Gaming

ROG Flow X13 review: One of a kind

A jack of all trades

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“How is that a gaming laptop?” 

This was the initial reaction of my colleagues when I first took the ROG Flow X13 out of my bag. And who can blame them? One quick glance doesn’t tell you much.

The design is very understated


Nothing here screams gaming. It has a nice subtle ribbed pattern on the cover in a very stealth-ish black.


Perhaps the only dead giveaway that this is, in fact, a gaming machine is the ROG logo which is noticeable but doesn’t dominate the look.

Powered by AMD Ryzen 5000

AMD has been absolutely killing it in the gaming processor department with plenty of reviewers recommending AMD-powered gaming laptops over Intel ones.

The ROG Flow X13 we have specifically has the AMD Ryzen 5900Hs with Radeon Graphics 3.30Hz.  This particular device also has 16GB of RAM along with 1TB of storage. Yes, it’s a beast. For the graphics card, this one is sporting an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 with Max-Q design. More on this later.

For a 2-in-1, it has a fair collection of ports

On the right hand side are: One (1) USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, One (1) USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C support DisplayPort / power delivery that’s sitting right next to the power button that doubles as a fingerprint scanner.


On the left are: One (1) 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack, One (1) HDMI 2.0b, One (1)ROG XG Mobile Interface (More on this later). Also, you’re gonna want to use that headphone jack. The speakers on this thing doesn’t get loud at all, and the sound is just mostly okay.

It also features ASUS’ Ergolift hinge that’s always a satisfying sight.

A 2-in-1 for heavy tasks

Over the time that I’ve had the notebook, I’ve used it more for work than gaming. It’s a healthy 80-20 split, and to no one’s surprise the ROG Flow X13 had zero trouble handling heavy tasks.

I did everything from writing scripts, copy-editing articles, dealing with presentation slides, as well as headache inducing spreadsheets. Typical work stuff. Oh, and I also opted to use Chrome over Microsoft Edge despite recommendations from peers to do otherwise. I can’t quite escape from Chrome just yet.

On top of that, I’ve also handled some basic photo editing and have moved files from different sources. I didn’t notice any considerable heating even on days that I opt to keep my air conditioning turned off to manage my electricity consumption.

I’ve only ever really used it remotely a couple of times and continuously working outside, the machine will give you around six to seven hours depending on how much you push the processor and the display.

The backlit chiclet keyboard is easy enough to get used to. I thought the travel was great but I did wish the keys were a little larger. That said, it’s fairly easy to use and is not a dealbreaker at all. Much of the same can be said about the trackpad. Then again, there’s only so much space you’re working with on a notebook this size.

Speaking of display… 

This particular unit we have has a 4K WQUXGA (3840 x 2400) resolution. It measures 13.4 inches with a 16:10 ratio. If you’re mostly using this for gaming and you don’t have to deal with photo editing a lot, the 1080p version should suffice.

The display is Pantone Validated, has anti-glare, with a 60Hz refresh rate, adaptive sync, and since it has a tablet mode, it naturally has a touch screen.

Like any 2-in-1, you can prop it up in a variety of ways. You can go tent mode like the image above, tablet mode like mentioned earlier, and the mode where the keyboard is facing down and away from you.

Gaming on the notebook 

You can certainly play AAA titles on just the notebook alone but you’ll have to turn the graphics down to medium. That’s precisely what I did when playing Control: Ultimate Edition while out in the wild.

Although, to be perfectly honest, most of the gaming I’ve done with just the notebook is with Final Fantasy VIII Remastered. I’ve been on a bit of a Final Fantasy binge of late spending the past weekends beating Final Fantasy XV on the PS5 and starting FFVIII Remastered on the ROG Flow X13.

Given my choice of games, despite taking advantage only of the built-in GTX 1650, it never felt like the laptop was lacking. But as we all know, this isn’t its final form.

ROG XG Mobile 

To fully unlock the ROG Flow X13’s potential, there’s this little accessory that comes with it — the ROG XG Mobile.

What is it? It’s probably one of the tiniest eGPU’s to exist right now. With these dimensions: 20.8  x 15.5  x 2.96 cm and weighing just 1kg, this is about as mobile an eGPU can get.

What it does is unlock more firepower for the ROG Flow X13. Kind of like Iron Man’s Hulkbuster suit.

 

The ROG XG Mobile is rocking an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 with ROG Boost up to 1810MHz at 150W and adds more ports for your enjoyment. These are:  One (1) HDMI 2.0, One (1) DP 1.4, One (1) RJ-45 Jack, (1) DC input jack, Four (4) USB 3.2 Gen1 port, and One (1) SD Card reader(Standard)/UHS-II(312MB/s)

The full package

This takes playing those AAA titles to the next level. With it you can easily crank up your graphics settings to ‘Very High,’ which is exactly what I did when playing Death Stranding.

The game looks freaking amazing on the 4K screen and has no hiccups whatsoever when the ROG Flow X13 and the ROG XG Mobile are working in tandem.

A couple of hours of Death Stranding and another couple of hours playing Hades were enjoyable. I’d like to note that I only really get to game on PCs during reviews so most of my point of comparison is coming from all the PS4 and PS5 gaming I’ve done in the past few months.

That said, this is exactly the kind of experience I was hoping for but did not really expect from a notebook this size. None of the ultrabooks I’ve used in the past could even come close to this level of satisfaction when it comes to gaming. Pair it with the ROG XG Mobile and it just takes things to another level.

Mobility and versatility 

The true strength and value add of the ROG Flow X13 and ROG XG Mobile combo is not how it can give you the best overall gaming experience. There’s certainly more powerful gaming laptops out there. However, they’re not this light nor versatile.

At around a US$ 3000 package (pricing in the Philippines will be revealed on the February 20 event), you’re getting what others who have reviewed this laptop call a midrange PC performance.

And for sure, you can build a waaaay more powerful PC with that amount. But you won’t be able to lug that PC around wherever you want. You can go the regular laptop gaming route, but nothing is as light with this much oomph. And if you want an ultrabook, you can forget about a high-end experience playing AAA games.

It’s not like you’re only getting the laptop and the eGPU at that price. Also included in the whole package is a stylus, the ROG Chakram Core gaming mouse, and sleeves for both the ROG Flow X13 and the ROG XG Mobile. As far as packages go, that’s premium value right there.

Is the ROG Flow X13 your GadgetMatch?

Personally, it uniquely fits me. I’ve always wanted to build a gaming rig but do not have the space to house one. The ROG Flow X13 package is the closest I can get to high-end PC gaming but with the space-saving and mobility that my lifestyle requires.

For everyone else, well, the ROG Flow X13 isn’t the best at any of the things it’s trying to do or trying to be. However, it’s the only one that’s versatile enough to do all of it. It’s like that rare, invaluable member of a team that can play second fiddle to just about anyone. That’s such an underrated trait and is what this machine should be celebrated for.

Gaming

Microsoft buys Activision Blizzard for nearly US$ 70B

Massive acquisition

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Microsoft Activision

Here’s a move no one saw coming. Microsoft has just acquired gaming company Activision Blizzard for a whopping US$ 68.7 billion in an all-cash transaction.

This means every studio and every game under Activision Blizzard now belongs to Microsoft. These include the creators of popular franchises like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Crash Bandicoot, and more.

The acquisition will make Microsoft the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony.

Bobby Kotick, who has been embroiled in several issues concerning company culture will remain as CEO of Activision Blizzard. Once the deal formally closes, he and his team will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.

Exclusives?

The initial statement release stated that the Microsfot will continue to be present in the platforms that Activision Blizzard has established communities in. This could have allayed fears that the acquired titles will now be exclusive to Microsoft and Xbox. However, this line is no longer present and has been replaced with statements from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Phil Spencer.

“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” said Satya Nadella.

“Together we will build a future where people can play the games they want, virtually anywhere they want,” said Spencer.

Game Pass

The acquisition bodes well for Microsoft’s Game Pass. It already boasts of hundreds, if not thousands of gaming titles as well as over 25 million users.

The acquisition will add some parts of  Activision Blizzard’s nearly 400 million monthly active players in 190 countries. It will make Game Pass one of the most compelling and diverse lineups of gaming content in the industry.

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Gaming

My Hero Academia is getting a battle royale game

In closed beta right now

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Image source: Gematsu

Just when you thought the battle royale craze was over, a new contender has approached. Capitalizing on one of the most popular anime series in modern history, Bandai Namco is launching a battle royale based on My Hero Academia. My Hero Academia: Ultra Rumble is currently undergoing a beta test now.

Officially teased by Japan’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine (spotted by Gematsu), the upcoming battle royale game will come to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam. Like other battle royales in the genre, the game will be free-to-play.

Image source: Gematsu

However, instead of an all-out brawl between dozens and dozens of players, the game will only feature 24 players in a single round. Though Bandai Namco has not announced a launch date for the battle royale, a closed beta announcement means things are rolling smoothly. It might not take long before an open beta and an eventual launch happens.

My Hero Academia: Ultra Rumble makes sense as a spin-off of the popular anime series. Put simply, My Hero Academia takes place in a world where superpowers are commonplace. It’s easy to see how a battle royale based on the anime can work especially with different powers acting as a way to eliminate opponents.

Curiously enough, the game is coming out in older console generations, rather than the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X/S.

SEE ALSO: FF7 series launches new PS5 update, mobile battle royale

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Gaming

Microsoft has stopped making all Xbox One consoles

To focus on Xbox Series X/S

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Despite the global shortage, the gaming world is steadily moving towards next generation dominance. Both Sony and Microsoft want gamers to use either the PlayStation 5 or the Xbox Series X/S exclusively. However, the ongoing problem is preventing gamers from switching. To help with the shortages, Microsoft is discontinuing all Xbox One consoles.

This has been a slow death for the previous Xbox generation. Back in 2020, Microsoft stopped producing the Xbox One X and the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition to pave the way for the then-launching Xbox Series X/S. That was only part of the equation. Gamers could still get other variants of the Xbox One series. Of course, that ends now.

Microsoft has stopped producing new units of all Xbox One consoles. If you want to purchase an older Xbox, you’ll have to rely on existing stock.

According to a statement sent to The Verge, the company pushed through with the decision to focus its production more on the still-scant Xbox Series X/S. With enough luck, the move might help the shortage. Both the new Xbox and the PlayStation 5 still notoriously sell out seconds after new stock is announced.

Ironically, Sony is trying the opposite strategy. Because of the ongoing shortages, the PlayStation maker is instead manufacturing more PlayStation 4 units this year, ideally to fill in the lacking PlayStation 5 stock.

Which strategy will prevail? At this point, no one is. Both consoles are still missing from stores despite overwhelming demand.

SEE ALSO: Xbox creates a SpongeBob-themed Xbox Series X

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