ASUS has been manufacturing a wide range of laptops for every type of user. Even for its ROG series for gamers, there has been plenty of movement. Earlier this year, the brand launched its new ROG Flow range. Having already reviewed the Flow X16, I was eager to get my hands on their latest offering in the form of the ASUS ROG Flow Z13.
The specific model received for review was the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 GZ301ZE. While the Flow X16 had an AMD configuration, the Z13 range features the Intel chipset. Despite these distinctions, there is a common factor between the two, its GPU. Both units feature the GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Laptop GPU, highlighting its gaming prowess. It may seem like a choice between the Intel and AMD chipsets between these two laptops, but there are quite a few differences between them in the end.
On a side note: I found it interesting that within a space of a few weeks, I reviewed two laptops from different brands, both with the Z13 moniker.
One key difference between the X16, X13 and Z13 ranges is their form factor. The X16 and X13 offer tablet mode options through their 180° hinge, allowing users to switch from laptop to tablet mode. In contrast, however, the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 is first a tablet with laptop capabilities and support.
We’ve seen quite a few different form factors from ASUS in recent months as they attempt to appeal to a wider audience. With the likes of the ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, the Zenbook Duo and the ROG Flow, there are many variations of laptops available to match your productivity or gaming needs.
At its most basic, the ROG Flow Z13 is a 13.4” tablet. It’s not the most compact tablet around, compared to the iOS and Android options but it has a lot more to offer. Its frame measures 302x204x12mm, which isn’t that large by any means. However, compared to the conventional laptop that weighs around the 500g mark, the Z13 weighs in at 1.18 kg. That’s quite hefty.
Given that it has a tablet form factor, it’s not difficult to assume how you’d use the unit. However, due to its weight, it’s not always easy to maintain that use over a period of time. In fact, after just a few minutes of holding the tablet in hand it would become increasingly difficult. As a result of this, ASUS implemented two options to make it easier to operate.
The first of these is using the kickstand on the rear of the unit. With this, users can more easily work on the Z13 while positioned on a flat surface. This kickstand is quite thin, and while it works, it doesn’t offer much in the way of converting the unit to a laptop. After just a few minutes, you wouldn’t want to use it in this manner as it digs into your lap.
However, ASUS has also included a detachable keyboard to convert it into laptop mode fully. It snaps into place quite brilliantly, thanks to the magnetic strip below the Z13. The magnetic strip is also where it draws its power from and not via Bluetooth.
Despite its conventional appearance in the front view, it has a more engaging aesthetic on the rear. Along with a few details etched on the frame, some additional elements make it stand out. The most prominent of these is the see-through panel, which lies beneath the kickstand. The kickstand has a small cutout to give visibility to the see-through panel at all times. Its RGB lighting that shines onto a small portion of the motherboard makes it really aesthetically pleasing. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about circuitry in lights that really make for visual intrigue.
In the end, it may not be the best in the way of build, given its weight and size as a laptop, but it more than makes up for that with a few visual aesthetics to stand out.
As stated previously, the Z13 has a detachable keyboard attached via a magnetic strip below the unit. The keyboard itself works perfectly and is thin enough that when close to the Z13’s screen, there’s very little addition in terms of size and weight. The one thing that is missing is the automated power down or sleep mode when shutting the keyboard as a lid, as it would on a conventional laptop. Instead, it just turns off the screen and switches back on when opened.
But the one thing I did have a definite issue with was the incredibly small touchpad. As a result of this, I didn’t utilise this option at all apart from a few tests, opting instead for the mouse and keyboard option.
Despite being a type of tablet, I found the number of ports available around the frame quite surprising. Here’s the full rundown of the types of ports available on the Z13:
1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack
1x USB 2.0 Type-A
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C
1x Thunderbolt™ 4 support DisplayPort™
1x ROG XG Mobile Interface
1x card reader (microSD) (UHS-II)
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C support DisplayPort™ / power delivery / G-SYNC
This is an impressive lineup, even on a conventional laptop. The one element that does make for some elaboration is the ROG XG mobile interface. It opens up a world of options for extreme portability for any modern ASUS product, allowing you to convert from a standard gaming laptop into a powerhouse. Although there are numerous future potentials for using the ROG XG port, for now, it’s used in conjunction with the ASUS ROG XG Mobile.
Screen and Display
A tablet form factor means that the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 is about the screen. The unit has a 13.4” LCD panel listed as “ID+Colour 1A-Black.” The LCD is an IPS touchscreen panel which supports a 120Hz refresh rate and has a glossy finish. This means it does pick up the odd bit of glare when used under lights or outdoors.
In terms of the screen’s display, it features an FHD resolution of 1,920×1,200px. The display is also Pantone-validated in terms of colour balance with 100% sRGB colour and 500+ nits of brightness. Additionally, it also has support for the included stylus.
When using the touchscreen, it was fairly accurate to the touch. I had no issues selecting what I wanted or using the double-tap feature in Windows. It worked very well with no bugs, lag or anything of that nature to report.
In terms of the display capabilities, it’s not quite as tied together. For the most part, the 500 nits brightness and 100% sRGB colours are bold and beautiful to look at. Switching between games and videos maintains a pleasing aesthetic.
However, when you really want to get down to business with some design work using the stylus, I couldn’t help but be taken out of the moment with the visible pixelation on screen. Obviously, this is due to the fact that when drawing, I was almost right up against the screen on many occasions but it still wasn’t an ideal experience. This is especially noteworthy, considering that most of the other stylus-compatible ASUS units I’ve covered in 2022 don’t have the same issue.
In terms of the overall specifications, there is quite a bit packed into the small frame. For starters, it has an Intel Core i9 12900H CPU. This is quite a surprise to fit one of the most powerful consumer chipsets into the ASUS ROG Flow Z13. Added to this is 16GB LPDDR5 RAM. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support the 32GB (or higher) variant. This may be a limiting factor for a few designers, editors and developers, but it’s not a significant impact for the most part.
The Z13 features an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Laptop GPU as stated in the introduction. On its own, it’s more than capable of producing great graphics for AAA games with a steady FPS to boot.
Regarding storage, the review model includes a 1TB PCIe G4 SSD. This is more than sufficient for anyone starting off, whether you’re gaming or editing videos. It’ll be time before needing to reach for that external drive as a backup.
ASUS has fit a 4Cell 56wH unit for the battery under the hood. This isn’t a bad battery to fit inside the tablet frame on a gaming unit. I’ll touch more on its performance in the below section.
Performance and Battery
The ASUS ROG Flow Z13 won’t let you down when it comes to performance. I was able to breeze through all the standard testing when it comes to daily tasks, such as browsing with multiple tabs while streaming, downloading games in the background and a few additional multitasking activities. Across the few weeks of review, I didn’t experience much, if any, lag or dips in performance. In fact, I would purposefully push the unit at regular intervals while in use to test out the Core i9 processor, which didn’t let me down.
Under most tasks, the unit operates at about 50W using about 60-70% of the CPU performance. You can turn this up using the Armoury Crate software, but it was never a requirement – only during testing. When utilising the Turbo mode, it bumps up the usage to almost 100W at 100% CPU usage.
Most of the limitations on the hardware are due to the temperatures within the tablet frame. However, ASUS manages this, too, operating around the 70° mark to keep things in check at all times. At the same time, the fans hardly ever break a sweat either, reaching only 40dB of noise when under load. This means that there’s quite a bit of potential still to be unlocked under the hood. Perhaps future software updates will allow the Z13 to run at higher temperatures and fan speeds, which will result in higher CPU performance if required.
Gaming modes and benchmarks were also impressive on the gaming tablet. For most games, I utilised the Medium graphics settings and monitored many of the FPS throughout. On average, this would run at a very impressive 80 to 90FPS across most AAA titles. This includes Shadow of the Tomb Raider, DotA 2, Spider-Man Miles Morales and the like. Switching things up to RTX settings and boosting to Ultra graphics, things dipped quite substantially to around the 30FPS mark, with some titles a bit higher, around 40-50FPS. This isn’t bad at all when you consider it’s using an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Laptop GPU in such a small frame.
To make use of the 120Hz refresh rate, I needed to drop the resolution a tad, which, to me, defeats the purposes of the screen’s native performance. As such, running on Medium graphics and 1080px resolution was the standard when testing the native GPU.
Under normal working conditions – including editing documents, Teams meetings and emails – the load on the battery was around 11W. This meant that I could eke out anywhere from four to six hours of battery life.
When watching videos on YouTube at 1080p with standard brightness, the draw on the battery is reduced to around 8W. As such, I could then eke out an additional two to three hours of battery life, giving me around six to eight hours.
However, under gaming load, the draw would be pushed up all the way to around 50-60W, which would result in sub-hour benchmarks. This is standard when using a decent GPU, which can easily pull quite a load. The results vary depending on the resolution and settings but these were the averages throughout.
Overall, this is quite useful in terms of battery life for its frame but falls quite short of the larger, more conventional laptops. A bit of give and take in the end.
Is the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 Worth It?
There’s a lot to sum up when it comes to the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 GZ301ZE. It offers plenty of fun and creativity in a portable frame. Its potential is endless, especially considering its future-forward ASUS ROG XG port. However, it’s quite rough around the edges when it comes to being a laptop. Instead, I’d see it more like a tablet with laptop features rather than the other way around.
There are a few variations of the model on sale in the country, with the most readily available being the ROG Flow Z13 GZ301ZE with Core i9 CPU, 1TB SSD, 8GB RAM, 120hz screen and GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Laptop GPU. All things considered, that’s not a bad starting price, with the X16 starting off at a similar price range.
As the title of the review suggests, the unit is not always practical, especially if your primary use case it to run a laptop for daily tasks and the like. Despite all its flaws, this is one of my favourite ASUS laptops reviewed in 2022, falling behind only to the ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED.
Note: I also received the ASUS ROG XG Mobile a few days later as part of the review, which I’ll cover in a separate write-up. Stay tuned for that review.
ASUS ROG Flow Z13
It may not be perfect, but it is a lovable unit. The ASUS ROG Flow Z13 is not a conventional laptop. Instead, it’s a tablet with laptop-supporting features. That said, it still offers the full experience, from daily tasks to gaming and everything in between. It has so much additional potential waiting to be unlocked that you can be sure to extract more from the Z13 as the months go by.