ASUS ROG Flow Z13 (2022) GZ301
$3,399 AUD (model tested)
The gaming tablet makes as much sense as a gaming laptop… a lot. With the latter you’ve got the portable version of a gaming PC, shrunken down to on-the-go form, but one that still requires a carry bag and the lugging of a somewhat sizable charger. The tablet on the other hand is more portable, and leans into that thing that makes tablets the perfect in-between and chill device. You can relax with media, do some light reading, socialise, and play games. Tablet gaming of course usually sits in the realm of the mobile, that is games designed for smartphones.
A true gaming tablet would need to run a full version of Windows and Steam, and allow for the connection of peripherals like a bluetooth controller. Probably the better comparison would be to that of a gaming handheld like the Nintendo Switch, or the Steam Deck. Gaming, plus all of the other stuff a PC is the go-to device for. The challenge comes with creating a tablet that can run modern titles at a decent frame-rate, with a screen that is crisp and bright, and a battery that lasts. Also it needs to be relatively light, and compact.
This is all a round-about way of saying that ASUS has managed to create the seemingly impossible here, an impressive, stylish, powerful, and all-round excellent gaming tablet with the new ASUS ROG Flow Z13
. Powered by the latest Intel processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 Series graphics it can even present the latest games with ray-tracing effects enabled.
Let’s just say that seeing a tablet go RTX On is pretty incredible.
Look and Feel
With all of the power of a fully-fledged gaming laptop the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 is a feat of cutting edge engineering, and this is reflected in its stylish design that highlights its modern features. Weighing in at 1.1kg it might not be the lightest tablet on the market, but holding it does give off a similar feel to that of a top-of-the-line Surface. Sturdy is one word to use, though based on the impressive cooling and relatively low noise output when in use the build quality extends beyond the high-quality aluminium shell and finish.
"Let’s just say that seeing a tablet go RTX On is pretty incredible."
ASUS notes that the visual look and design of the ROG Flow Z13 was inspired by the 20th century space race, so there’s an element of retro tech aesthetics. One very cool aspect of the design is that the lines and tech-like patterns represent the technology inside, outlines of where the SSD storage is located sits alongside the sort of angular patterns we’ve seen across many of the recent ASUS ROG products. Fan exhausts and other grill-like openings are strategically placed, and with the great snap-on keyboard and wide stand it can easily sit like a desk-bound laptop in addition to something you could hold. One very cool addition is a window on the back that lights up so you can see some of the silicon inside, adding to the premium nature of the build.
Under the Lid
The actual hardware bits that make-up the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 though are more inline with a gaming laptop than an off-the-shelf tablet. Inside you’ll find the latest in Intel mobile processors, a Core i9-12900H in the model tested here, alongside an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Laptop GPU. The graphics here, in terms of straight-up PC gaming laptops, definitely leans towards the entry-level side of the equation, and is only rated at 40W.
"With all of the power of a fully-fledged gaming laptop the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 is a feat of cutting edge engineering, and this is reflected in its stylish design that highlights its modern features."
But, being a 30 Series GeForce GPU you get the benefits of technology like NVIDIA DLSS, Reflex, and other Max-Q technologies like Dynamic Boost, Resizable BAR, WhisperMode, and more. Stuff that makes the most of the CPU and GPU to deliver performance beyond what each individual bit of tech can do on its own. Elsewhere ASUS have ensured that the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 falls under the tablet banner with the inclusion of cameras, audio interfaces, and the latest low-latency Bluetooth. The only real downside is that there’s only the one Thunderbolt USB-C style port, which makes connecting multiple wired devices and expansions somewhat difficult when charging.
ASUS also offers seamless integration with its XG Mobile device, an external GPU that adds a hub and considerable boost to performance. Though it adds a sizable cost to an already expensive unit.
Processor: 12th Gen Intel Core i9-12900H Processor 2.5 GHz
FHD+ 16:10 (1920 x 1200, WUXGA), 100% sRGB, Touch Screen, 120Hz, 30ms response time, Adaptive-Sync, Pantone Validated, Dolby Vision HDR
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Laptop GPU, ROG Boost: 1085MHz at 40W, 4GB GDDR6
Memory: 8GB LPDDR5
Storage: 512GB PCIe 4.0 2230 NVMe M.2 SSD
OS: Windows 11
Interfaces: 1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack, 1x USB 2.0 Type-A, 1x Thunderbolt 4/DisplayPort/Power, 1x ROG XG Mobile Interface, 1x card reader (microSD) (UHS-II), 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C/DisplayPort/PowerG-SYNC
Features: 8MP camera, 720P HD camera, Wi-Fi 6E(802.11ax) (Dual band), Bluetooth 5.2
Weight:: 1.18 Kg
When it comes to a portable gaming device the one area that often gets overlooked is the display, and is here where the final piece of the impressive ASUS ROG Flow Z13 comes into the picture. Literally. The 1200p 13-inch screen here is bright, crisp, with excellent colour accuracy for a tablet. HDR is included alongside full touch controls, in addition to Adaptive-Sync. Rated at 120 Hz you’ve also got a refresh rate that is definitely on the high-end, even if the out-of-the-box response times aren’t quite at the level of a pure gaming display.
Okay, so as per the introduction, seeing ray-tracing on a tablet is pretty mind-blowing. From the stunning Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy to Metro Exodus the results are easily on par with the latest consoles. Compared to a high-end desktop rig or even a high-end gaming laptop, the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 clearly lags behind, but when playing a suite of games at mostly high settings (the intensive Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was tested at medium detail settings) it’s impressive stuff. Out of the box, testing the top-of-the-line ASUS ROG Flow Z13 you won’t be able to dial up details to Ultra on the account of the limited 4G of VRAM, but yeah, we’re talking about a tablet.
And this level of performance is awesome to see.
What’s even more impressive is that when we conducted a few 3D Mark stress tests the temperatures of both the GPU and CPU (when not in Turbo mode) sat comfortably in the 60-degree celsius range with noise levels lower than most gaming laptops we’ve seen. Of course that’s anecdotal but testing laptops is usually a case of wrangling a jet engine. And that’s definitely not the case here.
In the end, the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 impresses because it delivers on the promise of a tablet that doubles as a modern PC gaming device. The catch? It comes at a cost, especially with the high-end RTX 3050 Ti model tested here. And if you’re looking to make it double as a gaming PC with the addition of the ASUS XG Mobile device (and performance does increase dramatically, making it a 1080p powerhouse) the price jumps to near astronomical levels. Also, the battery life seems to be more inline with an ultrabook versus a standard tablet, but the quick-charge nature of the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 does help to alleviate downtime after extended use.
Issues aside, ASUS has delivered an engineering marvel here, a ray-tracing capable tablet with a sleek and stylish design in a package that more than lives up to its premium cost.