The best Steam Deck competitor drops to $399 — cheaper and more powerful than Valve's entry-level gaming handheld

Since the ROG Ally was released, it has proven to be the strongest gaming handheld competitor to the Steam Deck. But now, thanks to an ongoing sale, ASUS' 512GB handheld is a better value than Valve's since the deal makes it less expensive than a 512GB Steam Deck while also being more powerful than it. This discount is specifically for the 512GB ROG Ally Z1 (non-Extreme), which usually has an MSRP of $499.99 but is currently down to $399.99 at Antonline

The Antonline sale runs from April 19 through April 30, after which the price will go back up. It's unclear how much longer the Best Buy deal will run for. 

ROG Ally Z1 (non-Extreme) | $499.99now $399.99 at Antonline

ROG Ally Z1 (non-Extreme) | was $499.99 now $399.99 at Antonline

The ROG Ally is literally a small gaming PC with controllers attached. It runs Windows 11, which means it can access any store or service that a normal computer can so it isn't just tied to Steam like the Steam Deck. 

✅Perfect for: Playing PC games away from your desk (like in bed or on the couch). It's also perfect for traveling.

❌Avoid it if: You'd prefer the more powerful Z1 Extreme version of the ROG Ally, which runs local games more smoothly. 

👀Alternative: ROG Ally Z1 Extreme $699.99 at Best Buy | ROG Ally Z1 (non-Extreme)  $399.99 at Best Buy

🔎Our review: ASUS ROG Ally: So close to perfect

💰Price check: $729 at Newegg

What's so great about ROG Ally?

I love playing games like Back to the Dawn in bed on my ROG Ally before going to sleep each night.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear | Windows Central)

A quick glance around Windows Central will show you that our team is full of gaming handheld enthusiasts. You can get a feel for this with our monthly report on the games we're currently playing on our various handheld devices

While I love the Steam Deck, I do prefer using my ROG Ally because it gives me more freedom to access various services and game stores right out of the box. Plus, it is more powerful, has better resolution, and offers really good setting customization to get it playing just the way I want. To be clear, the standard Z1 (non-Extreme) processor version isn't as powerful as the Z1 Extreme ROG Ally. However, it's still a great device for playing various games or cloud services. And with it being so heavily discounted, it's currently a fantastic value at both Best Buy and Antonline.

More ROG Ally

The ROG Ally is literally a small gaming laptop with controllers attached to it. If you plug it into a TV docking station (as seen in our list of the best ROG Ally accessories), you can plug additional peripherals into it, like a keyboard and mouse. I personally have spent time playing games this way or even writing up articles while the ROG Ally was connected to my Samsung OLED TV. Sometimes, I use an Xbox controller to play certain games this way, too. 

But really, the thing I love most about the ROG Ally is the freedom it gives me. I don't have to sit at my desk or be tied to a bulky computer in order to enjoy my favorite titles. Just about every night, I play some indie game in bed before setting the Ally on my bedside table and going to sleep. I also bring my ROG Ally with me on every trip, so I can stay entertained on a flight or during a long drive. 

Now, as with all gaming handhelds, the ROG Ally doesn't have the best battery life. So I do recommend having one of the best ROG Ally power banks to keep it going for longer stretches. Additionally, you should consider investing in an external SSD or an upgraded internal SSD to get more game data storage rather than using a microSD card. Unfortunately, the ROG Ally does have an overheating problem that can cause microSD cards to stop functioning properly. If you need assistance with this, you can check out my guide on how to upgrade ROG Ally SSD.

After getting the ROG Ally, you'll want to take some time to set it up and change certain settings. To get help with that, you can check out our guide on the 7 things you can do to make ROG Ally even better. For instance, you'll want to turn off some bloatware so the system doesn't waste energy on unnecessary programs playing in the background. You'll also want to change VRAM allocation to help the system play games more smoothly.

At any rate, if you love playing PC games and are looking for a device that will allow you to access any of your gaming libraries regardless of what service they're on then the ROG Ally will be a fantastic choice for you. It feels good to hold, offers a very good 7-inch screen, and is easy to travel around with. I basically use mine just about every day. 

Rebecca Spear
Editor and Reviewer

Self-professed gaming geek, Rebecca Spear, is one of Windows Central's editors and reviewers with a focus on gaming handhelds, PC gaming, and laptops. When she isn't checking out the latest games on Xbox Game Pass, PC, ROG Ally, or Steam Deck; she can be found digital drawing with a Wacom tablet. She's written thousands of articles with everything from editorials, reviews, previews, features, previews, and hardware reviews over the last few years. If you need information about anything gaming-related, her articles can help you out. She also loves testing game accessories and any new tech on the market. You can follow her @rrspear on X (formerly Twitter).