The Asus ROG Flow X13 (GV302) is one of the smallest Republic of Gamers (ROG) laptops so far. Its specifications also make it one of the most powerful compact ultrabooks.
It’s a two-in-one convertible laptop with a 360-degree screen. Asus has overhauled the ROG Flow X13 with a thicker chassis, a new AMD Ryzen & Nvidia RTX (running at higher power than before), a new screen (non-OLED, though), a 75Wh battery and refined IO ports.
The ROG Flow X13 builds on the previous model with its textured black metals on the chassis. It’s more compact, with smaller bezels around the screen, but thicker. At just 1.3kg, it weighs about the same as before. The diagonal lines (or grooves) across the lid and extending to the bottom of the chassis lend a better grip and help it remain smudge-free.
The 13.4-inch (16:10 aspect ratio) QHD+ panel is a treat for the eyes. The QHD+ panel is a Nebula panel with a 2,560x1,600 resolution, 500+ nits of brightness, 100% DCI-P3 colour coverage, 3ms response time and 165Hz refresh rate.
Though it’s slightly smaller than the previous model, Asus has managed to include the same ROG keyboard, a 56% bigger touchpad and a few more ports. There’s one USB-C 4.0 port (130W PD Charger support), a full-size HDMI 2.1, a USB-C 3.2 gen 2 port, USB-A 3.2 gen2, a microSD card reader, the XG mobile and an audio jack. The keyboard, with 1.7mm of key travel, also has dedicated macro keys (including the MUX switch).
What sets the Flow X13 apart is its compatibility with the XG Mobile external dGPU unit. This enables desktop-level gaming performance on the go. In this case, you get an RTX 4090 with the XG Mobile external dGPU.
Compatibility with the XG Mobile external dGPU units remains a strong suit of the ROG Flow line-ups and Asus has said it’s bringing updated XG units with the latest Nvidia RTX 4000 dGPUs. The XG Mobile external dGPU also features a full set of IO ports, a hub for the laptop.
In the past, the XG Mobile units were only available with certain Flow X13/Flow Z13 configurations. Now, they are compatible with all variants—for a steep price. The cooling module is more or less unchanged. It has a dual-fan, tri-heatpipe, tri-radiator design. There are Arc Flow fans and Thermal Grizzly Liquid Metal compound has been applied on the CPU.
A 13.4-inch laptop that weighs just 1.3kg and delivers desktop-level gaming performance? I didn’t expect it. I may have had some issues with Wi-Fi drivers, the backlit keyboard, noisy fans and more but it really didn’t matter once I started gaming. I fired up Forza Horizon 5, FIFA 23, Mortal Kombat II, Halo Infinite and a casual game called Limbo.
I was surprised by the performance. The fans did ramp up and become a little noisy during extended gaming sessions but that is to be expected. Before playing Halo Infinite, I plugged in the external dGPU unit and the laptop just transformed into a different beast altogether.
I realised I could get desktop-level gaming performance with such a chassis—and it’s a portable desktop that can fit into your backpack. The microphones were good for work calls and the speakers loud enough. They aren’t bass-pumping speakers but they are good enough for long gaming sessions.
The ROG Flow X13 is a gaming laptop through and through, but, on the surface, it seems like an ultraportable laptop and even acts like one.
Without gaming, I was getting seven-eight hours of usage on a daily basis. This was with about 50% brightness, the laptop in standard mode and the keyboard backlight switched off. I could easily get through a day’s work—Microsoft Teams calls, typing, watching YouTube videos, listening to Spotify, etc.—and then come home, plug in the external dGPU and game without worrying about any lag.
While gaming, one should be plugged in ideally to extract the best performance from the laptop. But on battery life alone, the Flow X13 surpasses most other gaming laptops in the market today.
I did have a few issues, though none strong enough to deter me. For some reason, the Wi-Fi just wouldn’t work at fast speeds in one room; I cross-checked this with other devices too. This happened at a café as well. For the most part, though, it worked flawlessly. It just needs a driver update.
Second, when the laptop’s screen goes off, the keyboard sometimes keeps flashing for no reason. Third, noisy fans. This, however, is common to gaming laptops and the ROG Flow X13 is no exception.
The ROG Flow X13 retails for ₹1,74,990. The ROG XG Mobile—RTX 4090 16GB—external dGPU costs a whopping ₹2,01,990. It’s worth it, though, for a compact yet powerful machine with the chance of desktop-level gaming performance (if you opt for the external dGPU) in a small and portable chassis.
If you are looking for a portable, aesthetically pleasing and powerful gaming laptop, go for the ROG Flow X13. Just remember that the 2023 ROG XG Mobile is a super-expensive add-on.
Sahil Bhalla, a Delhi-based journalist, tweets @IMSahilBhalla.