ASUS ROG Flow Z13 – hybrid table with gaming cred (review) - Cybershack

2022-08-01 07:04:31 By : Mr. UG Best

The ASUS ROG Flow Z13 looks like a Microsoft Surface Pro on steroids – and it performs like one too. It is wickedly fast in a hybrid tablet format.

We also have the ROG Strix and the unique dual-screen ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 for review, so we are taking baby steps first with the ASUS ROG Flow Z13. We are not gamers, and our focus is firmly on the horsepower these devices can give creators, videographers, and editors.

The ASUS ROG Flow Z13 is a member of the Flow family of AMD-and-Intel-based laptops. The 2022 series covers

And the Z13 series (this review) with 13.4” 1920 x 1200, 16:10, 120Hz Touch screen, 12th Gen Intel Core i5-12500H or 17-12700H or i9-12900H, 8GB (up to 16GB), GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU and up to 1TB PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD.

As you can see, there are a lot of choices. Where does Flow fit into the ROG range?

It would be wrong to consider the Flow range as entry-level. It is more of a compact body that packs some impressive gaming specs into it. Strix is for serious gamers – more about bang for buck, and Zephyrus is more about a big laptop with (in this case) the option of a second screen.

We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. We occasionally give a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed.

You can click on most images for an enlargement.

This will be the last comparison to the Surface Pro. It shares a similar detachable keyboard and 170° kickstand, but the comparison stops there. It has a 13.4”,1 6:10 screen housed in a 302 x 204 x 12mm x 1.2kg plus 350g keyboard for a total of 1540g. The USB-C 100W power adapter adds 400g. It is no lightweight!

There are various body art embellishments (think Tattoos), RGB rear lights and rather large air vents at the top. Bezels are reasonably narrow, with room for the webcam at the top and the magnetic keyboard ‘fold’ at the bottom.

On the left is a Thunderbolt 4 port (data, charging and alt DP), USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (power delivery/G-SYNC, alt DP) and a ROG XG Mobile Interface (more later). On the right is a USB-A 2.0 480Gbps, a 3.5mm 3-pole headset jack, power button/fingerprint scanner and volume rocker. Under the kickstand is a MicroSD UHS-II slot.

While we all want 4K screens, this is a pretty spectacular 1080p screen supporting close to 100% sRGB and Dolby Vision HDR (for the replay of Dolby Vision video and games). Now, this is not the same as the premium Dolby Vision you see on TVs – a similar concept but less demanding for laptops.

Dolby Vision HDR enables lower brightness screens to use Dolby Vision metadata to update the image on a scene x scene basis. So, quality-wise, it sits above HDR and HDR10 that use static metadata (set once for the entire show).

The panel is a Sharp LQ134N1JW54 WLED backlit with a claimed 500 nits brightness and 1500:1 contrast. It better fits the GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU capabilities.

Tests revealed a slight brightness unevenness – over 500 nits at the centre and as low as 460 at the bottom edge. There is no edge bleed. sRGB was 97% (nearly 100% as claimed), equating to about 70%  Adobe RGB and  67% DCI-P3 of the 8-bit, 16.7m colours (Dolby Vision TVs are 10-bit 1.07 billion colours).

Delta E was about 1.5 (<4 is excellent), and we could have spent time to get it closer to 1.

ASUS claims a 30ms response time, and tests show that it ranges from 18ms Black-to-White and 44ms Grey-to-Grey. I am not a gamer, but I suspect these figures are higher than competitive gamers want, and they would use an external monitor off the Thunderbolt 4 port or ROG XG Mobile interface.

You can get 120Hz on mains power, but it defaults to 60Hz on battery. You can change defaults if you want to take a 30% battery hit.

We said no more Surface comparisons, but the Surface has a wider colour gamut, lesser brightness at 450 nits, and contrast at 1000:1.

The IPS panel does not use PWM dimming, so it is suitable for flicker-sensitive eyes.

This 10nm CPU has 14-cores ( 6 performance and 8 power-efficient cores) and 20 threads. TPD is 45W, but it can consume up to 115W in full flight 5GHz and 35W pretty well, doing nothing 1.8Ghz mode. It can get hot and has vapour chamber cooling paired with liquid metal and 0dB. Ambient Cooling ensures the outside of the machine stays cooler and quieter under full load.

Geekbench 5 single/multi-core scores are 1841/12,393 and PassMark is 3910/29,217. Only its i9-12900HK and HX versions are faster. The AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS has a multi-core PassMark of 24,439. Here is a full spec rundown.

It has an integrated Intel Iris Xe GPU 1.45Ghz with 96 execution units. The GPU supports a 4@120Hz internal panel and four displays via Thunderbolt 4 – 1 x 7680×4320@60HZ and 2 x 4096×2304@60Hz. It hardware decodes MPEG-2, AVC, VC-1, JPEG, VP8, VP9, HEVC, and AV1. Geekbench 5 OpenCL and Vulcan scores are 9,823/10,251. You can disable this if you wish.

No tablet should have this much power – the 14-core Intel i9-12900H 2.5/5Hz is awesome.

Throttling did not seem to be an issue – it maxes out at 30W on battery and 115W on mains power (the power adapter is a little under-speced, and it dips into the battery). Noise peaked at 40dB under load and otherwise sat around 25dB.

Sorry, this is above our paygrade, so here are a few facts.

The ASUS ROG Flow Z13 has ROG Boost: 1085MHz at 40W (1035MHz Boost Clock+50MHz OC, 35W+5W Dynamic Boost). Full-speed comparisons are here.

Again, way above our paygrade, and ASUS sent it for us to play with. The dock is 217 x 165 x 26 mm x 1.2kg and connects to the Z13 (or X13) XG Mobile interface over a PCIe Gen 3×8 cable and USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port). Note You must activate this via the Armoury Crate and elect to use it on start-up. The connector locks into place, and you must deactivate the XG before removing the cable.

It adds an AMD RX 6850M XT 12GB GDDR6 GPU with 40 Compute units. Geekbench 5 Open CL and Vulcan scores are 111,712/58,317.

It also has a Thunderbolt 4 dock containing:

Essentially it turns the Z13 into a gaming PC. But as a 1.2kg accessory that takes a fair bit of desk space, you need to need this. As we focus on Creators, the question is what the XG Mobile 2022 may add. There is a comparison here.

It is a $1699 option (but shop around as we have seen it as low as $1299). Take care as the older 2021 versions have a GeForce RTX 3080 GPU.

The Armoury Crate is a dashboard that allows you to set parameters, change colour calibrations, set up a games library (with individual game settings), activate XG Mobile and update the firmware. Gamers will love it.

The review unit has a Micron_2450 1TB M2.2230 SSD.

CPDT rates the internal SSD sequential read/write at 2.47/1.13GBps. Crystal Disk Mark (which uses different tests) rates it at 3342/3212.51MBps. Both show great large file transfers.

The microSD SD card reader is also fast at 270/118MBps and would be ideal for the fast transfer of video footage. Read GoPro Hero10 Black – goes where no other video cam dares (review).

Thunderbolt 4 via the dock also achieved over 1GBps sequential read/write on a WD Black P50 in USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 mode WD Black P50 SSD – seriously fast (Western Digital review). We could not test in Gen 2×2 mode that would have seen it at over 2GBps.

It is a 56WHr battery and uses a 5V/3A/15W, 9V/3A/27W, 15V/3A/45W and 20V/5A/100W USB-C PD charger. You can also use any Thunderbolt 3 or 4 dock with 100W upstream power or a GaN PD charger and 5W cable.

PC Mark 3.0 Modern Office Battery test gave 5 hours and 30 minutes. Interestingly a VLC video loop was 5 hours and 15 minutes. Both tests were on Best Power Efficiency and 60Hz screen so expect an impact of up to 30% if you ramp up performance and screen refresh.

USB-C Charge from 0-100% is 2 hours and 16 minutes.

Using the Dolby Atmos Dynamic default settings over the 2.0 stereo side-firing speakers.

It does not get very loud – a maximum of 73dB. The sound stage is slightly wider than the screen.

Sound-wise it has no low-or-mid-bass and very slow-building high bass from 100-200Hz. This slow build continues to 700Hz missing low-and-mid, then flattens to 6kHz before a leisurely decline to 20kHz.

This is a mid-sound (bass recessed, mid boosted, treble recessed) signature. Clear voice (1-4kHz) is strong and not much else. We tried with other Dolby Access pre-sets, but the impact on the speakers was negligible.

Bluetooth Headphones using BT 5.2 was clear, but the SBC codec means that the Dolby Atmos pre-sets had little effect. We did notice good 3D spatial height and some directionality.

You can read more about sound signatures How to tell if you have good music (sound signature is the key – guide).

Dolby Access is usually at extra cost from the Windows Store. Here it is enabled and allows you to select Bright, Dark and Vivid Dolby Vision profiles.

The Dolby Atmos settings allow for a range of sound pre-sets, including Dynamic (default), Game, Movie, Music, Voice and three custom settings. You can customise it for the stereo speakers, headphones, or home theatre (over HDMI via a dock).

The Atmos pre-sets made little difference, but the Vision pre-sets did.

It has Wi-Fi 6e, 2×2 MIMO. We don’t have a 6e router yet, but it achieved 2400Mbps full duplex at 2m from a Netgear AX11000 router. We expect that to almost double with 6e.

The XG mobile dock has a 2.5Gbps LAN port; if you have a suitable switch, you can achieve that.

It is a typical Surface Pro-like keyboard with three step backlight or off. The Aura Sync lighting can be controlled via the Armoury Crate.

Keys have a 1.7mm throw and about 35g actuation. There appears to be a decent n-key rollover. The 98 x 56mm trackpad covers about 60% of a top right to bottom left sweep.

The keyboard is not for gamers’ use – it is a reasonably lightweight device for occasional use. But to add a separate keyboard or mouse will require a USB-C dongle or Thunderbolt 3 or 4 dock.

It is an older-style active MPP 2.0 stylus. It is not a precision pen.

Rear 8MP, fixed focus is fine for day and office light. The front webcam is .9MP (720p) and suffers from the same issues every 720p webcam does – poor colour, lack of detail, and needs decent light. The dual mic array is fine for video conference meetings.

We focus on creators, and in the portable tablet/hybrid field, the i7 Surface Pro 8 was just about the only choice.

If $3499 does not concern you, the i9-12900H model eats the Pro for breakfast and still has energy to burn. If price is a consideration, the i7-12700H at around $3000 is no slouch either.

The XG mobile unit is interesting and may be the solution for those that need more graphics power.

The display is good, but not 100% DCI-P3 or Adobe RGB, but most creators still work in the sRGB space.

If you need portable power, this is the one.

ASUS ROG Flow Z13, ASUS ROG Flow Z13,

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