When it comes to portability, the tablet has become a minimalist way for people to carry their work around. However, as mobile gaming options have been improving, a new use case has been emerging and the ASUS ROG Flow Z13, announced last year, offers incredible power as well as gaming options in a light, compact tablet.
The hardware specs for the review model are top notch, though it also comes with a $3,499 price tag. That price includes some top notch specs though including a 12th Gen Intel Core processor RTX 3050TI graphics, 16GB DDR5 memory and up to 1TB PCIe® 4.0 M.2 SSD storage.
There are some lower end spec models with the Intel Core i5 model starting from $2,499 in the same form factor but with integrated Intel Iris Xᵉ graphics, and a Core i7 model which uses an RTX 3050Ti GPU on offer at $3,099.
While the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 range fully supports the XG Mobile eGPU, I’m just reviewing the tablet this time around. I’ve been using the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 for a month and here’s how it went.
Hardware and Design
The ASUS ROG Flow Z13 can be described as a chunky boy after having used the Microsoft Surface Pro as my work tablet for a while now. It’sThe Flow Z13 is a bit more power and gaming focused with the additional thickness accommodating additional cooling for the higher performance hardware inside.
It’s a very “gamer” looking tablet. From the transparent display on the rear which includes RGB lighting, to the red plastic tab to help you pull out the kickstand that contrasts nicely against the dark, metal rear or the funky grille design laser cut into the rear, but it’s not so outlandish that it doesn’t fit in well in a more professional setting – once you turn off the RGB lighting – when it needs to.
The kickstand is very sturdy, though not hard to reposition and the whole tablet feels quite solid overall, though it only weighs 1.18kg, a shade above the Surface Pro 8 at 891 grams.
Of course as a tablet, the main focus is on the bright, easily read 13.4-inch FHD+ resolution display. It’s not just any 13.4-inch display though with ASUS ROG offering a gamer friendly 120Hz refresh option, which makes for some smooth gaming and overall nicer experience when just using the tablet.
The display comes in a 16:10 aspect ratio and is touch sensitive which affords a bit more functionality – though of course you’ll need to keep it clean after touching it.
Above the display is a 720p resolution webcam which is passable for basic web-conferencing but it’s not great but it’s definitely serviceable. The webcam also doesn’t support Windows Hello, though the power button on the side has a fingerprint scanner for faster access.
There’s a world-facing 8MP camera on the rear for if you have to take a photo of something, but the shots, while serviceable, aren’t fantastic.
There’s support for Wi-Fi 6E(802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.2 for wireless connections and if you want to plug things in, there’s a Thunderbolt 4 USB-C USB4 port and a USB 2.0 Type-A port with a headphone jack, microSD card reader and of course the proprietary XG Mobile port for connecting their e-GPU.
The Thunderbolt 4 USB Type C port for charging is on the left, which can be a little inconvenient without an option for a second port on the right hand side. That said, the Thunderbolt 4 enabled USB-C port offers video, Power Delivery and exceptional speeds for data transfer.
There is a second USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port hidden under the rubber flap for the eGPU. If you’re not using the eGPU it offers a second USB Type C port for monitor out or other inputs.
For anyone looking for the microSD card slot, it’s hidden away underneath the kickstand which took a little finding – but here you go.
Audio is decent, with dual speakers at the bottom of the tablet. It supports Dolby Atmos and it has quite decent mids and high end, but there’s not a lot of low end when a game or movie needs some bass. There is an audio jack on the side, so you can plug in your preferred headphones for a better experience.
The tablet runs a 12th Gen Intel Core i9-12900H Processor which includes 14 cores(6 P-cores and 8 E-cores) with 16GB of DDR5 RAM. There’s also a 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD for storage.
It’s a powerful hardware combo on paper which translates to some serious grunt for day to day work. There is some fan noise though as the processor gets used, but it’s fairly quiet and doesn’t interfere. The benchmarks stack up pretty well, with 3DMark.
Day-to-day tasks like web browsing and watching videos offer no performance issues, or you can throw more power intensive tasks like editing in Premiere or Photoshop on the Flow Z13 and it responds quite well.
In terms of gaming, there’s an RTX 3050Ti graphics card which offers decent gaming performance, without sucking the battery dry immediately.
There are performance differences when the tablet is powered or running on battery, with the option for ‘Turbo’ mode in the ASUS Armoury Crate software maxing everything out when plugged into power. That same Armoury Crate software still offers you Performance or Manual tuning, or a silent mode that throttles everything down to achieve the quietest performance.
That said there is fan noise from the ROG Flow Z13 when you start to push the performance. It’s not over-bearing but it is there. ASUS has used a a vapour chamber that runs from edge to edge for cooling, with liquid metal for cooling on the CPU. The rear vents draw air in, and even when throwing a lot of grunt at the tablet the fan noise, while present, isn’t particularly notable.
I was able to run Battlefield V on Max Fidelity graphics settings at around 90 FPS with short up-bursts on power, or 80-85 FPS on battery.
Playing with FHD resolution, Shadow of the Tomb Raider was able to offer a high quality experience on both battery and on power. The Benchmark mode shows it can do quite a decent job of rendering.
The current indie darling on Steam, The Planet Crafter was a little rocky on Ultra settings dropping to 20-30FPS, but on high it had a solid smooth frame-rate around 50-60FPS while on power, but dropped down while on battery.The game is in early access currently, so things will be optimised there and overall it was a good experience.
Battery life and charging
The ASUS ROG Flow Z13 includes a 56WHr battery with a 100W USB Type-C adapter included in the box.
Battery life isn’t spectacular with my regular usage with web surfing, videos etc. getting 6 hours of use with screen brightness at 50%. Of course running games on battery brough the time-frame down again with about an hour and a half of gaming running Battlefield V and Planet Crafter.
While the battery life isn’t phenomenal there is Fast Charging built-in with the 100W charger able to get you back to 50% charge in just 30 minutes, so you can top up fairly quickly.
Keyboard & Trackpad
The magnetic keyboard dock attaches and detaches with minimal fuss and protects the display with a soft touch material surrounding the keyboard. The keyboard dock can lay flat, or sit slightly raised for a more comfortable typing angle.
The rear of the keyboard is covered in a suede like material which is soft, making it comfortable to hold but it is a magnet for dust, lint, loose threads or anything floating around. You can clean it up fairly easily with a lint roller, but it’s something to be mindful of as black does tend to make that stand out.
The keyboard itself is spacious to type on with full-sized keys and spacing you’d normally expect on a desktop keyboard. There is a springiness to the keyboard though which can be a little disconcerting when typing for long sessions or gaming on the go, but it’s definitely serviceable and the larger keys and spacing are definitely welcome.
There’s also RGB lighting in the keyboard completing the gamer aesthetic. You can choose from a range of different options for it in the Armour Crate software, including letting you sync colour patterns from other ASUS RGB enabled gear to your new ASUS ROG tablet keyboard.
The trackpad area is decent, though on the smaller side. It’s fairly responsive in Windows, but when using the keyboard/trackpad combo for gaming it isn’t as responsive as you’d like. Plugging in a mouse solves the issue, but something to be aware of.
There’s Windows 11 Home installed on the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 out of the box. Windows 11 has been refined for tablet input. There’s swipe in gestures and touch targets are easier and the taskbar automatically spaces itself out more when you detach the keyboard.
Overall the experience of using a Windows tablet has improved a great deal over previous iterations, but it can be a bit jarring as you get used to the new experience.
The tablet comes with an assortment of ASUS utilities. There’s the helpful MyASUS utility for updating software, as well as Armoury Crate for customising your hardware performance in games (or just your RGB colour scheme). You also get utilities for the NVIDIA graphics card, Dolby Atmos & Dolby Vision enabled audio and video in the tablet and of course a Microsoft Office trial.
There isn’t any Symantec or Mcafee bloatware, instead Microsoft’s Virus & Threat Protection is running behind the scenes. This gives you an option to choose your own virus and spam protection, which we do recommend.
The software experience on Windows on a tablet has been improved quite significantly with the release of Windows 11. The touch targets are larger, with larger context menus, the layout of the taskbar is better and loads more. Overall it makes using Windows a lot easier for tablet users.
Should you buy it?
ASUS has created something quite unique with the ROG Flow Z13. The concept of a capable business tablet that can play high-end games when you’re on your down time is something quite intriguing.
The tablet is well designed with excellent construction and thoughtful inclusions for cooling a gaming tablet.
The grunt is also there with the 12th Gen Intel Core i9 processor which makes everyday tasks fly, whether it’s vegging out on the couch in tablet mode browsing the web or watching YouTub Videos, or connecting the magnetic keyboard to do some work when needed.
Then you get the NVIDIA RTX 3050Ti graphics card which can provide a solid gaming experience. The tablet does handle best when connected to power, however you can still get some decent gaming done on the go.
The battery life isn’t the greatest for gaming, but you’ll get a good 5-6 hours of general browsing or light work out of it and you can top up fairly quickly using the charger.
The tablet form factor has to be a big option for you when selecting the ROG Flow Z13 as you could find comparable ultra-portable laptops similarly priced which would offer other benefits. But, if that tablet form factor is the deciding point for you, the ROG Flow Z13 is definitely the best option.
You can purchase the ROG Flow Z13 on-sale now through JB HIfi, details on all models are on the ASUS Australia website.