Asus ROG Flow Z13 review: ambitious, but not very practical – The Verge

The influence is obvious. Asus wants you to think of Microsoft’s Surface Pro when you see the ROG Flow Z13. It’s a Windows 11 tablet with a magnetic keyboard, a kickstand, and small bezels surrounding its 120Hz refresh rate display. Those similarities aside, the Flow Z13 is an entirely different beast on the inside. Instead of being an ultra-portable productivity device, the Z13 comes with powerful enough hardware to compete with mid-range gaming laptops. You can use it as a laptop or detach the keyboard, connect a controller, and relax with it on the couch.

This is not the 10-pound monstrosity that Asus released a few years ago — the Z13 is just 12mm thick and weighs under two and a half pounds. In that frame, Asus managed to cram impressive hardware — at least, in the high-end, $1,899 model that I’m testing. It has Intel’s near-top-of-the-line 12th Gen Core i9 12900H processor and Nvidia’s RTX 3050 Ti. It also has fast DDR5 memory clocked at 5,200MHz and 1TB of M.2 NVMe storage. Later this year, Asus will launch a $1,499 model that uses Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics instead of the discrete Nvidia graphics, a lesser Core i5 processor, and half as much storage.

As if all of that wasn’t novel, the Flow Z13 can be super-charged with Asus’ optional XG Mobile external graphics card enclosure, just like the Flow X13 laptop from 2021. By plugging that in, an RTX 3080 will power your gaming experiences — and provide several more ports and display connectors. Though, that added graphical finesse and versatility comes at a huge cost. I’ll get into that more below.

Good Stuff

  • More versatile than a thick, hefty gaming laptop 
  • It’s a Surface Pro for gaming 
  • Performance can be improved with XG Mobile

Bad Stuff

  • It’s pricey already, not considering its $1,400 XG Mobile add-on
  • Battery life isn’t great
  • Specs aren’t great for the price

The Flow Z13 by itself makes a compelling argument for a gaming tablet that runs Windows, but that statement wholly depends on the games you like to play. My Steam library happens to be filled with indie games and AAA games from another era, and those consistently run at or above 60 frames per second on its 1080p display. I had a great time playing games like Death’s Door and Inscryption at their highest graphical settings. But if your gaming preferences tilt more toward the latest graphically demanding titles, including big, open-world titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Elden Ring, the Z13’s limits become apparent.

Playing smaller-scale games, like Death’s Door, is a specialty of the Flow Z13.

With the tablet plugged in on turbo performance mode, each of those games typically ran between 25–35 frames per second on medium detail settings. That’s not dreadful, but the gameplay wasn’t smooth. Performance commonly spiked and plunged, mostly due to the RTX 3050 Ti graphics card, which offers a meager 40W of total graphics power. While that’s a respectable amount of grunt for this form factor, it’s just not enough juice to …….



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