When you think about gaming laptops what do you picture? I always picture a laptop that is big, heavy, and has terrible battery life. Traditional gaming laptops were so large that they weren’t really portable and had such poor battery life that they always needed to be near a power outlet. Today I have something that breaks the mold of the the classic gaming laptop: the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 2-in-1 ultrabook. In this article I’ll discuss the Flow Z13’s tablet design, keyboard attachment, and its overall performance.
ASUS ROG Flow Z13 specs, as tested
Unboxing the Flow Z13
The Flow Z13 is a premium device and ASUS makes this known with the packaging. Inside the main shipping case you will find two boxes. One houses the Flow Z13 and the other contains the power adapter. Both boxes are beautifully decorated with three-toned silver and the recognizable ROG design aesthetics.
Unboxing the Flow Z13, I was immediately impressed with the quality and craftsmanship that went into its design. The tablet body is all metal and on the rear you will find a unique combination of engraving, laser etching, and cut outs. You will also notice a window that allows you to see the Flow Z13’s motherboard and circuitry. This window is accentuated with RGB LED lights. I love the unique look of this window, it’s something that I haven’t seen on any other laptop.
Slightly above the window are some interesting cutouts. On first glance these look like they’re a design aesthetic, but if you look closely they’re openings for the laptop fans. This is a clever way to have a pleasing yet functional design integrated into the tablet body.
While most laptops have one camera for video calling, the ROG Flow Z13 also has a secondary 8 megapixel camera on its rear. The pictures it produces are good quality. Students and professionals will appreciate the flexibility of a secondary camera. Personally, I used this camera to do demos and aid in my presentations while on video calls.
Amazing screen on the Flow Z13
The 13.4-inch, 4K IPS display of the Flow Z13 is nothing short of fantastic. Text is clear, colours pop, and the viewing angles are great. For those who love bright displays you won’t be disappointed with the Flow Z13’s brightness. Upon turning on the laptop I immediately noticed how bright the screen was. In fact, for the majority of the time I used the tablet I kept the brightness at 35%. Anything brighter and I found myself squinting, especially when websites or windows were white.
Like other 2-in-1 laptops the Flow Z13’s keyboard is attached using a magnet. Where ASUS goes the extra mile is the inclusion of a magnet near the palm rests. This magnet helps keep the keyboard in place and prevents sliding while the laptop is closed. When carrying the Flow Z13 it felt solid in my hands. There was never a concern of the laptop slipping or falling.
While most laptop keyboards come with a single backlight colour, the Flow Z13 yet again takes it one step further. The Flow Z13’s keyboard comes with RGB LEDs. By default these LEDs cycle through various colours. I love this effect and while it doesn’t add any functionality the changing colours draws a lot of attention to the device. The RGB lights are also AURA Sync-enabled, meaning that you can customize the LED behaviour or have it sync to music, games, and movies.
The keyboard layout is what you would expect from a laptop keyboard. Spacing of the keys was well done and key travel also felt good. Overall I didn’t find myself needing to adjust to typing on the Flow Z13’s keyboard.
Because the ROG brand is aimed at gamers the keyboard also includes some gaming specific keys. Notably users have the ability to manually control the laptop fan speed as well as lock the Windows key. For gamers being able to control the fan speed also means being able to control the amount of noise your laptop produces while playing games. The ability to lock the window keys prevents any accidental key presses that can cause the window’s menu to interrupt your game.
The Flow Z13’s touchpad is serviceable for everyday tasks. I found the touchpad to be responsive and worked well with multitouch gestures. During my tests I found myself wishing the touchpad was a slightly bit larger. One way I was able to work around this was to increase the touchpad sensitivity. This allowed me to effectively move my mouse around without feeling like I was running out of space.
When it comes to gaming I strongly suggest using a dedicated mouse. While the touchpad is fine for everyday use, gaming requires faster response times that the Flow Z13 touchpad is not designed for.
Incredible gaming on the ASUS Flow Z13
The Flow Z13 that I tested came with a 12th gen Core i9 CPU and a NVIDIA RTX 3050ti GPU. With this powerful hardware I had no issues gaming. Playing Halo Infinite on medium settings, the game looked and played great. On these settings I was getting a constant 60-70 FPS, resulting in smooth game play.
Because gaming is GPU and CPU intensive it’s common for laptops to heat up. When this happens the laptop fans will kick in. As expected, while playing Halo Infinite the Flow Z13 did get warm and the fans started spinning. I was surprised at just how quiet the fans were. Even at their highest speed I could barely hear them running.
Speakers on the Flow Z13 are good for their size. Both speakers are located on the bottom left and right hand sides of the laptop, giving you stereo sound. I found the speakers to be clear with strong mid and high tones. However, the Flow Z13’s speakers are weaker when it comes to bass. For my entertainment needs I didn’t find myself missing out on bass. Overall, I enjoyed the audio quality from the the Flow Z13 speakers.
ASUS Flow Z13 productivity and battery life
With a 13.4-inch screen and a total weight of 2.6 lbs (1.18 kg), the Flow Z13 is supremely portable. Its slim profile let it slip comfortably into my backpack, and the fact that it’s lightweight meant that I barely noticed it while commuting.
Having powerful gaming hardware also means that your laptop will certainly be able to handle most productivity needs with ease. This makes the Flow Z13 a great option for students and working professionals. Without gaming, I was able to get from five to 5.5 hours of battery life from the Flow Z13. On a regular day I was watching YouTube, editing Word documents, and listening to music. This was all done with the keyboard LEDs set to medium brightness and a screen brightness of 35%.
While 5.5 hours isn’t the longest battery life, this is a great balance given the powerful hardware and small form factor. In my testing, the Flow Z13 charged from 0% to 100% in 1.5 hours. This charging time is good and in line with other premium 2-in-1 laptops. Charging the Flow Z13 during my lunch break meant that I was able to get through rest of my workday.
While I’m used to using a traditional laptop in my daily productivity I found myself enjoying the tablet mode of the Flow Z13. The nature of my meetings rarely requires me to use my laptop keyboard. On the Flow Z13 I found it freeing to be able to detach the keyboard and just take the tablet with me while on the go.
The ASUS Flow Z13 is an impressive gaming 2-in-1 ultrabook
I can’t emphasize enough how impressed I am with the ASUS ROG Flow Z13. ASUS was able to pack powerful hardware into the compact body of a tablet. On top of this, they carefully added thoughtful design considerations that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional. Gamers and productivity professionals alike will be able to appreciate this laptop.
I personally loved my time with the Flow Z13. I liked the bright 13.4-inch 4K screen, the fact that it’s lightweight, and the RGB keyboard. While the Flow Z13’s battery life is disappointing, this is a minor trade-off compared to all the design and hardware benefits you receive. If you’re interested in seeing what other devices that ASUS has to offer you can check them out here.