Asus ROG Ally Teardown Shows Big Repair Advantage Over Steam Deck

Asus ROG Ally Teardown
(Image credit: Asus)

Asus's alluringly powerful handheld, the ROG Ally, has been subjected to one of iFixIt's extensive and detailed teardowns. The video teardown was positive, praising the device's easy-to-service battery, thumbsticks, fans, and SSD. However, the Asus ROG Ally loses some points due to a difficult-to-replace screen and the (lack of) availability of some custom spare parts.

iFixit wants to see under the skin of the Asus ROG Ally to check how it fares against the "undisputed king of PC-based gaming handhelds," Valve's Steam Deck. The repairability of a device is essential to tech enthusiasts, so the assessment of sites like iFixit is crucial to many users. Our extensive reviews of the Asus ROG Ally and Valve Steam Deck also opened units up, which can be read via the inserted links. However, iFixit goes considerably deeper in this respect.

Opening up the ROG Ally was a cinch, with just six Philips screws and a couple of tabs/clips needing to be sprung to get the back off. The battery has a do-not-tamper sticker (and two smaller warning stickers on other components). However, this is more safety advice than legal - as Li-ion batteries can be volatile if mistreated. iFixit described the ROG Ally's easily replaceable battery as its "biggest repair advantage" over the Steam Deck.

Despite the warning, the battery in the ROG Ally is more accessible to replace than that of the Steam Deck, as it is screwed down rather than glued down. Similarly, easy-to-unscrew components included the M.2 2230 form factor SSD (which can be upgraded to 2TB at the time of writing).

Further disassembly highlighted more user-friendly considerations to the design. For example, the thumbstick assembly is on a modular board, which is attached using screws and a detachable data cable. When detached, turning two more screws allows a user to separate the physical thumbsticks - which are prone to wear, depending upon the gaming styles and preferences of the user. The heatsink and fan assembly are modular and easy to remove / service.

After removing the mainboard, removing the modular speakers, power button, fingerprint sensor, LED ring, and other bits aren't tricky.

The screen wasn't very user-friendly to remove. Like many smart devices, this was glued in, and iFixit used a combination of scalpel and guitar picks to cut and lever it out to minimize the danger of breaking the glass (perhaps some hot air would be helpful on the glue).

A final drawback highlighted by the iFixit video concerns the lack of official ROG Ally spare parts. Asus hasn't yet committed to providing these to repairers or the public, but if it follows the trend set by its principal rival, it should do so in due course.

iFixit ends its video by slamming the ROG Ally's UI and its use of Windows. However, the good and bad aspects of Windows are very well known to Tom's Hardware readers, and we shared an extensive discussion of Armoury Crate SE on the Asus handheld in our review.

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • PlaneInTheSky
    I returned my Steam Deck because it's so anti-consumer.

    1) Steam Deck repairability is garbage

    Steam Deck tries to lock you behind Steam OS that only supports Steam. If you want to use GoG, Epic Game Store, or anything else, there is no support for that.

    (You can try to install Windows on Steam Deck, but as LTT pointed out, and I experienced myself, this is pretty much a disaster because Valve doesn't seem bothered by all the Steam Deck issues when running Windows. The goal of Steam Deck and Steam OS is for you to buy Steam games, they don't really want you to run another OS. This is against the spirit of PC gaming imo. Asus doesn't sell games, and therefore they support anything you install.)

    3) Lots of games simply don't work or work poorly on Steam Deck due to all the DRM on Steam. Steam is the major distributor of DRM themselves. Steam's DRM wrapper is used on many games on Steam, and Steam supports Denuvo on their platform.

    Supporting heavy-handed DRM is a choice Valve made. People love to blame the developers for DRM, but refuse to condemn the Steam platform that willingly distributes and even develops DRM software. Stores like GoG refuse to allow Denuvo on their store.
  • palladin9479
    Windows works very well on the Steam Deck, I have it running right now and it's been great. The SteamOS was okish, major games recently released worked well enough but many of the older games or indi games did not. Everything works just fine under Windows though. I put the compatibility issues down to game developers not really supporting anything other then Windows and Valve only has to much manpower to put towards optimizations and fixes.

    Here are the Windows drivers for Steam Deck
    And while not strictly required, Steam Deck Tools is amazing and ads a ton of functionality to the Steam Deck under Windows.

    The Asus device looks really interesting, might see about upgrading to whatever they release in another year or two when my Steam Deck starts getting long in the tooth.
  • thestryker
    I got the Ally since I skipped the Steam Deck because I didn't like the CPU half of the APU. I really need to delve into AutoTDP as I get to using it for more games, but so far it has been fantastic. As the article mentions though there's a distinct lack of wide parts availability and I hope Asus teams up with ifixit if they don't want to do it themselves.
  • Sleepy_Hollowed
    I'd get this in a heartbeat if I had more faith on ASUS' support timeline for even laptops.

    I've been bitten by them in the past by their gaming laptops failing right after the warranty is over (a bit over 3 years), and I was not the only one in my friends group with that issue.

    Say what you will about Nintendo, but I still have a DS with the original battery working no problem, don't know how their current portables are, but companies sure don't make hardware like they used to.
  • The switch is a glorified ds. It’s same reliability