a photo of someone playing a game on Asus ROG ALLY (RC71L) handheld gaming PC

Asus ROG ALLY (RC71L) handheld gaming PC Review

Asus ROG Ally: The Ultimate Portable Gaming Powerhouse

Like GearBrain on Facebook
Overall Rating:

One of the more popular smart devices on the market today is the handheld gaming PC. Handheld gaming PCs have surged in popularity for several reasons, addressing modern gamers' evolving needs and preferences. Key factors contributing to their widespread appeal are portability, versatility, improved performance, longer battery life, customized controls, and new design features like a touchscreen. Handheld gaming PCs tap into the desire for a personalized, flexible, and powerful gaming experience, making them a popular choice for a broad spectrum of gamers. We also got to test one from a leading manufacturer of handheld gaming PCs, Asus. Check out what our tester, TJ, an experienced gamer, found when testing their Asus ROG ALLY (RC71L) handheld gaming PC.

What is Asus ROG ALLY (RC71L) gaming handheld gaming PC?

a photo of the Asus ROG ALLY (RC71L) handheld gaming PC boxAsus ROG ALLY (RC71L) handheld gaming PC boxGearBrain

Experience the future of on-the-go gaming with the Asus ROG ALLY (RC71L), the ultimate handheld gaming PC. Powered by the revolutionary AMD Ryzen Z1 and Z1 Extreme processors and integrated with cutting-edge RDNA 3 graphics technology, the ROG Ally offers unparalleled performance. It's not just about raw power; this device redefines portability with its compact design and lightweight, enabling you to dive into your gaming universe from anywhere.

Cooling is a breeze for the ROG Ally, which features the most robust cooling system ever seen in a handheld. The dual-fan Zero Gravity thermal system ensures your device stays cool and quiet, whether you're strategizing in bed or on a train. Play with peace of mind as the Ally releases the beastly power of AMD's Z1 series processors while maintaining a silent operation that won't interrupt your immersion.

Buy on Best Buy

Crafted for gamers, the ROG Ally boasts a lightweight, ergonomic build that prevents fatigue during marathon sessions. Its contours fit naturally in your hands, ensuring comfort and a secure grip as you navigate through the most demanding games.

Visuals leap off the ROG Ally's Full HD 120Hz display, providing fluid motion and vibrant colors that breathe life into your games. AMD Freesync Premium eliminates screen tearing, offering a seamless visual experience whether you're engaged in rapid-fire action or enjoying your favorite retro titles. Complementing the visuals are the robust speakers and Dolby Atmos support, surrounding you with a cinematic sound that allows you to forgo headphones if you choose.

a top view of Asus ROG ALLY (RC71L) handheld gaming PCView of the topside of Asus ROG ALLY (RC71L) handheld gaming PCGearBrain

The Asus ROG Ally runs on Windows and is enhanced by the exclusive Armoury Crate SE app. This tailor-made solution centralizes your games and settings, allowing you to modify performance profiles, button layouts, and even the RGB lighting to match your style. The Command Center provides quick access to system settings, ensuring seamless transitions and monitoring without pausing the action.

Storage will never be a bottleneck with the ROG Ally's 512GB PCIe Gen 4 SSD paired with 16GB of high-speed 6400MHz LPDDR5 DRAM. Upgrades are straightforward thanks to the easily accessible chassis design. A UHS2 microSD card slot also allows for effortlessly expanding your game library and media.

Embrace versatility with the ROG Ally, which is adept at shifting from a handheld device to a desktop gaming setup. Its robust hardware and adaptive design offer complete freedom, empowering you to game on your terms—anytime, anywhere. The ROG Ally doesn't just meet the standard for handheld gaming PCs; it sets it.

a backside view of Asus ROG ALLY (RC71L) handheld gaming PCBackside view of Asus ROG ALLY (RC71L) handheld gaming PCGearBrain

Buy on Best Buy

How do you set up the Asus ROG Ally Gaming PC?

A screen showing the Installing  of Microsoft OS onto the Asus ROG ALLY (RC71L) handheld gaming PCInstalling the Microsoft OS software on Asus ROG ALLY (RC71L) handheld gaming PC is not easyGearBrain

Setting up the Asus ROG Ally Gaming PC can be challenging for some users. If you have a wireless keyword, you will find the setup process rather simple. Here's a guide for the setup processes for the ROG Ally gaming PC:

  1. Unboxing: Carefully remove the Asus ROG Ally from its packaging. Keep all the materials and manuals that come with it for future reference.
  2. Location: Place the ROG Ally on a stable, flat surface with good ventilation. Ensure enough space around the device for adequate air circulation to help with cooling.
  3. Power Connection: Plug the power adapter into the ROG Ally and then into a suitable power outlet. To prevent power fluctuations, avoid using power strips with other high-power devices.
  4. Peripheral Setup: Connect any external devices, such as a mouse, keyboard, or monitor, if you wish to use the device in a more traditional desktop setup. You would rely on its built-in controls and display for its handheld use.
  5. Initial Boot: Press the power button to turn on the device. The first boot may take a bit longer as it initializes the system.
  6. Windows Setup: Follow the on-screen instructions to set up Windows. This will include setting your region and language preferences, connecting to a Wi-Fi network, setting up a user account, and agreeing to the license terms.
  7. System Updates: Check for system updates once the initial setup is complete. Updating the system is essential for performance improvements and security patches.
  8. Install Armoury Crate SE: The ROG Ally has a tailored app called Armoury Crate SE. Install this application to access gaming profiles, performance settings, and system monitoring tools.
  9. Performance Tweaking: Using the Armoury Crate SE app, customize your performance profiles, adjust the Aura sync lighting, and set up the Command Center quick access menu.
  10. Game Installation: Install your favorite games either through physical media, if the device supports it, or by downloading them from online platforms such as Steam, Epic Games Store, etc.
  11. Final Checks: Ensure that the sound and display settings are to your liking and that all drivers are up to date for optimal performance.
  12. Storage Management: If you need more storage, you can utilize the high-speed UHS2 microSD card slot to expand your storage capacity.

Remember, this is a general guide. For specific instructions for your device, always refer to the official user manual that came with your Asus ROG Ally Gaming PC.

How much does the Asus ROG Ally Gaming PC cost?

The Asus ROG Ally RC71L Handheld gaming PC comes in two modes: the RC71L Z1 Extreme and the RC71L Z1. The Z1 Extreme has an MSRP of $699.99, and the Z1 lists for $399.99. Both are available on the company site and at Best Buy. We also found that Amazon sells the ROG Ally RC71L Z1 and Z1 Extreme but for more than Best Buy and Asus.

Performance - How did it do after weeks of testing?

During our testing, the Asus ROG Ally Handheld gaming PC presented a setup that posed some challenges, particularly for younger gamers within the 12-15 age bracket. A notable example was a 12-year-old seasoned gamer, experienced with platforms like the Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and PS5, who encountered difficulties. The primary issue was the keyboard's size on the ROG Ally's screen, which made setting up the Windows OS cumbersome due to the small text and on-screen instructions.

a photo of Asus ROG ALLY (RC71L) handheld gaming PC installing the Microsoft OS on the screen.Installing Microsoft Windows onto Asus ROG ALLY (RC71L) handheld gaming PC was challenging. Screenn is very small.GearBrain

The ROG Ally's connectivity to other gaming platforms was less than straightforward. To aid in the initial setup, we utilized a QR code accessed via a smartphone, significantly easing the process. However, we recognize that not all potential young users may have access to a smartphone, which could be a stumbling block in the device's setup.

That said, once the initial hurdles were cleared, the ROG Ally shone in performance. The video resolution was particularly striking, setting it apart from its peers and resulting in a preferred choice over the Nintendo Switch among our testers. Its portability was another strong suit, offering the flexibility of gaming on the move without sacrificing the quality of experience. Despite the preference for larger screens offered by stationary consoles like Xbox and PS5, the ROG Ally excelled in its class as a handheld gaming PC, proving to be a robust travel companion that outperformed expectations and competitors alike.

A photo of our tester playing a game on Asus ROG ALLY (RC71L) handheld gaming PCOnce set up, the gaming experience on Asus ROG ALLY (RC71L) handheld gaming PC was excellent.GearBrain

Buy on Best Buy


The Asus ROG Ally (RC71L) Handheld Gaming PC stands out in the burgeoning handheld gaming market, reflecting the modern gamer's preference for portable, high-performing devices. Featuring AMD Ryzen Z1 processors and RDNA 3 graphics, it promises a top-tier gaming experience in a lightweight and portable design. Its Full HD 120Hz display delivers vibrant visuals, while the Zero Gravity cooling system ensures the device remains cool.

However, our testing highlighted some challenges during setup, particularly for the younger audience, with the tiny on-screen keyboard being a notable issue. Although connecting to other gaming platforms was not straightforward, using a smartphone QR code simplified the process. Once configured, the device offered an impressive performance and video resolution, even outshining popular consoles like the Nintendo Switch, despite some tester preference for larger screens.

The ROG Ally not only adapts to various gaming environments but also provides easy customization and ample storage, with the potential for further expansion. Priced at $399.99 for the Z1 and $699.99 for the Z1 Extreme, it's a compelling choice for those seeking the freedom to game anywhere without compromising on power or experience.


  • Versatile: It's a PC that can do anything a Windows PC can.
  • Portable
  • High-quality built-in touchscreen - nice and clear.
  • HDMI slot to connect to a larger screen
  • Powerful - no glitching.
  • Attractive Price


  • The keyboard is fickle. It works with some applications/games and not with others.
  • Difficult setup without external USB-TYPE-C enabled keyboard.
  • The setup takes too long.

Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility find engine. It can help you find, buy, and connect any smart device. It can even help you find other smart devices or systems that are compatible with your existing smart devices, such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.

Like GearBrain's content? Be sure to follow us.

Like GearBrain on Facebook
The Conversation (0)

GearBrain Compatibility Find Engine

A pioneering recommendation platform where you can research, discover, buy, and learn how to connect and optimize smart devices.

Join our community! Ask and answer questions about smart devices and save yours in My Gear.

Top Stories

Weekly Deals