It won’t fit the Asus ROG Ally X, but Dbrand’s Project Killswitch is a lovely upgrade for the original Ally

One of my absolute most favouritest Steam Deck cases, besides the one you get for free with the Steam Deck OLED, is the Dbrand Project Killswitch. It’s not so much a carrying vessel as a hardened second skin, providing protection without all the bag-hogging bulk of a traditional case – while throwing in handy bonuses like a clip-on kickstand and grippy thumbstick covers. For owners of the Asus ROG Ally, the recent launch of a Project Killswitch for their own handheld PC should therefore represent glad tidings with extra gladness, even if it won’t also fit the upcoming ROG Ally X.

Thank the new device’s bigger battery, wider SSD and reworked connection layout for that particular lack of forwards compatibility, as the ROG Ally X’s thicker dimensions will make it just slightly too beefy to slip into the Killswitch’s skintight silicone. A shame, but at least it makes a quality addition to the original Ally right this second. I’ve been manhandling one for a week now, and it’s just as practical and protective as the Steam Deck version.

In some ways, it’s even better. Broadly, the Ally’s Project Killswitch is just the Steam Deck’s in a different shape: the finely textured silicone shell fits snugly around the handheld, while a solid plastic cover can clip over the front when it’s time to go travelling. This cover shields the screen, buttons and thumbsticks, and when you’re ready to play, it’s just a matter of popping it off and powering up. No zips, clasps, or flapping hardcases to awkwardly re-bag when you’re squished on a bus seat. At the same time, there are some visible refinements to the concept. Chiefly, the cutouts for the Ally’s rear vents are now covered with a metal mesh, still allowing for airflow but better defending the hardware from dings. On the Deck’s Killswitch case, the vent hole is just that: a hole.

An Asus ROG Ally next to a Steam Deck, both in their respective Dbrand Project Killswitch cases.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

The Ally version also includes its own volume button covers, unlike on the Steam Deck’s, where you almost have to poke your finger down into a silicone alcove to press the device’s own unprotected buttons. And while you get a kickstand on both designs, it’s both sturdier and more flush with the case on the Ally’s. That’s partly down to the stand being fully integrated, with no modular attachment/detachment mechanism, which could be considered a downgrade if you rarely have the need to prop your portable PC upright. In this instance, though, the stand is svelte enough to get away with it.

Obviously, all of this would mean little if the Killswitch snapped like a Biscoff whenever it took a knock. Fortunately, the ROG Ally version is still more than adequate at blocking damage. I had it bumping around in a satchel for several days, before taking it out to intentionally drop on the floor a few times, and the only adverse outcome was having to explain to a bemused fiancée what the banging noise was. I can maybe see the silicone skin gaining some visible wear over the course of, say, months, but so far the Killswitch case hasn’t picked up a scratch, let alone allowed one on the Ally within.

An Asus ROG Ally completely covered up in the Dbrand Project Killswitch case, including the optional front cover.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

Unlike most handheld cases, its usefulness also isn’t put on pause whenever it’s time to play. Although the Killswitch’s silicone adds some weight in the hand – 137g, to be exact – it serves to make the Ally feel less slippy and more secure, a tangible improvement considering how shallow and barely-textured the device’s own hand grips are. Wrapping up like this doesn’t have any nasty effect on temperatures, either: an internal temp of 60°c, during a round of Hades 2, only rose to 61°c with the Killswitch applied. And there’s more comforting grip to be had if you go for the optional thumbstick covers, which envelops the Ally’s dinky sticks to provide a larger and more slip-resistant thumbing surface.

It’s very much the kind of accessory set you’ll want to leave on permanently, though that might also have something to do with wanting your money’s worth. The only way that Project Killswitch induces any umm-err-I-dunno iffiness is its pricing, starting at $60 (about $47) for an ‘Essential Kit’ that doesn’t even include the case’s front cover. The Travel Kit is the smarter deal, adding in the cover as well as those thumbstick grips, though it’s still a sizeable investment at $75 / £59.

A closeup of the Asus ROG Ally thumbstick covers included in the Dbrand Project Killswitch Travel Kit.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

As a tech hack, I can’t not point out that for £22 / $26 your Ally could have a JSAUX ModCase – a similar wrap ‘n’ cover-style case that, like Project Killswitch, started as a Steam Deck accessory before becoming ROGified. That said, if this is anything else like the Deck version, it won’t be as grippy or even as protective as Dbrand’s design. The latter’s front cover, for one thing, does a better job of stretching down and around the L2 and R2 shoulder buttons; the ModCase’s cover appears to leave a gap here, as it does on the Steam Deck design.

It’s worth splashing out on the Project Killswitch, in other words. Pricey it may be, but from the tough casing to the practically designed extras, you get what you pay for in the best possible sense.

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