The Asus ROG Ally Z1 packs essentially everything found in its $700 older sibling. It still has the 7-inch 1080p screen, 512GB SSD and 16GB of DDR5 memory. What’s changed on the handheld gaming console is the processor, being downgraded from an AMD Z1 Extreme APU to a regular AMD Z1 chip. The cheaper variant still isn’t listed on Asus’ website, but is available at Best Buy.
In terms of raw performance, the Z1 Extreme offers more. With 8 cores, 16 threads and a peak boost of 5.1GHz, it outpaces the regular Z1’s 6 cores, 12 threads at 4.9GHz. We’re still waiting for apples-to-apples comparisons between the two chips, but one thing is certain: the base Z1 offers strong performance at a lower wattage, which will translate to better battery life.
The Asus ROG Ally Z1 comes as competition increases in the handheld gaming space. While there have long been handheld gaming PCs from Chinese manufacturers like GPD and Ayaneo, it was the Valve Steam Deck that invigorated the space. Valve’s long-standing reputation in the PC gaming community as a trusted game distributor with its Steam platform helped propel the Steam Deck to mass appeal. It also didn’t hurt that the Steam Deck launched at a modest $400 price point. Since then, more hardware manufacturers have taken a crack at the handheld gaming space, including Lenovo with its upcoming Legion Go handheld.