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The ASUS ROG Ally has left one heck of a mark (in ways both good and bad), and, despite its few flaws and shortcomings, it would still be fair for one to label it as a tremendous success. On paper, there’s really nothing to complain about, doubly so given the fact that it’s amongst the most powerful handheld gaming PCs ever released — not to mention the only one that’s readily available worldwide.
The ROG Ally is by no means the most affordable device of its kind, but it sure is amongst the most capable.
Chewing through the latest AAA titles sure does have its allure, but sometimes all you want is to replay something from a bygone era, a game you once played as a child/adolescent or, say, to finally experience said titles for the first time.
That’s where emulation comes in and, thanks to numerous different technological advancements, even today’s mid-tier phones and tablets are capable enough to do the trick. The real challenge, however, starts with the so-called seventh generation of consoles: Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360.
For that kind of emulation, you really need to have a device with ample horsepower so as to attain a consistent frame rate and, by proxy, an enjoyable gaming experience.
Note: If you’re interested in learning what emulation is and whether or not Valve’s Steam Deck is a good option for such purposes (spoiler: it is), make sure to check out Christopher’s in-depth article.
Is the ASUS ROG Ally Good at Emulation?
It’s not only good but rather amazing. The ROG Ally comes equipped with one of AMD’s latest and greatest mobile APUs, a chipset that consists of both eight Zen 4 CPU cores (with sixteen threads) and twelve RDNA 3-based execution units (or EUs, for short) clocked at 2700Mhz. This APU also comes with built-in AVX-512 support which, in certain emulation-related scenarios, can result in a tremendous performance uplift.
In other words: it’s a beast of a device and its emulation chops cannot be brought into question. It’s not all that starved for power, either, as the ROG Ally can draw many more watts than its small frame would suggest, especially when in Turbo mode and plugged in.
Its more novel architecture and ample CPU grunt make the biggest difference, in addition to a much higher TDP than most other competing products.
This, when contrasted to the Steam Deck’s maximum power draw of just 15W, makes it a much better option for those looking to reach high frame rates in RPCS3, Xenia, Yuzu, or Ryujinx. Moreover, the fact that it comes with a whopping eight Zen 4 CPU cores means that it can actually deliver a much more impressive showing as far as emulation is concerned.
Perhaps the best part about the ROG Ally — which, funnily enough, may well be its Achillees’ heel, depending on your needs and use-case — is the fact that it’s running a full-fledged version of Windows (with all the good and the bad which such a thing entails). It’s not a console-like experience at all, despite ASUS’ best efforts and the surprising breadth of options which its proprietary Armory Crate SE has to offer.
This means that downloading your favorite emulators (and keeping them updated) isn’t nearly as complicated as it is on the Steam Deck. Now, to be fair, setting it all up on Valve’s handheld PC is by no means rocket science, but it is a slightly layered process which might seem a bit too daunting to the uninitiated.
With the ROG Ally, you’re just a few clicks and installations away from emulating your favorite games.
And, needless to say, any console you might think of that was released before the seventh generation (PS3, Xbox 360) will run without a hitch — with the PS Vita being the only exception (although that, too, will probably change once Vita3K gets a bit more polish). The ROG Ally has more than enough power to handle each and every single system. You still need to be aware of compatibility issues and graphical glitches, as it all varies from one title to the next.
The Ally also supports gyro aiming, but you might have to tweak a few settings/employ a few third-party applications to get it to work properly, depending on the emulator.
Can the ASUS ROG Ally Emulate PS3 Games?
Now, the ROG Ally, despite ASUS’ somewhat misleading marketing, isn’t capable of producing miracles. Games that aren’t fully supported will still struggle, but those that are compatible will run much better than on any previously released device of its kind — including laptops, mini PCs, and handheld gaming PCs sporting AMD’s still somewhat novel Ryzen 6800U.
Some games don’t need an immensely high power draw in order to run at 30 FPS, in which case even the Steam Deck (and many competing devices from AYANEO, GPD, and others) will suffice, but if you’re interested in running, say, God of War III at near 60 FPS (or comparably demanding titles), then you will notice a tremendous uplift in performance if you end up going with the ROG Ally.
Seeing PS3 titles run at such a high frame rate — on a display as beautiful as the one found on the Ally — really is a joy unlike any other. We’re talking about a system whose games still look great, even without any upscaling.
To see it all in action, make sure to watch the following video from The Phawx:
Can the ASUS ROG Ally Emulate Xbox 360 Games?
Xbox and Xbox 360 emulators (Xemu and Xenia, respectively) have improved quite a lot over the last couple of years, but they’re still nowhere near as polished as is the case with PCSX2 and RPCS3. Both emulators are in active development, so do make sure to check whether the games you’re interested in emulating are fully supported or not.
If the title you’re after can run without any game-breaking bugs or glitches, then the ROG Ally will most certainly be able to handle it.
Here’s a great video showcasing a select list of titles, if you’re interested in learning more about ROG Ally’s emulation chops:
Can the ASUS ROG Ally Emulate Nintendo Switch Games?
It’s quite incredible just how far Switch emulation has come over the last few years. So much so, in fact, that gamers can emulate their favorite Switch games even on spec’d-out phones. The Switch itself is fairly underpowered, and it’s also sporting an ARM-based chipset (NVIDIA’s Tegra X1), so there’s a much smaller architectural gap that needed to be bridged, but it’s still incredible all the same.
Switch emulation on PC, as one would expect, is especially stellar and seamless, which is great news for those looking to buy the ROG Ally as it is, after all, a full-fledged Windows PC packaged in a more portable, gaming-friendly form factor. This means that you can quite easily and without much effort set up your emulator of choice (either Yuzu or Ryujinx, in this case), and start playing in a matter of minutes.
Or, alternatively, you could employ a third-party tool like EmuDeck to do the “grunt work” for you.
Valve’s Steam Deck is already capable enough to run most Switch games at full speed, but the ROG Ally does beat it out, if ever so slightly. Its additional performance grunt (and a much higher TDP), in certain scenarios, allow it to reach higher and more consistent frame rates, even though Switch emulation isn’t exactly the most demanding thing in the world.
In other words: the ROG Ally does not lack for power. That being said, your mileage will still vary depending on the particular title. Still, if you’re interested in seeing how some of today’s most popular Switch titles run on the Ally, make sure to watch the following video:
All of this is to say that running your favorite Switch games on the ROG Ally (or the Steam Deck, for that matter), isn’t nearly as complex as one would assume for a console that’s still on the market.
The ASUS ROG Ally is, simply put, an emulation beast. It’s by far the best device of its kind for such purposes, primarily because of its stellar chipset; it’s not only faster and more advanced than the one found in Valve’s Steam Deck, but it is also allowed to draw two times as much power as its biggest competitor.
Now, to be fair, the Steam Deck can still provide a fairly comparable level of performance for much less money. It, too, is a spectacular device for emulation but, if you’re especially demanding and want to have the best possible chance at reaching 30/60 FPS in the most demanding titles, then the ROG Ally is definitely the way to go.