Home PC / Laptops Asus ROG Flow X13 review: a game-ready 2-in-1

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

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

If I noticed the Asus ROG Movement 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 round, and you need to use it as a pill.

A 13-inch gaming laptop computer with these proportions isn’t remarkable, but it surely’s definitely uncommon. How is Asus pulling it off? The key is that the true gaming {hardware} is on the skin.

The Asus ROG Flow X13 connected to the XG Mobile.

The ROG Movement and its eGPU companion make a pretty pair.

By itself, the Movement X13 seems to be like a high-end productiveness machine. Inside is AMD’s Ryzen 9 5980HS, a monstrous cellular 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 possibly can select a 120Hz FHD show as properly.)

On paper, that’s a wonderful multimedia system that might compete very properly 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 Cellular. 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 Movement X13 bundled with the XG Cellular. The configuration now we have prices $3,299.99.

That’s some huge cash. It’s greater than any variety of glorious high-end gaming laptops price. It’s over $1,000 greater than the Razer Blade Stealth 13 and greater than twice the value 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 Pro 17 (with the caveat that it wants an eGPU to maintain up).

I simply want these three laptops could possibly be bought individually — and I want I may give them separate scores. As a result of the Movement X13, by itself, is actually a wonderful laptop computer and one of the crucial highly effective 13-inch techniques in the marketplace in the present day. However by positioning this as a gaming rig and slapping it with a $3,000 price ticket, Asus has compelled the Movement 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 Movement X13 so nice as a general-purpose laptop computer, as a result of there actually is loads going for it. Not solely is it gentle sufficient that carrying it appears like carrying nothing, but it surely’s additionally the coolest-feeling laptop computer I’ve used previously 12 months. The lid, the palm rests, and the underside of the deck all have a ridged corduroy-ish texture that’s laborious to withstand operating your palms over. It additionally provides the entire thing a smooth, futuristic look.

Like many Asus laptops, the Movement 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 previously, 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. Most gaming laptops are nonetheless 16:9, however many high-end enterprise and productiveness laptops are starting to move to 16:10 and three:2 shows this 12 months. That’s with good cause: You get noticeably extra vertical house with a 16:10 decision, which implies a lot much less scrolling and zooming out all through your work day.

The panel can also be appropriate 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 typically. I gave it a superb 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 word: 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 picture enhancing, Spotify streaming, and heaps of Chrome tabs and apps with no drawback; I by no means as soon as heard the followers spin up. The X13 could possibly be an ideal alternative for anybody who wants a 13.4-inch laptop computer for computational duties or different heavy workplace or faculty work.

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

The ROG Flow X13 faces away from the camera.

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

The left side of the Asus ROG Flow X13.

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

The right side of the Asus ROG Flow X13.

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

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

Lastly, as a result of it is a reputable query with Asus ROG merchandise: sure, there’s a webcam. It’s nothing to jot down house about, but it surely does exist.

I actually have just one criticism about this method, and that’s the battery life. Whereas operating my normal workload with the display at 200 nits of brightness, even with Battery Saver on and bloatware uninstalled, the Movement 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 taking part in Crimson Useless


, the Movement lasted simply over an hour and have become unplayable 55 minutes in with 10 % remaining.

The XG Mobile seen from above.

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

I want this overview may 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 basically my solely criticism. However since Asus has determined that it is 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 Cellular factor. It’s small for an exterior GPU, weighing simply 2.2 kilos; Asus says it’s solely 6 % of the scale of a typical GPU. It connects to the Movement 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 Cellular powers the laptop computer when it’s plugged in. (The Movement additionally ships with an everyday 100W charger.)

The eGPU additionally serves as an exterior USB dock with an entire bunch of additional ports. In complete, it consists of: 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 might be already on the laptop computer itself. All in all, a wide selection.

The Asus ROG Flow X13 in tent mode.

With the XG Cellular related, the X13 Movement can energy as much as 4 shows.

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

Asus ROG Movement X13

Configuration Horizon Zero Daybreak Crimson Useless Redemption II Shadow of the Tomb Raider Cyberpunk 2077 Overwatch
Configuration Horizon Zero Daybreak Crimson Useless Redemption II Shadow of the Tomb Raider Cyberpunk 2077 Overwatch
ROG Movement X13, 1920 x 1080 38 29 40 28 77
ROG Movement X13+XG Cellular, 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 Cellular, 3840 x 2400 41 42 49 38 100

As you possibly can see, these body charges are respectable. You need to be capable of play no matter recreation you need at 1080p without having to bump the graphics down, and you may even play some at native decision. Even so, my total response right here is “Meh.” As an instance why, I’ll pull out a number of comparisons. (That is all with the standard caveat that relative efficiency will all the time fluctuate 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 Movement on Crimson Useless Redemption II, averaging 31fps to the Movement’s 29fps. Crimson Useless wouldn’t enable me to max out each slider on account of accessible reminiscence, so this method is additional behind the Zephyrus than that rating makes it seem.

Each of those laptops are comparably moveable to the Movement X13 and simply as well-built; they’ve worse processors and higher GPUs. Additionally they each price over $1,400 lower than this Movement X13 bundle. So should you’re seeking to truly recreation on the go, fairly than simply do workplace work, take into consideration whether or not you’d fairly have a type 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 Movement and XG Cellular 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 recreation on right here). However eGPUs usually include some type 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 Movement X13 bundle. (Our 2080 Tremendous Max-Q configuration was $3,199.) The XG Cellular clearly has no hassle with simpler titles like Overwatch, the place it breezed previous the entire 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 Movement X13 and the XG Cellular averaged 76fps. Asus’ Zephyrus Duo 15, additionally with a 2080 Tremendous Max-Q, additionally handily beat the Movement there, averaging 87fps.

And the Movement 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 Crimson Useless.

So total, whether or not you’re getting higher body charges from the XG Cellular or a bigger gaming laptop computer will likely be considerably title-dependent — but it surely’s clear that we’re seeing a efficiency penalty on some in style video games.

The Asus ROG X13 Flow seen from the right side.

The X13 Movement is an modern gaming rig, but it surely asks some compromises.

So right here’s the most effective argument for the ROG Movement X13. In the course of the day, you need to use it as a piece and leisure laptop computer, with an ideal display, a snug keyboard, full audio, and an exceptional processor that may deal with no matter duties you throw at it. Perhaps you possibly can play a recreation or two, should you bump down the decision. While you’re house at evening, put the Movement in your desk and pop within the XG Cellular, and it turns into a premium gaming laptop computer with 4K chops.

That’s tremendous; I’m all for that. However potential patrons must be conscious that in making a laptop computer that basically capabilities 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 moveable gaming class, it’s the low-powered graphics card and the huge uptick in worth. And within the desktop-replacement class, it’s the eGPU efficiency price, which can or is probably not important relying on the video games you’re taking part in.

Reviewers throw this phrase round to explain all types of laptops, but it surely’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 Movement X13 is a top-notch convertible, and a powerful achievement from Asus, it additionally prices over $3,000. Should 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 received’t cease you. However those that primarily want one or the opposite must be higher capable of fulfill their wants with one thing extra reasonably priced, whether or not it’s a high-end 2-in-1 or a conveyable gaming rig.

Pictures by Monica Chin / The Verge

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