The new ASUS ROG Ally gaming handheld is right around the corner, with the higher-powered Ryzen Z1 Extreme model set to debut on June 13 with a price point of USD 699. We know it can handle playing modern titles across Steam, the Xbox app, and more, but what about emulation?
The ROG Ally's Z1 Extreme CPU is an 8-core (16-thread) processor, boasting 8.6 Teraflops of GPU performance via integrated RDNA 3 graphics. The lower-tier Ryzen Z1 (non Extreme) model features a 6-core (12-thread) chip and 2.8 Teraflops of GPU performance. This model is set to debut later, sometime in July at this stage, with a price point of USD 599.
With prices that put the ASUS ROG Ally gaming handheld in the same category as the larger-storage-spec Steam Deck variants, we've also seen the ROG Ally get into the hands of several reviewers - including those that specialize in retro gaming.
As a Windows 11 device, we've seen several examples of how in-game performance using the system's various power modes handles modern gaming - with the short answer being that it beats the Steam Deck while offering great features like native VRR support.
Where it gets interesting for those into retro gaming comes with the system's ability to emulate older and more recent console hardware. Again, as a Windows 11 device, support for popular emulators is readily available. With YouTube reviewers of handheld devices Retro Game Corps going hands-on with the ROG Ally, we learn that it's a bit of an emulation beast.
Starting with emulating titles from the 16-bit SNES era, we see that the higher 1080p display of the ROG Ally results in better scaling for pixel-based games. And from there, older 3D-based systems like the Sega Saturn and handheld PSP with 4X upscaling are playable with 60 frames-per-second performance using the ROG Ally's 'Silent' low power mode.
Jumping up to the Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2 and performance at 1080p using the 'Silent' mode is mostly solid at 60 fps with only a few outlets requiring a bump in the power profile. Where the Ryzen Z1 Extreme's emulation chops shine, though, is when it comes to PlayStation 3, with 1080p 60fps performance possible using the 'Performance' profile on the ROG Ally.
Interestingly the most significant issues were with the original Xbox that required playing games using the system's 'Turbo' mode for the best performance. However, things seemed to be more consistent regarding Xbox 360 emulation. Perhaps the most impressive showing is Nintendo Switch, with games like the recently released Metroid Prime Remastered running at 60 fps on the ASUS ROG Ally.
Of course, with various performance modes, you're looking at the following battery life limitations, up to 3.5 hours of gaming using the 'Silent' profile, up to 2 hours using the 'Performance' profile, and around 1 hour when using the 'Turbo' profile.