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Asus ROG Flow Z13 Review A detachable 2-in-1 gaming Laptop

The Surface Pros design has been with us for almost a decade, so it's kind of a wonder that in all that time no one has really ever tried to make a detachable 2 in 1 gaming machine and while Asus teased us with the ROG Mothership back in 2019, now Asus is back to turn that concept into an actual retail device.

asus rog flow z13 front view

For those familiar with Microsoft's attachables, you'll immediately see why I mentioned the Surface Pro Line, because Asus has basically taken that blueprint and made it all gamery. You get a bright 13.4 inch full HD screen with a 120hz refresh rate, a handy kickstand in back and a magnetic strip for hooking up a removable keyboard cover. Typing and Mousing also feels just like a Surface, right down to the slightly too small touch pad and hidden behind the kickstand. Asus even carried over the Surface Pro's Micro SD Card slot and Removable N.2 cover. Regardless while its general design might be similar to a Surface, the ROG Flow Z13 gives off a very different impression. The over-the-top cyberpunk aesthetic combined with a splash of red and black accents might be a bit much for some, but I kind of love it; especially that window with RGB lighting in back. In fact I'm going to go out on a limb and say we need more see-through gadgets in general elsewhere.

Specifications of Asus ROG Flow Z13

We have one USB C port with Thunderbolt 4, A USB 8 port and then a couple of other ports hidden beneath a protective seal, but more on those later. On the inside we got some pretty beefy specs especially for a system this size. We're talking an Intel core i9 CPU, 16 gigs of RAM, 1 terabyte M.2 SSD and an RTX 3050 TI. Now normally pairing an i9 chip with a 3050 TI wouldn't make a lot of sense because in most games the ROG Flow Z13 is going to be bottlenecked by its GPU, which makes a high-end CPU like this kind of overkill in benchmarks. We saw frame rates like 37fps and Forza 5 on ultra, 64fps on highest in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and 40 fps in Metro Exodus on high.

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So decent but not exactly mind-blowing, that's where those bonus ports come in because once you remove the seal you can attach Asus XG mobile graphic stock which has even more ports, along with an RTX 3080 graphics card, After attaching it gaming performance basically doubled with frame rates in Forza 5 jumping up to 87 fps at the same settings with similar results for all the other titles.

asus rog flow z13 top view

So now we're looking at a portable gaming tablet that has the kind of performance you typically only get from a big 15 or 17 inch notebook and because the dock is attachable, you have the flexibility to carry it around only when you need it. The XG mobile dock even has its own power cable which will send juice over to the Z13 when connected, so theoretically you could throw both of these in your bag and leave Asus's basic charging brick at home and when you're not using the dock, beneath that seal next to Asus is a proprietary XG port. There's even a bonus USB C 3.2 connection that supports video with G-sync.

The Asus XG Mobile Dock Details

Now there are a couple quirks about the XG mobile dock we got to talk about. First you can't just connect it and disconnect it at will. If you want to take it out you need to manually disable it from the icon in the windows system tray first; which takes more than a moment. You also can't really pick and choose what GPU goes in there, it's either an RTX 3080 or Bust that means if you want to upgrade in the future, you're gonna have to buy a whole new dock assuming Asus even makes a new one and because of that proprietary port, the XG dock is only compatible with the Z13 Flow and the ROG Flow X13 which is basically the laptop version of the Z Flow and that's kind of where my issues with the Z flow come in.

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Problems with the Asus ROG Flow Z13

Now don't get me wrong, I love the idea, I love the way it looks and I love being able to tack on a beefy GPU when I want some extra performance. I also love being able to flip it open, pair a controller and just get to gaming, no need to worry about a keyboard. Frankly there really isn't anything else like the Z13 Flow on sale today, however the problem with the whole kit is that it isn't very practical and it's not a great value either. When you're using it as a laptop like you know on your lap, because all of its guts are stuffed inside what is essentially a tablet chassis, it's really top-heavy. Also its battery life just isn't very good. Lasting at least two to three hours shorter than every other gaming laptop, both big and small we've tested recently and While it is relatively thin for what you get, when you think about all the accessories you might want to carry around, you're not really traveling any lighter when compared to a rival 14 or 15 inch laptop.

asus rog flow z13 in hand weight

Then there's its price, the Z13 Flow starts at $1800 and  $1900 for one with a 3050ti GPU, which is as high as you can spec it and if you want the XG mobile graphics Dock, you need to tack on another $400, which brings your all in price well above three thousand bucks! When compared to a similarly equipped traditional gaming laptop. An Alienware X14 goes for $1600 about two hundred less and Asus's own G14 Zephyrus can be had for as little as $1450 and that's with a slightly more powerful RTX 3060.

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Conclusion: Is Asus ROG Flow Z13 worth the price?

If you just want to be able to game on the go, you're going to save a bunch of money simply by getting a traditional gaming laptop instead of the Asus ROG Flow Z13 and if you need some extra performance every now and then, you'll probably be better off getting a more standard external GPU enclosure that you can upgrade yourself in the future instead of relying on Asus's proprietary dock. Now all this doesn't mean you shouldn't get one, but you should know what you're getting into first. The Z13 Flow is a wildly interesting system and I'm glad Asus finally made a gaming tablet/detachable two in one a real thing after all these years. So even though this thing is kind of a hard sell, I still think it's impractically cool. But what do you think? Leave us a comment down below and don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more reviews coming soon.

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