Asus has announced its ROG Flow Z13, which it describes as “the most powerful gaming tablet in the world”. Yes, you read that right, it’s a gaming tablet. No mobile game, but PC game. It contains an RTX 3050 Ti and you can connect it to Asus’ ROG XG Mobile external GPU for even more images.
I caution right away that we don’t have a price tag for this thing yet, and it doesn’t seem like the sort of thing we can expect to be super affordable, especially if you add the XG Mobile. . Asus’ latest crack at this type of form factor, the ROG Mothership, started at $ 5,499.
But even if it ends up being a luxury item, it can be a glimpse of a form factor that will eventually make its way to a more accessible level (as we’re starting to see with, say, dual-device devices. screen). We will know more when the device is released in “Q1 / Q2 2022”.
Either way, if you’ve seen this device and thought “Wow, a Surface Pro,” you’re not alone. After spending some time with the ROG Flow Z13, I can confirm that it also feels like you’re using a Surface Pro. It has a kickstand and a detachable keyboard, which turns on and off with little effort. It is a generally beautiful and well-made device.
A few things that might not be apparent in the photos. First, it’s big. The main advantage of these detachable devices is generally their thinness and lightness. This thing is 2.43 pounds and 0.47 inches thick. It’s a big tablet, that’s what I’m saying – it’s a very different experience than using an iPad of any size, and it’s not something I would necessarily want to carry around. in the house or hold while I gave a presentation. (It’s still pretty compact compared to the 10.5-pound Mothership, of course.)
Second, the keyboard is quite flexible. This was an issue I had with previous Surface Pro models, although Microsoft reinforced it on the latter. I already have a slight tap, but each of my taps has pushed in that removable bridge. I’m not someone who normally notices the keyboard flexing at all, but even I was a little pissed off at how it bounced up and down all day. I would probably recommend people who really want rugged keyboards to wait for the next generation. Having said that, I really enjoyed typing this thing as the keys have crazy travel (1.7mm).
Elsewhere, I haven’t had too many complaints. The 13-inch, 3840 x 2400 touchscreen looked good and was responsive. There is also a useful port selection (which you rarely see on this type of product) which includes a USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 and DisplayPort 1.4, a USB-A, and a microSD slot in addition to a headphone jack. Connecting the XG Mobile (which can now offer an AMD Radeon RX 6850M XT as well as a GeForce RTX 3080) will add a lot more, including another DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.1 and Ethernet RJ-45.
The factor that will make or break this device, of course, besides the price, is the framerate. The Flow Z13 has up to a 12th gen Intel Core i9-12900H, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage in addition to the RTX 3050 Ti. The Core i9 is the biggest unknown out there – last year’s ROG attempt at a gaming ultraportable, the ROG Flow X13 convertible, had a monstrous AMD processor inside, and we don’t yet know how. this new Core i9 will compare. The X13’s battery life wasn’t particularly good, so that’s a question mark.
The Z13 has an advantage over traditional clamshell laptops in that its bottom half isn’t pressed against the table. In theory, this could give it more room for cooling (and the Mothership ran cooler than many of its competitors). The device was noticeably hot for much of my out-of-game use, but I didn’t hear the fans running.
All in all, the fact that there is a tablet you can play on, and it actually seems to work, is cool. It was a fun device to use, and I’m all for making powerful devices thinner and lighter without having to compromise on everything laptop users want. The detachable form factor, based on this year’s CES, seems like a strategy manufacturers see as a viable way to do it.