Asus’ ROG line of gaming laptops have always stood out thanks to their flashy RGB lighting and aggressive aesthetic. Asus isn’t afraid to try something new, either. Last year, it released the well-received ROG Zephyrus G14, one of the first ROG gaming laptops powered by an AMD processor, as well all the Zephyrus Duo 15, a dual-screen gaming laptop. All of the usual suspects in the ROG gaming line-up are getting refreshed, but Asus has also thrown a new 2-in-1 convertible gaming laptop into the mix, the ROG Flow X13. Even wilder, all the gaming laptops only come with AMD as the option for a CPU. No sign of Intel anywhere.
A 2-in-1 gaming laptop isn’t something I would have ever guessed I wanted in my life, but here I am, completely intrigued. Like Lenovo’s Yoga laptops or Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1, the Flow X13 also has 360-degree hinges that allow the display to fold completely backward. The idea of gaming on my laptop at my desk, and then crawling into bed and using it as an e-reader or sketchbook is totally novel, and yet I can’t help but wonder why one of these things didn’t happen sooner. It’s a great idea!
Ah wait—better performance means more heat, means a thicker laptop. Yeah, it’s obvious why they haven’t happened in the past. But hardware is powerful and thin enough now, so having a gaming laptop that doesn’t turn into an even bigger brick when the display is flipped back is possible; The Flow X13 weighs just 2.9lbs. and is 0.62 in. thick. Definitely the right weight and dimensions...hopefully.
The 16:10, 13-inch display comes with the option of either a 120 Hz refresh rate or Ultra HD 4K screen covered with Corning Gorilla Glass. Both choices of display also support Adaptive Sync and are Pantone Validated for color accuracy.
Inside, there’s up to an 8-core AMD Ryzen 9 5980HS CPU that’s covered with a liquid metal thermal compound, which should help keep the CPU cooler than thermal paste. The GTX 1650 GPU is powered by a battery that gets up to 10 hours of life. The GPU is underwhelming—would have preferred something closer to a 1660 Ti at the very least—but Asus’ XG Mobile, a compact eGPU, is compatible with the Flow X13.
Asus says the XG Mobile is 6% of the size of typical eGPUs, but can feature up to an RTX 3080. It weighs about 2.2 lbs., measures just 6.1 x 8.2 x 1.1 inches, and is cooled by a vapor chamber. It also connects directly to the CPU via a custom PCIe 3.0 x8 interface, which Asus says is faster than Thunderbolt eGPUs. It also has an integrated 280W AC adapter that powers both the XG Mobile and Flow X13, so you won’t need to carry around a separate charging cable, unless you want it just in case.
The ROG Flow X13 and XG Mobile are currently available as a bundle in North America.
Asus also has a new Zephyrus Duo 15 SE, a special edition of its dual-screen gaming laptop. There’s an upgraded 16.5-inch main display, with either 4K UHD with a 120 Hz refresh rate, or a FHD display with a 300 Hz refresh. The smaller, 14.1-inch touchscreen display comes with either a 4K option at 3840 x 1100 or a 1920 x 550 alternative. Both use IPS-level technology, which is in-between a true IPS panel and a TN panel, and refresh at 60 Hz.
The Zephyrus Duo 15 SE is outfitted with up to a new AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU and an Nvidia RTX 3080 GPU, up to 2 TB of SSD storage, and up to 32 GB of DDR4-3200 memory.
Asus says it’s increased the cooling efficiency of its Active Aerodynamic System (AAS), which has been around since the original ROG Zephyrus. The most recent Zephyrus Duo 15 was the last to use it, which had an 28.5mm intake after tilting the touchscreen—but this upcoming SE version will allow for more airflow. Asus also said it changed the design of its fan blades (every fan now has 84 blades) and it’s also covered the CPU with liquid metal.
This gaming laptop does not come cheap. At all. It’s currently available for pre-order in North America for an eye-popping $2,900.
Other ROG laptops to get a refresh are the ROG Strix Scar 15 and 17, which now both feature the first optical-mechanical keyboard in a Strix laptop. The 15 is a 15.6-inch screen with a 300 Hz refresh rate, while the 17 is a 17.3-inch screen with a 360 Hz refresh rate and a IPS-level panel. Either are available with new WQHD panels that feature a 165 Hz refresh rate and a 1440p resolution.
Specs-wise, both are available with up to an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU and Nvidia RTX 3080, up to 64 GB of DDR4-3200 RAM and dual 1 TB solid-state drives in RAID 0. The memory and storage are fully upgradeable, too, and easily accessible, according to Asus. Both also boast a smaller footprint, up to 7% smaller than last year’s models, and have a battery life of just over 12 hours, says Asus.
The ROG Strix Scar 15 and ROG Strix Scar 17 will be available in North America starting Q1 2021.
There’s also the new ROG Strix G15 and ROG Strix G17, not to be confused with the Strix Scar 15 and 17, as the Strix G is similar to the Strix Scar. This Strix 15 and 17 will feature up to an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor, up to a GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, up to a 1 TB SSD, and up to 32 GB memory. Display options are between an FHD 300 Hz screen, or a WQHD 165Hz screen. Aside from the GPU and display variants, there isn’t that much difference between the G and the Scar.
The ROG Strix G15 will be available in North America starting Q1 2021, and the Strix G17 available for pre-order for a more palatable, but still pricey at $1,800.
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