Updated: June 16, 2021 9:51:03 am
Gaming laptops have a certain audience they cater to, the geek crowd who aspires to have a machine with the best graphics, most vibrant display, an ultrafast SSD and a top-tier processor. However, gaming laptops have a peculiar problem: they don’t come in a thin and light form factor.
Take any gaming laptop, and you will notice how thick and bulky they are. But Asus’ ROG Flow X13 is unlike any other high-end gaming laptop I have seen. Not only is it lightweight at 1.3kg, but it also has a 2-in-1 form factor. It’s also the first laptop that takes advantage of a desktop-class external GPU.
Curious if the ROG Flow X13 is worth it? I’ve been using it for both work and play, and there are some pros and cons. Here is my review.
Asus ROG Flow X13 price in India: Rs 139,990
Asus ROG Flow X13 specifications (as reviewed): 13.4-inch 16:10 4K 60Hz IPS touchscreen display|AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS 3.3 GHz| NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q – 4096 MB|16GB RAM LPDDR4X|1TB M.2 NVMe SSD|Windows 10 Home|720p webcam|62Wh battery
Asus ROG Flow X13 review: Design and build
The ROG Flow X13 is an unconventional machine in the gaming laptop market. It rather looks like a mainstream 2-in-1 convertible notebook, something I personally want to use. Asus’ biggest accomplishment here is how it packaged the Flow X13. It’s a gaming laptop that ditches the obvious design choices that many of its rivals have, like RGB lighting and aggressive gamer aesthetics. The Flow X13 is a perfect example of how gaming laptops might look in the future.
The laptop is all-black with a ridged carbon-fiber like texture. On the lid, a Republic of Gamers logo is placed on a black metal plate. That makes it a good option for someone who wants to use this device beyond gaming, especially since it weighs only 1.3kg. It will fit easily in a backpack, just like a MacBook Air or Dell XPS 13. The Flow X13 is well-engineered and feels solid.
The left side of the laptop includes a proprietary x8 PCIe connection for the eGPU (more on that later), a full-size HDMI 2.0 port, and an analog headset jack. The notebook features a power button with an integrated fingerprint reader as well as USB-A and USB-C on the right side.
Not to forget, the ROG Flow X13 is not only up against a bevy of gaming laptops, but is also after excellent convertible laptops with 13-inch screens, including Asus’ own ZenBook Flip and HP Spectre x360 13. A convertible laptop has a certain advantage over a traditional notebook design. Thanks to its 360-degree rotating hinge, it allows the laptop to prop it up on your desk like an easel or tent or use the device as a tablet. The added touch screen display and the inclusion of a stylus means I can use the notebook to jot down notes or convert the laptop into a digital whiteboard.
Asus ROG Flow X13 review: Display and speakers
The display is great. It’s a 13.4-inch 4K (3,840 by 2,400 pixels) panel with a 16:10 aspect ratio and a 60Hz refresh rate. The panel is of high quality (it’s Pantone certified) and promises the sRGB color gamut. That means the 4K display is geared more towards photographers and video editors who need that high pixel count. No doubt, the Flow X13’s display is bright and colourful, even outdoors. The downside of a 4K panel, of course, is that it impacts battery life. While the 4K panel is great for content creators, gamers would rather want a display with a high-refresh-rate display for smooth gaming. Games looked fine on a 60Hz panel, but I insist on getting the model with a higher 120Hz refresh rate. Though it lacks a 4K panel, it features an AMD Ryzen 7 5800HS processor.
A 720p webcam is placed above the screen, right in the middle. I found the webcam quality to be above average.
One of the biggest drawbacks of the Flow X13 is the poor quality of speakers. The other day I was attending a product briefing, and I was barely able to listen to the presentation. The placement of its stereo speakers on the bottom of the laptop makes the sound a bit muffled.
Asus ROG Flow X13 review: Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard is reliable and comfortable to use with a bit of travel. There are useful dedicated keys for volume, controlling the speed of the cooling fan, disabling the mic, and pulling up Armoury Crate. The glass touchpad is smooth and roomy.
Asus ROG Flow X13 review: Performance and battery
The Flow X13 model that Asus loaned me for review came with a Ryzen 9 5980HS processor, a mid-range GeForce GTX 1650, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. The fact that I was able to play Sea of Thieves and Forza Horizon 4 and edit 4K video footage in a gaming laptop as compact as this was incredibly impressive. Essentially, you should be able to run pretty much any game with high frame rates on this machine.
Over the week, I have written articles, edited photos and videos, and streamed movies on Netflix; pretty much my standard usage. I didn’t perform benchmarks, because these measurements don’t really tell how a laptop works in the real world. The good news is that the Flow X13 AMD’s Ryzen processors now deliver more or less compatible performance when compared to rival 11th generation Intel CPUs.
But frankly, it is the not best-performing gaming laptop you will find on the market. Considering it’s so thin and light, and on top of that it is designed for “gaming”, the Flow X13 has certain flaws. Which is why Asus is giving users the option to add an external GPU for more graphics performance. Asus will be selling the XG Mobile (coming to the market in Q3 2021), a custom GeForce RTX 3080 eGPU. It’s a tiny box (and portable too) that lets you add a secondary GPU for amazing performance whenever you want. Unfortunately, I couldn’t test the performance of the Flow X13 with the XG Mobile as my review unit didn’t come with the eGPU.
Battery life on the Asus ROG Flow X13 is solid. A standard high-performing gaming laptop barely lasts four hours on a single charge. Using the Flow X13 as my daily work driver I averaged seven hours when used for gaming and work. Sure, it falls short in battery life when compared to regular 2-in-1 laptops but this is a legit gaming laptop at the end of the day.
Asus ROG Flow X13 review: Should you buy it?
The Flow X13 is a revelation in the gaming laptop market. With the Flow X13, Asus has created a new type of gaming laptop that offers both portability and performance. I think the Flow X13 will appeal to those who are a modern gamer but love to travel and thus want a premium laptop offering performance and battery life and in a sleek, compact, and sturdy chassis.
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