The ROG Ally and Steam Deck are the most popular handheld consoles for playing PC games. The ROG Ally has only recently been launched but is giving the Steam Deck strong competition. While the ROG Ally is equipped with very powerful hardware, the Steam Deck is the best it has to offer in terms of software. But there’s more to these devices than just the software or the hardware.

rog ally vs steam deck

We have been using the ROG Ally for over two weeks and the Steam Deck for over 9 months. In this article, we’ll talk about our experiences after using these two handheld consoles side by side for an extended period of time. Let’s go.

ROG Ally vs Steam Deck: Design and Build

ROG Ally

The design of the ROG Ally looks very appealing thanks to the white polycarbonate case with a lot of ROG branding all around. It has a compact and portable design, but it doesn’t feel very good in the hand because the handles aren’t deep enough. Also, the buttons on the back interfere with your grip, as you always have to be careful not to press them. The ROG Ally has RGB lights around the thumbsticks, which gives it a gamer look. The ROG Ally is easier to carry in bags due to its compact form factor, but you will need to purchase a protective case separately for the ROG Ally.

design of rog ally and the steam deck

Steam Deck

The Steam Deck has a more traditional, understated design with an all-black polycarbonate case. There is Valve branding on the back but no other branding on the case. There are four buttons on the back, all of which are flat and do not interfere with the grip. The Steam Deck has deeper grooves on the back, so you can hold it comfortably in your hand during longer gaming sessions. The Steam Deck is larger overall than the ROG Ally, but the Steam Deck comes with a hard case that makes it easier to carry, unlike the ROG Ally.

We personally find the design of the Steam Deck more comfortable, but the ROG Ally looks better.

ROG Ally vs Steam Deck: Display and Audio

As for the display, the ROG Ally is clearly the winner with its higher-resolution FullHD IPS display that updates at 120Hz and has 100% sRGB color space. The Steam Deck, on the other hand, has an 800p display that updates at 60Hz. Regardless of specs, games look good on both displays, but the ROG Ally has the advantage of a higher refresh rate, resulting in smoother gameplay overall.

display of rog ally and steam deck

We found the audio output of the ROG Ally and the Steam Deck to be quite similar in terms of volume. Compared to the Steam Deck, the ROG Ally offers better separation and a better sense of space thanks to Dolby Atmos support. There is no difference in the output via the 3.5 mm audio jack.

ROG Ally vs Steam Deck: Accessories

The Steam Deck is clearly the winner in this category, as there is a much wider range of accessories from manufacturers and third-party suppliers, starting with docks, cases, skins, screen protectors, mods, etc. The ROG Ally, on the other hand, doesn’t have much in the way of accessories. Aside from the official ROG case that you have to buy separately, none of the available accessories are actually available.

accessories for rog ally and steam deck

Both the ROG Ally and the Steam Deck support microSDXC cards of up to 1TB. You can use any microSDXC card with speeds over 100Mbps to expand your system’s storage while maintaining performance. Check out our guide to the best microSDXC cards for handheld consoles for more information.

The USB Type-C port on both consoles supports Displayport 1.4 to connect external displays and Type-C docks. However, the ROG Ally has an additional XG Mobile port that can be used to connect a proprietary external GPU with up to an RTX 4090 Mobile GPU to boost performance. The Steam Deck does not have this luxury.

ROG Ally vs Steam Deck: Software and User Experience

The ROG Ally ships with Windows 11, while the Steam Deck with Steam OS is Linux-based. The software on the ROG Ally is annoying, to say the least. Games crash, thousands of things run in the background, hindering performance and battery life, random pop-ups minimize your gameplay in between, the fingerprint sensor often doesn’t work, and so many issues like these keep popping up on the ROG Ally due to unoptimized software. The user experience suffers when you have to pull your hair out just setting up the ROG Ally.

software experience of the rog ally and the steam deck

On the other hand, Steam OS on Steam Deck is well-optimized and much easier to use. Desktop mode works well, but you’ll need to find workarounds to run third-party apps on Steam Deck. Most games available on the Steam Store work as expected, but many older games simply refuse to run because of the custom software.

Both operating systems have their advantages and disadvantages, but the Steam Deck is much easier to use compared to the ROG Ally, and it is much better optimized compared to the ROG Ally.

ROG Ally vs Steam Deck: I/O and Connectivity

Both the ROG Ally and Steam Deck have the same inputs and outputs, but the ROG Ally also has a ROG XG Mobile interface with support for up to an RTX 4090 Mobile GPU, but it costs the same as the Ally. The following list shows all I/O available on the ROG Ally and the Steam Deck.

ROG Ally

  • 1x ROG XG Mobile interface (8PCI express lanes)
  • 1x USB Type-C combo port (with USB 3.2 Gen2x2, 20Gbps, DP 1.4 support)
  • 1x 3.5mm Audio jack
  • 1x Micro SD slot (UHS-II, Micro SD 4.0)
  • Volume buttons for volume up and down controls
  • 1x Fingerprint sensor integrated into the power button

As for the controller, the ROG Ally is similar in design to an XBOX controller with two dedicated buttons on the front for the Command Center Interface and the Armoury Crate SE application. The M1 and M2 buttons on the back are tactile, but interfere with gripping. The thumb sticks are a bit loose, which sometimes causes the sticks to drift. The triggers have decent resistance and the buttons provide good feedback. The touchscreen works well, but due to Windows 11, interacting with the on-screen elements becomes a bit tedious as the touch points are very small. The haptic feedback is not very good and the gyroscope was not detected in games like Portal 2.

i/o on the rog ally and the steam deck

Steam Deck

  • 2 x 32.5mm square trackpads with haptic feedback
  • 2 x full-size analog sticks with capacitive touch
  • 1x 3.5mm stereo headphone/headset jack
  • 1x MicroSD card slot (UHS-I supports SD, SDXC, and SDHC)
  • 1x USB-C with DisplayPort 1.4 Alt-mode support; up to 8K @60Hz or 4K @120Hz, USB 3.2 Gen 2
  • 2x Microphones

The Steam Deck is not behind in terms of the I/O. The gyroscope works via the right thumbstick and the two trackpads act as a mouse in desktop mode, but there is no fingerprint sensor on the Steam Deck. The haptic feedback is better calibrated compared to the ROG Ally and the thumbsticks are more stable. The shoulder buttons and triggers are certainly better on the ROG Ally, but the Steam Deck has four additional buttons on the back that can be assigned in-game and also won’t clash with your grip since they are flat but can be pressed when needed. The touchscreen is responsive and Steam OS has been optimized for touch input with large touch points on the screen to make interaction easier. There are built-in microphones if you want to stream directly from the Steam Deck.

In terms of connectivity, both consoles have fast WLAN connections and stable Bluetooth pairing. However, we feel that the Steam Deck is the better console in terms of controls and usability compared to the ROG Ally due to its better build quality and more thoughtful design.

ROG Ally vs Steam Deck: Performance and Battery

The ROG Ally is equipped with AMD Z1 Extreme APU with RDNA3 graphics, while the Steam Deck is equipped with a custom AMD APU with RDNA 2 graphics. Both consoles feature 16 GB RAM and up to 512 GB M.2 SSD storage. The ROG Ally clearly wins in terms of specs and performance with the AMD Z1 Extreme clocking at up to 5.1 GHz and 30 W TDP, as well as DDR5 memory and Gen 4 SSD speeds.

performance of the rog ally and the steam deck

The performance carries over to gameplay: most AAA titles can be played at a steady 60fps at medium settings in 25W and 30W TDP modes on the ROG Ally. The Steam deck goes up to a maximum of 20W TDP, which also delivers decent frame rates but lags behind in terms of smoothness. The competition is pretty similar in 10W and 15W TDP modes on both consoles.

In terms of endurance, however, the Steam Deck comes out on top, lasting more than 4 hours while you play a mix of high-end and smaller titles. If you only play high-end games on the Steam Deck, it still lasts more than 2 hours, but the ROG Ally doesn’t even last an hour of that load. Even with less demanding games, the ROG Ally only lasts a maximum of 2 hours. Although both consoles are equipped with a 40 Wh cell, the Steam Deck is clearly better at power management. The ROG charges faster and supports up to 65W power delivery charging, while the Steam Deck only supports up to 45W power delivery charging. The Steam Deck’s charger is more portable than the ROG Ally’s not-so-portable laptop charger.

Both ROG Ally and Steam Deck get quite hot, but the ROG Ally does a better job of keeping cool than the Steam Deck, which gets very warm. Heat is directed away from your hands on both consoles, thanks to the smart thermal design on both the ROG Ally and the Steam Deck.

ROG Ally vs Steam Deck: Verdict

final comparison of rog ally and the steam deck

The ROG Ally has powerful specifications and an attractive design, but it has shortcomings in usability and endurance. The Steam Deck, on the other hand, is easy to use, offers more than enough power, and has good endurance. Since both consoles have the same price ($699), we would prefer the Steam Deck over the ROG Ally because of its stable software and convenience. Also, the Steam Deck offers more choice in terms of storage and price, while the ROG Ally only comes in one variant.

Would you want to buy the ROG Ally or the Steam Deck? Let us know in the comments below.

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