ASUS’ ROG Flow Z13 is a gaming tablet with NVIDIA’s RTX 3050 Ti

After delivering an ambitious convertible gaming notebook last year, the sleek ROG Flow X13, ASUS takes that concept even further with the Flow Z13 tablet. Think of it like a souped-up Surface Pro: The Z13 packs Intel’s new 12th-generation processors and up to NVIDIA’s RTX 3050 Ti all in a slim slate. Weighing in at 2.43 pounds, it’s clearly not meant to replace smaller tablets like the iPad. Instead, ASUS sees it as a way to take your PC games everywhere — say a cramped plane table — without the bulk of a laptop.

Gallery: ASUS ROG Flow Z13 | 12 photos Gallery: ASUS ROG Flow Z13 | 12 photos

Like the ROG Flow X13, the Z13 can connect to the ASUS XG Mobile external GPU, which supports up to AMD’s Radeon RX 6850M in addition to NVIDIA’s mobile RTX 30 series. That eGPU still relies on a custom PCIe connection, which can achieve up to 63 Gbps of graphics bandwidth, making it more capable than Thunderbolt 4’s 40 Gbps. I was wary of the XG Mobile last year considering how expensive it is. and flaky similar eGPUs have been. And that was before we found out it would cost $1,500 with the 3080, and it wasn’t nearly as fast as reviewers would have liked. At the very least, the Z13 promises to outperform the X13 with its built-in hardware, so perhaps an eGPU wouldn’t be necessary.

Personally, the Z13 is exactly what you’d expect from a ROG gaming laptop. The preview unit ASUS sent me to borrow felt compact and sturdy, surprisingly enough for its 12 millimeters thickness. Unlike iPads and other tablets, it feels tough enough to survive a backpack trip without a protective cover. On the front, you could easily mistake it for a notebook. From the sides and back, however, it looks more like a Super Surface, with a flexible kickstand and keyboard cover.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Unfortunately, I couldn’t run games and benchmarks on the ROG Z13. (I’ll bet ASUS’ software and drivers aren’t ready for serious testing yet.) But I could see why it might appeal: An RTX 3050 Ti in a machine this size would be a travel dream ( at least, if it is safe again). And the 4K 13-inch display was fine for productivity tasks (there’s also a 1080p 120Hz option). However, given its size, the Z13 felt too heavy to use as a standard tablet. It’s also not nearly as “laptable” as the Surface Pro devices; it’s just too heavy to sit while you type.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

ASUS takes credit for actually including the keyboard case with the Z13, something Microsoft still refuses to do with the Surface Pro. And the typing experience actually feels quite decent, as long as the Z13 stands firmly on a flat surface. I could see it being a solid option for casual gaming, but the WASD inputs don’t feel nearly as responsive as a standard desktop gaming keyboard. Basically, if you expect to compete while using the Z13, plan to bring a separate keyboard.

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