The Asus ROG Flow X13 is quite a peculiar product. Although it’s marketed as a gaming laptop, its feature set is more akin to that of a premium productivity laptop; a very good one, at that. Not only does the Flow X13 have a 16:10 display – typically only found on productivity-focused laptops – it also has a convertible form factor with very respectable battery life.
Of course, once connected to the ROG XG Mobile external GPU enclosure, the ROG Flow X13 shows its true potential as a gaming machine. But on its own, it’s really quite an accomplished productivity laptop that can also do some gaming on the side. If you’re looking to get a premium productivity laptop, consider the Flow X13. You’ll be surprised by how good it is.
What It Is
|Display||13.4-inch WUXGA IPS (1920 x 1200), 120Hz|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS (8C/16T, 3.1GHz with boost up to 4.5GHz)|
|GPU||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB GDDR6|
|Storage||1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD|
|Dimensions||299 x 222 x 15.8 mm|
|Audio||Bottom-firing stereo speakers|
|Ports||2x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (DisplayPort)|
1x HDMI 2.0b
1x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
Three distinct variants of the ROG Flow X13 are offered in Malaysia, and the one we got for this review is the Ryzen 9 5900HS model without the XG Mobile for RM6,499. The external GPU enclosure is bundled exclusively with the RM13,499 Flow X13 with an even faster Ryzen 9 5980HS processor paired with the XG Mobile’s RTX 3080 GPU.
That’s right, the only way to get the XG Mobile – which is really one of the biggest appeals of this gaming laptop – is to fork out RM13,499 for the range-topping Flow X13. The external GPU enclosure is not sold separately at the moment either; quite an odd decision by Asus.
It’s for this very reason why I think the Flow X13 (without the XG Mobile enclosure) is meant to appeal to folks who want a good productivity laptop – let me explain why in the following section.
The Good Stuff
One of the best qualities of the ROG Flow X13 has to be its excellent battery life. On average, I can get between seven to eight hours of use on a single charge, which is incredibly good for a laptop with such a powerful octa-core processor (Ryzen 9 5900HS) under the hood. This level of battery life certainly shows the power efficiency of AMD’s chip despite its beefy performance.
To show just how powerful the Flow X13’s Ryzen 9 5900HS processor really is, I put it through its paces in CineBench R20. Surprisingly enough, it can even keep up with the Ryzen 9 5900HX chip in the bigger ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE; that’s quite impressive. If you need a lot of processing power, you’ll get exactly that with the Flow X13 and more.
|Processor||Single-core test||Multi-core test|
|AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS (Asus ROG Flow X13)||572||4922|
|AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX (Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE)||566||5461|
|AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS (Asus ROG Zephyrus G14)||481||4173|
|AMD Ryzen 7 4800H (Asus TUF Gaming A15)||481||4106|
|Intel Core i7-10875H (Acer Predator Triton 500)||483||3773|
And then there’s the screen of the ROG Flow X13, which is very pleasant to look at. The 13.4-inch 1920 x 1200 IPS display can get reasonably bright with punchy, vibrant colours, and it has good viewing angles as well. The fact that it also has a 16:10 aspect ratio – which won’t feel quite as cramped as more mainstream 16:9 displays – makes it ideal for productivity tasks too.
I really appreciate the convertible nature of the Flow X13 as well. I can put it in tent mode when I don’t need the physical keyboard to bring the screen closer to me – Asus said this will also improve the cooling performance of the laptop – and I can even push the display all the way back to turn it into a tablet. However, tipping the scales at 1.3kg, it’s not exactly a very comfortable “tablet” to lug around.
Another reason why the ROG Flow X13 would serve as a fantastic productivity laptop are its input devices. The keyboard, for one, is quite comfortable to type on with just enough key travel to not feel shallow; the very pronounced tactile bump makes for a pleasant typing experience as well. As for the trackpad, it can track my fingers accurately too, much like how the trackpad of a good productivity laptop behaves.
Last but certainly not least is the minimalist design of the Flow X13. Unlike other gaming laptops with an aggressive, “loud” design, the Flow X13 is the complete opposite. It doesn’t call attention to itself, and it can easily pass off as a productivity laptop. In my book, that’s a good thing.
The Bad Stuff
Even though the ROG Flow X13 has a lot of good things going for it, it still has a number of shortcomings. Because it is only powered by a GTX 1650 GPU, its gaming performance…isn’t particularly great when it’s not connected to the ROG XG Mobile external GPU enclosure.
While the GTX 1650 can easily run more casual games at maxed out settings (such as Genshin Impact), it struggles to keep up with more demanding AAA titles like, say, Borderlands 3. In order for me to get playable frame rate in this game – that is, above 30fps – I need to lower down the graphics settings quite a bit.
Aside from that, the system noise of the Flow X13 could be better too. Outside of gaming, the laptop is basically whisper quiet, but once I get into a game, the fans definitely make themselves heard. The palm rest area gets warm to the touch as well, but at least it’s not to the point where it feels uncomfortable.
There’s also one other small niggle of the Flow X13 that I don’t quite like: the keyboard gets scuffed quite easily. After just a few days of use, the keys are visibly scuffed by my fingernails. Thankfully, it can be wiped away without much trouble, but it does mar the premium appeal of the laptop a little bit.
Is It Worth It?
Retailing from RM5,999, the Asus ROG Flow X13 is not an affordable laptop, but that’s really the going price of premium-class laptops. On top of that, the Flow X13 actually offers better value for money than a typical productivity laptop in the same price range.
After all, you’re getting a powerful processor with this laptop, not to mention respectable battery life, good build quality, and a fast 120Hz screen. Although the Flow X13’s GTX 1650 GPU isn’t the most capable graphics card, it’s still miles better than the integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics found in other productivity laptops at this price point.
If you want an excellent productivity laptop with a reasonably good dedicated GPU to do some gaming, then I wholeheartedly recommend the ROG Flow X13. But if you expect it to be able to run AAA games effortlessly, then this is not the gaming laptop for you…unless you plan to fork out RM13,499 for the ROG XG Mobile bundle, which would definitely offer high-end gaming performance.
Hopefully, Asus would sell the XG Mobile as a separate add-on in the near future. Even though the Flow X13 is an accomplished laptop on its own, the ability to easily give it more graphics power would make it that much more appealing.