Some people may not know it, but the ROG Ally has never been a unique product. In many continents, two versions of the console were released: one using the AMD Z1 Extreme SoC, the one we knew until then under the simple name ROG Ally, and one using the less powerful and therefore less expensive classic Z1 SoC. Originally, the manufacturer had not planned to release this variant in France. But faced with the popular enthusiasm surrounding his first portable console, he finally changed his plans: while the ROG Ally became the ROG Ally Z1 Extreme, here we discover the ROG Ally Z1.
Asus ROG Ally Z1 Technical sheet
|Model||Asus ROG Ally Z1|
28cm x 11.1cm x 3.24cm
MicroSD memory card support
AMD RDNA 3
The machine is on loan from Asus for this test.
Asus ROG Ally Z1 In preamble
What you need to understand with this ROG Ally Z1 is that nothing changes except its power. Also, everything we have already spotted in our complete test of the ROG Ally Z1 Extreme applies to this iteration, except that the manufacturer listened to some feedback from its community and improved its software experience little by little. This is not enough to change the points that we had already noted, such as the fact that Windows is not really suitable for this type of product despite all Asus’ efforts, but the brand has managed to convince on the quality of its follow-up.
The ergonomics of the machine, its buttons, its connectors, its 1080p screen at 120 Hz… All this is perfectly equivalent between the two versions. Also, we are focusing this new test on the performance and autonomy parts.
Asus ROG Ally Z1 Performance
So here’s the big difference: the ROG Ally Z1 is equipped, as its name suggests, with the AMD Z1 APU. This is an SoC comprising a 6-core CPU for 12 threads, on the Zen 4 architecture engraved in 4nm, capable of turbo up to 4.9 GHz. As a bonus, we also find an RDNA 3 graphics part with 4 CUs (compared to 12 CUs on the Z1 Extreme), for a maximum frequency of 2.5 GHz. We then once again find 16 GB of LPDDR5 6400 MHz RAM and 512 GB PCIe Gen 4 storage.
The three Turbo/Performance/Silent game modes are retained, and once again designate 4 different consumption modes. The Turbo sends 30W to the APU when connected to the mains, and 25W on battery. Performance mode sends 15W. And finally, Silent mode sends 10W.
We used the same measurement bases for this ROG Ally Z1 as the Z1 Extreme. Therefore, we can again compare it to the Steam Deck in its highest performance mode, namely 15W.
- ROG Ally Z1 10W | C23 multi: 4581 | C23 single: 1453 | TimeSpy: 951
- ROG Ally Z1 15W | C23 multi: 7339 | C23 single: 1620 | TimeSpy: 1704
- ROG Ally Z1 25W | C23 multi: 9292 | C23 single: 1675 | TimeSpy: 1768
- ROG Ally Z1 30W | C23 multi: 9701 | C23 single: 1674 | TimeSpy: 1821
These theoretical results allow us to confirm something that was already obvious on paper: the Z1 APU is made to be equivalent to the chip integrated into the Steam Deck, nothing more. And if the Zen 3 architecture of the CPU is far superior to that of Zen 2 of the SoC created for Valve, it must be admitted that CPU performance is far from being as interesting as GPU performance.
However, we can easily spot a trend here: even by doubling the consumption of the device, from 15W to 30W, the benefits in GPU power are simply ridiculous. A hundred points on a synthetic test does not amount to much in practice. The 25 and 30W modes thus appear much more like a leftover from the advances of the ROG Ally Z1 Extreme than as a real point of interest for the ROG Ally Z1.
Benchmarks in play
And all of this is verified in game. Considering the reduced power of the device, we did a battery of tests again, focusing on FSR 2 mode, which is more than essential for consoles like the Steam Deck or this ROG Ally Z1.
Our first game in testing, Cyberpunk 2077 version 1.6, confirms a trend that we will see take shape over time. Faced with the AMD Z1 SoC, it is better to consider playing AAA 3D games at 720p rather than 1080p. If the average FPS remains at 31 FPS in 1080p at 15W, the same consumption at 720p allows us to find a more comfortable 44 FPS on average. Above all, we can see here the real difference between 30W, double consumption, and 15W: 6 FPS. This is what doubling the power consumption of the device offers to your gaming experience. Useless.
No surprise for The Witcher 3 neither, which offers us a second comparison where the difference between 15 and 30W this time comes to… 3 FPS. CD Projekt Red’s open world does not hold a frame rate stable in 1080p at 15W, which drives home the point on the use of this definition for this type of games: stay in 720p.
Miles Morales, a title that tends to appreciate fast CPUs, is supposed to be a little more lenient thanks to the inclusion of the Zen 3 architecture. But again: 6 FPS difference between 15W mode and 30W mode. The main thing to remember here is that the game remains comfortably playable in 1080p at 15W, with an average FPS raised to 42 FPS.
More sober 3D games like Fall Guys allow us to revisit a little the interest of the 1080p panel. By constantly remaining within this definition, we find 100 FPS on average in 1080p which will also allow you to fully benefit from the high refresh rate. But let’s also not forget to note that by doubling the consumption, we only gain 15 FPS on average.
Finally, a competitive title like Street Fighter 6 who absolutely requires 60 FPS to play properly, will find them in 15W mode… obviously provided they are in minimum settings and at 15W. The 30W brings a little more stability to the experience, but its contribution is minimal.
All these measurements show one thing: in many respects, and with equivalent configuration, the ROG Ally Z1 knows how to play neck and neck with the Steam Deck whose performance is well known. Its 25 and 30W modes unfortunately do not enhance the whole thing, and we recommend that anyone never use them.
The heart of the problem is quite different in this duel. Valve controls its entire platform, and can find additional optimizations that Asus is simply unable to negotiate for its ROG Ally Z1. Windows is from Microsoft, while SteamOS is from Valve. If the Z1 Extreme and its increased power may have given it greater interest over the competition, the ROG Ally Z1 struggles a little more to play the change and could quickly be surpassed by a few software updates of the Steam Deck. At least, the Asus console retains a big advantage: it has access to Game Pass games without going through the cloud.
For the beauty of the gesture, we also had fun comparing three major titles between the Z1 Extreme when it was released, and the ROG Ally Z1 as it is currently released. And if we can see that the situation on Cyberpunk 2077 has greatly improved with the updates of the game, but also of the firmware of the ROG Ally Z1, in the meantime… There is no photo on games like The Witcher 3, which are extremely GPU dependent and enjoy almost double the FPS. That being said, we can see with the example of Miles Morales that the improved CPU capabilities of Zen 3 can have a real impact on performance. But again: don’t forget that our measurements of the ROG Ally Z1 Extreme were done at the time of product release. Since then, Asus has optimized its product much better, which is reflected in the Z1 that we have for testing.
Cooling and noise
Keeping the same design to put a less powerful chip has at least one big advantage: the console heats up much less, and the two-fan solution is barely expressed in game.
We find a maximum of 46°C, compared to 51°C on the Z1 Extreme version, for a back at 40°C compared to 45°C. It’s all good.
Asus ROG Ally Z1 Autonomy
And at the same time, the battery configuration does not change. We still find 40 Wh, with a 65W USB charger with the Power Delivery standard which allows you to take advantage of Turbo mode at 30W. At lower power, the ROG Ally Z1 stops at 25W. But as said earlier, why try it to gain 5 FPS? You might as well always stay at 15W to optimize the longevity of the console.
While playing The Witcher 3 with the screen set to 50% brightness in 15W mode, we lasted 2 hours of gaming, a nice improvement compared to the 1h36 of the Z1 Extreme. This improvement can go beyond twenty minutes, where a 2D indie game could give you a little extra hour compared to the Extreme model.
The situation makes you smile, since the autonomy of the ROG Ally Z1 Extreme was relative to the Steam Deck when it was released while that of the ROG Ally Z1 is closer to the current Steam Deck after all its updates. Good autonomy for its category therefore, even if here again, SteamOS will always have the potential to extract a little more or less juice from its console through the increased optimization that it is capable of having.
Asus ROG Ally Z1 Price and availability
The ROG Ally Z1 will be available from October 16 in France at a price of 699 euros, with 512 GB of internal storage. It faces the Steam Deck, sold new at 679 euros and reconditioned at 539 euros for 512 GB of storage.
Asus now offers a circular economy circuit, with a trade-in offer for old consoles to lower the price of its ROG Ally Z1 and Z1 Extreme. This recovery is equivalent to a rebate of at least €100 (for a Wii U for example), and a maximum of €400 (for a PS5). To find out the terms of this offer, go to asuspromotions.com/rogally.
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