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.

Features

How to git gud at Mobile Legends from Blacklist International

Bring out your notepads…

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School is in session. If you’re into Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, you know Blacklist International. The recent MPL PH Season 7 champion team has a decent rep in the mobile gaming world. So, if you want to get good, you’ll definitely get good-good. And, who better to give us the best tips than the QueenVee, Ohmy.v33nus, himself?

TIP #1 – Start small

When asked how to hit it right with the basics, Ohmy.v33nus answered with pretty solid advice saying: “When it comes to improving your gameplay, do it one step at a time. Players can try mastering one hero or one role at a time first. From there, you can best strategize how you plan to win your game better.”

TIP #2 – Know you to do you

Beginners are faced with almost as many daunting questions as ordering sugar and ice levels for boba when it comes to who to play. From characters’ skills, roles, and abilities in the grander scheme of the team game, it can get overwhelming.

So the best way to get better is to know who you want to play and what role suits your preferences. And like Ohmy.v33nus said, “Knowing the role that suits you is important, some players love playing heroes in melee combat, some in long-range or using magical powers.

TIP #3 – If you want to go pro, you’ve got to play harder

We asked what advice the team had for people who are starting out and want to maybe go pro in the future. He answered by saying, “what separates casual players from those wanting to take it seriously is ranking, so if players want to be noticed they can try to achieve a top global ranking.” And, while that’s a technical target goal you can work towards, Blacklist gave sage advice on how to get there.

TIP #4 – The grind

Ranking up to where you’ve proven you take the game seriously to be pro comes with time and effort. So, it’s no surprise when Blacklist followed up TIP #3 with this: “before you achieve that desired ranking, practice makes perfect. When there’s an opportunity to practice, do it. Never stop learning and discovering your battling strategy so you’ll be able to champion your way to the global competitions.”

When asked how often and for how long the team grinds to get to be as good as they are, they practice a minimum of 8 hours per day, extending to up to 10 hours. “This helps us build team dynamics better and strengthen our strategy,” Ohmy.v33nus said.

TIP #5 – Know the meta

If you’ve got all 5 down so far, you’re up for more technical know-how. So, given the ever-changing game meta it can be challenging to keep up. This is where noting patches and updates can be helpful. Keeping track of who has been nerfed, buffed, and adjusted. And, knowing little tweaks Moonton has made in-game can help players adjust and adapt.

It’s also good to note that this is where you’ll be returning to TIPS #1 – #5, where it rides on comfort and familiarity. So, whether you fully grasp the meta or not, you can play however you feel outside the world of going pro.

So, with the current meta, we had to ask Blacklist for their whitelist. Jokes aside, we had them recommend heroes for each role and they said, “Marksman: Granger, Tank: Tigreal, Support: Rafaela, Angela, Assassin: Ling, Fighter: X-Borg, Mage: Nana.” When asked about the top meta hero picks for ranked, they said that they weren’t quite sure with the recent patch. But, they think some of the best heroes last season kept their placement. “Like Mathilda, Yve, Granger, and Harith,” Blacklist said.

TIP #6 — Play on a gaming-capable smartphone

You know that highly-contested-on-who-said-it quote about how when you give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime? Well, think of getting the perfect gaming smartphone as equal to getting yourself a fishing rod to get started on learning how to fish. But, enough silly metaphors.

Ohmy.v33nus aptly said, “it goes without saying that your tools can make or break your game. You need a phone that has the processing power, battery life, storage space, and stunning display to give you long-lasting, smooth, and precise gameplay.”

When asked about particular phones and features the team liked, he said they loved OPPO’s A94 and its AI gaming features. Adding, “our favorite is the Gamer Mode which lets you block off interruptions and notifications so you can focus more on your battle.” Plus, when waiting on important messages, the phone features a Bullet Screen Message that allows users to instantly receive messages without blocking or interrupting the game.

TIP #7 – A gaming phone, stripped

Not all gaming features need to be game-centric. At the end of the day, it’s night. No, kidding aside, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is a fun team game and if you’re stripping the game of its fun and the team, you’ve got no one to be or get good with. A gaming phone, stripped without games, are phones, and as good as the OPPO A94’s 48MP AI rear quad-cam matrix and 32MP ultra-clear front camera set-up was, we needed to know if Blacklist had much use for it.

So, we asked how important camera specs and features were to team members when picking out a gaming phone. Ohmy.v33nus replied saying, “a lot. We don’t only focus on gaming, as professional players; we also create content and stay active on social media for fans, family, and friends.”

The OPPO A94 Features:

Display — 6.43-inch FHD+ (2400 x 1080) AMOLED display, 90 Hz refresh rate, 409 PPI

Processor — MediaTek Helio P95 octa-core processor

Storage — 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage

Camera — Quad rear cameras: 48MP F1.7 (primary), 8MP F2.2 (ultra-wide), 2MP F2.4 (macro), and 2MP F2.4 (portrait); Selfie camera: 32MP

Operating System — ColorOS 11.1

Battery – 4310mAh, 30W VOOC Flash Charge 4.0

Price and availability

OPPO A94 comes in Fantastic Purple, Crystal Silver, and Fluid Black. It has a price tag of PhP 13, 999 and can be purchased via OPPO Brand Stores nationwide, Shopee, and Lazada.

TIP #8 – Lastly, soft skills and heart

When asked for advice for aspiring pros on what they can work on, Ohmy.v33nus said, “since ML:BB is a team game, a crucial soft skill you can develop is communication. Being clear and precise with teammates not only helps in-game strategies but also helps strengthen the synergy between them and their teammates.” Going on to say, “keep your heart in the game. Keep practicing and play regularly to boost your skills to achieve top leaderboard spots.”


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and OPPO Philippines

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PlayStation 5 is Sony’s fastest-selling console ever

Surpasses 10 million units sold

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Given how scarce the console is right now, it doesn’t feel like the PlayStation 5 is selling like hotcakes. Regardless, it’s still going really well for Sony. Despite seeming (and announced) shortages, the new console has already reached a milestone for the company, making the PlayStation 5 its fastest-selling console in history.

In an official release, Sony has confirmed that the PlayStation 5 has surpassed 10 million units sold all over the globe. Since the console was released less than a year ago (November 2020), the PS5 has already set the record as Sony’s fastest-selling console. It is currently on pace to outsell the previous generation, the PlayStation 4.

To further increase the hype for the console, Sony has also reiterated the list of exclusive titles that it is anticipating for the PS5: God of War Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, and Gran Turismo 7. Besides this impressive roster, the console will also get a number of anticipated titles on the platform: Deathloop, Battlefield 2042, and Far Cry 6.

However, despite the push for a thriving PlayStation 5 ecosystem, the console is still a rare sight today. For one, the launch (and potentially even today) was plagued with an endless drove of scalpers sucking the well dry from eager gamers. Similarly, Sony has forecasted that an ongoing chip shortage might extend well into 2022.

Though the console’s performance is truly impressive, it might take a while before it reaches every willing buyer’s living room.

SEE ALSO: Why you should buy the PlayStation 5!

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Long-teased cat game Stray finally gets a release date

Plus a gameplay trailer

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For most followers of the industry, the gaming world often has holy grails, or games that have long been promised but haven’t seen the light of day yet. In recent history, the world’s most renowned holy grails are the doomed P.T. from Hideo Kojima, the mysterious GTA 6, and Elder Scrolls 6. However, in a smaller scale, an enigmatic cat game has enamored cat-loving gamers for years. Finally, Stray, after being announced in last year’s PlayStation 5 showcase, has a release date.

Last year, Annapurna Interactive shared a cinematic trailer for the upcoming game, teasing its arrival for the PlayStation 5. However, the game fell to silence for months. Finally, the publisher revealed a gameplay trailer for the cat simulator game.

As expected, Stray will be an action puzzle game, helping the main cat-tagonist survive an unfamiliar sci-fi world. At the start, the game shares the same mood as the Little Nightmares series: an oft-powerless character relying on their puzzle-solving skills to advance. However, the trailer reveals more progression coming in the form of cybernetic attachments which will give the cat more abilities.

At the end of the trailer, Blue Twelve, the game’s developers, confirmed that the game is coming to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC sometime in early 2022.

Stray remains one of the more anticipated small games of recent history. For years, the developer teased the upcoming cat simulator game through a short, short trailer. Hype has persistently seesawed back and forth from the same trailer without an update from the developer. Thankfully, that has now changed.

SEE ALSO: Death Stranding Director’s Cut set to arrive on the PlayStation 5

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