Asus ROG Flow Z13 review

Asus ROG Flow Z13 review (GZ301Z)

Asus likes pushing boundaries and the ROG Flow GZ13 is another of it’s, ‘I can’t believe they invented it’ models. Should people want a convertible tablet, with an RGB, ‘soft’ keyboard, that’s built for gaming? Let’s find out.

Asus Rog Flow Z13 specs

13.4-inch, glossy, 120Hz, 1920 x 1200, IPS, touchscreen display; 3.8-5GHz Intel Core i9-12900H CPU; 16GB RAM; 1TB HDD; Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti graphics; 56Wh battery. Weight: 1.56KG. Dimensions: 30 x 20 x 1.2cm. SKU: GZ301ZE-LD165W. Full specs here.

Design and handling

At first glance, the ROG Flow Z13 resembles a chonky Microsoft Surface with a few extra design flourishes. The main chassis is black with ROG etchings and grilles plus there’s a flourished, red tag for opening out the kick stand. There’s a window to the motherboard at the back and turning it on drapes it in configurable RGB light.

ROG Flow Z13 rear
On the one hand it looks like a prop from the Starship Enterprise, on the other, it’s awesome.

The magnetically connected, soft-covered keyboard supports bright, single-zone, RGB backlighting. Its base is impressively stiff and the Scrabble-Tile keys are uniformly well-weighted, comfortable and accurate to use for extended periods of typing and gaming. There’s none of the sagging which blight the usability of rival models. The trackpad is smooth and accurate and has a comfortable (if slightly loud) clicking action.

ROG Flow Z13 soft cover
The downside of having a fabric-coated soft cover is that it picks up hair and fluff that’s very hard to remove.

The 1920 x 1200 (16:10 format), 13.4-inch touchscreen gets very bright and displays a crisp and clear Windows Desktop. Colours aren’t the most vibrant but they’re acceptable. Colour gradients can exhibit some noticeable banding while monochromatic gradients quickly turn into a blocky, artifact-riddled mess. Contrast is impressive with details visible in both dark and light areas. However, while the 120fps refresh rate keeps motion smooth, the low pixel response time means fast moving objects tend to smear themselves across the screen. The ROG Flow Z13 not great for fast and frantic shoot’em ups. That all said, touchscreens often offer poor all-round performance and this one’s Desktop and Multimedia display are relatively good. It’s also very responsive and is compatible with an (optional) Asus stylus.

Above the screen is a decent HD webcam but it’s not Windows Hello compatible. Being a convertible, it also has a front-facing camera which has a Full HD resolution. It offers usable performance (for a laptop) but gets grainy in low-light.

The speakers are very impressive. They get loud, have some punchy bass and offer reasonable fidelity from the top to bottom end.

While the kickstand doesn’t sit particularly comfortably on one’s lap, the lack of heat being expelled from the base (and the low weight) means it can stay their for much longer than other gaming-oriented rivals.

Performance

Inside the ROG Flow Z13 is the latest, high-end, 12th Gen 2.5-5GHz Intel Core i9-12900H processor with 14 Cores and 20 threads. It’s flanked by 16GB DDR5 RAM and a 1TB PCIe 4.0 drive. These combined to score a very impressive 7052 in the general PCMark 10 test. It also scored 2708 and 13,382 in the Cinebench R15 and R23 rendering tests which is very high too.

The ROG Flow Z13’s 3D performance is based around the modest Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU. This scored 2128 in 3DMark Time Spy which is an average of just 12fps. It also scored 5157 in Fire Strike Extreme (23.2fps) and 1082 (5fps) in the tricky Port Royal ray-tracing test. We ran the lightweight Night Raid test to give it a fair chance and it scored 34,735 which is an average of 236fps. Basically it will comfortably play casual and competitive games, but forget about big AAA cinematic adventures.

It’s worth noting that, under load, the fans can ramp up into an audible whoosh. But it’s generally silent at other times.

Connectivity of the ROG Flow Z13

ROG Flow Z13 left
On the left is a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port
ROG Flow Z13 right
On the right is a volume rocker, 3.5mm audio jack and a USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port.

Inside the ROG Flow Z13 is Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6E. To be frank, this is rather poor – especially considering that the USB-C port is also used for charging. How much can you do with a single USB-A port?

Portability

At 1.56KG The ROG Flow Z13 lies in ultraportable territory and the small power brick only adds 420g to the total. However, battery life is a little disappointing – it managed to run PCMark 10’s Modern Office test for just 5hrs 49mins. We’re not too surprised though… we’d expect a decent, fast touchscreen to suck down power – we saw similar with the MacBook killer, MSI Creator Z17.

ROG Flow Z13 underneath and PSU
The small powerbrick help keeps the ROG Flow Z13 ultraportable.

As for build quality, we always have our doubts about soft-cover keyboards but this whole package feels robust enough to survive being carted around – just take a bit more care when putting it into a bag.

Should you buy the ROG Flow Z13?

At $3,499 the ROG Flow Z13 is not particularly cheap. Neither does it have great battery life, 3D performance nor a screen with fast pixel response. However, it’s the only gaming convertible we’ve ever seen. The closest rivals are the underpowered ultraportables (with touchscreens) and the very expensive (and very hot) MSI Creator Z17. On the one hand, if you regard it as an ultraportable, it’s the best, high-performance ultraportable there is. On the other, it’s not what everyone in that market will be looking for. Ultimately, it’s reigns supreme in a niche market, and people who have been waiting for such a device will be pleased.

ROG Flow Z13 Results
  • 2D Performance
  • 3D Performance
  • Ergonomics
  • Stability
  • Portability
  • Value
3.7

Summary

It’s not only the best gaming convertible on the market it’s the only one. But it has some issues.

Leave a Reply