The ROG handheld PC is real and Asus announced it in the worst way

The maybe real, maybe not Asus ROG Ally in someone's hands
(Image credit: Asus)

Update #1: Asus has confirmed the ROG Ally, its own handheld gaming PC, is real. This follows a painfully long-winded April Fools' Day 'joke' announcing the product.

To get you up to speed, the ROG Ally is a handheld gaming PC that Asus announced on April Fools' Day and confirmed to be a joke. Then they kept going on about it after the fact and now two days later they're revealing the actual April Fools' Day joke was that it was real all along. 

Basically, there's no joke, never was.

Update #2: We have some concrete info on what's powering the ROG Ally (not A Lie). 

Dave2D has the details, and confirms that inside the ROG Ally is a custom AMD SoC built on TSMC's 4nm process node. It houses a Zen 4 CPU and an RDNA 3 GPU, which means it's up-to-date with the latest processors and graphics cards available as discrete desktop parts today.

It sounds like it should be a more performant processor than the one found in the Steam Deck, which is going to be needed as Asus has fit it with a 7-inch 1080p 16:9 screen. That's more pixels than the Steam Deck's 800p screen, and the Ally will run faster at up to 120Hz, too. Whether that 4nm AMD silicon will be able to make the most of that resolution and refresh rate we'll have to wait and see, but it should be a smoother experience in games that can.

According to Dave2D, the even better news is that the Ally runs pretty quiet. In their testing, the Ally ran around 20 db under load, while the Steam Deck, which isn't the loudest device ever, at 37 db.

The device runs Windows 11, but there's a custom Asus app that includes a game launcher and allows for some tweaks to the handheld system on the fly. In our experience with other Windows-powered handhelds, they're not quite as sleek to operate as Valve's Linux SteamOS on the Steam Deck, so that's something to keep an eye on. At least Windows is less restrictive on what games can be played, as some online games, like Destiny, won't work on the Steam Deck.

Ideally Asus can nail its own launcher app and you don't have to dip onto the Windows desktop that often.

The genuinely exciting part of the ROG Ally is that it'll hook up to one of Asus' external GPU enclosures, which use a proprietary connection. That should mean you can bump up its GPU performance massively, even up to an RTX 4090, and assuming you can still run all the other display outputs on the GPU enclosure, it might be a decent way to dock the device at home and play demanding games at a higher resolution.

The key information we're missing right now is price. This device looks good, but the Steam Deck's appeal is its pretty low price for a gaming PC. Asus told Dave2D the price will be "very competitive" but beyond that, we don't know.

Here's hoping it really is competitive on price and the software is a smooth experience. Despite its rocky announcement, it does look a really decent handheld PC.

Original story: Most of the time you can pick out the fake products vomited forth by PC hardware manufacturers on April Fools' Day. I also don't take any press release or tweet from any hardware company at face value on the day to be doubly sure. But sometimes the fake products created out of obligation to a terribly disagreeable day are just plausible enough to exist. I chalk that up to most big names in PC hardware releasing weird products year-round—I mean there's an entire range of graphics cards sprayed with perfume and they're all too real. 

Some April Fools' joke products are so genuine-looking that I'm not even sure if it's meant to be a joke or an attempt to float the idea to the general public. Is Corsair's fidget spinner keycap really that weird of an idea?

We're talking about the ROG Ally, however, a supposed new handheld gaming PC from Asus. It's not a joke product, just in that it's quite simply not funny, but it was announced on April 1. Ha. Ha.

ROG accounts from around the globe tweeted about the new ROG Ally on April 1. There's even a professionally shot video with real game footage and mock-ups and claims of a custom AMD APU to go with. The voiceover is a bit much, and the acting at times, but if you saw the video in isolation (it's publicly listed on YouTube without mention of April Fools beyond the date it was uploaded) you'd be easily fooled into thinking this was a very real product.

It's a handheld gaming PC that resembles what you'd dream up if someone said to you 'a Steam Deck but make it ROG'.

It's big, fancy, and the promotional shots make it look like a very real thing. I mean how incredibly plausible what with the success of the Steam Deck and the many similar gaming handhelds on the market today.

But it was announced on April 1, and no company would ever release a real product on April 1.

Well, yes, you'd think that and that also did appear to be the case. It was a bogus product after all, according to ROG's Head of Product management, Shawn Yen. They posted to LinkedIn with a link to a promotional video for the ROG Ally saying "Happy April Fools. ROG Ally (A-lie)."

LinkedIn post from Shawn Yen

(Image credit: Shawn Yen)

They got you so bad with this product you might actually want. You absolute suckers. Serves you right for being so easily fooled by a promotional trailer that looks completely legit for a product that's entirely believable.

But, what if it is real? 

I say this only because the joke didn't stop on April 1. In the British Isles where I live that's tantamount to a crime—if you don't stop April Fooling by 12pm on April 1, you deserve to go to jail.

But the ROG accounts were still tweeting about the ROG Ally on April 2. The ROG Japan account even made it very clear that it is no longer April 1 when it tweeted the handheld out again, further suggesting that, in fact, the real joke wasn't the product is fake but that the product was actually real. Ugh.

That says "Today is 4/2", by the way, quoting a secondary tweet on the ROG Ally made on April 2 and hinting that the joke has ceased and it's now a real announcement.

Steam in your hands

Steam Deck with an image from Elden Ring overlayed on the screen

(Image credit: Future, FromSoftware)

Steam Deck review: Our verdict on Valve's handheld PC.
Accessories for the Steam Deck: Get decked out
Steam Deck availability: How to get one.
Steam Deck battery life: What's the real battery life of the new device?
Steam Deck - The emulation dream machine: Using Valve's handheld hardware as the ultimate emulator.

There's even a Best Buy landing page to register your interest in the product. That really would be taking the joke too far if it was such a thing. Now l feel I have to go against my better judgement in assuming it's actually real and just a terrible ploy to get people talking about it ahead of its release.

You've succeeded in getting people to talk about it Asus, but at what cost?

All in all, this has been either another terrible attempt at an April Fools' joke that's gone on way too long or the absolute worst way to announce a new product.

I've emailed Asus to see what's up and to try and get some clarity on whether it has announced a new product or not. April Fools really is the worst.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would go on to run the team as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top staff as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industries and testing the newest PC components.