ROG FLOW Z13 Review – A unique feature-packed 2-in-1 gaming computer

ROG FLOW Z13 ReviewA unique feature-packed 2-in-1 gaming device
A 2-in-1 slot machine? As interesting as it sounds, it is a very difficult idea to implement. Thermal management and the size of the case would pose several challenges for the engineers and product designers. However, ASUS ROG has mastered all challenges with the new ROG Flow Z13.

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When I first saw the Z 13 at the media reveal event, I just fell in love with the design and the overall form factor of the device. My love for RGB lights and the cyberpunk aesthetic is a whole different story.
Later, ASUS India sent the Flow Z13 for review and we had a great time with the device. This is our report. Before we start the review, we would like to note that comparing the ROG Flow Z 13 to other gaming laptops is not justified. This is a 2-in-1 device with multiple uses, even for non-gamers. Compare this to the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 and suddenly it all makes sense.

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ROG Flow Z13
ROG Flow Z13

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The ROG Flow Z 13 primarily looks like the gaming version of Microsoft’s Surface Pro or iPad Pro. As a ROG device, it doesn’t shy away from showing off its gaming roots, and we love that. The device is a typical tablet/detachable keyboard combo; However, full-fledged gaming laptop hardware is included.

ROG Flow Z13 rear view with a window showing the internals in RGB lighting
ROG Flow Z13 rear view with a window showing the internals in RGB lighting

Aside from the suede-covered, detachable keyboard, the Z 13 has a slightly thicker stand than the comparable Microsoft Surface Pro 8 or iPad Pro, but there’s a lot going on here. The device has a metal body and feels really premium. There’s a small window on the back that reveals a glimpse of the internal motherboard, and of course it’s an ROG device, so that window has RGB lighting.

ROG FLow Z13 window inside
ROG FLow Z13 window inside

The keyboard

The detachable keyboard that comes in the box is quite nice and continues the gamer aesthetic and also features single-zone RGB lighting. The keyboard is covered with a suede/Alcantara style material and feels very good.

ROG Flow Z13 - RGB keyboard on a 2-in-1
ROG Flow Z13 – RGB keyboard on a 2-in-1

The keys are also fast and clicky with decent travel, you can use them for casual gaming, but if you’re a gamer you’d already have your Cherry MX mechanical keyboard and a fast mouse handy.

ROG Flow Z13 - Chiclet keyboard with 17mm travel and single-zone RGB lighting
ROG Flow Z13 – Chiclet keyboard with 1.7mm travel and single-zone RGB lighting

The standard-sized touchpad is easy to use and registers clicks and touches very well. We didn’t use this keyboard for gaming but when traveling we used the keyboard to make some quick copies and typing on this keyboard was easy, the keys have decent depth and are very responsive.

ROG Flow Z13 has ports on both sides
ROG Flow Z13 has ports on both sides

ports

The ROG Flow Z 13 has plenty of ports despite being one of the thinnest and lightest “gaming” devices I’ve used to date. You get the proprietary ROG XG Mobile Interface for connecting the external ROG 3080 GPU, a Thunderbolt 4 connector with DisplayPort and PD support, a USB 2.0 Type-A connector, a microSD card reader, and another supported USB Type-C -Connection DisplayPort, power supply and G-Sync.
ROG Flow Z13 - UHD display with 500 nits brightness and Dolby Vision HDR
ROG Flow Z13 – UHD display with 500 nits brightness and Dolby Vision HDR

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ROG Flow Z 13 is available with two display configurations – a 13.4-inch 1920 x 1200 IPS panel with a 120Hz refresh rate and a 13.4-inch 3840 x 2400 IPS panel and a Refresh rate of 60 Hz. Both panels have a brightness of 500 cd/m², Pantone validation, Dolby Vision HDR and adaptive synchronization. The review unit came with the UHD panel along with a stylus in the box, as both displays offer touch and stylus support. The review unit’s UHD panel was brilliant and consuming content on that 13.4-inch screen was a wonderful experience. It’s a 2-in-1 game though, so we loaded Valorant, Cyberpunk and a few other games and the display was sharp with great viewing angles. The brightness of 500 cd/m² is bright enough for well-lit indoor scenarios, however, if you sit under direct sunlight, the screen’s visibility will be reduced somewhat. Touch and stylus response is perfect, and while I’m no artist, with Windows 11’s app support and powerful internals, this device really could serve in the hands of an artist.

ROG Flow Z13 - Also connects to game controllers
ROG Flow Z13 – Also connects to game controllers

perfomance

Here the ROG Flow Z 13 shows its gaming roots, the device is unique because it is not only equipped with the latest 12th Intel’s flagship processors with 16GB DDR5 5200MHz RAM, but it also fits an Nvidia 3050/3050Ti GPU. In terms of storage, you can choose from 512/1TB M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD and it also has an extra slot for expansion.

The performance is breezy, I mean it can handle most games at a decent frame rate, mind you the GPU only runs at 40w, for developers and people who want to edit videos on the go this machine is perfect, video rendering and export times on Adobe Premier are as fast as expected with 3050 powered devices. The Flow Z 13 even has no problems with multi-layered photo editing in Photoshop. Additionally, the presence of the MUX switch means you can easily bypass the iGPU for some extra frame rates.

But if you need more power, the Flow Z 13 has a trick up its sleeve, an expensive trick. Enter ROG XG Mobile, yes! Coming with Nvidia’s RTX 3080 and a plethora of I/O ports, this external GPU takes over from the 3050Ti in the Flow Z 13 and boosts GPU processing power. Although we couldn’t test the ROG Flow Z 13 + ROG XG Mobile Interface together, we did experience it at an ASUS event.

ROG Flow Z13 - The cyberpunk aesthetic
ROG Flow Z13 – The cyberpunk aesthetic

Thermal & battery life

ASUS has packed a lot of high-performance technology into this slim (a bit chunky for a tablet) chassis. That means the company had to do a lot of work on thermal management, and it has done so with vapor chamber cooling, multiple vents, larger fans, and liquid metal cooling.

However, in our use, the Flow Z 13 tended to get hot under load, such as when playing games or exporting video files. In normal use cases where we use browsers and Microsoft Word with the occasional Photoshop edit, the device stayed cool and quiet.

With a moderate 56 Wh battery inside, battery life is only about average. For the mobility that it offers, we would have liked a little more juice from the battery. With normal use, the battery can last the Flow Z 13 between 4 and 5 hours, once you start power-intensive apps like games, the battery only lasts a maximum of an hour or two. However, the 100W USB-C charger charges the device fairly quickly, and if you’re buying it for portability, then this USB-C charger is the only one you’ll get along with the Flow Z 13 for your phone and others devices would require.

ROG Flow Z13 - 100W USB-C PD Charger
ROG Flow Z13 – 100W USB-C PD Charger

Things we didn’t like

The 2-in-1 design and powerful internals and the option to purchase the ROG XG Mobile are a sweet deal for people who need to be mobile and still want a powerful machine, but we found a few quirks. The 2-in-1 design with a stand and detachable keyboard means it’s a challenge to stay and work on your lap if people like to do that. Battery life is the next thing we found a bit of getting used to, after all the back tends to get hot under heavy loads and becomes a bit uncomfortable to hold.

things we liked

We liked the whole concept of the ROG Flow Z 13, a 2-in-1 with beefy specs and of course the RGB treatment. The presence of a MicroSD card slot is another small addition that expands the range of uses of this device for photographers, videographers and other creative professionals. The full kit – Flow Z 13, stylus, 100W charger, funky ROG carrying case – is included. And finally, to expand your thirty for more performance, compatibility with ROG XG Mobile.

ROG Flow Z13 - Republic Of Gamers branding on top with vents
ROG Flow Z13 – Republic Of Gamers branding on top with vents

Verdict

Well, the ROG Flow Z13 is a truly unique device that really has no competition in the market at the moment. Comparing the Flow Z13 to cheaper or similarly priced gaming laptops is unfair, if only because of the extreme mobility that the Flow Z13 offers, we can compare it to the Microsoft Surface Pro 8. With prices starting at ₹136,990 (test device – ₹181,990), the Flow Z13 is an expensive device, but if we can have a ROG Strix Scar for the same price, it’s a false comparison. Let’s look at the Microsoft Surface Pro 8, which costs ₹1,63,999 and which is without the stylus and keyboard cover, and suddenly the pricing of the ROG Flow Z13 makes so much more sense.

Mobility, performance and expansion are the most important keywords here. ROG Flow Z13 is an excellent device for anyone who wants a powerful machine that’s light enough to travel with, be it a gamer or a creative pro. Kudos to ASUS for thinking outside the box. The ROG Flow Z13 gets a big thumbs up from us.