Asus ROG Flow X13 Review: The Ultimate Gaming Ultraportable Ft. AMD Ryzen 9 5980HS
Updated: Aug 10, 2021
The Asus ROG Flow X13 is a gaming laptop that is a great contender for the title of “most powerful ultraportable laptop ever” if it isn’t that already. It’s a really unique system that is simple by design and versatile enough whether it’s for creative work or gaming sessions.
The ROG Flow X13 is equipped with the AMD Ryzen 9 5980HS – a 35 watt CPU with 8 cores and 16 threads, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, 32GB of LPDDR4X RAM that runs at 4266MHz and a blazing fast 1TB PCIe SSD storage. These are impressive specifications already for a laptop that only weighs 1.3 kilograms and 1.5 centimetres thick, but what’s even more impressive is that the laptop can perform even better if you use the XG Mobile which comes with an RTX 3080.
The laptop features a clean and simple design with textured lines running diagonally across the entire device; it isn’t meant to look gamer-ish despite having that ROG moniker. Additionally, you’ll find that there are only three places where you can find badging: the small nameplate on the bottom corner of the lid, the ROG Flow text on the bottom bezel of the display and the ROG logo on the palm rest area.
It’s an ultraportable laptop that’s meant to be carried around daily and not make you stand out with the usual gamer aesthetic. Even the keyboard doesn’t have RGB. Instead, what you get is just a simple and clean white backlighting.
The laptop has a beautiful 13.4-inch display that has a 16:10 aspect ratio. This means you’ll have a little bit more vertical space compared to the standard 16:9 in terms of the viewing experience. It also provides more space for your wrist to rest on while typing as an added benefit. What makes this display even more amazing is that it’s 4K despite its small size. The display is also IPS, covers more than 100% sRGB, touch-capable, PANTONE validated and even has support for Adaptive Sync. Consuming any form of entertainment with the ROG Flow X13 will be a mindblowing experience.
The ROG Flow X13’s keyboard and trackpad are very similar to the ROG Zephyrus laptop line so we don’t have any issues with those. You even get the same dedicated buttons for volume, mute mic and Armory Crate.
AMD is really kicking things up a notch with the new Ryzen 5000 series. On Cinebench R20, the ROG Flow X13’s CPU scored nearing 4500 and above 550 for multi-thread and single-thread respectively. In comparison to the Ryzen 94900HS, it is quite the performance bump and at lower clock speeds no less.
As for DaVinci Resolve, we managed to render a 10 minute 1080p video in under 12 minutes and a 15 minute 4K video in just 31 minutes and 14 seconds. Do take note, however, that the ROG Flow X13’s vastly different in nature from the Zephyrus G14 laptop, which came equipped with the AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS GPU and a much more powerful RTX 2060 Max-Q CPU.
The ROG Flow X13’s temperature is really well controlled especially given the design. Its CPU does reach a peak of 91 degrees Celsius but will maintain around the mid-80s most of the time.
If you’re not impressed or even amazed with the ROG Flow X13, then the fact that the laptop is a 2-in-1 will make you so. You can actually flip its display a full 360 degrees and use it as a tablet should you want to. ROG claims that if you put the laptop in stand mode, you’ll notice lower temperatures than on its standard laptop mode.
In the laptop’s stand mode, the Ryzen 9 59080HS was able to drop about 5 degrees Celsius with Cinebench R20, which brings the average temperature closer to 81 degrees Celsius. The lower temperature means that the laptop will perform slightly better thanks to a slight increase in clock speeds.
Render times are exponentially faster in DaVinci Resolve. The 1080p project we previously used to test the laptop now took under 10 minutes to render while the 4K project took about 20 minutes. Just like the Cinebench run, the temperatures are much cooler, now dropping into the mid-70s instead of the low 80s before.
If you’re using this laptop for any kind of creative work which requires rendering, we recommend flipping it over before you hit the render button. You’ll not only enjoy better performance and save so much more time, but it’s much cooler as well, which does help with the device’s longevity.
Gaming on either the ROG Flow X13’s laptop mode or stand mode won’t make much of a difference per se, especially if you’re talking about frame rates. There were slightly higher peak frame rates by about four or five when in stand mode, but the overall average frame rate remained the same. You can still expect a really enjoyable experience on a variety of games thanks to the laptop’s GPU regardless.
However, there is a huge difference in terms of the laptop’s temperature during gaming sessions. We found that the ROG Flow X13’s temperature while playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider with it in standard laptop mode hovers around the low to mid-80-degrees Celcius. But when you use the laptop’s stand mode, the temperature will instead hover in the low 70s. That’s a difference of almost a full 10 degree Celsius.
The GTX 1650 is a great GPU, but it’s a mid-range card. If you want the best from the ROG Flow X13, get the XG Mobile which is essentially a portable docking station that needs only one cable to power the entire system. You’ll not only get an RTX 3080 rated for 150 watts of power, but it also comes with an integrated 280W power adapter, more I/O including RJ45 Ethernet and even more PCIe SSD storage. The XG Mobile is also plug-and-play, which means you don’t have to restart the laptop or anything like that.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get a hold of a review sample for the XG Mobile. However, you can check other reviews out there, to make a smart guess on how it’ll perform in games with all the RTX 3080 performance metrics.
The ROG Flow X13 is by far the most powerful ultraportable laptop ever. If you decide to bring the XG Mobile along with the ROG Flow X13, then the total weight of both devices comes to just around 2 kilograms which are comparable to other laptops with an RTX 3080.
The beauty of this system is its versatility. It can either be the most powerful laptop when you’re at your desk or be the everyday ultraportable laptop that you can still use to play games relatively well by itself.
Despite the high praise the ROG Flow X13 is getting from us, it isn’t perfect by any means. Without the XG Mobile, you really only have one standard USB port because the Type-C would be used for charging anyways. Its battery life isn’t that great with only about five and a half hours of actual mixed usage. Its only saving grace is that it supports fast charging – 50% in 30 minutes.
One last thing to consider is the laptop’s price. SKUs will differ based on country and region. Here in Singapore, you can’t get the laptop by itself with the Ryzen 9. If you want the Ryzen option, you’ll have to get it with the XG Mobile bundle. If you just want the laptop itself, there’s only the Ryzen 7 option.
In any case, we would say that the price is competitive in general, especially if you’re only planning on getting the laptop itself. If you plan on getting the ROG Flow X13 with the XG Mobile, it’s quite a fair bit more compared to other laptops with an RTX 3080. Not to mention that those laptops will usually run a high refresh rate display which brings a much better gaming experience and much better use for their RTX 3080.
Overall, you’re paying more for the ROG Flow X13’s versatility and it’s up to you whether the price is right or not.
But regardless, the ROG Flow X13 is an amazing laptop.
Content by Soon Kai Hong