Whatever you do, don’t buy the Asus ROG Ally right now

A man plays High on Life on an Asus ROG Ally.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The Asus ROG Ally is undoubtedly one of the best handheld gaming PCs you can buy, but right now is easily the worst time to buy one. Asus has already teased that a new handheld is on the way, and it sounds like a massive upgrade. On top of that, the cost of the ROG Ally is holding steady at list price, and it likely won’t stay that way for long.

If you’re in the market for Asus’ handheld, you should wait just a bit longer. In a few weeks from now, you’ll not only have more options but you’ll also probably save some money.

X is on the way

A Steam Deck, Asus ROG Ally, and Nintendo Switch OLED sit on a table.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

We already know that the Asus ROG Ally X is coming. Asus describes it as “more than a basic refresh” but less than “a full redesign.” It’s basically the ROG Ally 1.5 from what we know right now. Despite that, it sounds like Asus is improving several aspects of the device, from RAM and storage capacity to battery life.

Battery life seems to be the big upgrade. We know that the battery will have at least a 40% larger capacity compared to the original ROG Ally, which is a massive jump. Battery life was one of the main issues in our original ROG Ally review, and the key thing that separated the Ally from the Steam Deck.

Elsewhere, the details are vague. Asus has confirmed there are RAM and storage upgrades, for example, but not what those upgrades are. Rumors compiled by VideoCardz say that the ROG Ally X will use an M.2 2280 SSD, however. This is the same size that you see in most PCs, whereas other handhelds use a smaller M.2 2230 drive.

It might not seem like a big difference, but 2280 support is huge. You can find 2280 drives easier online, and they’re available for less than their 2230 counterparts. In addition, 2280 drives are available in much higher capacities, allowing you to expand the storage of the device even further.

Z1 processor for the Asus ROG Ally.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

We haven’t seen any rumors surrounding the RAM yet, but it’s reasonable to assume Asus either bumped the capacity or speed of the memory, and maybe even both. Add redesigned buttons, triggers, and joysticks on top of these upgrades, and the ROG Ally X sounds like quite the upgrade.

It’s not an upgrade that comes for free, however. Leakers say that the ROG Ally X will launch at $800, despite sporting the same Ryzen Z1 Extreme chip that’s found inside the base model. It sounds like Asus will have enough in the ROG Ally X to justify a higher price, but if you’re just chasing frames, the base model may be the way to go.

Even if you aren’t interested in potentially spending up for the ROG Ally X, it’s worth waiting to see what Asus can deliver with the handheld. We’ll know the full details on the device come June 2, and it should make deciding between the base model and this upgraded X variant much easier.

When the price drops

Lies of P running on the Asus ROG Ally.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

You shouldn’t buy the ROG Ally for list price. The device has seen at least a dozen sales since release, and it’ll likely see far more once the ROG Ally X releases. Just now, as I’m writing this article, Best Buy has the ROG Ally with the Z1 Extreme available for $600 — $100 off its list price. These sales pop up every few weeks.

Although the ROG Ally is on sale at the time of writing, it’s still best to wait for the ROG Ally X to see where prices land. I suspect that Asus will start aggressively marking down the original model, as the ROG Ally X becomes the go-to version. We saw something very similar happen with the Steam Deck OLED, even with that device sporting the same internal hardware.

Asus plans on selling the original ROG Ally alongside the upgraded model, but we’ll still likely see larger discounts than what are available now. For instance, the ROG Ally with the Ryzen Z1, which didn’t get a warm reception, has seen its price slashed by a third in most sales. That’s the power of balancing supply and demand.

Further, Asus is no stranger to aggressive sales. Year over year, we see popular laptop models from the previous year available for bargain bin prices. The 2023 Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 dropped from $1,600 to only $1,000 back in March. I’m not saying you’ll see the ROG Ally available for half its list price, but there’s a good chance it’ll be cheaper than what we’re seeing now.

Software updates on the way

Turbo mode on the Asus ROG Ally.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Outside of pricing and the upgrades of the ROG Ally X, Asus is working on Armoury Crate 1.5. If you’re unfamiliar, Armoury Crate is the utility that the ROG Ally runs on top of Windows, allowing you to launch your games and manage your settings with the controller rather than tapping around on the screen. Although Armoury Crate works, the forthcoming update sounds like a major overhaul.

The update comes with a redesigned interface, as well as some big quality-of-life features. For example, you’ll be able to uninstall games directly from Armoury Crate, as well as turn on AMD’s Fluid Motion Frames (AFMF). You have to go outside of Armoury Crate for both as it stands now.

Controller settings on the Asus ROG Ally.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

By far, the biggest update is controller mapping. You can rebind your controls on the ROG Ally already, but Armoury Crate 1.5 will allow users to share their controller mappings. That’s huge. For games that don’t natively support a controller, or external apps like emulators, you’ll be able to pull up a controller map without rebinding everything yourself.

Armoury Crate 1.5 is coming to both the original ROG Ally and the ROG Ally X, but it sounds like an update worth waiting on.

Waiting for the refresh

Forza Horizon 4 runs on an Asus ROG Ally.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Even if you’re sold on the original ROG Ally, right now is the worst time to buy. It’s worth waiting to see what Asus has in store with its updated model, and we’ll likely see prices drop when the ROG Ally X releases. This refresh is a chance to address some critical flaws with the original model, too — I suspect Asus is addressing the issue with frying microSD cards, for example.

Add on top of that a big update to Asus’ Armoury Crate utility, and there are plenty of reasons to wait until Asus has more to share. Thankfully, we won’t need to wait long. With Asus giving details about the ROG Ally X on June 2, I can’t imagine the release date will be far behind.