The Asus ROG Phone 6D Ultimate is a phone full of surprises. For a start, don’t expect a Qualcomm processor inside. For its 2022 Ultimate version of the ROG Phone 6, Asus has leaned on MediaTek to supply the power. Next, don’t just look at the back of the phone and think it’s basically the same as the recently announced ROG Phone 6 Pro, because it actually has a hidden, motorized cooling port.
We’ve been using the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate alongside the excellent ROG Phone 6 Pro to see if all this makes it as ultimate as Asus says it is.
A motorized cooling port — seriously
The big design difference between the ROG Phone 6D compared to the ROG Phone 6 and 6 Pro is the addition of a motorized cooling port on the back. It’s called the AeroActive Cooling Port, and it opens when the AeroActive Cooler 6 is attached to the phone. The Cooler 6 directly funnels the cold air generated by the external fan into the phone itself, rather than just onto the surface. Asus claims it provides a 20% increase in thermal efficiency.
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It’s a really neat little thing. When you attach the fan, it automatically opens up inside; the moment it disconnects, the port closes, avoiding any chance of it staying open when you don’t want it. It can be manually opened to clean, and from what I’ve seen so far, dust is not something that can be avoided.
Anyone familiar with Asus’s phones will understand why it works so seamlessly, as it uses technology the company perfected with its Zenfone Flip cameras. Like those mechanisms, a stepped motor raises and lowers the port door, and of course, it’s accompanied by a cool sci-fi sound effect.
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Asus has tested it to 40,000 operations, so it should be very durable. It also uses another feature taken from its old Zenfone Flip camera phones: an auto retraction system, so if you accidentally drop the phone, it closes up the instant it detects that fall. Even though there’s technically a hole in the back of the phone, Asus has still engineered the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate to have an IPX4 rating, meaning it’ll resist splashed water.
Does it really work?
To see if the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate’s cooling port does keep temperatures down, I put it up against the ROG Phone 6 Pro with the AeroActive Cooler 6 attached and ran the 3DMark Wild Life Extreme Stress Test. This provides data that includes temperature, and a previous test revealed the differences the AeroActive Cooler’s various modes made to the phone’s overall temperature when it’s being worked hard. I activated Asus’s high-performance X Mode for the tests, ensuring both processors were working at maximum capacity.
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We’ll look at the results in a moment, as at this point, it’s also worth talking about the other big difference between the phones: the processor. Inside the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate is a MediaTek Dimensity 9000+ chip, running at 3.2GHz and equipped with 16GB of new, higher-performing LPDDR5X RAM. By comparison, the ROG Phone 6 Pro has a 3.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 with 18GB of LPDDR5 RAM.
Last year, Asus used a Qualcomm processor in its Ultimate series ROG Phone 5, so it’s a surprise to see MediaTek featured so prominently in its 2022 flagship gaming phone. MediaTek isn’t best known for flagship chips, but it has been working to change that over the past few years. It’s quite the feather in its cap to one-up rival Qualcomm here, but is it justified? After all, on paper, the two chips aren’t that far apart in terms of spec.
Asus shocked me with its performance
The difference is so noticeable it shocked me. I had to do a double take at the frame rates when the two phones were running the Wild Life Extreme Stress Test, as the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate maintained a far higher frame rate. It’s not a small margin — it’s huge. It constantly ran between 40 and 60 frames-per-second (fps), while the ROG Phone 6 Pro struggled to reach 20 fps. I was surprised at such a difference, and restarted the phones, made sure everything was up to date, and ran the test again when the phones had cooled — just in case I’d missed something or a bug was causing problems. No, the results were the same.
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The MediaTek-powered phone had a dramatically higher frame rate, but the temperature stayed around the same. Asus itself says the cooling benefits from the AeroActive Cooling Port come after an hour of continuous play, and anything up to 45 minutes it’s about the same as the ROG Phone 6 Pro. We’ll come back to why this is important to know shortly, but it’s crucial to helping you understand which ROG Phone 6 is for you.
A word on using a benchmarking app. We don’t tend to focus on benchmark scores in general, as they don’t have much relevance in the real world. But when the ROG Phone 6 Pro’s best test loop score was 2,812 and the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate’s best loop was 9,607, it’s quite hard to ignore them. Play some games, and the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate’s ability is also clear. It’s incredibly smooth and maintains that smoothness seemingly at all times. But it’s not like the ROG Phone 6 Pro is feebly slow, and playing them back-to-back for a normal period of time, I couldn’t really see any difference between them. Again, I’ll come back to why this is important to know.
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The performance benefits are not just because of the processor and the cooling directly. The phone also uses MediaTek’s Hyper Engine 5.0 gaming platform, which constantly looks at the frame rate, then anticipates any performance drop-off so it can make it less noticeable. A combination of all this is behind the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate’s highly impressive stats.
It does mean the phone eats through the battery, though, with nearly 20% disappearing from both over the course of the 20-minute test 3DMark test alone. However, use the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate normally (without games), and the 6,000 mAh battery has enough energy to last at least two full days and into the third.
The rest of the phone
Aside from the processor and the cooling port, the two phones are very similar. The Space Grey color is exclusive to the ROG Phone 6D Ultimate and the ROG Phone 6D, a cheaper version that loses out on the colorful ROG Vision screen on the back and makes do with an RGB logo instead. The same 50-megapixel camera with 13MP wide-angle and 5MP macro cameras found on the ROG Phone 6 Pro are on the back.
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