ROG Ally X vs ROG Ally (2023): What's the difference?

I got a Z1 Extreme ROG Ally (2023) shortly after the gaming handheld originally released and have been using it regularly ever since. It's a fantastic device that serves as a Windows 11 gaming laptop with controllers attached. Now, ASUS ROG has officially announced the upcoming ROG Ally X, which the company promises will be "more than just a basic refresh."  

But just how does the ROG Ally (2023) differ from the ROG Ally X? More importantly, which one is a better fit for your gaming needs? I've broken this page into different categories, where I discuss the pros and cons of both models. Read on to see which gaming handheld you should get. Alternatively, you can check out our ROG Ally X FAQ for additional details on this new device. 

ROG Ally X vs ROG Ally (2023): Specs

ROG Ally X vs ROG Ally (Image credit: Windows Central)
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Header Cell - Column 0 ROG Ally XROG Ally (2023)
Price$799$699 | $599
ProcessorAMD Ryzen Z1 ExtremeAMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme | AMD Ryzen Z1
StorageUp to 1TB M.2 2280 NVMe PCIe SSDUp to 512GB PCle 4.0 SSD
Memory24GB LPDDR516GB LPDDR5 on board (6400MT/s dual channel)
OSWindows 11 HomeWindows 11 Home
Display7-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 IPS-level touchscreen, 500nits, 100% of sRGB7-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 IPS-level touchscreen, 500nits, 100% of sRGB
Refresh rate120Hz120Hz
Ports1x USB-C Thunderbolt 4, 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, 1x microSD card reader, 1x audio combo jack1x USB-C port, 1x PCIe port, 1x microSD card slot, 1x headphone jack
HapticsHD haptics, Gyro: 6-Axis IMUHD haptics, Gyro: 6-Axis IMU
Dimensions11.0 x 4.4 x 0.97 (279.9 x 111.0 x 24.6)11.0 x 4.4 x 0.5 inches (279.9 x 111.8 x 12.7mm)
Weight1.49 lbs (678g)1.3 lbs (590g)
Battery life (avg. gaming)Unknown Up to 8 hrs (1hr and 38 mins)

The ROG Ally X has some of the same specs as the original ROG Ally (2023), but with some improvements. First off, the new gaming handheld model has the same ROG Ally Z1 Extreme and 7-inch display. However, it also has more memory and more storage capacity options to choose from. 

As ASUS ROG Senior Manager of Content Marketing said during the ROG Ally X reveal, the ROG Ally X "is more than just a basic refresh... it is the ROG Ally built for the enthusiasts that wanted a bit of X-tra goodies." Now that you've seen the specs, let's dive into what they mean for you. 

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ROG Ally X vs ROG Ally (2023): Price

The ROG Ally X with a Z1 Extreme has a $799.99 MSRP.  (Image credit: ASUS)

It's worth noting that there are two versions of the ROG Ally (2023) and they are completely the same except for the processor. One of them features an AMD Z1 processor and sells for $499.99 while the other has a more powerful Z1 Extreme and sells for $699.99. The Z1 (non-Extreme) is better suited for cloud gaming, whereas the Z1 Extreme offers far better performance for running games locally on the system. 

Meanwhile, the ROG Ally X  has an MSRP of $799.99 at Best Buy and ASUS which comes with the same Z1 Extreme processor and 7-inch display. So, that makes it $100 more than the original ROG Ally. ASUS ROG understands that in order to sell its gaming handhelds it needs to strike a balance between affordability and performance and that's likely why the new gaming handheld has some of the same specs. 

TL:DR PRICE WINNER: If you're looking for the least expensive ROG Ally handheld, then you'll want the ROG Ally (2023) with an AMD Z1. The ROG Ally (2023) with an AMD Z1 processor only costs $499.99 while the more powerful ROG Ally (2023) with a Z1 Extreme has a $699.99 MSRP. Meanwhile, the new ROG Ally X sells for $799.99, making it the most expensive option. 

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ROG Ally X vs ROG Ally (2023): Performance

Both ROG Ally (2023) offers great gaming performance for a handheld.  (Image credit: Windows Central | Zachary Boddy)

As discussed in the previous section, the more powerful version of the ROG Ally (2023) and the ROG Ally X utilize the same AMD Z1 Extreme processor. However, that doesn't mean they'll offer the same kind of performance. When evaluating these devices, we need to take into account memory and storage in addition to the processor. The larger capacities you have (within reason), the better overall system performance you might have, as long as the system has been designed well. For instance, being able to allocate a wider range of VRAM to the GPU could allow the ROG Ally X to run games more smoothly. Of course, you do get to a point of diminishing returns, so more options isn't always better. By the way, if you manually increase the original ROG Ally VRAM you can improve GPU performance.

The 2023 ROG Ally model only offers 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD capacity whereas the ROG Ally X has 24GB RAM and up to 1TB SSD. So, right out the gate, we can see that the original Ally has fewer options than the new Ally X. Of course, it's easy enough to upgrade the ROG Ally SSD if you want more storage space.

ROG Ally X offers 24GB RAM and up to 1TB SSD to handle your gaming needs.  (Image credit: ASUS)

On a different performance note, people have reported that the ROG Ally (2023) has an overheating issue that can cause inserted microSD cards to malfunction. Obviously, losing game data is extremely frustrating and reflects badly on the overall playing experience. We know now that the microSD card reader is now at a new location on the ROG Ally X, which might prevent this overheating issue from happening on the more powerful Ally handheld. 

That said, ASUS ROG has not acknowledged this alleged microSD card issue and even claims that this was not the reason for the ROG Ally X design change (thanks The Verge). 

TL:DR PERFORMANCE WINNER: While the ROG Ally X and ROG Ally (2023) do have the same processor, the ROG Ally X more than likely offers better performance. This is due to the fact that having more RAM and a larger capacity SSD can vastly improve overall system performance as long as everything works properly. Plus, the changed microSD card reader location on the Ally X could solve the alleged overheating issues experienced on the original handheld. 

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ROG Ally X vs ROG Ally (2023): Display

The 7-inch ROG Ally IPS display gets plenty vibrant and supports VRR.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

There's not much use comparing displays between the various ROG Ally gaming handheld models because they all feature the same 7-inch FHD IPS touchscreen with a 16:9 aspect ratio. It might not be an OLED, but it does produce a good color gamut and decent contrast to display game visuals to good effect. 

These displays also offer great motion clarity since they can reach up to a 120Hz refresh rate and offer VRR (variable refresh rate) support via AMD FreeSync technologies. All in all, these displays strike a great balance between offering a good visual experience while still being affordable. 

Now you might think it's ridiculous that ASUS ROG isn't giving the ROG Ally X an OLED display like the recent Steam Deck OLED. The company is probably keeping the screen the same in order to keep the cost of the handheld down. My guess is we'll see an OLED screen on the next-gen ROG Ally 2 when that eventually releases down the line. 

TL:DR DISPLAY WINNER: We have a tie folks! The ROG Ally X has the same exact 7-inch screen as the ROG Ally (2023), so there's really no point in comparing them. 

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ROG Ally X vs ROG Ally (2023): Buttons and joysticks

The ROG Ally has Hall Effect triggers and potentiometer joysticks.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

Looking straight on at the ROG Ally and ROG Ally X, you'll notice that very little has changed by way of the joystick and front button locations. However, some changes have indeed happened under the hood.

The original ROG Ally (2023) uses Hall Effect triggers, but the joysticks are just potentiometers. Still, the controls are all very responsive and there haven't been too many reports of ROG Ally joystick drift. Another cool thing is that the ROG Ally's power button doubles as a fingerprint reader if you take the time to set it up. There are also two buttons on the backside — The M1 and M2 buttons — but these stick out a bit far and are easy to press by accident. 

Meanwhile, there are some button and joystick changes to the ROG Ally X. While the new model's joysticks still aren't Hall Effect, they have been upgraded to "more durable module rated for a 5 million cycle lifespan." Plus, the D-Pad now offers "more precise 8-direction input for fighting and retro games." Another important button change is that the ROG Ally X has smaller M1 and M2 buttons, which hopefully means they won't be as easy to accidentally press while gripping the device.

TL:DR CONTROLS WINNER: The ROG Ally X comes out on top here thanks to its upgraded joysticks, D-Pad, and back buttons.

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ROG Ally X vs ROG Ally (2023): Software and games

ROG Ally and Ally X can both run Game Pass and other gaming services. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Since all ROG Ally devices run Windows 11 as their operating system, they can access and run any games or gaming services that you can access on a gaming laptop.

As part of its official ROG Ally X reveal, we learned that the upcoming handheld will launch with Armoury Crate SE 1.5 — an updated version of the ROG Ally's interface software for accessing your game library and changing system settings. 

According to ASUS ROG, user feedback was taken into account when designing Armoury Crate SE 1.5, which is why there are far more options for customizing the software's layout. These customization options include being able to make a favorites list in your game library, adjusting cover art alignment and size, choosing between grid or list view, and deciding on a scroll direction. Additionally, users will be able to create and share button mapping profiles with others.

Armoury Crate SE 1.5 provides several additional customization options for ROG Ally users. (Image credit: ROG Global)

However, the ROG Ally X will only have a temporary leg up with its utility software, since Armoury Crate SE 1.5 will also be coming to the original ROG Ally sometime in June. My hope is that Armoury Crate SE 1.5 is more integrated with AMD Software, since I often have to jump between the two devices to get my ROG Ally set up the way I want to (as you can see with my ROG Ally AFMF guide).

TL:DR SOFTWARE & GAMES WINNER: This is likely yet another tie. Both the ROG Ally X and ROG Ally (2023) run Windows 11 and can access any game services that you could on a gaming laptop. 

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ROG Ally X vs ROG Ally (2023): Battery life

ROG Ally triggers.

The ROG Ally typically only lasts up to an hour and 38 minutes or so when playing games.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

In my ROG Ally (2023) review, I tested the handheld's 40Whr battery life to see how long the device typically lasted. When playing games, the ROG Ally usually only runs for up to about an hour and 38 minutes. It's not great, but it's pretty standard battery life for PC gaming handhelds. Because of this short battery life, I often end up playing my ROG Ally while it's plugged in. Obviously, that's not an ideal situation. 

We know that the ROG Ally X has an 80Whr battery capacity. Now, this is technically double the 40Whr battery of the original device. However, that doesn't necessarily mean it will last twice as long, but it could depending on how well the system has been designed. 

That said, ASUS ROG has officially stated in an interview with The Verge that the ROG Ally X has significantly better battery life than the original Ally. “We’re not looking at 30 to 40 percent more capacity,” Asus SVP Shawn Yen said, “We’re looking at way more than that.” By my calculations, I assume this means that, at a minimum, the ROG Ally X should be able to last longer than 2 hours and 17 minutes while playing games. Ideally, it will be able to reach between three and five hours or more, but I won't feel confident about any of this until I do my own ROG Ally X review and run a few battery life tests myself. 

TL:DR BATTERY LIFE WINNER: There's no doubt about it — The ROG Ally X's 80Whr battery is significantly better than the ROG Ally 40Whr battery. However, we'll need to do battery life testing ourselves to know exactly how much better it is. 

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ROG Ally X vs ROG Ally (2023): Grip ergonomics and comfort

The backside of the ROG Ally (2023) features M1 and M2 back bumpers. (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

The original ROG Ally (2023) only weighs about 1.3 pounds and is only about a half-inch thick allowing it to put less pressure on your hands and wrists than some other gaming handhelds on the market. Additionally, the ergonomic shape of the grips combined with the sloping front casing meant for your palms allows the handheld to fit comfortably in your hands. 

My biggest ergonomics issue with the original ROG Ally is that the M1 and M2 buttons on the backside get in the way of the hand grips, which means that the casing isn't as ergonomic as it could be. Plus, I accidentally press those back buttons all too often when just trying to grasp the system. It can be really frustrating at times, which is why I disable the back buttons on my own device unless I specifically intend to use them.

The M1 and M2 buttons are smaller on the ROG Ally X.  (Image credit: Windows Central)

Meanwhile, the ROG Ally X is slightly heavier and a bit bulkier than the original ROG Ally (2023) in order to accomodate the larger battery and improved specs. It weighs in at 1.49 pounds and is roughly an inch thick, which nearly doubles the original device's half-inch measurement. It's hard to say just how much these changes will impact the holding experience until I feel it for myself.

That said, I am pleased to report that the ROG Ally X's M1 and M2 buttons have been  minimized and shifted more toward the center of the device. Based on what has been shown in pictures, this should make it less likely to accidentally hit these buttons. Not to mention, it frees up the actual ergonomic grip area so it should be more comfortable to hold. 

TL:DR COMFORT WINNER: We need more information before we can declare a winner for this category. If the ROG Ally X offers a better ergonomic grip, than it could be better than the original. But it's also possible the new handheld could be thicker and heavier in an uncomfortable way. We'll update this section when we learn more.

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ROG Ally X vs ROG Ally (2023): Accessories

The ROG Ally can be used with the ROG XG Mobile eGPU to boost performance.  (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

ASUS ROG itself produced multiple accessories for the gaming handheld, including a carrying case, screen protector, and charger dock. The device is also compatible with the ROG XG Mobile eGPU, which significantly boosts the system's graphical performance when connected. Thanks to the popularity of the handheld, there are also multiple third-party ROG Ally accessories out there including docks, carrying cases, protective cases, screen protectors, thumbgrips, skins, and more. 

You can check out our list of the best ROG Ally accessories to get a feel for these peripherals. I personally also appreciate that ASUS ROG made it easy enough to upgrade the ROG Ally SSD to a larger capacity.

Considering the many similarities between the original ROG Ally and the Ally X, it's easy to assume that most accessories will work with either model. However, you will need to verify sizing compatibility when choosing carrying cases and protective cases since the ROG Ally X is thicker. Technically, the ROG Ally X isn't compatible with the ASUS ROG XG Mobile eGPU since the connection area is different from what's on the Ally (2023), but most people don't use it anyway. 

TL:DR ACCESSORIES WINNER: The ROG Ally (2023) and ROG Ally X will likely be able to share most accessories. Since the ROG Ally X is a bit thicker, you will need to double-check compatibility with carrying cases and protective shells, though. 

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ROG Ally X vs ROG Ally (2023): Which should I buy?

ROG Ally X with a Z1 Extreme being played in bed. (Image credit: ASUS)

Now you know the differences and similarities between these devices. The ROG Ally X is the better device between the two when it comes to cold, hard specs. But, which model is a better purchase for you specifically? This really comes down to a matter of preference.

Most people will find the ROG Ally (2023) more than adequate for meeting their personal needs. It is cheaper than the Ally X and has the same AMD Z1 Extreme processor as the improved model. 16GB of RAM with a 512GB SSD is the standard, but you can upgrade the latter easily enough down the road if you want to. Meanwhile, if you already own an ROG Ally, and you're perfectly happy with it, then there's no need to upgrade to the new model.  

So who should get the ROG Ally X? Anyone who wants a smoother experience and tends to play a lot of games (or who plans to play a lot of games) will benefit from getting the ROG Ally X. It will have longer battery life, more RAM, and a higher SSD capacity. Even though the processor is the same, having more RAM could mean games play more smoothly, and you might even be able to allocate more VRAM to the GPU for better-customized performance. Plus, the more storage you have, the less often you have to rearrange data and make room for more. 

On another note, the new microSD card reader placement might resolve the overheating issue many people claim to have experienced with the original. So, that alone could make the new ROG Ally X appealing. Plus, the buttons, joysticks, and back buttons have all been improved. All around, it's the better device for gaming enthusiasts.

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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).