ROG Ally X Review – The Ultimate Gaming Handheld or Just Another Play?

ROG Ally X

9.5

9.5/10

The world of portable gaming has been buzzing with the latest release from ASUS: the ROG Ally X. As a follow-up to the original ROG Ally, this device promises to bring even more power and versatility to gamers on the go. But how does it stack up against its predecessor and the formidable MSI Claw? Let’s dive deep into the ROG Ally X, compare it to the original ROG Ally and the MSI Claw, and see if it truly is the handheld console to beat.

Unboxing the ROG Ally X: First Impressions

Upon unboxing the ROG Ally X, you’re immediately struck by its sleek design. The matte black finish gives it a premium feel, and the slightly textured grip ensures it won’t slip out of your hands during intense gaming sessions. The build quality is robust, with a weight that feels just right—not too heavy to cause fatigue, but substantial enough to feel solid.

Design and Build Quality: Refinement and Durability

The ROG Ally X has taken significant design cues from the original ROG Ally but with a few notable improvements. The most apparent change is the larger 8-inch display, an upgrade from the original’s 7-inch screen. This increase in screen size, combined with thinner bezels, provides a more immersive gaming experience without making the device cumbersome.

The buttons and controls have also seen an upgrade. The ROG Ally X features new, more responsive buttons and a refined D-pad that offers better precision. The thumbsticks are smoother, providing a more fluid motion that’s essential for fast-paced games. The overall ergonomic design has been slightly tweaked to reduce hand strain during prolonged gaming sessions, making it a more comfortable handheld to use over long periods.

Display: Bigger and Better

The original ROG Ally had a fantastic display, but the ROG Ally X takes it to the next level. The 8-inch AMOLED screen offers a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels, a significant bump from the original’s 1920 x 1200. This higher resolution translates to sharper, more vibrant visuals that bring games to life. The colour accuracy and contrast are top-notch, providing deep blacks and bright, vivid colours that make every game look stunning.

The increased refresh rate of 120Hz is another major improvement. It ensures that fast-moving scenes are smooth and free of motion blur, which is critical for first-person shooters and racing games. The touch response has also been improved, making the ROG Ally X a joy to use for both gaming and general navigation.

ROG Ally X Review - The Ultimate Gaming Handheld or Just Another Play?

Performance: Power Unleashed

Under the hood, the ROG Ally X boasts significant upgrades over its predecessor. Powered by the latest AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS processor and paired with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, this handheld device packs a punch. Compared to the original ROG Ally, which featured an AMD Ryzen 7 4800U and Radeon Vega 8 graphics, the performance boost is substantial.

In terms of benchmarks, the ROG Ally X outperforms the original ROG Ally by a considerable margin. Games load faster, frame rates are higher, and overall performance is smoother. This makes a noticeable difference in demanding games, where the original might have struggled with higher settings.

When compared to the MSI Claw, the ROG Ally X still holds its ground. The MSI Claw, with its Intel Core i7-1165G7 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, offers respectable performance, but it doesn’t quite match the power of the Ally X’s more advanced hardware. The Ryzen 9 and RTX 3050 Ti combo in the Ally X ensures it can handle the latest AAA titles with ease, often at higher settings than the MSI Claw can manage.

Battery Life: Longer Play Sessions

Battery life is always a concern with powerful handheld gaming devices. The original ROG Ally offered a decent battery life of around 4-5 hours under typical gaming conditions. The ROG Ally X, however, has made strides in this department. Thanks to a larger 75Wh battery and improved power efficiency from the newer components, the Ally X can last up to 7 hours on a single charge during moderate gaming sessions. For more intensive use, such as playing graphically demanding games at high settings, you can expect around 5 hours of battery life, which is still a notable improvement.

The MSI Claw, on the other hand, offers similar battery life to the original ROG Ally, often clocking in at around 4-5 hours for standard use. The Ally X’s superior battery performance is a clear win, especially for gamers who need extended play sessions without frequent recharging.

Cooling System: Keeping It Cool Under Pressure

One of the critical aspects of portable gaming devices is how well they manage heat. The original ROG Ally had an efficient cooling system, but the ROG Ally X takes it further with an advanced liquid metal cooling solution. This new cooling system ensures the device remains cool, even during extended gaming sessions. The fans are quieter, and the heat dissipation is more effective, preventing thermal throttling and maintaining consistent performance.

In comparison, the MSI Claw’s cooling system, while effective, doesn’t quite match the sophistication of the ROG Ally X’s liquid metal solution. The Claw can get noticeably warmer during intense gaming sessions, which can impact comfort and performance.

Storage and Expandability: Room for All Your Games

The ROG Ally X comes with up to 1TB of NVMe SSD storage, ensuring fast load times and plenty of space for your game library. The original ROG Ally maxed out at 512GB, making the increased storage in the Ally X a significant improvement. Additionally, the Ally X supports expandable storage via a microSD card slot, allowing for even more flexibility.

The MSI Claw also offers up to 1TB of storage but lacks the same expandability options. This gives the Ally X an edge for gamers who like to carry a large library of games with them.

Software and User Experience: Tailored for Gamers

The ROG Ally X runs on Windows 11, providing a familiar and versatile operating system for gamers. ASUS has included several software enhancements tailored for gaming, such as the Armoury Crate, which allows for easy performance adjustments, game library management, and customisation of RGB lighting.

The original ROG Ally also featured these software enhancements, but the Ally X introduces new features like Game Genie, which offers on-the-fly performance tweaking and real-time monitoring of system stats. These additions make the Ally X a more refined and user-friendly device.

The MSI Claw, running on Windows 10, also provides a solid gaming experience, but its software suite isn’t as comprehensive or gaming-focused as ASUS’s offerings. This makes the ROG Ally X a more attractive option for gamers who want a device tailored specifically to their needs.

Connectivity: Stay Connected Everywhere

Connectivity is another area where the ROG Ally X shines. It includes Wi-Fi 6E for faster, more reliable internet connections, Bluetooth 5.2 for easy pairing with accessories, and several USB-C ports for versatile connectivity options. The original ROG Ally had strong connectivity features, but the Ally X improves on these with the latest technology.

The MSI Claw also features Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, offering solid connectivity, but it doesn’t quite match the cutting-edge specifications of the ROG Ally X. The inclusion of multiple USB-C ports in the Ally X provides more flexibility for connecting peripherals and external displays.

Audio: Immersive Sound Experience

Audio quality can make or break a gaming experience, and the ROG Ally X doesn’t disappoint. It features dual front-facing speakers with Dolby Atmos support, providing clear, immersive sound. The audio is crisp, with a good balance of bass and treble, making in-game sounds and music come alive.

The original ROG Ally also had good audio, but the Ally X’s improved speakers and Dolby Atmos support take it to the next level. The MSI Claw, while offering decent audio quality, doesn’t quite match the immersive sound experience provided by the Ally X.

Price and Value: Worth the Upgrade?

The ROG Ally X is priced higher than the original ROG Ally, but the improvements justify the cost. The enhanced performance, better display, improved battery life, and superior cooling system make it a worthwhile investment for serious gamers.

When compared to the MSI Claw, the ROG Ally X offers better value for money. While the Claw is a strong contender in the portable gaming market, the Ally X’s superior hardware and gaming-focused features make it the better choice for those who want the best possible experience.

Pros and Cons: The Verdict

Pros:

  • Powerful AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU.
  • Larger, higher resolution 8-inch AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate.
  • Improved battery life with up to 7 hours of playtime.
  • Advanced liquid metal cooling system.
  • Up to 1TB NVMe SSD storage with expandable options.
  • Enhanced gaming software and connectivity features.

Cons:

  • Higher price point compared to the original ROG Ally.
  • Slightly heavier due to larger battery and components.

Final Score: 9.5/10 – The Pinnacle of Portable Gaming

The ROG Ally X is a triumph in portable gaming. It takes the strengths of the original ROG Ally and builds upon them, delivering a more powerful, immersive, and user-friendly experience. When compared to the MSI Claw, the Ally X stands out as the superior device, offering better performance, a more vibrant display, and enhanced features tailored for gamers. If you’re serious about handheld gaming and are looking for the best device on the market, the ROG Ally X is an excellent choice.

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