Ryzen 7 7840U Pro gaming handheld performs like a ROG Ally but costs almost 2X as much

A scan of the TerransForce Handle 5, sourced from their MiniXPC.com listing.
A scan of the TerransForce Handle 5, sourced from their MiniXPC.com listing. (Image credit: TerransForce (via MiniXPC.com))

Are you eying more alternatives to the ASUS ROG Ally and other high-end handheld PCs in its category? The TerransForce Handle 5 is another high-end gaming PC handheld with a 1080p, 120 Hz screen and an onboard Radeon 780M RDNA 3-based iGPU. Compared to the ROG Ally, which has the same iGPU, the Handle 5 also boasts a Ryzen 7 7840U Pro, which is slightly more potent than the Ryzen Z1 Extreme inside the ROG Ally and includes AMD's AI accelerator.

Initially announced in November with a price point starting at $650, the device is currently listed for $999 on MiniXPC.com, the only US seller at the time of writing. Unfortunately, this device is complex to recommend at this high price point since the ROG Ally provides virtually the same experience at only $599.

Today, the first detailed hands-on review of the device has been released by ETA PRIME on YouTube. I've embedded his video below, but I will discuss some key takeaways about the device and how it may fare in the market afterward.

So, how does the TerransForce Handle 5 justify its existence in the market when it has to compete with devices like the ROG Ally? The benchmarks shown in ETA PRIME's video above are within spitting distance of ASUS' more well-known handheld.

One key difference highlighted by ETA PRIME in his review is the presence of Hall-Effect analog joysticks. For those unfamiliar, Hall-Effect joysticks are known to be immune to long-term joystick drift. This makes hall-effect sticks (or at least readily replaceable sticks, like on the Steam Deck) of particular value to handheld PC devices like this one.

Compared to the ROG Ally, which is restricted to just USB 3.2 Gen 2 (20 Gigabits per second) external bandwidth, the Handle 5 is also capable of USB 4 (40 Gigabits per second) connectivity. As ETA PRIME notes, this makes it a better choice for external GPUs and similar solutions.

While I think this price desperately needs to be sold at its actual-announced price point of $650, it seems like a promising alternative to the ROG Ally if the price is right. With slightly better overall performance (including the ability to temporarily boost up to 35W with a built-in "Rage Mode"), improved eGPU support for hybrid desk/couch use, and longer-lasting analog sticks, the TerransForce Handle 5 actually can be a viable ROG Ally competitor.

Just...not for $999.

  • versed.perception
    "Compared to the ROG Ally, which is restricted to just USB 3.2 Gen 2 (20 Gigabits per second) external bandwidth, the Handle 5 is also capable of USB 4 (40 Gigabits per second) connectivity. As ETA PRIME notes, this makes it a better choice for external GPUs and similar solutions."

    You absolutely must take the ROG Ally's XG port in consideration when talking about eGPU. Today, nothing can touch the eGPU options on the ROG Ally compared to -every other handheld- gaming unit. Ally can be paired with an XG dock that has a choice of a RX6850M XT, RTX3080(m), or RTX4090(m). Since the XG is direct PCIE linked at x8(16GBytes/s for v4) there is no USB overhead to deal with and is faster then USB4(40Gbits/s).

    Then there is a 3rd party project that is taking the M.2 slot on the back of the ally and converting it over to Oculink + shared M.2 SSD for a direct PCIE x4 link option for eGPUs. Have yet to see any projects hit this for the steamdeck (would be wild though).
    Reply
  • thestryker
    I really wish Asus would open up the XG port either by open sourcing it (ideally) or selling a dock for it. I have a hard time believing they sell many of the mobile units at the extremely inflated prices they charge. While a proper dock would be a one and done sale I have a hard time believing they couldn't sell a lot more of them at a healthy profit when compared to the current ones.
    Reply
  • TechLurker
    I'm glad to see AMD continuing to make more inroads into the portable gaming sector. It helps with optimizing games for AMD GPUs in that way. Now if only Sony would take a page and bring about a new PSP or PSV that offers similar performance but pre-optimized for PS games.
    Reply
  • watzupken
    I feel there are many limitations with the ROG Ally. The lack of options to have more memory is a big issue to me, especially when its running Windows 11, which is itself, a memory hog. Just looking a my system that barely have any apps running in the background, it is already using about 4GB shortly after using the PC. If the iGPU ring fences 6GB, there is not much runway with the 16GB of RAM. I feel this seems to be a limitation with the Z1 chip since both ROG Ally and Legion Go have the same limitation.
    Reply
  • thestryker
    watzupken said:
    I feel there are many limitations with the ROG Ally. The lack of options to have more memory is a big issue to me, especially when its running Windows 11, which is itself, a memory hog. Just looking a my system that barely have any apps running in the background, it is already using about 4GB shortly after using the PC. If the iGPU ring fences 6GB, there is not much runway with the 16GB of RAM.
    Anecdotally speaking I haven't had any issues with mine with a 6/10GB split. I have done some optimization on the OS with regards to what's running though I haven't delved deep yet. I do think these handhelds should have minimum 24GB DRAM though.
    watzupken said:
    I feel this seems to be a limitation with the Z1 chip since both ROG Ally and Legion Go have the same limitation.
    It is likely just to minimize unit cost, because modders have been able to go 32GB/7500MT on the Ally.
    Reply
  • KyaraM
    TechLurker said:
    I'm glad to see AMD continuing to make more inroads into the portable gaming sector. It helps with optimizing games for AMD GPUs in that way. Now if only Sony would take a page and bring about a new PSP or PSV that offers similar performance but pre-optimized for PS games.
    AMD already has enough optimization considering they hold a quasi-monopoly on the console market, the portable market, and sponsored most sponsorship games lately, which, with the exception of Frontiers of Pandora, usually ran p**s poor on Nvidia cards at launch and often didn't feature any other tech outside AMD's, unlike Nvidia titles. Not mentioning Intel here since they still have issues in general, though they are hard at work optimizng their drivers and stomping out bugs and other issues. But if anything, AMD is the last company that needs any more optimization for their cards, rather everyone else needs more. But AMD seems quite happy to block that in their sponsored titles at least, explicitly or implicitly doesn't really matter...
    Reply