As someone who spends a lot of time evaluating and promoting laptops for a living, one of the most often questions I receive is, “Why don’t I get a laptop myself?” It’s because I’m constantly torn with the form factor.
The primary issue is that I like slim and light laptops for work, but I also want a computer that can keep up with my gaming demands without sacrificing performance.
Regardless of how wonderful today’s computers are, it appeared theoretically impossible to create a very thin & light gaming laptop without sacrificing performance, unless you violate the laws of physics. But it was at this point when the new ASUS ROG Flow x13 knocked on my door.
The ASUS ROG Flow x13 is as thin and light as a 13-inch ultrabook can get. However, it is packed with strong components that allow it to compete with even the top notebooks on the market. But should you bother looking into the Flow x13, or is it simply another pricey laptop that will go unnoticed? Let’s find out in this in-depth examination.
Specifications for the ASUS ROG Flow x13
- AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS 3.3 GHz Processor (Turbo up to 4.8 GHz, 8 cores)
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q – 4096 MB graphics
- ASUS ROG XG Mobile RTX 3080 – 150W TGP – 16GB GDDR6
- 32GB DDR4-4266MHz dual-channel RAM
- 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD storage
- Display: 13.4-inch 16:10 4K 60Hz IPS touchscreen display
Let’s start with the performance and see what this CPU is capable of. Unsurprisingly, the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS performed admirably in both single-core and multi-core benchmarks.
The Flow x13 scored 6,341 on the PCMark 10 test for modern office tasks, which is greater than all mainstream stream laptops and even several specialised gaming laptops when we tested them here at Digit. That demonstrates how outstanding the Ryzen 9 5900HS truly is.
Moving on to Cinebench R20, the ROG Flow x13 scored 4,361 points, outperforming even certain high-gaming laptops like the Zephyrus G14, which is powered by the Ryzen 9 4900HS.
Its result brought it closer to the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX-powered ASUS ROG Strix Scar 15. On Cinebench R23, the Ryzen 9 5900HS in this laptop outperformed the latest Intel Core i7-11800H-powered MSI Pulse GL66 gaming laptop.
Moving on to the GPU-centric testing, let’s have a look at the laptop’s performance with and without the XG Mobile unit. If you don’t have the XG Mobile unit, you’ll have a better grasp of how the ROG Flow x13 operates.
I performed 3DMark’s suite of tests on the laptop first, without the XG Mobile unit, and then again with the XG Mobile device. These results are shown in the screenshot below. The results with the XG Mobile unit clearly beat the built-in GTX 1650, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise, right?
If you want to realise this laptop’s full gaming capabilities, I strongly advise you to get the XG Mobile. Yes, it’s pricey, but that’s how you’ll get the most out of this laptop because the GTX 1650 GPU will be on its knees as soon as you run certain recent games, such as this.
Speaking about gaming, I ended up performing a lot of it on this laptop, owing to the fact that I had to run them twice to test on both GPUs.
The findings for those may be seen in the screenshot shown below. Games like Doom Eternal and Forza Horizon 4 demonstrate a significant difference in performance, which is why I stated that the XG Mobile unit is required to get the greatest performance out of the ROG Flow x13 gaming laptop.
That being said, as long as you keep your expectations in control, the Flow x13 laptop with just the GTX 1650 discrete GPU should be enough to fulfil your hunger for gaming.
Although the Flow x13 has a 4K display, I do not advocate playing games at that resolution while it is powered by the built-in GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU. In reality, the GPU was barely able to attain playable frame rates at 1080p, since it soon exceeds its limits in newer titles such as Red Dead Redemption 2.
The ray-tracing performance of the XG Mobile unit is likewise excellent, due to the RTX 3080 GPU. Running games like Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition with High RT settings and achieving 60FPS is extremely amazing for a notebook of this size.
When it comes to creative demanding applications, the ROG Flow x13 provides dependable performance. I did a few of Blender tests to see how fast 3D rendering rates were with and without the XG Mobile unit, and the results were astounding. It’s no surprise that the 3080 produces scenes at breakneck rates when compared to both the CPU and the GTX 1650.
To put the Flow x13 through its paces with creative workloads, I used Lightroom Classic to export batches of 50, 100, 250, and 500 RAW files shot on a Nikon D850.
The shorter the time it takes for a laptop to export the data, the better in this case. The Flow x13 exported batches of 50, 100, and 500 RAW files in 132, 279, and 1297 seconds, respectively. The AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS truly shone here, placing it on the top of the list of some of the most powerful laptops.
Moving on, I exported a 4K project with a runtime of 5 minutes and 20 minutes to test how long it takes to render the clips to disc in Premiere. The laptop was able to produce the footage in 352 seconds, which is another another feat. Using an XG Mobile attachment with an RTX 3070 or 3080 will significantly minimise the time required to render the file.
Based on the above specifications, I’d say the laptop is ideal for creative workloads. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU isn’t as powerful as some of the newest GPUs, but it can still handle anything.
However, it’s worth noting that 16GB RAM might be a hindrance when working with Lightroom and Premiere, so take that in mind while making a buying choice.
Because it’s difficult to expect a small and light laptop to have excellent thermals, both the CPU and the GPU suffer from thermal throttling under heavy loads. The ROG Flow x13, on the other hand, was a nice surprise. It discovered that even under intense loads, both CPU and GPU temperatures were far within the limits.
The AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS reached a maximum Core temperature of around 87°C. This happened while I was doing a stress test, and the CPU use was at 100%, with all cores working at high speeds.
While running the Cinebench R20 test, the CPU core temperature reached 81°C, which is the type of temperature I expect the CPU core to reach while completing even the most demanding activities on a daily basis. However, after an hour or two of steady strain on the SoC, the clock speed will begin to slow and stabilise at approximately 2.0Ghz.
The GTX 1650 Max-Q reached a maximum temperature of roughly 71°C, which I consider to be within acceptable boundaries. When the GPU is under intense stress, you may observe some degree of thermal throttling.
Regardless of the core temperatures of the CPU and GPU, the laptop surface temperatures never exceeded 50°C. The centre of the keyboard stayed at roughly 48°C, whereas the region around the WASD keys remained at around 40°C.
Yes, the laptop’s core temperatures were high, but the surface temps, particularly the keyboard deck, stayed cool, and I never felt uncomfortable. This is advantageous for individuals who do not wish to invest in an external keyboard.
The XG Mobile unit was also able to keep up with the load admirably. The device has a built-in fan that forcefully pushes out heated air.
The hot air coming out of the XG unit is around 50’C, therefore it’s best to have a cool surrounding temperature if you want to play for extended periods of time or push the GPU to its maximum. Having said that, the RTX 3080 was able to keep inside acceptable boundaries.
Our ASUS ROG Flow x13 came with a 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD, which I believe is plenty for a primary drive. I’d like to point out that there’s no place for a supplementary M.2 slot in this laptop’s small chassis.
On the CrystalDiskMark test, I was able to record sequential read-write rates of 2418MB/s read and 1957MB/s write, respectively. The laptop’s boot times and app and game loading times are lightning fast, and I had no problems at all.
There aren’t many tiny and light laptops with a nice keyboard, but I particularly liked the one on the ASUS ROG Flow x13. It has a 6-row chicklet-style keyboard that I found really pleasant to type on. The keys offer excellent feedback and produce a loud click noise when pressed.
I’d say the typing experience was comparable to using the Asus Zephyrus G14 keyboard when it first came out. I simply wish the keys were a little larger since I kept hitting the neighbouring keys while typing.
It’s a backlit keyboard with three brightness settings that you can control. I appreciate that there is no RGB lighting. It complements the laptop’s minimalist style. Overall, I think it’s a good keyboard, and I’m confident you’ll enjoy typing on it and get used to it quickly.
The trackpad, on the other hand, proved to be a letdown for me. The major reason for this is because of its size. Yes, it’s tough to put a large trackpad into such a little chassis, but I noticed my fingertips wandering outside the trackpad more frequently than I’d prefer. It’s roughly the same size as the trackpad on a 13-inch Dell XPS laptop, for example.
So, if you’re used to it, I’m confident you’ll be alright. The trackpad surface is exceptionally smooth, and it offers excellent tracking and Windows gesture compatibility thanks to Windows Precision drivers.
Moving on to the IO, this is one of my big complaints with the ROG Flow x13. If you do not have the XG Mobile unit accessories, the port choices is severely limited.
There are just three USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports with Power Delivery and DisplayPort compatibility. One is a USB Type-A port, while the other two are Type-C ports. You also charge the laptop using a Type-C connector, so you’ve already lost one of the ports, leaving you with only two left.
In addition, there is an HDMI port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The proprietary ROG XG Mobile Interface on the left side takes up a lot of space on the side.
If you’re going to splurge on an XG Mobile, the eGPU unit is well worth it because it has a plethora of connectors. If you don’t, you’re stuck with a worthless UI and a very restricted port choices. In addition to the power button on the right side, there are several air vents on the sides of the laptop.
The XG Mobile unit has four USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A connections, an HDMI 2.0 port, a DisplayPort 1.4 connector with G-Sync compatibility, an RJ45 LAN port, a DC input socket, and an SD Card reader. So, as previously said, the XG Mobile unit has a large number of ports, but the laptop itself has a relatively restricted assortment.
The ASUS ROG Flow x13 is powered by a 62Whr battery, which lasted around 330 minutes on PCMark 10’s battery test at maximum brightness. 6+ hours of battery backup on PCMark 10’s battery test is exactly what I expected from the ASUS ROG Flow x13, so I wouldn’t say it disappointed.
In real-world terms, it amounts to around 4-5 hours of usage on a single charge. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on the type of activity you are performing, but the laptop should be able to last at least 4 hours without trouble. You may, however, reduce the display brightness to get more use out of it.
When you’re out of energy and don’t have access to a charger, I recommend lowering the display resolution. I don’t advocate executing any resource-intensive applications on battery power because both the CPU and GPU performance are throttled.
The display is one of the aspects that contribute to the overall enjoyment of using this laptop. A 13.4-inch 16:10 display with 3840×2400 pixels is on show.
Yes, it has a 4K display with a pixel density of 338 PPI. Because it is also a touchscreen panel, it has a glossy surface. For a higher refresh rate, I would have preferred a 1920×1200 resolution panel, but that isn’t really a choice here.
According to ASUS, this is one of the greatest screens they’ve ever placed on a laptop. They said it was a highly color-calibrated Pantone verified panel, so I was eager to put it to the test.
During my testing, I achieved a peak brightness of 337 cd/m2 and a dark level of 0.25 cd/m. It has a contrast ratio of 1360:1 and an average Correlated Color Temperature of 7119. This indicates that the colour temperature of the screen is on the chilly side.
The display covers 100 percent of the sRGB colour space and 85 percent of the DCI-P3 colour spectrum. The panel’s colour fidelity in the sRGB colour space also amazed me. We have a DeltaE value of 2.1, with the maximum DeltaE value on Calman ColourChecker Analysis being far within the allowed limits. It’s an excellent panel for both general day-to-day use and color-sensitive applications.
The panel is capable of displaying vibrant colours with pinpoint precision. It merely has to be calibrated to reflect the DCI-P3 or sRGB colour spaces. The panel is set up to be sRGB compliant right out of the box.
Even when not doing color-sensitive work, I believe the panel is super crisp due to the 4K resolution, and everything looks nice and vibrant. It is ideal for both gaming and media consumption. I ended up having a lot of fun with this exhibit.
The only disadvantage of having a touchscreen panel is that it is shiny. Viewing angles can be a source of frustration. Glossy surfaces, as you’re surely aware, produce reflections on the panel, which might be bothersome while using this laptop outside, especially on a sunny day. Simply keep it in mind.
If you happen to see a ROG Flow x13 laptop in the public, chances are you won’t recognise it as a gaming laptop. It’s a 13.4-inch convertible 2-in-1 laptop that weighs roughly 1.3Kg and measures about 16mm thick.
You can also flip the screen around and use it as a tablet. None of these characteristics are typical of a gaming laptop, so good luck with the guessing game.
It has a distinct texture that makes it feel incredibly comfortable, in addition to being one of the lightest gaming laptops I have ever used. The texture spans throughout the laptop’s lid, palm rest, and bottom deck. It’s difficult not to notice this and run your hands over it every time you open it. As you can see, the texture also lends it a futuristic appearance while preserving a very simple style.
I like how there is no RGB lighting or ROG logos that illuminate anywhere on the body. RBG lighting and a distinctive design are nice, but they would have detracted from the Flow x13’s generally subtle appearance.
It is ideal for usage as a business laptop at the workplace during the day. It does, however, include certain “gaming” characteristics, such as the imprinted ROG logo on the right palm rest and dedicated volume and muting controls on the top of the keyboard, as well as a key to open the Armoury Crate gaming software.
The laptop’s 360-degree hinge allows you to utilise it as a tablet. You could also set it up like a tent or leave the screen up as a standalone display. To get those extra frame rates, I mostly used it in tent mode with an external display connected while gaming.
The ROG Flow x13’s speakers are bottom-firing, yet they are surprisingly loud. Sure, other gaming laptops are louder, but given how small the chassis is, I wasn’t expecting this laptop to fill my room. I still recommend getting a pair of gaming headphones or external speakers for content consumption, but it’s a nice set of speakers that won’t let you down right away.
The ASUS ROG Flow x13 is without a doubt one of the most unique laptops I’ve used in recent memory, and I applaud ASUS for making such an audacious attempt. Having said that, it’s difficult to simply provide a “Yes” or “No” answer here. Listen to me out!
The ROG Flow x13 is a fantastic work/entertainment laptop even without the XG Mobile. However, if you use it as an ultrabook without the attachment, you will have to sacrifice battery life and cope with the low-powered graphics card.
It’s not a bad decision because you get a beast of a CPU, a 4K display, and a well-built machine, but you might want to look at other ultrabooks as well, especially for Rs 1,19,990.
However, the actual potential of the ROG Flow x13 can only be realised with the Mobile XG unit and that external GPU. Yes, the dedicated GTX 1650 Max-Q fits into the overall concept, but in order for it to be a true “Republic Of Gamers” machine, it requires that extra power to fully transform into a true desktop replacement. With the XG Mobile unit addon, it’s an incredible beast.
In India, the ASUS ROG Flow x13 starts at Rs 1,19,990. The variant we’re looking at today costs Rs 1,39,990. The RTX 3070 GPU is available for Rs 69,990 in the XG Mobile. The variant with an RTX 3080 costs Rs 1,39,990. As you can see, the full package is quite pricey, and it is not suitable for everyone.
However, if you’re looking for a portable laptop that’s also great for gaming without any restrictions, the ROG Flow x13 and XG Mobile unit combo is unbeatable. Without that attachment, the ROG Flow x13 is still a lightning fast AMD-powered laptop, but don’t be afraid to look at alternative ultrabooks on the market.