing more confident that we’ll see even greater battery life improvements for future devices. If I can play my PC games for over five hours straight on the go, then my purchase will be guaranteed.

Ctrl+Alt+Del is our weekly computing-focused opinion column where we delve deeper into the world of PCs, laptops, handhelds, peripherals and more. Get it straight into your email inbox every Saturday by signing up for the newsletter.

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