Asus ROG Flow X13 review: The dynamic duo

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7.8 Not-so-Flou

It is probably one of the best laptop + external GPU combos available on the market today and the lightweight and slick form factor makes it a cool proposition. We’re just not convinced where this fits into the current gaming market. Many PC gamers who do port over to a portable gaming laptop may need more powerful components, a more expansive cooling system and an even faster display. 

  • Performance 8
  • Design 7
  • Display 9
  • Functionality 7
  • User Ratings (1 Votes) 10

Asus has continuously offered brilliant gaming gadgets in recent years under its Republic of Gamers (ROG) label and it’s not showing signs of slowing down. This time, we’re showing you something very unique. And while it offers an impressive proposition, we’re not sure where it fits into the gaming community quite yet. 

The ROG Flow X13 is a lightweight 13in slab of beauty. Covered in black aluminium, magnesium and plastic, you’ll never guess this is a gaming machine. It’s tiny, weighs less than a MacBook and offers the convertible format that’s popular for workstations. 

Nevertheless, the build quality is top-notch and the unit feels sturdy and quite strong for what it is. The display area has little to no flex and even the keyboard base feels well built and doesn’t have any sort of unwanted ‘play’ when you type.

It comes in two display configs: a FullHD 120Hz display or a 4K 60Hz panel with a 16:10 aspect ratio. The 4K panel is vlymskerp at 338ppi and offers some brilliant colour reproduction. We’re no fans of the gloss finish and you may have to make an extra effort not to sit in direct sunlight. Otherwise, this display is glorious. 

Saddle it up

This isn’t your typical 13in ultraportable gaming laptop. Instead of cramming a powerful GPU into the small chassis, it’s got an okay onboard GPU and an external attachable one on the side.

You can hook up the XG Mobile too — this is an external GPU with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card. This turns the small portable into the equivalent of a full gaming rig. Of course, this makes it slightly less portable, but you can use Asus’ sweet new ROG carry bags to lighten the load. More on this one later, though.

Crammed into the laptop chassis, you’ll find AMD’s Ryzen 9 5980HS. It’s clearly meant for work and while the base speed is 3.3Ghz, you can ramp it up to a cool (actually literally hot) 4.8Ghz. You also get 16GB of RAM and a 512 SSD standard, but this can be customised, as is tradition.

It’s an interesting offering — the laptop x external GPU combo. And it’s a rare find in the market today. It is power-packed (quite literally too as it has its own 280W power supply built-in). The XG Mobile isn’t just that though, it brings with it a few connectivity options, including an ethernet port, multiple USB slots and an SD card reader — all things you’d lack on an ultra-portable lappy like this one. 

Frame rates are as expected from an RTX 3080 – we got 100+fps in Shadow of The Tomb Raider at 1440p. Everything we threw at it was handled with ease and there were no alarming heat issues either. 

The stronger the Flow

In addition, the Flow X13 can come with some of ROG’s newly designed carrier bags — one for the machine itself and one for the XG Mobile. They offer a kind of fashion flair that’s becoming increasingly common in the gaming hardware sector. 

On top of that, you’ll get around 10 hours out of a charge on the Flow X13, but you do have fast-charging on-board which’ll juice it up to 75% in about 45-50 minutes and a full charge is reached within an hour and fifteen minutes. When using the external GPU, however, this unit becomes a desktop machine as it’ll need continuous power. 

The keyboard is what you’d typically expect from Asus. It has great feedback and has a discreet white backlight.

Asus ROG Flow 13 Verdict

It is probably one of the best laptop + external GPU combos available on the market today and the lightweight and slick form factor makes it a cool proposition. We’re just not convinced where this fits into the current gaming market. Many PC gamers who do port over to a portable gaming laptop may need more powerful components, a more expansive cooling system and an even faster display. 

We also want to make it known that this setup is not cheap — you’re gonna be paying a hefty chunk of cash for this external GPU once it’s priced in the country. The Flow X13 only retails for R35,000 for the 16/512GB variation. 

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Digital Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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