ROG once again expands its now well-known Flow line with the introduction of the Z13. However, this one takes the meaning of hybrid a little further by being the most portable out of the bunch. Did it sacrifice power for portability or can it still cater to its target market? Let’s find out in our ROG Flow Z13 Review.
Design and Build Quality
The ROG Flow Z13 is actually the most unique-looking device in its line. It’s more like a jacked-up tablet than a laptop with its aggressive back design. Forget about being discreet with it in public as it’ll surely catch some eyes. Not only because of its distinct back but also because of that small window gimmick showcasing some of its inside parts. Which is kind of cool when you think about it.
As if it isn’t eye-catching enough, that window also has RGB lighting. Talk about calling for attention right? Despite all that though I kind of like how the Flow Z13 looks. It may scream gamer but it also has a bit of sophistication with its intricate lines and markings. It may also look heavy because of its bulk but it’s actually light enough to be carried around without much problem.
Now the reason why the Z13 is a tad different from the rest of the Flow family is that it’s a complete hybrid and not just a 2-in-1. Unlike the X13 from last year, this one has a completely detachable keyboard. Which, by the way, feels premium thanks to its faux-leather finish. Meaning, you can use the Z13 as a full-on tablet without having to fiddle around with a rotating keyboard.
Making it a more flexible device compared to the rest of the Flow family. Plus the kickstand at the back can extend up to 170-degrees, if you ever need or want to see a splitting tablet. So you can actually use your own peripheral setup and just convert the Z13 into just the system and monitor if you so wish.
You have two options in the market for the display of the Z13. One is the more eye candy-focused 4k screen but with a basic 60Hz refresh rate. Meanwhile, the other is a faster 120Hz but lower resolution 1080p Full HD. So if you’re in the market of getting the Z13 you’re going to have to choose between beauty or speed. Sadly, we don’t have a 4k high refresh rate variant or even an in-between option of a 2k/QHD with high refresh rate.
This is quite understandable though given the specs of the device. Yet it still would’ve been nice to be given the best of both worlds. Either way, our review unit has the FHD 120Hz screen, which is the one I would personally pick if I’ll ever buy the Z13. It’s just your standard display though with good color reproduction and viewing angles and just enough pixel density to still provide an enjoyable viewing experience.
We’re pretty much used to staring at 1080p screens by now as it is the standard resolution of the majority of laptops even on the consumer side. So, don’t expect much eye candy here. However, thanks to its compact screen size you do get a bit more pixels per inch and can still enjoy sceneries in visually appealing games and movies. That high refresh rate is also great for fast-paced games such as MOBAs, FPS, and RTS.
Then as an added bonus of being a hybrid, you do have a touchscreen display. So, you can play chill games that support such a feature. Especially on the go seeing as the device can be used as a tablet. Although response time may occasionally be a problem as it’s in a staggeringly slow 30ms. That’s the trade-off for having that touchscreen feature.
The audio capabilities of the Z13 leave a lot to be desired. It does have Dolby Atmos and that AI Noise cancellation of ASUS. However, those aren’t enough to push it to the above-average territory. It can get pretty loud and you do have good highs and mids but the base is lacking and at max volume, you do lose a bit of clarity. It’s still serviceable but we recommend you plug in your favorite audio gear when gaming or watching content.
Keyboard and Trackpad
As we’ve mentioned earlier, the keyboard of the Z13 is a small detachable machine with a faux-leather finish. That leather is nice to the touch and prevents fingerprints and smudges. Though, we’re not so sure how long it can maintain its pristine condition. Especially if you take it out in public often or if you ever spill food or liquids over it.
In any case, the provided keyboard latches onto the Z13 without problems thanks to perfectly placed magnets. It also locks in place with a little hinge mechanism to prevent shakes when in use. It has the good feedback and tactility of your standard chiclet keyboard. As for lighting, we only get single-zone RGB but still with Aura Sync support and some effect customizations via the Armoury Crate.
As for the trackpad, what you have here is a glossy clickpad. It’s a bit smoother than most but it is nice to the touch. Plus, gestures are a breeze as your fingers just glide through the surface pretty quickly. The size is a little weird though, the length is alright and will provide enough space but the width may be a problem for those with bigger hands.
Connectivity and I/O
Now, this is where you’ll be wanting a lot more from the Z13 and we mean a lot more. You only have four useable ports, the USB Type-C on the left, the USB Type-A and 3.5mm Audio port on the right, and a microSD card reader tucked underneath the kickstand. That’s it for your connections and nothing more, you don’t even get an HDMI or ethernet port.
Well, you do have another port on the right but that’s for connecting the XG mobile. Still, you’re out of luck in this department unless you purchase a hub or connect the aforementioned XG Mobile. With the external GPU solution you finally get the following ports:
- 1x HDMI 2.1
- 1x DP 1.4 support G-SYNC
- 1x RJ-45 LAN port
- 1x DC input jack
- 4x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
- 1x SD Card reader(Standard)/UHS-II(312MB/s)
As for connectivity, we have WiFi 6E (Intel AX211) 2×2 and Bluetooth 5.2.
On its own, the ROG Flow Z13 is not much on paper. Our model has Intel’s Core i7-12700H processor paired with 8GB of RAM and Nvidia’s RTX 3050 GPU. That’s a pretty mid-range combo. The Core i7 may be a powerful CPU in its own right but the RTX 3050 is just enough for casual to mid-end gaming.
As seen in the synthetic benchmark scores below for the RTX card vs the Radeon 6850M XT in the XG Mobile. The Core i7 though scored a respectable 10,733 in the multi-core test of Cinebench R23.
You may be able to stretch the RTX 3050 to a bit of heavy gaming but we’ll talk more about that later. For small tasks though like browsing the web or office work, you will have no problems whatsoever with the i7-12700H and RTX 3050. You can even do heavy video and photo editing with this setup though at times the 8GB RAM may be your limiting factor.
Don’t lose hope in gaming though as you’re not left without an option thanks to the ROG XG Mobile. You have a lot of choices out there but the one usually bundled with the Flow Z13 in the market is the 2022 XG Mobile equipped with AMD’s Radeon RX 6850M XT mentioned earlier.
While new, it seems like ROG is still sticking with mobile graphics cards in their external GPU solution. Just like before, you also can’t swap out the RX 6850M XT for a different card unless you tinker with the XG mobile, which carries its own risks.
Now then, the ROG Flow Z13 has a nifty feature if you find yourself without the budget to shell out for the XG Mobile. After all, the device itself is already quite pricey. That feature is the “Ultimate” graphics mode found over at the Armoury Crate. This cranks up the RTX 3050 to its limits for a bit more oomph. It may sound gimmicky but it actually does have an effect on performance. At the cost of more heat for the system, of course.
In any case, as we expected on standard GPU mode the Flow Z13 can only handle light to medium games at higher than 60 frames per second. Once you hit heavier territory it struggles to maintain that sweet 60 or above. Yet, not to the point where it’s unplayable though you are missing out on your 120Hz refresh rate display. However, in Ultimate GPU mode you get a little bit more breathing room.
You can occasionally maintain a higher than 60fps on heavier games but still not quite enough to enjoy your high refresh rate screen. Once you slap in that XG mobile though it’s an entirely different story. You will be able to maintain close to 120fps in almost any game you throw at the system. Plus thermals will be way better since the cooling of the GPU is now handled by the XG mobile.
This has always been the bane of the Flow line, though the Z13 performs much better in this regard compared to the X13. Well, the FHD variant is, we suspect the 4K one will still be a battery drain. In any case, the Z13 FHD variant has a relatively acceptable battery life. For menial tasks such as office work and social media consumption, the device lasts anywhere from 3 to 6 hours, depending on your profile.
Silent Mode seems to be the best pair to battery saver and will give you the longest battery life. Don’t expect any long gaming sessions when not plugged though as the Z13 only lasted around an hour or so gaming in performance mode. Either way, this is a far cry from the poor performance of the X13 we reviewed last year. Though not too impressive, we’re happy that at least you can use the Z13 comfortably outside without having to plug it in immediately.
Unlike most laptops where you have the option to upgrade its RAM and storage, the Z13 only offers one swappable component, its SSD. Yet, to compensate for that fact you can very easily replace the included drive as it’s easy to access. You only need to open up the kickstand and you’ll be greeted with a small hatch with a single screw.
Granted this is not your standard M.2 size, you’ll have to look for 30mm drives. Then there’s the ROG XG Mobile which offers a more powerful GPU alongside a wider range of much-needed ports.
Thermals and Acoustics
Internal temps on the Z13 are pretty controlled much like the X13, on the GPU side at least. The Intel i7-12700H maxed out at around 90 °C during our prime95 stress test, which is quite high. On the other hand, the RTX 3050 maintained a cool 80 °C max during our FurMark tests. These temps translate to gaming also as the i7 typically plays around 75 °C to 80 °C while the RTX 3050 plays around 65 °C to 70 °C.
These are actually quite tame as you rarely do hit the stress test temps in real-world applications. However, external temps are a different story as while the internals are cool, the chassis itself isn’t. The back portion of the device especially the top part near the exhausts and the parts window get particularly hot. You can even hurt yourself if you touch these areas for an extended period of time.
As for fan noise, it’s actually and surprisingly controlled. Which is something we did not expect from a tablet-type of device since it’s thin and light. You will occasionally hear some noise when in complete silence. We’re happy to say though that the speakers are more than powerful enough to drown out the fans.
The ROG Flow Z13 is a class of its own. You have portability and power at your side as it’s not just your standard 2-in-1 but a full-on tablet-laptop hybrid. Making gaming and productivity on the go even more possible than other ROG Flow machines. In exchange, though it’s not that powerful as it can only handle light to medium gaming. Although, you can remedy that by grabbing an XG Mobile.
Yet, much like the problem with other Flow devices, that’s an added expense to an already expensive machine. The Flow Z13 on its own at our configuration already costs Php 99,995. Add the XG Mobile with the Radeon RX 6850M XT priced at PHP 69,995 to that and you’re looking at a total cost of Php 169,990. For that price, you can already grab a high-end laptop or even a desktop.
Then again, the Flow’s target market isn’t really your average gamer, is it? It’s a rather niche device focused more on people who want a portable gaming device. Those who want something they can bring to LAN parties that have enough oomph for a good time. Then come home to the XG Mobile for their heavier gaming needs.
It’s also for content creators who may want a powerful enough device they can bring to their favorite coffee shop to edit videos or photos. Either way, the Flow Z13 is another great addition to its lineup. Providing enough power for casual gaming alongside great flexibility. It’s one niche gaming beast for sure.
Reasons to Get
- Portability and Flexibility
- Upgradable to a degree
- Compact, thin, and light
Reasons not to Get
- Limited ports
- Expensive setup
- Needs the XG Mobile to fully be a gaming machine and provide much-needed ports
- Loud fans
|Specifications||ROG Flow Z13|
|Processor||- Up to Intel® Core™ i9-12900H processor|
|Display||- 13-inch 16:10 UHD (3840x2400) 60Hz, 85% DCI-P3, touchscreen display with Adaptive Sync, Pantone® Validated, and Dolby Vision
- 13-inch 16:10 FHD (1920x1200) 120Hz, 100% sRGB, touchscreen display with Adaptive Sync, Pantone® Validated, Dolby Vision support
|GPU||- Up to NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 3050 Ti GDDR6 4GB TGP 35W (40W with Dynamic Boost)|
|Storage||- Up to 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD|
|RAM||- up to 16GB LPDDR5 5200 MHz|
|Connectivity||- Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax)
- Bluetooth 5.2
|I/O||1 x XG Mobile interface (including 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C with DisplayPort 1.4 and Power Delivery)
1 x USB Type-C with Thunderbolt™ 4, support DisplayPort 1.4 and Power Delivery
1 x USB 2.0 Type-A
1 x 3.5mm combo Audio jack
1 x MicroSD card reader
|Dimensions and weight||- 302.8(W) x 204.8(L) x 12(H) mm
- 1.1 kg
|Price||Core i5 + Iris X Graphics Variant: Php 84,995
Core i7 + RTX 3050 Variant: Php 99,995