Many have called the ROG Flow Z13 as the Microsoft Surface of gaming but that’s discounting the rest of the population who have no idea what a Microsoft Surface feels like to use. The primary comparison many would make here is does the Flow Z13 better than a standard laptop? And there’s a lot to look over here so let’s break it down further.
Performance-wise, the ROG Flow Z13 is the only one of its kind in its class. There is currently no competition for a desktop replacement-class tablet in the market today and its performance certainly lives up to that description. In most of our CPU tests, the ROG Flow Z13 manages to deliver excellent performance compared to its laptop counterparts and sits comfortably alongside its 12th-gen Intel CPU-powered ROG brother, the ROG Strix SCAR 15 2022 gaming laptop. Only in GPU-accelerated applications does the RTX 3050 really hold back the ROG Flow Z13 but when it comes to gaming, you do have options with the XG Mobile.
In terms of gaming, while the CPU is very capable the RTX 3050 doesn’t bring out the best of the ROG Flow Z13. Averaging 88FPS on our entire gaming benchmark suite puts it in a very good spot but removing the uplift up esports titles, AAA games are only around 60FPS overall. This is where use-case really matters. If you plan to just use the ROG Flow Z13 for for work, I highly urge to consider the Core i5 model as it extends battery life significantly. But this is a Republic of Gamers product after all, and everyone expects gaming performance from an ROG and while passable, the RTX 3050 is certainly not the best in performance.
ASUS’ XG Mobile are optional for a reason and that’s a good thing. As ASUS carves a market where they now step into a lifestyle market where people buy-in to their products while not necessarily being gamers, this gives products like the ROG Flow Z13 a potential market where people who may be coming from a Surface or another 13″ laptop, crave more power and start looking at a similar form factor but don’t want to lose the handiness of a tablet form factor.
The XG Mobile 2022 introduces nothing new to the Flow equation except maybe its very, slightly larger footprint. Performance-wise, the XG Mobile 2022 with a Radeon RX 6850M XT does score an average cooler operating temperature as well as a more stable power draw as expected from AMD’s mobile solutions.
Actual FPS does show that the XG Mobile RTX 3080 and RX 6850M XT readily trades blows in 1080p. In this case, it will ultimately fall down to your personal preference and if you can still find an XG Mobile from 2021. At 4K though, most of the lead goes to the RTX 3080 XG Mobile but not by much so ultimately its an even match in terms of pure gaming horsepower.
In terms of usability, the battery life depends on what CPU and GPU you’re rocking. Expect the Core i9 model the dwindle its battery quickest while the Core i7 and Core i5 improving battery life due to their lower configurations. The Core i7-powered ROG Flow Z13 we tested here put in two and a half hours of multi-tasking use while the Core i5-ROG Flow Z13 clocked in at 4 hours. In streaming and media consumption both fared quite well managing around 8 hours of battery life. During light usage, the ROG Flow Z13 remains quite cool and is possible to handhold the tablet for long use, provided you can tolerate the weight.
Speaking of weight, as a tablet it is easily twice the weight of an iPad Pro 11 if not more with the keyboard cover. Its certainly not something you’d carry with one hand all the time much more jot down notes on as a writing surface.
The modular approach that the ROG Flow X13 together with the XG Mobile made it possible for you to leave your gaming power yet still pack enough compute for work in the field or office. Its only logical that ASUS pursue this development and the next logical step is the ROG Flow Z13.
Cramming everything into a screen meant a tablet is the final form of the ROG Flow Z13 without perhaps a foldable, rollable or larger 16″ model in the future as a potential upgrade but as it is. ASUS has managed to design a compact solution that marries the Microsoft Surface’s form factor yet offer the class of performance expected from an ROG.
As a gaming PC, the biggest competitor to the ROG Flow Z13 is not any laptop or tablet… its actually the Steam Deck by Valve. With both machines able to transform into a gaming PC, the Steam Deck trumps the ROG Flow Z13 by being handheld playable and with gamepad controls already. As a work computer, the ROG Flow Z13 easily wins over the Steam Deck though as the option to do work is always present while the Deck doesn’t have this option and tethers you to a larger screen.
Ultimately, the best use-case here would be a work-by-day/play-by-night scenario wherein your ROG Flow Z13 is your handy daily computer for study or work and once work is done or the weekends come around, you connect a gamepad to your Flow Z13 and hook it up to your XG Mobile connected to a monitor to serve as your gaming PC.
Keeping in mind the limitations we’ve mentioned that’s unique to tablets, ROG has made the most with the form factor and future technologies will certainly improve on the weight, battery and thickness of this device but for now the ROG Flow Z13 is a really incredible device and matched for a specific use-case, is an excellent desktop replacement together with the XG Mobile.