ASUS ROG Ally Z1 Released – Specs, Performance Revealed

If you've been waiting for a cheaper ASUS ROG Ally, you may be in luck.

The second, cheaper ASUS ROG Ally model is out now in the US and is due to arrive in the UK on October 3, 2023.

  • The cheaper model switches out the Z1 Extreme chipset for the lesser-powered Z1. 
  • All other tech specifications aside from the chipset remain the same. 
  • The device will be exclusive to the ASUS ROG eshop in the UK. 
  • The ASUS ROG Ally Z1 will retail for $599 and ¬£599.

The only difference between the two ROG Ally devices is the change from the Z1 Extreme to the Z1 processor, with the latter providing lower performance alongside an also lower price tag. 

Both processors utilize Zen 4 architecture, but the differences here are all down to the core count and threads. While the Z1 Extreme makes use of an eight-core and 16-thread setup, the standard Z1 comes equipped with six cores and 12 threads.

The Z1 also houses a slightly smaller cache capacity at 22 megabytes versus the Z1 Extreme’s 24 megabytes.

Z1 vs. Z1 Extreme Testing.

What do the Z1 and the Z1 Extreme look like in action? AMD actually ran some tests a while back to show the differences between the two processors. 

Take a look at the graph below and then I’ll break down what you’re looking at.

What the graph shows is despite the Z1 processor’s lower workload, it’s still a highly capable chipset that can run high-end games at a solid framerate. It isn’t going to hold a candle to the performance seen in the Z1 Extreme, but that’s to be expected given the fewer cores and threads.

Do keep in mind, the above results are courtesy of AMD, so these are a best-case scenario and the games will have been optimized to get the best results. Treat them as more of a ballpark figure rather than what you’ll see in hand, yeah?

ASUS ROG Ally Specs Comparison.

As noted, the ASUS ROG Ally Z1’s only difference is the CPU. That means it’s still got the lush 120 Hertz, full HD screen capable of 500 nits brightness, 16 GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and the 512 GB PCIe Gen 4 SSD.

Check out the table below to get an idea of how the Z1 stacks up against the ASUS ROG Ally Z1 Extreme model and how it compares with the Steam Deck.

  ROG Ally Z1 ROG Ally Z1 Extreme Steam Deck
CPU AMD Ryzen Z1  AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme  AMD  APU Zen 2
GPU RDNA 3 RDNA 3 RDNA 2
Screen Resolution 1080p 1080p 800p
Refresh Rate (Hertz) 120 120 60
Brightness 500 Nits 500 Nits 400 Nits
Operating System Windows 11 Windows 11 Linux (SteamOS)
RAM 16GB 16GB 16GB
Storage (SSD) 512GB 512GB 512GB
Weight 608 grams 608 grams 669 grams

Concerns

Although the ASUS ROG Ally has become my go-to gaming device, and I’m happy to recommend it, it’s currently got a serious design flaw I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention. 

The SD card reader can suddenly stop working. ASUS believes the problem is heat-related, but hasn’t offered an update on this problem since June 29, leaving many owners unsure if this problem can ever be fixed.

The working theory according to the online community is that heat produced from the internal components is causing the SD reader to become loose and disconnected from the main motherboard. That is currently just speculation, though. ASUS has only stated that heat is the problem without elaborating further.

I’ve had this problem happen to my ASUS ROG Ally, and while I can make do without the SD card reader, it’s not something that should be happening in a high-end product like this. 

Whether this problem will affect the ASUS ROG Ally Z1 model remains to be seen. I’ve reached out to my ASUS contact and will update you once I hear back. 

Should You Buy the ASUS ROG Ally Z1?

The main hook here is price versus power. If you don’t plan on playing the latest AAA games, then the base ROG Ally Z1 model is a good deal at the lower price point. It’s more powerful than the Steam Deck, but the difference won’t be as stark when compared with the Z1 Extreme ROG Ally.

If you want to play the latest AAA games, however, I’d advise spending the extra to get the Z1 Extreme version. That extra power is sure to make a massive difference in games like Starfield that use massive amounts of CPU power.

If you’re only picking up a ROG Ally for emulation, then the Z1 model should be more than enough to run the latest emulators at full speed. Just keep in mind the performance of emulators on high-end devices is often limited by the emulator itself rather than the tech.

There is a lot of choice out there at the moment, but as I say, the ASUS ROG Ally is my go-to gaming handheld. Visually it pops, it’s fast, and it’s easier to hold than the Steam Deck. The lack of trackpads also isn’t a deal-breaker for most.

What it all comes down to is this: As long as the ASUS ROG Ally Z1 doesn’t release with any major issues, this device could be a solid entry point for people looking to play PC games on the go at a slightly lower price point.

Wesley Copeland
Wesley Copeland

Wesley Copeland is a gaming, tech, and toys journalist with over 10 years of experience writing online. Originally starting in video games before specializing in tech and toys, you can find his bylines at IGN, VG24/7, Kotaku, Tech Radar, Games Radar, PC Gamer, Heavy, and many more. He's also highly passionate about how tech can be used to better our day-to-day lives.