We’ve just seen a further leak on the pricing of the Asus ROG Ally, this time for the lesser spec model of the Steam Deck rival – and it seems that lower-tier handheld will be pitched at $599.99 in the US.
As flagged by The Verge (via VideoCardz), that’s the contention of Twitter-based leaker SnoopyTech, who believes that’ll be the MSRP of the ROG Ally with the vanilla AMD Z1 CPU and 256GB of storage (courtesy of an M.2 SSD).
ASUS ROG Ally 7" AMD Z1 (not Extreme) = $599.9916 GB LPDDR5, 256 GB NVMe M.2 SSD https://t.co/X6hAE6ZtLF pic.twitter.com/ueKYpeMzusApril 28, 2023
SnoopyTech was the source of the original price leak, and the claim that the higher-end ROG Ally with Z1 Extreme processor (and 512GB storage) will cost $699.99.
The Verge notes that it has corroborated the latest leak with Roland Quandt, who (again) showed the tech site materials that backed up the assertion of a $599.99 price point. Seemingly, both these leakers are working from the same source.
Despite these leaks supporting each other, we still need to add a good dollop of skepticism here. And even if this is genuinely what Asus is thinking price-wise at the moment, there’s a chance that the planned price could change between now and launch. In theory, the launch date is June 13, by the way.
Analysis: Does a $100 price gap make any sense?
What’s the difference between these models given the purported $100 price gap? Well, the top-end ROG Ally’s Z1 Extreme processor has 8-cores (16-threads) compared to 6-cores (12-threads) with the standard AMD Z1, and for the integrated RDNA 3 graphics, the Z1 Extreme has 12-cores whereas the Z1 offers 4-cores.
That’s a fairly startling gap on the GPU front, with triple the amount of cores for the Z1 Extreme. And according to AMD’s own marketing bumph for the Z1 chips, the Extreme boasts 8.6 Teraflops of graphics performance – which leaves the Steam Deck in the dust, and indeed the entry-level Z1, the latter of which gives you 2.8 Teraflops (the Steam Deck is 1.6 Teraflops).
Now, raw Teraflops isn’t nearly the full story of course, and AMD also provided some gaming benchmarks which illustrate just that. The long and short of it is that in some games, the Z1 is fairly close to the Z1 Extreme, but in other more demanding titles, a pretty big gulf opens up. (As AMD notes, the GPU isn’t the limiting factor in some cases, rather, it’s the memory bandwidth).
Even so, if this is the correct pricing, it seems to us that buyers would be foolish not to fork out an extra $100 to get this faster CPU – considerably speedier in some cases – with double the storage on-baord to boot.
Having heard the price of the Z1 Extreme-toting ROG Ally is set to be $699.99, we were hoping for more like $499.99 for the Z1 model. The prices being set so close together doesn’t really make sense to us given the relative hardware specs here.
There are some reasons why Asus might be angling pricing like this, though. As The Verge observes, we don’t know if the company might be planning another lower-end handheld – like Valve does with a baseline Steam Deck that cuts corners with a small eMMC drive rather than a proper SSD. If that’s the case, then Asus may need to leave room in the pricing spectrum to drop that model in.
Alternatively, maybe Asus is fully expecting the top-tier model to sell out, and believes it can still shift the base Z1 ROG Ally at $599.99 – which is doubtless true. Because, let’s remember, at $599.99 with that spec, this device still looks great value compared to the Steam Deck.
Valve’s portable gaming machine is $530 for the 256GB model, but with a CPU engine that’s distinctly less peppy, and the disadvantage of incompatibility with some Windows games – ones that don’t play nice with Proton, like games with anti-cheat systems for example. The Ally runs Windows 11, of course, so will have no such compatibility stumbling blocks. (It’s also worth noting that VideoCardz believes that Asus plans to offer the Ally with three months of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate thrown in for free, too).
A further possibility occurs that the $699.99 price is wrong, and it’ll be higher – as our first thought was that it does seem too good to be true. We were shocked when it was revealed, frankly, so maybe it’ll turn out to be $799.99 in the end. Obviously we hope not, but as we’ve said already, even if the leaks are technically correct right now, Asus could make last-minute pricing adjustments.
Whatever the case, we shall see whether Asus has a Steam Deck killer on its hands soon enough, but aside from exact pricing, we’ll also need to know more about battery life, and how the Z1’s ramped-up performance might affect the longevity of the ROG Ally when out and about gaming.