Where to start with the incredible new Asus ROG Flow Z13 and sidekick ROG XG Mobile RTX 3080 graphics box? This is a tablet PC like no other. It’s absolutely packed with high-spec components, including no less than three GPUs in this configuration.
To that you can add a 14-core Intel 12th Gen CPU, 1TB SSD, 16GB of DDR5 memory, a CNC milled aluminum chassis, vapor chamber cooling with liquid metal and a clip-on keyboard with RGB lighting. Yes, it’s all in a tablet. But the really unusual thing is the triple graphics configuration. You get one integrated GPU in the Intel processor, a dedicated laptop GPU in the tablet itself and then another in the external ROG XG Mobile box, the latter being a beefy Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 mobile chip.
CPU: Intel Core i9-12900H (14-core)
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe, Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti, Nvidia RTX 3080
Screen: 13.4-inch, UHD+, IPS LCD
Storage: 1TBB SSD
Port: 1x USB Type-C, 1 x USB 3.1, SD card, 3.5mm audio jack
Size: 30.2 x 20.4 x 1.2 cm (W x H x D)
Weight: 1.18 kg
Crazy? Yes, Stupid? Instead, the ROG XG Mobile cleverly doubles as a power supply and expansion dock with multiple ports. There is nothing comparable to it among existing tablet PCs. For example, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 8, it’s a very different proposition. The same goes for high-performance laptops like the Razer Blade 15. Indeed, this tablet’s closest competitor is Asus’ own ROG Flow X13, a 2-in-1 laptop that’s also compatible with the XG Mobile box. Both Asus siblings promise everything from excellent gaming performance to touch-enhanced content creation capabilities. Time to find out if the Z13 really delivers as one of the best gaming laptops out there.
Asus ROG Flow Z13 review: Features and design
For the Asus ROG Flow Z13 to make sense, it needs to function well as a conventional tablet computer. Immediately, it’s clear compromises have been made to cram high-power components into a 13.4-inch chassis.
It’s hard to believe, but this tablet PC contains none other than the Intel Core i9-12900H, all 14 cores and 20 threads worth of 12th Gen processing muscle. In theory, that’s a great chip for 5GHz and incredible computing power. As reviewed here, it comes with 16GB of DDR5 memory, a 1TB SSD from Micron and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 TI graphics chip with its own 4GB of memory.
This is unusual, and only possible with a slightly thicker chassis than most tablets at 1.2cm. It’s even thicker with an integrated clip-on chick-style keyboard that clips magnetically to the base of the chassis. However, with relatively thin bezels around the 13.4-inch display, the Flow Z13 has an overall compact impression.
The chassis itself is a material beauty, precision-milled as it is made from high-density aluminum and uses a beautiful little RGB-lit window, which gives an interesting glimpse of the technology inside. The sturdy 170-degree kickstand, meanwhile, allows for multiple viewing and input configurations. So it’s great for use on desks and tables, though less so for traditional lap top use models where few, if any, tablets excel.
For connectivity, you get one USB-C port with Thunderbolt support, one USB-A socket, an SD card reader, a headphone jack and the ROG XG Mobile Interface which we’ll get to in a moment. All told, the Flow is very heavy for a tablet device at 1.18kg. That, for example, is almost twice the weight of Apple’s fattest 12.9-inch iPad Pro. For extensive handheld operation, that kind of mass gets old quickly. As for the 13.4-inch display, it’s an IPS panel with a rather epic 3,840 by 2,400 pixel resolution and 60Hz refresh rate.
So far, this is definitely a tablet of sorts. But it’s just a tablet. Until, that is, you connect the ROG XG Mobile box. It then enters a new class of both performance and device. The box plugs into the Flow tablet’s proprietary socket protected by a small removable rubber cover that’s all too easy to lose. The socket itself is also a bit fiddly and feels fragile enough to be a long-term concern. trustworthiness. Ergonomically, the tablet and box also make for a rather complicated setup. It’s not easy to get everything looking neat and tidy.
For our review, this external graphics box housed an RTX 3080 mobile GPU connected via an eight-lane PCIe Gen 3 interface. The box also includes an I/O hub with USB, video port and SD card reader, as well as a 280W power supply. In other words, you don’t need to use the tablet’s smaller 100W power adapter when the GPU box is plugged in.
Asus ROG Flow Z13: price
At $3,299 / £2,999 in the configuration reviewed here, the Asus ROG Flow Z13 and its ROG XG Mobile RTX 3080 sidekick are clearly not cheap. But laptops are also not powered by similar components. if you want this class of performance, you have to pay for it.
For example, The Razer Blade 15 with slightly lower graphics and CPU starts at $2,999 / £2,499. Match or better the Flow spec and you’re looking at more than $4,000 / £4,000. In that context, the value proposition is actually not too bad. But in terms of pure performance, your money is clearly better spent on a conventional desktop. Squeezing powerful components into an ultra-portable form factor has always cost a fortune.
Asus ROG Flow Z13 review: performance
3D Marks: Night Raid: 44,707; Fire Attacks: 23,229; Time Spy: 10,420
Cinebench R20 Multi-core: 4,911 points
GeekBench 5: 1866 (single core); 11,581 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 (Home Test): 7,665 points
Battery Life (1080p movie test): 7 hours 20 minutes
Total War: Three Kingdoms: (1080p, Ultra): 82 fps; (1080p, Low): 260 fps
Metro Exodus (1080p, Ultra): 78 fps; (1080p, Low): 182 fps
Crystal Disc Marks: Read 3,358MB/s, write 3,225MB/s, 4K read 71MB/s, 4K write 333MB/s
4K x265 (HEVC) encoding: 9 fps
If that’s a whistle-stop tour of the highlights of this incredible combo, how does it actually perform? Perhaps unsurprisingly, we’ve seen better figures from the components involved. The Intel Core i9-12900H is a true behemoth, but squeezed into this tablet, it’s actually slower in multi-threaded workloads than its seemingly slower 12700H sibling when the latter is installed in a full-size 15-inch laptop.
For example, in the Flow Z13 the 12900H produced 4911 points in Cinebench R20 while the 12700H was good for over 6400 points in the larger form factor. It’s a similar story in 4K HEVC video encoding. In the Flow Z13, the 12900H manages 9 frames per second while the 12700H in larger laptops can do 12 frames per second. it’s not that this tablet can’t encode video, rather you’ll get better encoding performance from this CPU in a different chassis. Of course, with 16GB of RAM and what remains a very powerful CPU, less demanding workflows like importing and editing images are a breeze.
Take a look at the actual clock speed the 12900H runs in this tablet chassis and it’s pretty easy to understand why. Intel rates this chip at up to 5GHz. But in our tests under heavy load, the performance core ran at just 2.4GHz to 2.6GHz, no doubt due to the thermal limitations of the tablet chassis. Even with that modest clock speed, tablet fans came in loud and early, making quite the racket. Given all that, it’s probably not surprising that battery life isn’t all that great. You can expect about seven and a half hours of video playback with the screen at about half brightness. Add any significant load on the CPU or GPU and that number will only get smaller.
Speaking of GPUs, what about graphics performance? That depends on how you look at it. On the one hand, the RTX 3080 mobile GPU definitely doesn’t deliver the best in this lineup, either because of the low CPU clock or the limitation of the x8 PCIe Gen 3 interface. On the other hand, it’s still quite fast, especially in the context of a tablet. A smooth frame rate in any game at 1080p is a given. At 1440p, it’s quite playable. However, hooking up the Flow Z14 to a 4K display for gaming, isn’t the best idea.
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Incidentally, for gaming you really want to use an external display if possible. Obviously, the 13.4-inch screen is on the smaller side. But it also suffered a weak reaction. Asus rates it as 30ms, which is very slow and you can really see it in the form of fuzziness and fuzziness in games and videos.
For content creation workflows, display works better. There’s excellent pixel density, plenty of punch and good color accuracy, including Pantone certification and 85 percent coverage of the DCI-P3 color space. However, the 60Hz refresh is also something of a limitation when it comes to latency when using the touch interface. Oh, and for the record, the sound quality from the Dolby Atmos Flow-capable stereo speakers isn’t impressive. It doesn’t come close to the dynamic range and volume of the iPad Pro.
Should you buy the Asus ROG Flow Z13?
Compared to conventional laptops with similar components, the Asus ROG Flow Z13 and ROG XG Mobile RTX 3080 combo is a tough sell for pure performance. Performance suffers because of the extreme form factor and convoluted engineering.
Indeed, this is a valid question about how practical it is to carry both a tablet and a graphics dock. However, an alternative approach is to leave the dock behind and fall back on the secondary RTX 3050 Ti GPU on the go. For certain niches of content creators, that can be a very exciting prospect. However, we have concerns about the long-term reliability of certain aspects of the ROG XG Mobile interface.
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