ROG Flow X13 Review: Power Meets Versatility

 
 
  

Will this 2-in-1 shake the market or is it just a gimmick? Find out in our ROG Flow X13 Review!

After disrupting the thin and light gaming laptop segment with the Zephyrus, ROG is looking to follow up with another. This time, they set their sights on the 2-in-1 market with the introduction of the ROG Flow X13. This little machine is an unconventional fusion of versatility and power. Will it truly disrupt the 2-in-1 market or it’s just a gimmicky device from the Republic? Let’s find out in our review!

Design and Build Quality

Overall Design

The ROG Flow X13 isn’t just different from its competitors, but also from its fellow laptops from the brand. That’s because you can easily mistake it for a professional or work device rather than a gaming one. Gone are all those flashy aesthetics we saw with its ROG Brethren. There’s no AniME Matrix display here, no flashy underglow RGB lights, there isn’t even a rising bottom chassis for extra cooling.

What we have here is a straight forward slick, simple, and discreet-looking machine. It’s not entirely bland though as there’s still the subtle dual-tone display lid with textured lines alongside a ROG nameplate. The palm rest and touchpad area retain that same textured design.

Cleverly hidden on the right-hand side is the ROG eye logo, engraved in a way to mimic the textured feel of the palm rest. The keyboard deck though is left with a matte type finish. That’s about all you get when it comes to aesthetics and flair. Sadly, the entire chassis is sensitive to fingerprints and smudges, so better have a microfiber ready at all times. For me though it’s a breath of fresh air seeing a gaming laptop without all the flairs. Yet also a tad weird as gaming laptops do have a reputation of being over the top in looks and design. Overall though we love the simple and sleek approach ROG took with the Flow X13.

However, we do have one gripe and it’s something that we hate yet ASUS and ROG seem to always do. The display of the ROG Flow X13 extends further down the chassis and blocks the rear exhausts. We first observed this with the consumer X571 back in 2020. The result? a hot bottom display lid. Luckily that portion of the lid is all bezel but at extended periods of use the heat does crawl to the point of reaching the display itself. This may have long-term effects down the road such as damaging the display.

Build and Flexibility

Build-wise the Flow feels premium and well-built, yet it needs to be well taken care of. That’s because 2-in-1s have a certain risk factor: the hinge. Unlike conventional laptops, 2-in-1s have hinges that can bend over backward. While that provides a lot of flexibility it also poses some threats and vulnerabilities. So, even though the Flow X13 is built with premium materials and can probably take a few beatings, it needs that extra care.

Speaking of 2-in-1s, as the Flow X13 fits in that category it means it can do Yoga. By Yoga we mean it’s able to bend enough to transition to different modes. These include your traditional laptop mode and the 2-in-1 specials — tablet, stand, and tent. Making it one versatile gaming machine and, oh yes, you can still game on all of those modes.

Display and Audio

Display

The Flow X13 has two display options that come with touch and stylus support. The one we have on this particular review unit is the UHD 4k (3840 x 2400) Panel running at just 60Hz. Yep, you read that right, this one does not have a high refresh rate display. That wouldn’t be too much of a problem for a productivity laptop but this one is also meant to game. So, I’m anticipating that the 4k variant will be a deal-breaker for any looking to do a little serious gaming on this variant. Luckily, there is one equipped with a 120Hz Full HD panel, but you will have to give up the eye candy.

Now you can’t take away the beauty of a 4k screen and an IPS at that. Images are crisp, crystal clear, and have great color accuracy and reproduction. Playing slow-paced games such as RPGs and Sandbox titles was one hell of a beautiful experience. Not to mention, watching videos or movies as everything was just popping in detail. Yet with all that beauty come grave consequences which we’ll get to in the performance part of the review.

Speaking of stylus support, the Flow has one right out of the box. It’s a simple non-rechargeable ASUS stylus but at least you’ve got one right off the bat. We appreciate having a complete touch experience without the need for a 3rd party purchase.

Audio

Laptop speakers aren’t something you can always brag about, even with all the fancy terms you see and hear. Although for the Flow X13 those claims may hold true. Handling all our outside audio needs are a pair of speakers with Smart Amp and Dolby Atmos. Those two aren’t just for show though as they do produce quality audio, along with virtual 5.1 2-channel surround sound. Highs and mids are good, and lows are present though will leave you wanting more. There aren’t any cracks at max volume and sound always comes out crisp and clear.

Yet we still recommend plugging in your audio gear of choice when playing sound-sensitive games. Titles like FPS such as Valorant, Rainbow Six Siege, or CS: GO. Since speakers won’t really be of help in specifically locating gunshots and footsteps. For slow-paced games though like sandbox, survivals, RPG, and the like, you’ll find the speakers on the X13 more than enough. This is also true with just plain listening to music when taking a break.

Keyboard and Trackpad

ROG really wasn’t fooling around in toning down the “gamer”-aesthetic of the ROG Flow X13. Not only do we not have any RGB bling like the Strix series, but the keyboard’s backlighting is also just pure white. Yes, folks, there is no Christmas or disco lighting here, just plain old white. Fans of RGB won’t like this but content creators and professionals won’t really mind.

As for the keyboard itself, you have the standard tactile chiclet keyboard with good feedback and relatively short key travel. Plus, you have easy-to-access media keys right on top for volume control, mic mute, and Armoury Crate. Then you have a glossy clickpad right in the middle of the chassis. The size is just about right to provide ample room for swipes and gestures. That glossy finish also makes it relatively easy to glide your fingers on.

Left Image: Left Ports | Right Image: Right Ports

Connectivity and I/O

Ports are where the Flow X13 will leave you wanting more. By its lonesome, you only get the bare minimum, and we really mean bare minimum. On the left, you have an HDMI 2.0b, 3.5mm audio combo, USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (also the charging port), and the PCIe 3.0 x8 interface for the XG Mobile station. On the right, you have a single USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C with display port and Power Delivery, and the Power Button which doubles as a fingerprint scanner. That’s a total of just two useable USB ports for your peripherals and connections. You will need some major 3rd party purchases or the XG Mobile to expand your port options here.

Performance

Now let’s talk about the performance of this machine, after all it’s a ROG so it must be able to game. On the CPU front, we have a real beast, the AMD R9-5900HS. It’s more than powerful enough to handle any heavy lifting required on the processor side. On the GPU side we have the lower mid-range GTX 1650 Max-Q. A weird combination since you have a top-performing CPU paired with an average-performing GPU.

As expected the R9 is a powerhouse, which is evident with the benchmark score it got during our Cinebench R20 tests. The 8-core, 16 thread R9 hit around 4,084 points in the said test. An impressive score for a mobile processor as it’s only a few thousand short of the monster Threadripper 1950K. On this side of things the R9 can handle just about any heavy task you throw at it.

However, it’s not the R9-5900HS we have a problem with, it’s the partner, the GTX 1650 Max-Q. It’s bad enough we only have the 1650, what’s even worse is we get the lower-powered Max-Q variant. Although, it’s totally understandable since cramming a more powerful GPU on the already thin and light body of the Flow will only present heating problems.

Yet, the cost of having that thin body shows when it comes to gaming and other heavy tasks. It also doesn’t help that the 1650 Max-Q has to carry games in a 4k resolution display. It’s just not powerful enough to support that resolution as seen in our 3D Mark benchmark above and gaming benchmarks below.

All of these games are at their highest presets in the native 4k resoluton. The GTX 1650 can handle some of the lighter ones. However, in Triple-A territory, it just struggles badly, even with the help of the R9-5900HS. The only way to achieve playable frame rates is by lowering both graphical settings and resolution. With that, you’ll be giving up the gorgeous visuals of a 4k display.

XG Mobile

Now despite the lackluster performance of the 1650 Max-Q, Flow owners aren’t left hanging without a solution. The answer? An external GPU companion known as the ROG XG Mobile. This device not only provides a proper partner for the R9 but also some much-needed extra ports. However, unlike other external GPU solutions like Alienware’s, the XG is a little more restrictive. Inside of the device is either a mobile 3070 or 3080 and not full-blown desktop GPUs like what you can put into the Alienware Graphics Amplifier. You’re also stuck with what GPU variant you went with as it can’t be swapped out. So you can’t take out the 3070 and slap in a 3080 later down the road. As for the ports, you get the following:

  • 4x USB Type-A ports
  • RJ45 Ethernet port
  • Display Port 1.4 with G-Sync support
  • HDMI port
  • SD card reader

Despite not being desktop cards, both GPUs are leagues better than the 1650 Max-Q we have inside the Flow X13. Especially the 3080 as you get more than double the frames compared to the 1650. Remember, this is also on ultra and in the native 4k resolution. So you’re guaranteed to hit 60 by going down to FHD or possibly even at QHD. 3DMark scores are also a lot higher as expected.

Battery Life

Now you’d think that for a laptop that can also cater productivity you’ll have at least a good amount of juice before plugging-in. Sadly, that’s not the case with this particular ROG Flow X13 variant. In our video loop test where we play a 1080p FHD video on loop with 50% brightness and audio with earphones on the laptop lasted a measly 1 Hour and 36 Minutes of playback. It didn’t even have enough gas to finish the movie we were playing. Now, this is more of a resolution problem than an actual battery one.

Powering a 4k display is no small feat and pair that up with a hungry R9 5900HS then you will pretty much drain the hell out of your battery. Not even the battery saving option will, well, save you in this scenario. The same problem still carries over even when you’re doing menial tasks such as browsing or typing. You’ll only squeeze a maximum of around 2 and a half hours on battery saver in this scenario. So on the road, you’ve got to scale down the resolution to pump out a little more juice.

Upgradeability

In the way of internal upgradeability you only have one option, storage. Sadly, the RAM slots are soldered in the motherboard. Then, while you do have the option to change storage you have to install a specific size of M.2, a 30mm drive. Plus you only get a single slot for that, so there really isn’t much wiggle room. That’s yet another cost for the thin and versatile body. Lastly, you have the option of ramping up the laptop’s performance and ports with the aforementioned XG Mobile.

Thermals

ROG actually did a really good job in keeping the internals of the Flow X13 cool even under heavy conditions. The 1650 Max-Q was kept cool maxing at only 73 °C during our FurMark test. The R9 5900HS was also relatively tame as it hit only a max of 85 °C during our prime95 tests. During gaming, those temps are even a tad lower with the 1650 going only as hot as 68 °C and the R9 at 81 °C. So internally, you don’t have too much of a problem.

Externally though, weirdly enough, is a different story altogether. Despite the cool interior, on the outside, you will feel the heat. The keyboard deck, as well as the bottom chassis, heats up quite a bit. To the point where you can feel a little pain when touching them for an extended period of time. This is probably due to the relatively thin frame of the Flow X13. Either way, we do not recommend you sit this on your lap when doing anything heavy.

Acoustics

As for fan noise, well, this thing is a jet engine. The moment you open any heavy application you will immediately hear the roaring fans. Now, you can remedy this by hitting on the silent profile at the Armoury Crate at the cost of higher temps. In any case, we highly recommend you use your favorite headset when gaming or doing any heavy content work as those fans will get in the way.

Verdict

The ROG Flow X13 is certainly one versatile machine, not only can it game but it also provides enough flexibility for productive work. Yet it’s not without its quirks and weird design decisions. On the flip side, you have a gorgeous display, monstrous CPU, thin and light frame, touch screen support, great speakers, and various modes that cater to multiple situations. However, in exchange for all that you get a lower mid-range performing GPU, poor port selections, disappointing battery life, and an exhaust design that may damage your display later on.

Luckily though, you can solve the performance side and port issues with the XG Mobile. However, that’s another extra cost to an already expensive machine. That’s why you would have to shell out some serious dough to get the optimum setup for the Flow X13. The unit alone starts at Php 89,995 (~$1,784), pair that up with the XG Mobile that starts at Php 69,995 (~$1,387) and you’re looking at a total damage of at least Php 159,990 (~$3,171). For that price, you can easily grab a top-performing gaming laptop or even a powerful desktop.

So for whom might the Flow X13 be? Well, for the content creator or professional worker that only does light gaming on the side. Someone who doesn’t need that extra bump from the XG Mobile. Because, let’s face it, that external GPU solution is an extra cost and more gimmick than necessary. Then again, it’s nice to have an upgrade path down the line if those content creators and professionals decide to game more.

However, for the hardcore gamer, the Flow X13 may not be the perfect companion. Without the XG Mobile it just doesn’t perform enough to be chosen over mid-range gaming laptops. In the world of 2-in-1s though this machine can still reign supreme as it provides enough power to game and create. Will it disrupt the market? Probably not in the way that ROG hoped. Yet the Flow X13 certainly spiced up the competition by letting power meet versatility.

Reasons to Get

  • Beautiful display
  • 2-in-1 Flexibility
  • Thin and Light
  • Upgradeable to a degree
  • Impressive Speakers

Reasons not to Get

  • Limited ports
  • Poor Battery Life
  • Expensive setup
  • Needs the XG Mobile to fully be a gaming machine and provide much needed ports
  • Loud fans

Specifications and Price

SpecificationsROG Flow X13 Supernova EditionROG Flow X13
Processor- AMD Ryzen R9 5980HS 3.0GHz (8-Cores, 16 Threads, up to 4.8GHz Max
Boost Clock)
- AMD Ryzen R9 5900HS 3.0GHz (8-Cores, 16 Threads, up to 4.6GHz Max
Boost Clock)
- AMD Ryzen R7 5800HS 2.8GHz (8-Cores, 16 Threads, up to 4.4GHz Max
Boost Clock)
Display- 13.4" 16:10 Touch display, UHD (3840 x 2400) IPS 60Hz, 116% sRGB, pantone 4.9mm slim side bezels, Gorilla Glass- 13.4" 16:10 Touch display, UHD (3840 x 2400) IPS 60Hz, 116% sRGB, pantone 4.9mm slim side bezels, Gorilla Glass
- 13.4“ 16:10 Touch display, FHD (1920 x 1200) IPS 120Hz, 100% sRGB, pantone 4.9mm slim side bezels
GPU- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
StorageSingle Storage Configurations:
- 256GB PCIe M.2 SSD
- 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD
- 1TB PCIe M.2 SSD
- 2TB PCIe M.2 SSD

Dual-Drive Non-RAID Configurations:
- 512GB (2x 256GB PCIe M.2 SSD)
- 1TB (2x 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD)
- 2TB (2x 1TB PCIe M.2 SSD)
- 4TB (2x 2TB PCIe M.2 SSD)
Single Storage Configurations:
- 256GB PCIe M.2 SSD
- 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD
- 1TB PCIe M.2 SSD
- 2TB PCIe M.2 SSD

Dual-Drive Non-RAID Configurations:
- 512GB (2x 256GB PCIe M.2 SSD)
- 1TB (2x 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD)
- 2TB (2x 1TB PCIe M.2 SSD)
- 4TB (2x 2TB PCIe M.2 SSD)
RAM- 32GB DDR4 4266 MHz- 16GB DDR4 4266 MHz
Connectivity- Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
- Bluetooth v5.2
- Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
- Bluetooth v5.2
I/O1 x ROG XG Mobile interface (PCIe® 3.0 x8)
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A
2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (DisplayPort 1.4 + PD support)
1 x Audio combo jack (mic-in & headphone)
1 x HDMI (HDMI 2.0b support)
1 x ROG XG Mobile interface (PCIe® 3.0 x8)
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A
2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (DisplayPort 1.4 + PD support)
1 x Audio combo jack (mic-in & headphone)
1 x HDMI (HDMI 2.0b support)
Dimensions and weight- 299.4 x 222.9 x 15.75 mm
- 1.3 kg
- 299.4 x 222.9 x 15.75 mm
- 1.3 kg
PricePhp 189,995- Ryzen 9 Variant:Php 99,995
- Ryzen 7 Variant: Php 89,995

XG Mobile Specifications and Price

SERIESVARIANTSPECSSRP (PHP)
ROG XG MobileGC31SNVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 3080 16GB GDDR6 (150w)89,995
ROG XG MobileGC31RNVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 3070 8GB GDDR6 (140w)69,995