Asus ROG Flow X13 review: a game-ready 2-in-1

Asus ROG Flow X13 review: a game-ready 2-in-1

Asus ROG Move X13 assessment: a game-ready 2-in-1

If I noticed the Asus ROG Move X13 within the wild, I’d by no means guess it was a gaming laptop computer. It’s a 13.4-inch 2-in-1 convertible that’s simply 2.9 kilos and .62 inches thick. Flip the display screen round, and you should use it as a pill.

A 13-inch gaming laptop computer with these proportions isn’t unparalleled, however it’s actually uncommon. How is Asus pulling it off? The key is that the actual gaming {hardware} is on the surface.

The Asus ROG Flow X13 connected to the XG Mobile.

The ROG Move and its eGPU companion make a sexy pair.

By itself, the Move X13 appears to be like like a high-end productiveness machine. Inside is AMD’s Ryzen 9 5980HS, a monstrous cell processor with eight cores and 16 threads — making this undoubtedly probably the most highly effective CPU we’ve ever seen in a 13-inch chassis. That’s paired with an entry-level Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 with Max-Q design, 32GB of reminiscence, 1TB of storage, and a 16:10 3840 x 2400 contact show. (You’ll be able to select a 120Hz FHD show as effectively.)

On paper, that’s a wonderful multimedia gadget that might compete very effectively with the likes of the Dell XPS 13, within the $1,000-$2,000 worth vary. However Asus isn’t promoting it that means: it’s promoting it as an ultraportable gaming laptop computer and bundling it with its very personal exterior GPU referred to as the XG Cell. Asus says this GPU will ship energy equal to that of a GeForce RTX 3080 — Nvidia’s prime of the road. So right here’s the kicker: for the second, you possibly can solely purchase the Move X13 bundled with the XG Cell. The configuration we’ve got prices $3,299.99.

That’s some huge cash. It’s greater than any variety of glorious high-end gaming laptops value. It’s over $1,000 greater than the Razer Blade Stealth 13 and greater than twice the worth of Asus’s personal Zephyrus G14, the 2 finest gaming laptops within the ultraportable class. The argument for it’s that for $3,299, you’re basically shopping for three laptops: one which’s competing with the Dell XPS 13, one which’s competing with the Blade Stealth, and one which’s competing with a lot bigger techniques like Razer’s Blade Professional 17 (with the caveat that it wants an eGPU to maintain up).

I simply want these three laptops could possibly be offered individually — and I want I might give them separate scores. As a result of the Move X13, by itself, is really a wonderful laptop computer and one of the vital highly effective 13-inch techniques available on the market as we speak. However by positioning this as a gaming rig and slapping it with a $3,000 price ticket, Asus has compelled the Move into the premium gaming class. And whereas it holds its personal amongst opponents there, it nonetheless comes with extra compromises than I’d wish to see from a $3,000 product.

I’ll begin by explaining what makes the Move X13 so nice as a general-purpose laptop computer, as a result of there actually is rather a lot going for it. Not solely is it gentle sufficient that carrying it looks like carrying nothing, however it’s additionally the coolest-feeling laptop computer I’ve used up to now 12 months. The lid, the palm rests, and the underside of the deck all have a ridged corduroy-ish texture that’s exhausting to withstand operating your arms over. It additionally offers the entire thing a glossy, futuristic look.

Like many Asus laptops, the Move X13 has an ErgoLift hinge that tilts the keyboard barely off the desk when the clamshell is open. This hinge was a bit extra rounded than these I’ve seen on fold-under laptops up to now, and it wasn’t sharp in any respect in my lap.

The Asus ROG Flow X13 keyboard seen from above.

The keys have 1.7mm of journey and a 0.15mm keycap curve.

One other factor that’s nice: the 16:10 display screen. Most gaming laptops are nonetheless 16:9, however many high-end enterprise and productiveness laptops are beginning to transfer to 16:10 and three:2 shows this 12 months. That’s with good motive: You get noticeably extra vertical area with a 16:10 decision, which suggests a lot much less scrolling and zooming out all through your work day.

The panel can also be suitable with the Asus Pen, and Asus says it’s “extremely scratch-resistant.” Whereas I didn’t go to nice lengths to attempt to scratch the factor, I used to be struck by how resilient it was normally. I gave it an excellent quantity of touchscreen use all through my first day of testing, and I by no means observed any form of fingerprints or smudges left behind. One notice: there’s noticeable hinge wobble whenever you’re utilizing the touchscreen in clamshell mode, which wasn’t a difficulty for me however could also be for some of us.

Inside, this laptop computer is a whirlwind. The Ryzen 9 5980HS is clearly a powerhouse. It dealt with my decently heavy load of photograph enhancing, Spotify streaming, and heaps of Chrome tabs and apps with no downside; I by no means as soon as heard the followers spin up. The X13 could possibly be an excellent selection for anybody who wants a 13.4-inch laptop computer for computational duties or different heavy workplace or college work.

Audio can also be fairly good. It doesn’t get as loud as an exterior speaker would, however the bass and percussion are a few of the finest I’ve ever heard on a laptop computer. Within the preloaded Dolby Entry app, you can even swap between presets for music, gaming, films, and so forth. The Move additionally helps two-way AI noise cancellation for video calls.

The ROG Flow X13 faces away from the camera.

There’s a flashy ROG brand within the backside nook.

The left side of the Asus ROG Flow X13.

The cap that covers the eGPU connector is tiny, so ensure that to not lose it.

The right side of the Asus ROG Flow X13.

The X13 Move costs through its USB-C port when not plugged into the XG Cell.

And the keyboard, as Asus keyboards usually are, is great. It feels fairly just like that of the Zephyrus G14, which was one in all my absolute favourite keyboards of 2020. It has a powerful click on, good journey, and really good backlighting.

Lastly, as a result of this can be a respectable query with Asus ROG merchandise: sure, there’s a webcam. It’s nothing to jot down house about, however it does exist.

I actually have just one grievance about this method, and that’s the battery life. Whereas operating my normal workload with the display screen at 200 nits of brightness, even with Battery Saver on and bloatware uninstalled, the Move X13 solely lasted a median of 5 hours and 47 minutes. The high-resolution show is probably going a contributor right here — you might get barely higher mileage from the FHD panel. Whereas enjoying Purple Useless, the Move lasted simply over an hour and have become unplayable 55 minutes in with 10 p.c remaining.

The XG Mobile seen from above.

The XG Cell weighs simply 2.2 kilos and measures 8.19 x 6.1 x 1.17 inches.

I want this assessment might cease there. As a result of what Asus has made here’s a lovely machine that might completely rival the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 as an ultraportable, 16:10 convertible. Battery life is absolutely my solely grievance. However since Asus has determined that this can be a gaming laptop computer, we’re going to want to dive into the way it handles video games.

Let’s discuss a bit about this XG Cell factor. It’s small for an exterior GPU, weighing simply 2.2 kilos; Asus says it’s solely 6 p.c of the scale of a typical GPU. It connects to the Move X13 with a proprietary connector that permits for as much as 64Gbps of bandwidth, with one other 10Gbps reserved for USB hyperlink.

Along with serving as an exterior GPU, the XG Cell powers the laptop computer when it’s plugged in. (The Move additionally ships with an everyday 100W charger.)

The eGPU additionally serves as an exterior USB dock with a complete bunch of additional ports. In whole, it contains: one HDMI 2.0, one DP 1.4, one Ethernet jack, one DC enter jack, 4 USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, and one SD card reader. That’s along with the one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Kind-A, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Kind C (with DisplayPort 1.4 and PD help), one audio combo jack, and one HDMI 2.0b which are already on the laptop computer itself. All in all, a wide variety.

The Asus ROG Flow X13 in tent mode.

With the XG Cell linked, the X13 Move can energy as much as 4 shows.

I ran 5 fashionable video games on the ROG Move at 1920 x 1080 decision, each with and with out the XG Cell. I additionally ran them at native decision (with the XG Cell). All video games have been run at their highest potential settings; in 4K, they have been run with DLSS on and ray tracing off (the place relevant). Check out the leads to the chart under:

Asus ROG Move X13

Configuration Horizon Zero Daybreak Purple Useless Redemption II Shadow of the Tomb Raider Cyberpunk 2077 Overwatch
Configuration Horizon Zero Daybreak Purple Useless Redemption II Shadow of the Tomb Raider Cyberpunk 2077 Overwatch
ROG Move X13, 1920 x 1080 38 29 40 28 77
ROG Move X13+XG Cell, 1920 x 1080 84 76 93 (ray tracing off), 76 (ray tracing on) 71 (ray tracing off), 55 (ray tracing on) 266
ROG FLow X13+XG Cell, 3840 x 2400 41 42 49 38 100

As you possibly can see, these body charges are respectable. It is best to be capable to play no matter sport you need at 1080p with no need to bump the graphics down, and you’ll even play some at native decision. Even so, my total response right here is “Meh.” For example why, I’ll pull out a couple of comparisons. (That is all with the same old caveat that relative efficiency will all the time differ by title.)

Whereas utilizing the GTX 1650, the X13 ran Shadow of the Tomb Raider at a median of 40fps. The Razer Blade Stealth 13 ran that title at 45fps, and the Zephyrus G14 ran it at 74fps. The Zephyrus additionally beat the Move on Purple Useless Redemption II, averaging 31fps to the Move’s 29fps. Purple Useless wouldn’t enable me to max out each slider as a consequence of obtainable reminiscence, so this method is additional behind the Zephyrus than that rating makes it seem.

Each of those laptops are comparably transportable to the Move X13 and simply as well-built; they’ve worse processors and higher GPUs. Additionally they each value over $1,400 lower than this Move X13 bundle. So if you happen to’re trying to really sport on the go, quite than simply do workplace work, take into consideration whether or not you’d quite have a kind of rather more reasonably priced gadgets with higher body charges.

However I’d nonetheless be on board with a $3,299 bundle worth if the X13 Move and XG Cell delivered distinctive efficiency with no compromises — particularly if it put 4K gaming on the desk. The excellent news is that this exterior GPU does present an appropriate 4K gaming expertise (particularly on Overwatch, the simplest sport on right here). However eGPUs typically include some form of efficiency penalty, and I’m seeing that on a few of these titles.

For comparability, we will look to the Razer Blade Professional 17, a GeForce RTX 2080 Tremendous Max-Q system in the identical worth neighborhood because the Move X13 bundle. (Our 2080 Tremendous Max-Q configuration was $3,199.) The XG Cell clearly has no hassle with simpler titles like Overwatch, the place it breezed previous all the laptops talked about right here. Nevertheless it struggled with extra intense fare, and ray tracing particularly. The Blade Professional 17 averaged 95fps on Shadow of the Tomb Raider with ray tracing maxed out, the place the Move X13 and the XG Cell averaged 76fps. Asus’ Zephyrus Duo 15, additionally with a 2080 Tremendous Max-Q, additionally handily beat the Move there, averaging 87fps.

And the Move can also be coming in behind extra reasonably priced techniques with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3070 — the $1,899 MSI GP66 Leopard beat it on each Tomb Raider and Horizon, and basically tied it on Purple Useless.

So total, whether or not you’re getting higher body charges from the XG Cell or a bigger gaming laptop computer can be considerably title-dependent — however it’s clear that we’re seeing a efficiency penalty on some fashionable video games.

The Asus ROG X13 Flow seen from the right side.

The X13 Move is an progressive gaming rig, however it asks some compromises.

So right here’s one of the best argument for the ROG Move X13. Through the day, you should use it as a piece and leisure laptop computer, with an excellent display screen, a cushty keyboard, full audio, and an exceptional processor that may deal with no matter duties you throw at it. Perhaps you possibly can play a sport or two, if you happen to bump down the decision. Once you’re house at night time, put the Move in your desk and pop within the XG Cell, and it turns into a premium gaming laptop computer with 4K chops.

That’s superb; I’m all for that. However potential consumers ought to be conscious that in making a laptop computer that basically features as three laptops (an XPS 13, a Stealth 13, and a Professional 17), you’re making compromises in every use case. Within the ultrabook class, it’s the battery life. Within the transportable gaming class, it’s the low-powered graphics card and the large uptick in worth. And within the desktop-replacement class, it’s the eGPU efficiency value, which can or is probably not vital relying on the video games you’re enjoying.

Reviewers throw this phrase round to explain all types of laptops, however it’s very true right here: in making an attempt to be a jack of all trades, this laptop computer is a grasp of none. And whereas the Move X13 is a top-notch convertible, and a formidable achievement from Asus, it additionally prices over $3,000. In case you want each a high-performance workplace laptop computer and a high-performance gaming laptop computer in a single, and you’ve got that form of change to throw round, I gained’t cease you. However those that primarily want one or the opposite ought to be higher in a position to fulfill their wants with one thing extra reasonably priced, whether or not it’s a high-end 2-in-1 or a transportable gaming rig.

Pictures by Monica Chin / GadgetClock

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