Jun 06, 2022 ROG

Unbridled gaming power and unlimited versatility: hands-on with the ROG Flow Z13

ROG Flow Z13 and ROG XG Mobile in a full gaming PC setup

There’s something special about a device small enough that I can hold it in my hands. That’s why I still watch some videos on my phone, even when I’m in the same room as the big family room TV. That’s why I often grab my headset rather than turn on my window-rattling speaker system. And over the last few weeks, that’s why I increasingly reach for the ROG Flow Z13 gaming tablet rather than my hulking desktop gaming rig.

This powerful yet astoundingly compact device puts the personal back in “personal computer” more than any PC I’ve ever used. With the Flow Z13, I can curl up on the couch with a controller and methodically master the next boss in Elden Ring—without hearing any snark or uninformed advice from nearby friends and family members. I can catch up on the latest volumes of my favorite manga on a spacious screen that fits nicely in my hands. I can unwind at the end of the day in the comfort of my own bed—and still game at the quality that I’ve become accustomed to after years with a desktop PC. And thanks to the ROG XG Mobile external GPU, I can connect one cable to the Flow Z13 and turn it into the command center of my desktop gaming battlestation.

The ROG Flow Z13 feels like someone activated an engineering cheat code. If I wasn’t experiencing its gaming prowess for myself, I’d find it hard to believe that this much PC performance would even be possible in a device that’s as personal and portable as a tablet.

Impossibly slim PC gaming

The Flow family had already claimed pole position as the lightest and most portable ROG gaming laptops before the debut of the Flow Z13. Whereas the ROG Strix SCAR family makes its name for tournament-grade performance and the ROG Zephyrus family balances portability and gaming prowess, Flow devices pull out all the stops to make sure that I can get immersive PC gaming experiences no matter where life takes me.

ROG Flow Z13 in a full gaming PC setup

But while the ROG Flow X13 and the freshly announced ROG Flow X16 use a slim convertible form factor to establish their claim, the ROG Flow Z13 takes the basic DNA of ROG gaming machines into new territory. In an 11.89” x 8.03” chassis that’s just a smidge longer and narrower than a standard piece of paper, it offers everything I need for PC gaming. It’s thin and light enough that I can hold it and use it as a tablet, and has an integrated kickstand so that I can easily set it up on a table or desk.

Closeup picture of the detachable keyboard for the ROG Flow Z13

The detachable keyboard cover protects the display when I have the Flow Z13 tucked in my backpack, and it also gives me the familiar comfort of a keyboard and trackpad when I want them. The cover’s fingerprint-resistant material feels comfortable under my hands, and the keys on the backlit chiclet-style keyboard offer a pleasantly tactile experience as I game and type.

Games hard, will travel

Scan the ROG Flow Z13’s spec sheet, and you’ll find a list of hardware that you’re used to seeing in much less portable gaming laptops. Its Intel Core i9-12900H CPU, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Laptop GPU, 1TB SSD, and 16GB of LPDDR5 are all high-performance parts that typically require a much beefier cooling solution.

Cutout on the back of the ROG Flow Z13

How does the Flow Z13 pull off the trick of keeping its high-performance components operating comfortably? This savvy machine has more than one ace up its sleeve. First is the vertical orientation of its chassis. Heat can follow its natural pathway up and out through a pair of vents at the top, aided along the way with the gentle—and quiet—encouragement of a pair of Arc Flow fans, without your desk's surface impeding airflow. Second, liquid metal thermal compound on the CPUtransfers heat from the chip much more efficiently than traditional thermal pastes. Finally, a custom, extra wide vapor chamber covers multiple heat sources including the CPU, GPU, and voltage regulation components.

All together, this cooling solution gets the job done without drawing much attention to itself. The fans don’t produce enough noise to speak of, even when I’m gaming. I can fly completely under the radar with Silent operating mode, which turns off the fans entirely, CPU and GPU temperatures permitting. That makes me feel like I’m a good neighbor when I’m out and about at the local coffee shop or waiting to board a flight.

A sidekick that packs a serious punch

The ROG Flow Z13’s balance of premium portability and powerful performance gives me undeniable gaming prowess no matter where I go, but on many evenings, I’m not traveling any farther than my gaming den. In years past, I’d have a separate desktop PC in addition to my laptop to give myself the right option for the moment.

ROG Flow Z13 and ROG XG Mobile

Since the Flow Z13 is compatible with the XG Mobile ecosystem, I don’t have to fuss with the necessary annoyances of maintaining two PCs. Instead, I can access desktop-class GPU power, recharge my battery, and connect my full array of gaming peripherals and displays all with one easy connector.

Inside a svelte enclosure not much larger than a paperback novel, the XG Mobile packs a high-end GPU–your choice of the GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU or the Radeon RX 6850M XT. The same XG Mobile interface that lets me tap the power of these beastly chips also connects all my peripherals. With its full array of USB ports, HDMI and DisplayPort connectors, Ethernet port, and SD card reader, I can have my gaming battlestation all set up and ready to go. I can plug in the Z13 and have it all connect at once–and recharge the Z13’s battery at the same time.

Game for anything

With the RTX 3080 Laptop GPU in the ROG XG Mobile handling rendering duties, the ROG Flow Z13 stands ready to immerse me into any game on the market–even with the eye candy cranked up. No matter what title I pulled up from my library, this easy-to-transport system proved that it can hang with the heavyweights.

Screenshot of the video game Resident Evil Village

Image source: Gamesplanet

For its latest installment in the Resident Evil franchise, Capcom took gamers on an unforgettable journey through a devastated European village. While Village’s aesthetics and game world harken back to fan-favorite Resident Evil 4, its graphics tech very much looks to the future.

Bar graph showing 173.2 average FPS in Resident Evil Village

With the Flow Z13 and XG Mobile, I don’t have to min/max my settings for a great experience in Village. I can just hit Max quality and dive into a 173.2 average FPS experience–perfect for my high-refresh-rate desktop gaming monitor. That fluid animation kept me in control when I needed to flip around and respond to an enemy creeping up from behind, while the photorealistic textures and lighting effects made Village more immersive than any Resident Evil title before it.

Part of the fun of having a high-end NVIDIA RTX GPU on hand is access to game-changing graphics tech like ray tracing and DLSS. With the combination of these two features, I can toggle the most realistic lighting available in today’s games all the while keeping my FPS high.

Bar graph showing 77.0 average FPS in Cyberpunk 2077

With the neon glow of the cityscape reflecting realistically across rain-drenched streets, Cyberpunk 2077’s iconic Night City comes to life. The 77 average FPS performance was fluid and responsive enough to keep me in control as I weaved in and out traffic on my motorcycle, and the stunning visuals kept me glued to the screen and eager to explore.

Bar graph showing 182.4 average FPS in Call of Duty: Warzone

Image source: Gamesplanet

All that graphics horsepower just begged to be unleashed in glorious online combat–so off to Call of Duty: Warzone I went. Gameplay in any battle royale quickly turns from anxiously scanning the horizon to frantic, fast-paced firefights, so a PC that can produce high FPS–and a high-refresh-rate monitor that can let you take full advantage of all those frames–are an undisputed competitive edge.

warzone-z13-3

With High settings in Warzone and DLSS enabled at its Quality preset, the Flow Z13 delivered a 182.4 average FPS performance. Frame rates this high make the game feel supremely responsive. As I whip my ROG Gladius III Wireless across the desk, I’m fully in control of every moment.

Gaming on the go

The ROG Flow Z13 and ROG XG Mobile are better together, but the Z13’s no slouch even on its own. With its built-in NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, this tablet offers excellent PC gaming experiences even when it’s not convenient to plug in the ROG XG Mobile.

That opens up a world of possibilities for me. I can bring along its petite 100W power adapter and game basically anywhere I want. Whether I’m lounging on a pile of pillows in bed, burrowed into a corner of the couch, hanging out at a friend’s house on a Saturday night, or gaming in a hotel room, the Flow Z13 continues to provide a true PC gaming experience.

Bar graph showing 185.0 average FPS in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

A few rounds of CS:GO proved no challenge for the Flow Z13. In fact, with its 120Hz display, it’s a natural fit for fast-paced esports games. I can plug in my headphones, connect my mouse, and queue up a match feeling just as effective and powerful as I would playing with a full-sized desktop PC.

Bar graph showing 68.5 average FPS in Doom Eternal

Even in a modern AAA title, the RTX 3050 Ti proves to be the little GPU that could. The Z13 easily exceeds the 60FPS gold standard for gaming in Doom Eternal, letting me frag demons with my otherworldly arsenal of weapons with nary a hitch or stutter.

The traveling gamer’s dream PC

Even without a power adapter, the ROG Flow Z13 lets me enjoy my favorite entertainment. When work took me on an impromptu flight to California, I eagerly packed the Z13 into my backpack, knowing that it would make the hours on a plane fly by.

ROG Flow Z13 with Xbox controller

After that experience, I’m ready to crown the Flow Z13 as the best device available for in-flight entertainment—and outside the ROG Flow X16 and X13, the competition isn’t even close. There are other PCs that fit comfortably on the tray of an airline seat, but with its detachable keyboard, the Z13 lets me easily position the screen at the right distance and angle for gaming. With its support for USB Type-C charging, it was no trouble to keep the battery topped off with my seat’s provided charging port.

The waves of jealousy from the travelers sitting next to me were palpable when I set up the tablet, plugged in my headset, pulled out my Xbox controller, and dug into a playthrough of Ori and the Will of the Wisps. The fellow next to me was trying to pass the time watching Spider-Man on a smartphone. I wouldn’t have traded with him for anything.

ROG Flow Z13
CPU Intel Core i9-12900H
GPU GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
Display Full HD 120Hz 100% sRGB touchscreen
Memory 16GB DDR5 5200MHz 
Storage 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD 
I/O 1x XG Mobile interface    
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C 
1x USB 2.0 Type-A   
1x 3.5mm audio combo jack
Battery 56Wh
Size 302.8 x 204.8 x 12mm 
1.1kg 
Where to buy (US) Newegg
Amazon
Where to buy (CA) Newegg.ca
Amazon.ca
ROG XG Mobile
GPU GeForce RTX 3080
I/O ROG XG Mobile Interface
4x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
1x HDMI 2.0
1x DisplayPort 1.4
1x RJ45
1x SD card reader
Size 55 x 208 x 209mm
1kg
Where to buy (US) ASUS

The newly-crowned champion of gaming on the go

I love desktop PC gaming, I really do—I grew up with a keyboard and a mouse in hand, and I can’t get enough of my immersive gaming monitor. But I also love the freedom that comes with a gaming laptop. I can visit friends and go on trips without leaving my favorite hobby at home, and even when I’m at home, I can game in any room at any time, no desk required.

ROG Flow logo on the front edge of the ROG Flow Z13

More than any other device I’ve ever tried, the ROG Flow Z13 gives me the PC gaming experiences I want no matter where I go. With its slim and lightweight tablet form factor, it’s the ultimate road trip machine and an unbeatable companion on a flight. Its detachable keyboard cover gives me all the familiar inputs and conveniences of a laptop whenever I want them. And when I pair the Flow Z13 with the XG Mobile, I can quickly and easily set up a powerful gaming battlestation with my desktop gaming monitor and full set of peripherals.

The ROG Flow Z13’s combination of versatility, portability, and performance truly make it a one-of-a-kind PC. Purchase one of your own to put an exceptional PC experience in your hands no matter where life takes you.