Review unit on loan from ASUS Singapore
I have received requests on my Youtube channel to review the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 gaming tablet so here's the review. This tablet was released in early 2022 and comes with the 12th gen Intel processors.
My review is from the perspective of a visual content creator so I will also mention the user experience with drawing, graphic design, photo and video editing.
Here's the bottom line: This tablet is probably the most powerful tablet currently with decent gaming performance given the specs. The included pen works well for writing but not for drawing. Visual content creation such as photo and video editing is a breeze with the only limitation being the size of the 13.4-inch 1080P+ LCD. Main downsides are the lack of USB ports and battery life of just 4 hours.
ASUS ROG FLOW Z13 is available in three configurations:
- Intel i9-12900H, 1TB SSD, 16GB RAM, 4K+ 60Hz display, NVIDIA Geforce RTX 3050 Ti - USD 1899, SGD 5349
- Intel i7-12700H, 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM, 120Hz 1080P+ display, NVIDIA Geforce RTX 3050 - USD 1799, SGD 2798
- Intel i5-12500H, 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM, 120Hz 1080P+ display, Intel Iris Xe - USD 1499
The Singapore prices are sourced from Lazada.sg. Two years warranty is included.
I'm glad the model with the Intel Iris Xe is not sold here in Singapore because there are countless tablets also with Intel Iris Xe. A tablet with NVIDIA Geforce RTX 3050 is less common though and that's the main selling point.
The optional ROG XG Mobile eGPU is sold separately.
The XG Mobile with RADEON™RX 6850M XT is USD 1399. The one with NVIDIA Gefore RTX 3080 is USD 1499 (SGD 2299). The XG Mobile can only work with the Flow Z13, currently, though.
The review unit I have comes with 12th gen Intel i7-12700H (2.3Ghz, 6P + 8E), 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM, 120Hz 1080P+ display, NVIDIA Geforce RTX 3050.
Full specs here: https://rog.asus.com/laptops/rog-flow/rog-flow-z13-2022-series/spec/
The packaging looks really cool.
These are the items included:
- Keyboard cover and case
- ASUS Pen (SA201H)
- 100W USB-C charger
- Guide and warranty info
- Carrying case with strap for tablet
- Carrying case for eGPU
The ASUS Pen SA201H has solid build quality and is comfortable to hold. It supports MPP2, palm rejection, tilt and 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity.
The pen is powered by a single AAAA battery and battery life is rated at 1 year.
The pen has two side buttons, one for eraser and other for right click. Side button customisation is very limited. Pressure sensitivity customisation depends on the app you use.
The keyboard case and cover is 340g, and it's quite thick.
The keys have good travel and typing experience is good. There's a little extrusion on the W key to let gamers know where's the up button. The gaming experience with this keyboard case and cover is actually pretty good.
The keys are backlit with customisable colour effects via the Armoury Crate software software which for some reason isn't pre-installed. Unfortunately, the keys are always showing the same colours even with different effects. E.g. You cannot have random colours on random keys, and you cannot have colours move from left to right vice versa.
The ASUS ROG Flow Z13 is a stylish looking tablet. The back has designs with diagonal lines which are cutouts for air intake. There's even a transparent window to show off the circuit board and is lit by rainbow lighting.
Lighting for the circuit window and keyboard is customisable through the ASUS Armoury Crate.
The circuit board window also extrudes out from the tablet slightly, and this also prevents the air intake grilles from being covered completely when using the tablet flat on the table.
This is possibly the thickest tablet I've seen of all the tablets I've reviewed. The thickness is 1.2cm. I do not have any issues with how thick this tablet is given what ASUS has decided to pack inside this form factor.
The weight is 1.18kg and the keyboard case weighs 340g so the total weight is 1.52kg.
The overall size and weight still makes this tablet quite compact and portable.
With normal usage not including video editing and gaming, the average battery life I got was just 4 to 5 hours. That's actually not surprising considering the powerful processor and graphics card included. For gaming, battery life is just an hour so using the charger is a must while gaming. Also, the fans run most of the time so that probably uses power too.
The battery capacity is 56Wh. I actually expected a much larger battery from a thick tablet so it's a missed opportunity to pack in a higher capacity battery.
My own 100W GaN charger does not provide enough power to charge the tablet while gaming, but the included ASUS 100W charger does.
This display is a 13.4-inch 120Hz touchscreen IPS LCD with resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels.
With a Spyder5Pro, I measured colour support for 100% sRGB, 74% NTSC, 80% P3, 79% AdobeRGB and a maximum brightness of 364 nits. This is basically a 100% sRGB display and has reasonably good colours and fantastic brightness even though it can't reach the advertised 500 nits.
1920 x 1200 resolution looks alright on a 13.4-inch display. There's slight pixelation but overall sharpness is good enough. 16:10 aspect ratio is better than 16:9 for productivity. Refresh rate is 120Hz.
There's another model with a 3840 x 2400 px 60Hz display. It doesn't make sense to get the model with 4K+ resolution because the RTX 3050 isn't powerful enough to run top tier games at 60Hz. And even if you have the XG Mobile dock with RTX 3080, you'll still be gaming at 1080P resolution anyway.
The display is glossy and actually has an anti-reflective coating over it. Viewing angles are good with minimal shift in colours and minimal drop in brightness.
Display is laminated so there's almost no visible gap between the line and the pen tip.
There's one USB-C port on the left with Thunderbolt 4. At the bottom hidden behind a rubber cover is the ASUS ROG XG Mobile Interface with another USB-C port with USB 3.2 gen 2 speeds.
Both USB-C ports can be used for charging.
Although not obvious in the photos, there are two side facing speakers. Audio is loud, clear and has good stereo effect.
On the right, there are the power button with fingerprint scanner, volume buttons, USB 2.0 Type-A and a 3.5mm audio jack.
Only the USB-C port in the middle can has DisplayPort support. Ideally, you'll probably want to use this tablet together with a Thunderbolt dock with more ports, video output and USB Power Delivery.
Behind the kickstand is a UHS-II microSD card reader with speeds up to 312MB/s.
Internal storage is supplied by a 2230 NVMe SSD which is user-upgradeable. Read and write speeds are up to 3GB/s.
This tablet is perfectly capable of graphic design work, photo and video editing provided you're alright with 100% sRGB workspace, 1920 x 1200 resolution and the 13.4-inch display.
I was able to edit simple cut-and-join 4K 25FPS videos without proxies and dropped frames with DaVinci Resolve. It took 2 min 46s to export a 5 min video.
These are the games I've tested at 1080P and the respective frame rates achieve:
- Hades - 120 FPS
- Two Point Hospital - 25 to 35 FPS
- Stray - 40 FPS
- Red Dead Redemption 2 - 30 FPS
Gaming performance with the NVIDIA Geforce RTX 3050 is more than decent. However, gaming performance is nowhere close to the RTX 3060 though where I could get 50 FPS or more for Read Dead Redemption 2.
Drawing performance with the ASUS Pen SA201H is not ideal. The tablet supports stylus that use Microsoft Pen Protocol 2.0 so it can be used with Microsoft pens too. I've tried the Microsoft Slim Pen 2 as well and it has similar pressure performance and more consistent tilt sensitivity performance.
These are line tests from Affinity Photo.
1. Initial activation force is noticeably higher than pen displays and pen tablets designed for drawing. You will have to press down slightly to get a line. When drawing thin lines diagonally, there's noticeable jitter or wobble.
2. Lines are not able to taper smoothly and sharply.
3. It's not easy to drawing lines with consistent thickness.
4. When drawing faster, you can maintain consistent pressure and thickness easier without unpredictable variation to thickness.
5. Dots can be drawn by tapping the pen on the display.
6. It's difficult to match the thickness of lines to other lines, making it difficult to join lines seamlessly.
This was drawn with Medibang Paint Pro. Drawing performance is similar to Affinity Photo. The pen is unable to detect small changes to pressure especially when using minimal pressure. For the drawing above, I had difficult making the lines join seamlessly, taper smoothly and drawing thin lines.
Clip Studio Paint has barely better line quality. I wanted to draw the eye brow that tapers from thick to thin but I am unable to do so with a quick stroke.
Lines from Photoshop
Tilt sensitivity performance depends on the app you use. I wasn't able to get tilt to work with Krita. With Concepts, tilt does not work most of the time because the pen doesn't seem to know it's tilting. Microsoft Slim Pen 2 has way better tilt performance. Tilt works fine with Photoshop but the cursor does not follow the direction of the pen.
When drawing, it's more ergonomic to have the tablet on a stand. If I place the tablet on the Parblo PR100 stand I have, it will affect the air intake as the air grilles are on the back. So I have to deploy the kickstand even when using the tablet stand.
So the overall drawing performance and experience are affected by pen performance and design of the tablet. I don't recommend getting this tablet if you're planning to draw often or drawing is your work.
For casual sketching the tablet should work fine. The sketch above was drawn with Concepts which is an app that's quite forgiving even with less optimal digital drawing tools.
And then there's the issue with Windows OS palm rejection which doesn't work that well and that affects drawing experience too. When you rest your palm on the side, you can swipe out some widgets, or drag palettes around in a drawing app. This issue affects all tablets that run Windows OS.
While the pen isn't that good for drawing, it can have good handwriting and note taking performance with the right app. The app I'm using above is Concepts.
Glitches or bugs
For some reason, the tablet doesn't go into full sleep mode when the keyboard case is closed. As such, battery will also drain overnight, up to 70%. So it's best to just shut down instead of letting the tablet go to sleep at night.
The one alternative that comes to my mind instantly is the ASUS Vivobook Pro 14X OLED (N7401) (full specs here). That's a 1.68kg laptop which is certainly heavier but you'll get more ports, a higher resolution 14.5-inch OLED display and a 70Wh battery.
The benefit the tablet has is you can remove the keyboard case and the tablet alone is 1.18kg.
Another big difference between gaming on a tablet vs laptop is the tablet's keyboard will not get hot.
The ASUS ROG Flow Z13 is stylish and compact tablet fitted with a powerful processor and decent graphics card for gaming. Overall performance is smooth and gaming experience is pretty good unless you're playing AAA games where the frame rates can drop to around 30FPS. The 120Hz IPS LCD has pretty good visual quality and colours. 1080P+ resolution on a 13.4 inch display works fine.
Main downside is the battery life. The two USB-C ports have Thunderbolt 4 and USB 3.2 gen 2 so that's good. The USB-A port only has USB 2 speeds though.
So who is this tablet for? Probably for those who value something compact and portable over a larger laptop that may have better gaming performance.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Stylish design
+ Compact and portable
+ Good keyboard case and cover included
+ 120Hz refresh rate
+ IPS LCD has good visual quality
+ Display is bright
+ Good processor and graphics card in a tablet
+ eGPU option available
+ Good gaming performance but not at RTX 3060 level, obviously
+ Effective thermal system for cooling
+ Pen is good for writing
- Fans are almost always on
- Pen is not good for drawing
- Using the tablet flat on table will affect air intake
- Battery life just 4 hours
- Pricey compared to laptops with similar specs