ASUS ROG Ally X Refresh Coming To Fix Major Issues With The Gaming Handheld

Closeup view of the ASUS ROG Ally gaming handheld.
Exactly how hot is the modern handheld gaming market that Nintendo and later Valve helped popularize? So hot that manufacturers are releasing iterative upgrades in between major new handheld console launches. We saw it with the Switch (Switch OLED) and Steam Deck (Steam Deck OLED), and now ASUS has announced plans to release a refreshed ROG Ally in the near future with some key upgrades over the current version.

Called the ROG Ally X, the upcoming refresh is not being pitched as a next-gen handheld, hence the "X" designation rather than calling it the ROG Ally 2 or some such. That's absolutely the right decision, as ASUS confirmed that the ROG Ally X will be built around the same AMD Z1 Extreme chip. It will also sport the same 7-inch LCD display with a 48-120Hz variable refresh rate, eschewing an upgrade to OLED.

So what can we expect, then? ASUS is holding off a full reveal until a "special announcement" on June 2, 2024, but in the meantime it provided a few general details about what the ROG Ally X will bring to the table during a livestream.

The "X" in the model name seemingly stands for extra, extend, and expand, the three buzzwords that ASUS splashed on its YouTube video above teasing the upcoming refresh.

"I can say, this is going to be more than just a basic refresh with like one spec change," said Whitson Gordon, senior manager of content marketing at ASUS ROG. "It's not just, 'Oh we changed the color, we added some more storage', you know, it's a little more than that. But at the same time, it's not a full redesign or a totally new generation. It's somewhere in between these two things."

According to Gordon, almost everything ASUS put into the refresh is based on feedback from the community over the past year. One of those is better battery life. ASUS ROG's live video producer and streamer Jake Kulinski said it's not a small battery improvement, either.

He somewhat elaborated on this claim to The Verge, saying "we're not looking at 30 to 40 percent more capacity. We're looking at way more than that." 

ASUS ROG Ally battery life benchmark chart.

That's great to hear, because as we pointed out in our ROG Ally review, the Achilles' heel of the handheld console is its disappointing battery life. We mustered just 190 minutes while playing HoloCure, a simple 2D "bullet heaven" game, and a paltry 49 minutes while playing Cyberpunk 2077. You can see how it fared in several other titles in our benchmark graph above.

Kulinski also went on record during the livestream saying there would be improvements to storage, RAM, and ports, along with physical changes to the handheld itself.

Make of that what you will. The current ROG Ally ships with 16GB of LPDDR5-6400 RAM and a 512GB Micron 2400 solid state drive (SSD) of the shortened M.2 2230 variety. We presume the ROG Ally X will offer more memory and perhaps even a full-size M.2 2280 SSD, which are more plentiful and price competitive for users who may want to upgrade their storage.

ASUS senior product manager Gabrial Meng also told The Verge that the ROG Ally's SD card reader is the same one that it uses in its laptops, which is notable because ASUS recently expanded its handheld warranty to specifically cover issues people were having with the handheld killing their SD cards.

The ROG Ally X will have a redesigned motherboard layout that should (hopefully) rectify this. Meng downplayed the redesign as it relates to SD card issues, saying he doesn't want people thinking this is something ASUS had to do in response. Instead, "We had to move things around the board to make them fit," he said.

You can drop a 'Sure, Jan' meme in response, but even if ASUS is hesitant to admit that SD card problems were part of the decision making process for the physical redesign, gamers should be happy with the change all the same.

Stay tuned, as we'll post a rundown of the ROG Ally X when it gets fully revealed next month.