ASUS announces ROG ALLY AMD Ryzen Z1 vs. Z1 Extreme performance
In mid-September, ASUS unveiled a non-Extreme version of the ROG Ally Z1, equipped with a distinct CPU. Although both CPUs fall under the AMD Phoenix series—combining Zen 4 CPU and RDNA 3 GPU—the more formidable Ally Z1 Extreme boasts eight Zen 4 cores and 12 CU units, delivering an impressive 8.6 TFLOPS of floating-point computational prowess. In contrast, the more modest Ally Z1 harnesses the ‘Small Phoenix’, also termed Phoenix 2, featuring two Zen 4 and four Zen 4c cores. With its GPU hosting merely four CU units, it can muster a floating-point capability of only 2.8 TFLOPS, rendering it considerably less potent. The disparity in performance between these two models is a point of contention and intrigue, prompting ASUS to release an official performance comparison.
These two machines otherwise share identical specifications, including 16GB of LPDDR5 memory, a 512GB M.2 SSD, a 7-inch 1080p 120Hz high-refresh display, and a 40Wh battery. Both the ROG Ally Z1 Extreme and Ally Z1 are designed with a thermal design power (TDP) ranging from 9-30W, underscoring that their performance gap stems purely from their CPU divergence.
ASUS divulged two performance benchmarks: one native to a 1080p resolution and the other enabled with AMD Radeon’s super-resolution at 720p, both recorded at 30W. At 1080p, the Ally Z1’s prowess approximately ranges from 65% to 75% of the Ally Z1 Extreme. Remarkably, this performance gap narrows at the 720p resolution.
Of note, AMD recently introduced a preview driver for its AMD Fluid Motion Frames, essentially AMD’s ‘frame generation’ technology. The extent to which AFMF will augment the performance of such portable devices remains to be observed.
Indeed, based on official gaming benchmarks, neither the Ally Z1 Extreme nor the Ally Z1 seems poised to maximize the capabilities of their 120Hz high-refresh screens. The games chosen for these benchmarks are undeniably demanding for integrated graphics. Nonetheless, for older titles or less demanding games, these handheld devices can yield commendable frame rates. The allure of x86 gaming devices is their vast accessible game library.
Priced at $599, the Ally Z1 stands at $100 cheaper than the Ally Z1 Extreme. Their performance gap, however, isn’t as vast as one might surmise, averaging at roughly 34%. This price differentiation seems reasonable. Compared to the same-capacity Steam Deck, it’s $50 cheaper. Yet, opting for the $399 64GB Steam Deck and upgrading its SSD independently might offer a more tantalizing cost-to-performance ratio.