ROG Flow Z13 review: A tablet powerhouse like no other
There’s more than just powerful gaming
Throughout my four years of working in GadgetMatch, I haven’t actually tried using any gaming laptop (or even a tablet) of some sort. Let alone a device like the ROG Flow Z13. That’s mainly because I’m not as invested as our in-house gamers like Rodneil, Luigi, or Gab.
But what if you wanna hear thoughts from a casual gamer? And how does it perform from the perspective of a creative professional?
Without further ado, let’s proceed with this much-awaited review of the world’s first Windows 11-powered gaming tablet.
Up front, it might look like the same glass slab as other tablets. This particular model has a 13.4-inch Full HD+ glossy display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. That’s an unusual ratio for most games that only support either 16:9 or 21:9 gaming.
But it becomes a real game-changer when you flip its back side.
Unlike regular tablets with an ultra-sleek and minimal design, the ROG Flow Z13 stands out from the crowd.
Other than the usual Intel and GeForce stickers, what stands out the most is its see-through glass window that shows the tablet’s internals.
When turned on, the window will illuminate with ROG’s signature RGB lights…
…that can be controlled via ROG’s Aura Sync software.
With some ROG-branded texts, etchings, and rubber plugs..
…this is a sophisticated-looking, retro-futuristic tablet truly meant for gamers in mind and heart.
And as some bonus, here it is side-by-side with last year’s ROG Flow X13. Surprisingly, the X13 is thinner despite the Z13 looking more of the “portable” device.
For specifics, the X13 is 15.8mm thick and 1.34kg in weight. Meanwhile the Z13, although thinner at 12mm and lighter at 1.1kg, attaching its detachable keyboard actually makes it thicker and heavier at 17.6mm and 1.53kg.
If you care about ports, the ROG Flow Z13 has plenty to provide.
Other than its proprietary XG Mobile port (which also has a USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port in it), there’s also another one at top, making it a total of two USB-C ports on the left side.
One (or both) port/s support DisplayPort and G-Sync for external 4K displays and monitors…
…as well as Power Delivery (PD) for faster charging speeds.
Looking at the right side shows the power button that also doubles as a fingerprint scanner.
Moreover, there are the volume buttons, a single USB-A port for other peripherals, and a 3.5mm audio jack for hi-fidelity audio experience when gaming or working. There’s even a microSD card slot hidden behind the tablet’s leg stand when opened.
Both sides mean it also has stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support as well as a 3-microphone array for voice calls.
For connections with less latency, it has a Wi-Fi 6E modem for faster online gaming and streaming. It also supports Bluetooth 5.2 for better connectivity when connecting to earbuds, headphones, controllers, and more.
Lastly, there’s a 720P webcam at the top of the display for usual video calls via Zoom, Duo, or Meet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support the Windows Hello Face Unlocking as it doesn’t have IR sensors built-in for a more secure authentication.
It’s also equipped with an 8-megapixel camera at the back with an okay quality.
Bundles and extras
Whenever you purchase the ROG Flow Z13, you’ll have this handy sleeve pouch to protect the tablet from unwanted scratches and bumps inside your bag.
There’s also this clip-on keyboard a la Microsoft Surface that connects through ROG Flow Z13’s smart connectors at its bottom. This is better instead of going through the hassle of connecting via Bluetooth.
Attaching the detachable keyboard folio with a felt-like texture also protects the Z13’s precious glossy display from scratches and smudges.
Moreover, there’s also the ROG Impact gaming mouse that you can carry around. It’s well-suited for shooter games that require faster clicks instead of relying to the Z13’s touchpad. The bundled mouse depends on where you’ll buy your ROG Flow Z13 though.
Lastly, there’s also the ASUS Pen for those who want to use it for note-taking, scribbling, sketching, or even illustrating.
Two downsides with this specific pen? First is the use of a rare AAAA battery instead of relying on magnetic charging. Second, you can only attach it magnetically at the bottom part of the tablet (where the smart pins for the keyboard are also connected). This basically means you can’t place the pen once the keyboard is attached in its place.
For additional purchases, the ROG XG Mobile eGPU is a great extension to an already amazing gaming tablet. It provides more gaming power just in case you needed that maximum oomph when you play hardcore games.
And while we’re already under this specific section, gaming would be more fun with the Xbox Wireless Controller in mind — especially when the game supports it (mostly games from Xbox PC Pass).
I’m not a professional nor a hardcore gamer, but this doesn’t mean I don’t play enough games to entertain myself when bored.
While I don’t have the maxed-out Core i9 model (that’s not in the Philippines but available elsewhere), it still has one of best specs for a tablet (or any gaming device for that matter): a 12th-gen Intel Core i7-12700H, a total of 16GB LPDDR5 RAM, and 512GB of SSD. To make it suitable for more graphics-intensive games, it runs NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3050 with 4GB of GDRR6 memory.
We don’t provide boring and lengthy game benchmarks, but I can attest that the Z13 can run most games in max settings — regardless if you change gaming profiles in the Armoury Crate app.
Whether that’s the ever-popular Grand Theft Auto V...
Forza Horizon 5 through Xbox PC Pass…
realistic truck and bus driving with Euro Truck Simulator 2…
5v5 FPS game such as Valorant…
and even the ultra-demanding open-world action RPG Genshin Impact, the Z13 is no slouch at all.
With the games mentioned earlier, I was able to bump up graphics settings in either high, max, or ultra utmost with most (or all) of the boxes ticked. Even with hours of gaming, it never slowed down.
Unfortunately, running Cyberpunk 2077 even in medium settings through Z13’s RTX 3050 doesn’t do much help. The only way to play it in its highest settings possible is to bring out the ROG XG Mobile.
With its more powerful GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card, it should run a lot better without worrying about gaming lag and stutter.
Plugging in the XG Mobile eGPU is also another way you can attach any 4K TV or monitor through HDMI and DisplayPort (well aside from USB-C).
Playing Forza Horizon 5 on my ultra-wide monitor made my gameplay more immersive. Sadly, I wasn’t able to do the same driving experience with ETS2 as it has issues continuing the game when the eGPU is connected.
SEE ALSO: LG 29WP500 UltraWide Monitor review: Bang for your buck
As of this writing, I’m using the ROG Flow Z13 as my primary device when typing this review article.
While the keyboard isn’t close to how I type on my MacBook (or any other mechanical keyboard), the key travel is enough to make typing satisfying.
If I’ll explain the exact feeling, it’s in the middle of being clicky and mushy — not that it’s a bad thing. The precision trackpad feels nice as well. Gone are the days when Windows devices have clunky plastic trackpads for navigation.
Opening apps like Microsoft Edge (yes, not Chrome), Netflix, Twitter, Slack, Telegram, and among others in the list should be a breeze.
When it comes to the creative apps I use such as Adobe’s Creative Suite, the gaming tablet doesn’t falter either.
Opening Adobe Photoshop was fast and snappy. Being able to scroll through several layers without any hiccups is a breeze.
Adobe Lightroom should perform the same. While the best Z13 model has an 85% DCI-P3 wide color gamut coverage, the 100% sRGB color accuracy is enough for color grading and post-processing that other gaming laptops can’t even achieve.
Meanwhile, running Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects vary depending on how heavy or light your workload is.
Let’s say you’re editing a 4K video or a 15-second 4K MoGraph (Motion Graphic), it will obviously render slower than your projects with the usual Full HD resolution. But for the most part, it renders faster than ever.
However, you might want to invest on an external SSD or replace its NVMe M.2 SSD with a larger 1TB capacity for storing these large project files and footage without sacrificing read and write speeds.
SEE ALSO: Seagate Ultra Touch SSD: 5 reasons why you need this external SSD
And while I haven’t opened Autodesk Maya for years, I still tried running this 3D-modeling software and was still able to render the heavy 3D project file of a 2016 MacBook Pro I did way back in college.
Other than gaming or using it for professional work, the ROG Flow Z13 can also serve as your entertainment device — just like any other tablet being offered in the market today.
Watching flicks on Netflix or vibrant K-Pop music videos and live performances on YouTube all looked great on this device regardless if this Z13 doesn’t have the top-of-the-class panel.
That being said, its display still supports HDR, Dolby Vision, and is Pantone-Validated as well — making it enough for most users to enjoy its crisp and ViViD visuals (just like LOONA’s Heejin and her debut song 😘).
While it doesn’t have the max 4K resolution of the other model, I prefer this one as it should preserve the tablet’s overall power consumption.
Also, having the Full HD+ panel means you can switch between 60Hz and 120Hz depending on your preference for that ultra-smooth navigation and stutter-free gameplay. The 4K variant is only stuck at 60Hz.
Having a faster refresh rate also means the pen input delay (or latency) should be more realistic. Using the bundled ASUS Pen felt enough for note-taking or some lousy sketching.
Although this isn’t the most ideal tablet for any digital artist, it can still hold up as a decent graphic tablet. For better use of its graphic tablet functionality, you can turn its stand all the way to its tilting limit.
With Windows 11 in mind, there are apps you can use such as Adobe Lightroom, Paint Tools SAI or Autodesk’s Sketchbook Pro just in case you want to experiment with your hidden artistic talent.
Ultra-portability has its compromises
Despite being equipped with the latest and greatest tech, the ROG Flow Z13 admittedly can’t quite stand on its own. And by that, with drawbacks while using the tablet alone.
1. Underwhelming battery
Remember when I said a while ago that having a less denser display means being able to save battery life? Well, that’s not the case in this tablet.
Not that it’s surprising since ROG tried to cram up all components inside this chassis with a screen in it. Still, I expected at least a modest 3-5 hours of battery life when doing light tasks.
Whether I switch between Performance or Power Saving Mode, it doesn’t do much in saving the tablet’s 56WHr battery.
When playing games, you have to seat near a wall socket. Regardless of how low or high the settings are, you can only play with the tablet for under an hour before it dies. That’s not a lot of juice for gamers.
For less-demanding tasks, my specific test showed exactly 2 hours and 27 minutes on Balanced Mode while 2 hours and 46 minutes when Battery Saver Mode is on. Exactly as I type this part of the article, the Z13 went under 5% that I had to immediately plug-in its charger. That’s more than two hours of typing this review.
That said, ROG is true to its words. With its bundled 100W USB-C to AC Adapter, it can fast charge the Z13 from 0% to 50% in just 30 minutes. Filling it up to 100% just takes an hour to finish.
2. Useless as a standalone tablet
A tablet is made meant for a handed use, but that’s not the case with the ROG Flow Z13.
I’m not saying that the ROG Flow Z13 is useless. During my test with the tablet, playing touchscreen games without the keyboard/touchpad and mouse is what made it “useless”.
Case in point: I have the option to play Asphalt 9 using tablet mode. But with the ROG Flow Z13 not having the necessary sensors (such as an accelerometer and gyroscope), it can’t play using tilting and just relies on either the automatic acceleration feature called “TouchDrive” or via the bundled keyboard. This makes my gameplay less exciting and thrilling.
There are also times when selecting options in-game needs some stretch. Touchscreen games feel weird due to the large screen size and hefty body, making it uncomfortable to hold when playing.
Not a big dealbreaker but it’s also quite disappointing how I can’t run FPS games without the keyboard and mouse. But I guess it’s more on the software side since PC games aren’t meant to be played with touch inputs unlike iOS and Android FPS games.
Still, even running Android games such as Call of Duty: Mobile (CoDM) through the Gameloop emulator doesn’t make it possible to run FPS, RPG, or MOBA games via touchscreen. A keyboard and mouse are still needed.
3. Ugh… Display issues
Not that it always happens, but one big issue whenever I hook up my 4K TV through XG Mobile via HDMI is that, it randomly displays glitches and flickers when movies are being played.
There are also numerous times when the tablet went into the horrifying BSoD (Blue Screen of Death) just right after hooking up the HDMI cable and properly switching to XG Mobile.
I’m quite unsure if the crucial component updates have fixed this critical issue. While I haven’t checked since I’m afraid I might ruin this review device, I hope ROG comes up with a patch real soon.
4. Undesirable overheating
The problem with heavily-powered portable devices like this is the lack of a better cooling implementation and heat dissipation — even with the existence of an advanced vapor-cooling chamber and “efficient” CPU and GPU units.
Any air-conditioned room (or purely just a snowy-cool climate) might suppress the heating issues temporarily, but its power-heavy yet crammed chassis is one reason why the ROG Flow Z13 doesn’t cool properly.
It’s either you have to flip its back stand, or you just have to deal with its unacceptable overheating. I also think overheating has something to do with the display issues I mentioned a while ago.
Did I also mention how loud the fans and hot the heatsinks are when playing games or rendering and exporting output files?
Is the ROG Flow Z13 your GadgetMatch?
In the Philippines, this higher-end ROG Flow Z13 is priced at PhP 99,995. The less-powerful Core i5 and Iris Xe-powered variant retails for a measly PhP 84,995. The ROG XG Mobile (which is sold separately) costs as much as PhP 69,995 for the RTX 3080 model while the Radeon-powered RX 6850M is almost 10,000 less than the Z13 itself at a whopping PhP 89,999. This just means one thing:
This gaming device isn’t for everyone.
With the presence of more affordable gaming laptops, buying the ROG Flow Z13 doesn’t apply from a practical, “worth-it” standpoint. Instead, this is for those with the extra purchasing power who want the versatility and portability of a tablet that can also run demanding games and creative apps in the long run.
And as a creative professional, this tablet isn’t meant for creatives neither. There are a lot of options out there that can do both work and play without sacrificing your savings.
Much like foldable smartphones, the ROG Flow Z13 focuses more on a specific type of market that want the bleeding edge tech regardless of how pricey it is. But if you want the best of both worlds in gaming and creative work, this might just do all the trick.
LEGO 2K Drive to arrive on May 19
Build, explore, race
2K and the LEGO Group has announced May 19 as the official worldwide release date of LEGO 2K Drive for multiple consoles.
The driving adventure game is developed by Visual Concept. It is the first title to be released as part of a multi-title partnership between 2K and the LEGO Group. They seek to evolve the LEGO experience in exciting new ways.
The game will feature a combination of open-world driving and competitive racing. Players can explore the vast world of Bricklandia, build any vehicle LEGO-style, drive anywhere, and become a racing legend.
The Sky Cup Trophy is the game’s coveted prize. Players will have to compete against a series of rivals across a broad range of tracks while taking advantage of unique power-ups that can guide them throughout a race.
LEGO 2K Drive also offers unique customization, with over 1,000 LEGO pieces available when building a vehicle. Color designs, stickers, flairs, and more are likewise customizable.
Players may also collaborate with others in a two-person split-screen mode or multiplayer mode.
There will be three editions for the upcoming game:
- Standard Edition – US$ 59.99 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch; US$ 69.99 on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S (both physical and digital)
- Awesome Edition – US$ 99.99; includes new vehicle, flair, in-game LEGO minifigure, Year 1 Drive Pass (covers four individual post-launch seasons of Drive pass content)
- Awesome Rivals Edition – US$ 119.99; includes multiple new vehicles, flair, in-game LEGO minifigures, Year 1 Drive Pass
Preorders are now open, and those who purchase before launch day will receive an Aquadirt Racer Pack.
All TEKKEN 8 characters revealed so far
Get ready for the next battle!
Even though TEKKEN 8 is still miles away from being released, there’s no stopping the train on what you can expect. Starting off, no fighting game is complete without the list of fighters themselves. Of course, TEKKEN 8 is no exception to this. Several familiar faces have been revealed over the past few days, with more incoming.
Without further ado, here’s all the confirmed characters for TEKKEN 8 so far. Don’t worry, this list will be updated as more fighters and gameplay trailers are revealed.
Honestly, it wouldn’t be a modern TEKKEN game without the main protagonist himself, Jin Kazama. After spending most of TEKKEN 7 healing up and watching from the shadows, Jin is ready to strike back in honor of the Mishima Zaibatsu. Overall, he sports a much buffer look than before. Jin is now rocking the whites and reds compared to previous versions.
What makes Jin different this time around is how he’s harnessing the Devil Gene inside him to power his moveset. From the trailer alone, we see glimpses of the power he wields as he unleashes a barrage of attacks. Also, his character model even reveals one of his Devil’s wings, which most likely means he’s embraced the Devil in him.
Now, the one on our minds is, well, will the Devil Jin character from previous games also make its way onto this one?
In every TEKKEN game, someone portrays the ultimate villain that holds all the power and will not yield for anyone. For TEKKEN 8, that man is Kazuya Mishima, the leader of the G Corporation and Jin’s biological father. After the events of TEKKEN 7, Kazuya seemed more poised to take over the world than ever before with the G Corporation continuously waging war.
By this point in time, he has fully embraced the Devil and has since showed flashes of its power since TEKKEN 7. It’s not to say that just him alone isn’t already a ton to deal with, as his moveset is just as hard-hitting as before. With the addition of his Devil form as he enters his Heat State, it turns him into a wrecking ball of chaos.
Nina Williams returns to the roster and is one of the characters that has appeared in every TEKKEN game since its release. The silent assassin has made quite the list of alliances and enemies through the years, and is on the hunt for her next target. However, after the events of TEKKEN 7 and her failure to locate Jin, she’s taking an approach from the shadows.
From a design standpoint, she loses the wedding dress she had on from the previous game and goes back to the leather jacket and purple dress — something familiar and comfortable. Moveset-wise, she retains the cat-like reflexes she showed off in previous titles and can throw punches with the best of them. Also, she had dual pistols now, so be careful when going up against her.
Another staple of the TEKKEN franchise is Paul Phoenix, one of the hardest hitting fighters in the game. In fact, the trailer literally shows off his power as he brings a brick wall with him when he enters the battlefield. Although in TEKKEN 8, he grew his hair out and didn’t really bother to fix it in an upright position as his previous character models showed.
In terms of his moveset, the trailer makes it look as hard-hitting as before, if not more than that. You can tell that the man aged like fine wine in his combat, especially with all the punches he’s thrown. As seen in the last few seconds of the trailer, he even threw a punch that had so much power in it, it resulted in a sleeve getting ripped.
One of the franchise’s key returnees from previous games is Marshall Law, Namco’s tribute to the legendary Bruce Lee. As with his previous appearances, he is agile, likes to take the fight to his opponents, and has an arsenal of moves relying on quickess and dexterity. In TEKKEN 8, however, it looks like his body has grown significantly.
Law maintains most of his moves from the previous games, with a bit of fine-tuning and power added to them given his growth over the years. Also, this game shows off his nunchakus which make a comeback after appearing as an item move in TEKKEN 6. Unlike that game, however, he only gets to use the nunchakus on specific moves instead of wielding it infinitely.
Yes, for all the wrestling fans out there, King is back! And he is in much better fighting shape than ever before. Of course, the man still dons the same jaguar mask as his predecessor, and is hungry for competition wherever he goes. If all goes well, the eighth edition of the tournament will give him the glory he seeks.
As one of the franchise’s elite wrestlers, his moveset only improved from the previous games. He still boasts a series of gut-wrenching blows and grapples that turn the tide on his foes in combat. Also, he uses a variety of wrestling moves that fans will recognize from a mile away. This time around, as the trailer suggests, he adds more to his kit with moves from WWE superstars, Triple H (Pedigree) and Randy Orton (RKO).
Jack-8, Lars Alexandersson, and Jun Kazama?!
BANDAI NAMCO also released a Story and Gameplay Trailer to help build more anticipation on the upcoming fighter game, and shows what the TEKKEN Saga has in store for us. Also, this particular trailer showed us a few more characters to watch out for:
From this trailer, we can find two familiar faces in Jack-8 and Lars Alexandersson. The former is the eighth iteration of the JACKs since the first TEKKEN. For Jack-8, the main objective remains the same: destruction at all costs; it’s design to learn its opponents and strike at their core. For Lars, coming from the events of TEKKEN 7, the protector of Jin Kazama must now help him in his plot to overthrow Kazuya and put an end to the war.
Perhaps one of the biggest returns for TEKKEN 8 is Jin’s biological mother, Jun Kazama. She was presumed dead prior to the start of TEKKEN 3. Jun reunites with her now all-grown up son to help Jin find some form of inner peace. Whether or not she reunites with Kazuya has yet to be shown.
Let us know who you’re most excited to play for TEKKEN 8!
Ubisoft announces an AI writer for video games
To streamline dialogue writing
Video game dialogue gets a bad rep these days. Though a good number of titles come from acclaimed writers and storytellers, a sizable chunk can leave gamers grasping for a mute button. Now, in a move to streamline the writing process, Ubisoft has announced an AI writer to automatically create video game dialogue.
Conspicuously called Ghostwriter, the upcoming AI tool can create dialogue based only on a few prompts. Writers only need to input a character and the type of dialogue to create an exchange. The tool can create a few variations for writers to consider and edit as need be.
The tool wasn’t created to replace writers. Rather, according to the reveal, Ghostwriter will help writers focus on larger tasks like grander narratives and important cutscenes.
Currently, Ubisoft has not showcased any examples of how the writer can work. The company is still working on implementing the tool in its production cycles. With huge sprawling games, using an AI writer to streamline dialogue creation will help deadlines. However, it’s still an unknown whether the tool will improve quality as well.
Over the past few months, companies have tried creating their own takes on AI-based chatbots and creators. Ubisoft is the latest to integrate the technology into its own company and one of the first to try it in the gaming scene.
SEE ALSO: Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Red, Jade, showcased at Ubisoft Forward
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