The Armory Crate app is meant to solve this problem, but it often crashed. A button to the left of the screen brings up an overlay that, among other things, allows you to switch between Gamepad, Desktop, or Auto modes. However, in over 20 hours of testing over the past week, I’ve often found that games thought I was using a keyboard when in Gamepad mode. Once a game figured out what control method I was using, it worked well enough, but I started to assume it would take time to figure out how to control each new game I played.
The Ally has one very important difference from other handhelds: Because it runs Windows, there’s no compatibility layer pass through. The games simply install as they would on your PC. Running the games, however, is another matter entirely. To test the system, I played eternal doom at 1080p, Ally’s native screen resolution, in Turbo mode of the Armory app. He struggled to hit 30 frames per second, typically dropping to an unplayable 15-20fps cap during fights.
After a lot of tinkering, I managed to lower the system and game settings enough to get decent performance. This included, among other things:
- Lower system display settings to 720p using Armory overlay switch
- reducing eternal doomgame resolution to 1280 x 720, because not all games will honor the Armory setting (Asus says it’s considering removing this option entirely to avoid confusion)
- Degradation eternal doomgraphics settings to the lowest possible options
- Limiting the ROG Ally’s display to 60 Hz using the Armory overlay switch
once i did each one of the changes above, I was finally able to hit 60fps on eternal doom, dropping to around 40-50 fps during fights. That’s not mind-blowing performance, but at least it’s playable. However, if any After those changes weren’t made, performance plummeted. 720p on Medium graphics settings, or 1080p on Low settings still struggled to hold 30fps.
The UI crash also showed its face as I searched for workable settings. I tried to change the display from 120hz to 60hz using the Armory overlay switch, and this broke eternal doomgraphics settings of . The game reset to 4:3 aspect ratio and 640 x 480 resolution. On the small screen, reading the menus to fix this strained my eyes. Obviously this isn’t a big problem for lower load games like e.g. stardew valley. But Asus touts the Ally’s ability to play AAA games specifically because other handhelds can’t, not without major compromises.
However, even playing simpler games wasn’t that simple. from AMD new Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor it is theoretically much more powerful than the Steam Deck. However, running Windows seems to bog it down to the point of making the advantage moot. This is most apparent when it comes to the battery issue.
The Rog Ally has the same 40 Wh battery as the Steam Deck. Drastically simplifying, that means you can run a game that draws 40 watts for an hour, or 5 watts for eight hours. Normally, you wouldn’t have to think about the power consumption of your system, but most PC games weren’t designed to take hardware like the Ally into account.