ASUS ROG Flow Z13 - Small and Mighty
Travelling for work can be a pain. Not only do you have to take a laptop to do your work, but you are stuck in a hotel room by yourself, bored for large portions of the time. This then means that if you want to get your gaming done, you need to bring more gear or carry a beefy (and more often than not heavy) laptop that is not the most practical thing in the world when on the road. Enter the ASUS ROG Flow Z13, which aims to provide the size and portability of a Surface Pro with the power of a gaming laptop.
The Flow Z13 actually presents a lot like Microsoft’s Surface range of laptops, with the appropriate level of gamer bling for good measure. It uses a similar detachable magnetic keyboard and is roughly the same size (though slightly wider.) It could easily fit in a small backpack or large handbag and is light while feeling durable at the same time. The Z13 has a wonderful sense of sturdiness to it that makes me confident of it being able to handle the rough and tumble of travel, getting shoved into bags and bounced around in the back of a car.
The detachable keyboard was something I was initially worried about. Being a touch typist I am always a little cautious when it comes to these sorts of devices. That worry was misplaced however as the keyboard felt fine to type on. Sure I would prefer a full-sized keyboard but this was more than enough for working and typing on the go. The keys felt responsive and while I wouldn’t want to subject it to a 4-hour session of Doom Eternal, it is more than enough for working in Word or Outlook. The touch screen was also responsive and accurate, which is fantastic because touchpads on laptops are the work of the devil and send me into a deep rage more than just about any item of tech on the planet (except for maybe printers.)
So, we’ve established that the Flow Z13 works well as a work laptop, but that’s not why we are here is it? What about gaming? Well, I have to say, this little beast is super impressive, easily surpassing my expectations of what a device of this size could deliver. I tested it on a range of recent games and all of them ran at around the “high” setting mark with very minimal tweaking required to get 60 FPS at 1080p. Forza Horizon 5, Gears 5, Doom Eternal, Mortal Kombat 11 all ran without a hitch, at a smooth framerate and at a good level of detail. RTX is a bit much for the Flow but honestly, it is a bit much for 80% of systems out there, so that is hardly a surprise. I have included some benchmarking screenshots taken from the Flow Z13 below so you can see for yourself that it truly is a capable little laptop that can meet your gaming on-the-go needs easily.
That performance comes at a bit of a cost though and that cost is battery. This thing absolutely chews through the battery when gaming. When just plodding around in Windows or web browsing, I managed to get a respectable 5ish hours out of a charge. Playing Doom eternal, I barely scraped in an hour and that was with battery-saving software running in the background. It is clear that the Geforce 3050 Ti, even in laptop form, is a power-hungry little devil, so long plane trips while gaming are probably out of the question. Battery drain can be slowed by plugging it into a USB C charger but a standard one won’t draw enough power to do more than delay the inevitable.
Heat is often a concern with gaming laptops but I found the Flow Z13 to be a good performer in that department. It seems to have a good fan system that manages heat quite well without getting too loud. There is some fan noise when the action really heats up, but really, it could be much worse. There is certainly nothing that would put you off playing. Once again I have to complement the engineering on the system because to be able to say this about a PC this size is something of a rare thing.
If I have a final beef with the system it is simply the lack of USB ports on it. I feel like there is room for more than the one USB and one USB C port, especially considering the USB C port is the charging port as well. It makes a USB hub essential if you want to use almost anything at all. I realise this is becoming more and more common and even my 15″ Alienware gaming laptop only has one more port than the Flow Z13 so it is hardly the only culprit. When you start adding webcams, microphones, controllers, extra HDDs and an capture card, you realise how much you appreciate a boatload of USB ports.
What it all boils down to though is that the Flow Z13 is perhaps the best device I have ever seen for those that want to both work and game while travelling. It has all the work practicality of a Surface Pro with the gaming power of a very solid PC. Would I replace my gaming rig for it? No, but I would certainly consider it as an option should I start travelling for work again. The Flow Z13 has impressed me with its engineering, its style, its gaming capability and its build quality. The sacrifice of battery time and USB inputs, while annoying, is understandable. This is a great machine for a certain portion of the population and certainly should be considered by anyone looking into a travelling gaming rig.
Review Machine Specs:
Operating System: Windows 11 Home
Processor: 12th Gen Intel® Core™ i9-12900H Processor 2.5 GHz (24M Cache, up to 5.0 GHz, 14 cores: 6 P-cores and 8 E-cores)
NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 3050 Ti Laptop GPU
ROG Boost: 1085MHz* at 40W (1035MHz Boost Clock+50MHz OC, 35W+5W Dynamic Boost)
UHD+ 16:10 (3840 x 2400, WQUXGA)
Refresh Rate: 60Hz
Response Time: 30ms
Support stylus: Yes
MUX Switch + Optimus
Support Dolby Vision HDR: Yes
8GB*2 LPDDR5 on board
Support dual channel memory
1TB PCIe® 4.0 NVMe™ M.2 SSD (2230)
Smart Amp Technology
AI noise-canceling technology
Built-in 3-microphone array
2-speaker system with Smart Amplifier Technology
1.18 Kg (2.60 lbs)
Dimensions (W x D x H)
30.2 x 20.4 x 1.20 ~ 1.20 cm (11.89″ x 8.03″ x 0.47″ ~ 0.47″)