ROG Ally vs. Steam Deck: The Battle for Handheld Supremacy


The world of handheld gaming has exploded in recent years, with the arrival of powerful devices like the Steam Deck and the ROG Ally. Both machines promise AAA gaming experiences on the go, but they cater to slightly different audiences. Let’s delve into the key aspects of these handheld powerhouses to help you decide which one reigns supreme for your gaming needs.

Power and Performance: Raw Power vs. Optimization

The ROG Ally boasts a clear advantage in raw power. It utilizes AMD’s Ryzen 7 6800U processor and the Radeon 680M integrated graphics, which can be pushed further in its 30W Turbo mode. Benchmarks indicate a significant performance uplift over the Steam Deck, especially at higher resolutions.

However, the Steam Deck counters with a more optimized approach. Valve’s custom SteamOS tailors itself specifically for the Deck’s hardware, resulting in a smoother performance at its native 800p resolution. Additionally, the Deck utilizes efficient FSR technology to upscale games, further enhancing visuals without sacrificing frame rates.

The Verdict: For those prioritizing pure power and the ability to handle demanding titles at higher resolutions, the ROG Ally takes the crown. However, if you value a more balanced and optimized experience, the Steam Deck might be a better choice, especially for its native resolution.

Display: Resolution vs. Technology

The ROG Ally boasts a sharper 1920x1080p IPS LCD with a 120Hz refresh rate. This translates to crisper visuals and smoother gameplay, especially in fast-paced titles. However, the IPS technology may suffer from lower contrast and viewing angles compared to OLED panels.

The Steam Deck utilizes a 7.4-inch 1280x800p OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate. While the resolution is lower, OLED panels are known for their stunning contrast, deeper blacks, and wider viewing angles. This translates to a more vibrant and immersive visual experience, particularly in darker environments.

The Verdict: This boils down to personal preference. If sharpness and high frame rates are paramount, the ROG Ally wins. However, for a more visually stunning and immersive experience, especially in portable settings, the Steam Deck’s OLED panel might be more appealing.

Controls and Ergonomics: Comfort in Your Hands

Comfort during extended gaming sessions is crucial for handheld devices. The ROG Ally features a more traditional gamepad layout with separate joysticks, a D-pad, and face buttons. However, some users find the grip design less comfortable, particularly for larger hands.

The Steam Deck takes a more ergonomic approach, with its curved grips designed to fit naturally in your hands. The joysticks are also praised for their sturdiness and responsiveness. Additionally, the Steam Deck features unique haptic feedback and trackpads that some users find more versatile for certain game genres.

The Verdict: This depends on personal preference and hand size. The Steam Deck generally receives better marks for ergonomics, while the ROG Ally offers a more traditional gamepad layout. Consider trying both devices if possible to see which feels more comfortable for you.

Software and Ecosystem: Openness vs. Optimization

The ROG Ally runs on Windows 11, offering a familiar PC experience. This allows you to access a vast library of games, including those not necessarily optimized for handheld play. You can also use various launchers and applications beyond gaming. However, Windows 11 can be resource-intensive, potentially impacting battery life and performance.

The Steam Deck utilizes SteamOS, a Linux-based operating system tailored specifically for the device. While SteamOS offers a streamlined and user-friendly interface for Steam games, it has a smaller library of natively compatible titles. Additionally, tinkering might be required to run non-Steam games smoothly.

The Verdict: This depends on your priorities. If you crave openness and access to a wider range of software beyond gaming, the ROG Ally with Windows 11 is the way to go. However, if you prioritize a seamless and optimized experience specifically for Steam games, the Steam Deck with SteamOS shines.

Battery Life: The Crucial Factor for On-the-Go Gaming

Battery life is a significant concern for handheld devices. The ROG Ally generally suffers in this department, with reports indicating playtime between 1-and 1.5 hours under demanding loads. This can be a deal-breaker for extended gaming sessions away from an outlet.

The Steam Deck boasts slightly better battery life, with estimates ranging from 1-2 hours depending on usage and settings. While not stellar, it offers a bit more breathing room for longer gaming sessions on the go.

The Verdict: The Steam Deck edges out the ROG Ally in battery life, but neither device excels in this area. Be prepared to keep a charger handy for extended gaming sessions.


Q: Which one is faster?

  • A: The ROG Ally boasts a more powerful processor and can reach higher performance levels, especially with its Turbo mode.

Q: Does that make a big difference in games?

  • A: It depends. For demanding titles, the Ally will deliver smoother gameplay. However, the Steam Deck can still handle many games well, thanks to optimizations in SteamOS.

Q: Which has a better screen?

  • A: The ROG Ally features a sharper 1080p display with a 120Hz refresh rate for a smoother viewing experience. The Steam Deck has a good 720p display with a 60Hz refresh rate.

Q: Does the resolution difference matter that much?

  • A: It depends on your preference. The 1080p screen on the Ally offers sharper visuals, but the 720p on the Deck is decent for handheld gaming. Consider how close you typically hold the device while playing.

Q: Steam Deck vs ROG Ally: What’s the software deal?

  • A: The Steam Deck runs on SteamOS, a custom interface designed specifically for handheld gaming. It integrates seamlessly with your Steam library and offers a streamlined experience. The ROG Ally uses Windows 11, giving you more flexibility to run various launchers and applications, but the interface might feel less optimized for handheld use.

Q: Can I play non-Steam games on either device?

  • A: Yes! Both the ROG Ally with Windows and the Steam Deck with some tinkering allow you to install other launchers like Epic Games or GOG.

Q: Which one lasts longer on a charge?

  • A: Both have similar battery life limitations (around 1-2 hours depending on usage). Neither excels in this area, so factor in having a charger nearby for extended gaming sessions.

Q: How much does each cost?

  • A: The ROG Ally is generally more expensive than the Steam Deck.

Q: How comfortable are they to hold?

  • A: Comfort is subjective. The Steam Deck’s curved grips might feel better for some, while the ROG Ally’s lighter weight might be preferable for others.

Q: Does the ROG Ally support external GPUs?

  • A: Yes, the ROG Ally has a unique feature that allows connecting to a more powerful external GPU using the ROG XG Mobile interface, essentially turning it into a mini gaming PC when docked.

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Jyoti Kumari

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