I'm pretty passionate about gaming handhelds and currently own all the major devices on the market. From my experience, I can tell you that if you're trying to decide between ROG Ally and Legion Go, you really ought to get the ROG Ally.
I love the Legion Go, but ROG Ally offers better performance and is more affordable, especially now that the Z1 version is discounted at only $399.99 at Best Buy ($200 off) while the Z1 Extreme version is only $599.99 at Best Buy ($100 off). From my time with various devices, I also know that the Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck, and Legion Go are all good handhelds with their own pros and cons. So, I'll explain why ROG Ally is so great and then go over situations where these other handhelds might be a good fit for you.
ASUS ROG Ally w/ AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme: was
$699.99 now $599.99 at Best Buy ($100 off)
There are two versions of the ROG Ally, but I recommend the more powerful one with an AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme as it offers smoother performance. The ROG Ally's MSRP is less expensive than Legion Go, and right now, it's also on sale, making it cheaper than usual.
While conducting testing, I learned that gameplay tends to be smoother on ROG Ally versus the Legion Go, even though the two handhelds have the same processor. Additionally, the Armoury Crate software on ROG Ally allows you to tweak settings quite a bit, giving you more control than what Legion Go provides.
Overall, the ROG Ally is easier on your wallet, offers a good screen, provides more freedom, and performs better. Just note that battery life isn't great on ROG Ally, but it isn't great on Legion Go either.
🎮 AMD Ryzen Z1 version: was
$599.99 now $399.99 at Best Buy ($200 off)
✅Perfect for: People who want a more affordable gaming handheld that can do anything a gaming laptop can, like download various programs, use various gaming services, and surf the web.
Being a gaming handheld enthusiast, I jumped at the chance to do our ROG Ally review and Legion Go review as soon as possible. This means that I conducted the same tests on both devices, played hours of games on both, and got to see how well they performed myself. I wasn't too surprised to see that they performed about the same in benchmark tests, but the actual playing experience was significantly different.
To start things off, both run Windows 11, which means that these are basically small gaming laptops with controllers attached. You can download any program on a gaming desktop or laptop and access any services such as Steam, Battle.net, Epic Games, Xbox Game Pass, and more.
Even though Legion Go and the more expensive version of the ROG Ally utilize the same AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor, the gameplay is smoother and less choppy on ROG Ally. This is likely at least partially due to the fact that ROG Ally has VRR support (variable refresh rate) while the Legion Go does not. It's also worth noting that the ROG Ally starts at an MSRP of $599.99, which is less expensive than the lowest-priced version of the Legion Go, which has a $699.99 price point.
Regarding comfort, the ROG Ally weighs less and has better ergonomic grips, making it easier to hold. Meanwhile, the larger Legion Go is rather bulky and puts more strain on your wrists due to its weight. Additionally, the large joysticks and buttons are very easy to reach on ROG Ally, whereas some are a little too spread apart on Legion Go, making them harder to use.
Neither handheld is all that great when it comes to battery life. The ROG Ally battery only lasted about an hour and 38 minutes on average whenever I played it, while the Legion Go reached around two hours on average at the same settings. While the Legion Go was slightly better, neither of these battery life lengths is ideal. Because of this, you might want to get an ROG Ally battery pack or play the device while connected to a docking station to let the device run for longer stretches.
The biggest problem with the ROG Ally is its overheating problem, which can cause microSD cards to malfunction. So far, this same issue has not been discovered with the Legion Go. This means that you can't really trust that a microSD card inserted into an ROG Ally will remain in working order. However, there's another easy way to increase ROG Ally storage, which is upgrading the SSD. This is a relatively simple process, and you can check out my guide on how to install WD_BLACK SSD into ROG Ally if you want to learn more.
Another way in which ROG Ally excels above Legion Go is with its companion app. ROG Ally has Armoury Crate, which isn't perfect but can be used to launch games, map buttons, and adjust a vast range of settings so the system plays the way you want it to. Meanwhile, Legion Go's Legion Space isn't outstanding. The game launcher takes you to other game launchers rather than launching games itself, and there are far fewer settings options for customizing the way your handheld plays.
Obviously, the Legion Go's 8.8-inch IPS touchscreen that supports up to a 144Hz refresh rate and resolution of up to 2560 x 1600 is much better than the ROG Ally's 7-inch IPS touchscreen with up to 120Hz and 1920 x 1080p. Regarding color accuracy and contrast, the Legion Go is better, too. However, it's partially due to this fantastic picture quality and size that the Legion Go is so expensive. ROG Ally's screen is plenty vibrant and crisp in your hands, so it's not like it's a bad experience. Plus, having a higher refresh rate isn't helpful since Legion Go tends to play a bit choppy anyway.
So, while I hold that both the Legion Go and ROG Ally are fantastic gaming handhelds in their own right, the affordable pricing, smoother gameplay, and better balancing of the ROG Ally make it the clear winner. However, there might be a use-case scenario where a different handheld might suit your needs better.
What gaming handhelds should I get?
Obviously, the ROG Ally is a great choice, but the Legion Go, Nintendo Switch, and Steam Deck are also fantastic devices to choose from. I love using each of these handhelds and recommend them for various reasons. Here are the pros and cons of each device.
Legion Go offers a gorgeous screen and doubles as an all-purpose entertainment device
Why you can trust Windows Central
Legion Go with 1TB SSD: $749.99 at Best Buy
With its relatively massive 8.8-inch IPS touchscreen, incredibly high 144Hz refresh rate, and 2560 x 1600 resolution for a handheld, the Legion Go has a more impressive display than the ROG Ally's 7-inch one. However, this also makes it larger and heavier. The controllers are relatively thick and more challenging to hold in smaller hands.
Since it also has a kickstand and detachable controllers, you can play in tabletop mode to relieve wrist strain — using it like this also makes it ideal for watching shows hands-free.
As I discovered in my Legion Go testing, its graphical performance is impressive, but gameplay can be choppy sometimes, likely due to the lack of VRR support. In this way, it tends to stutter more than ROG Ally, but it's still an impressive device that works well.
✅Perfect for: People who want to play in tabletop mode on a screen that's better than any other handheld display.
Steam Deck is simple to use and is great for people that love Linux or mostly play Steam games
Steam Deck: Starting at $399.00 at Steam
The original Steam Deck LCD was one of the first gaming handhelds to kick off the on-the-go PC gaming craze in recent years. It has less freedom than the Legion Go or ROG Ally since it runs a custom SteamOS (Linux-based) only meant to access Steam games out of the box. However, this also makes it more straightforward to use without adding a ton of bloatware.
Not all Steam games can work on Steam Deck out of the box — they need to be marked as Steam Deck Verified or at least Steam Deck Playable and even then there can be performance issues. Plus, the screen isn't the best, with visuals looking somewhat murky and pixelated at 800p. Still, it's fun to play on, even if it is bulkier than ROG Ally.
Just recently, Valve released a new Steam Deck OLED, which offers even better battery life than the original. As indicated by the name, the OLED display also offers much better picture quality when it comes to contrast and vibrance.
🎮 Steam Deck OLED: Starting at $549 at Steam
✅Perfect for: People who want to play Steam games and don't want to mess with bloatware.
❌Avoid it if: You're looking for something that can access more than just Steam out of the box.
🔍Our experience: Steam Deck review
Nintendo Switch is more affordable and offers unique games for all ages
Nintendo Switch: $296.24 at Walmart
There's no denying that the Nintendo Switch has been incredibly popular over the last six years. It is very different from the other handhelds on this list seeing as how it isn't meant to play PC games. However, people of all ages can appreciate the exclusive games released on it along with the extraordinary amount of nostalgia that permeates many of Nintendo's original titles.
What's more, I especially love that you can play plenty of couch co-op games with family and friends from one screen. There are also parental controls that can be adjusted from your phone. Plus, a dock comes with this purchase, so you can easily switch from playing the system in handheld mode to playing it on your TV.
If you're interested in more buying options, you can also check out the slightly more expensive Nintendo Switch OLED or the smaller, more affordable Nintendo Switch Lite, which cannot be docked to a TV.
Other Switch options:
🎮 Nintendo Switch OLED: $349.99 at Best Buy
🎮 Nintendo Switch Lite: $199.99 at Best Buy
✅Perfect for: Nintendo fans, kids, and people on a budget. Couch co-op makes it a fun family console that can be played on TV with the included dock.
❌Avoid it if: You're looking for something that can play graphically intensive PC games with amazing visuals and fast frame rates.
💰Price check: $299.00 at Amazon | $299.99 at Best Buy
👀 Alternative deal: Nintendo Switch Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Bundle with 3 Months NSO — $299.00 at Amazon
🔍Our experience: Nintendo Switch review | Nintendo Switch OLED review | Nintendo Switch Lite review (written by Rebecca Spear at our sister site, iMore)
🤔 Why Best Buy: My Best Buy memberships get free 2-day shipping, 60-day return windows, and more.
ROG Ally & Legion Go FAQs
Is the ROG Ally good?
Yes, the ROG Ally is a fantastic gaming handheld. As with any gaming handheld, ROG Ally's trade-off against gaming laptops and desktops is that graphics and top-tier performance are lowered to accommodate on-the-go capabilities. Still, ROG Ally has impressive performance, graphics, and a good screen for handheld gaming. Battery life isn't great, but that's usually true with gaming handhelds.
How much is ROG Ally?
There are two versions of the ROG Ally. The more powerful one with an AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme chip has an MSRP of $699, while the less powerful AMD Ryzen Z1 version sells for $599. You can purchase either version at Best Buy or the ROG website; sometimes, it sells at a discounted price.
How much RAM does ROG Ally have?
Both versions of the ROG Ally provide 16GB of RAM. Memory size and speed are essential for gaming handhelds as they affect how quickly and efficiently the system temporarily stores data. All in all, 16GB is a good amount of RAM and serves the ROG Ally well.
Can ROG Ally run Steam?
Yes. ROG Ally runs Windows 11, meaning it can download and install any program that can go on a gaming laptop, including Steam. You can also access other gaming services like Xbox Game Pass, Epic Games, Battle.net, and more on ROG Ally.
Does Legion Go have HDMI?
No. There is no HDMI port on the Legion Go. However, there are two USB-C 4.0 (DisplayPort 1.4, Power Delivery 3.0), a microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack to accommodate your connection needs. You can play Legion Go games on a TV or monitor if connected to a compatible docking station with a USB-C cable.
What games can Legion Go run?
Since Legion Go runs Windows 11, it can download and install any programs or games that a gaming laptop can. This means that, unlike the Steam Deck, it isn't just designed for Steam games. It can basically run any game or access any gaming service you want.
How long does the Legion Go battery last?
On average, the Legion Go battery lasts between one to two hours. If you drop all settings to their lowest options, it can reach up to five hours, depending on the game being played. This isn't great, but it has a similar battery life to many other gaming handhelds out there.
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Self-professed gaming geek, Rebecca Spear, is one of Windows Central's gaming editors 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 game guides, previews, features, 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).