Asus' ROG Flow X13 is a beast of a gaming laptop in a tiny 13in chassis

Plenty of companies have claimed to squeeze a full-power gaming machine into a portable laptop before but none have approached the problem like the Asus ROG Flow X13.

By offloading the graphics grunt onto a companion portable eGPU unit, the Flow X13 is able to combine the portability of an ultrabook with a level of gaming performance that, to date, only larger, gaming laptops have been able to offer.

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The Asus ROG Flow X13 itself is a very slim and lightweight machine. It comes with a 13.4in 16:10 aspect ratio display, measures 15.8mm thick and tips the scales at a mere 1.3kg. It’s encased in magnesium alloy, which has a sandblasted finish and the lid is adorned with a ribbed, “gravity wave” pattern that looks rather fetching. And that display is available in two different flavours: a 60Hz, 4K variant or a Full HD 120Hz unit. Both displays are mounted on 360-degree hinges with touch and stylus input compatibility.

Under the hood, Asus is throwing in latest generation 5000-series AMD CPUs alongside Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650Ti mobile GPU, paired with up to 32GB of RAM and either a 512GB or 1TB PCIe SSD. That looks like a promising enough specification on its own but it’s the Asus XG eGPU unit that pushes the Flow X13 into the realm of serious gaming hardware.

Weighing a mere 1kg and connecting over a proprietary eight-lane PCI-e interface, the XG delivers a staggering 64GB/sec of bandwidth and houses a next-gen Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU for the highest frame rates at ultra settings. The eGPU also acts as a full-fat USB hub, with four USB A ports, plus Ethernet, DisplayPort and HDMI connections.

The Asus ROG Flow X13 will be available from February 2021 and, although there’s no official word on pricing, you can fully expect this to be jolly pricey, with each unit costing around the same as the Asus G14 from 2020 – so at least £2,000 for the lot.

ASUS revamps Duo and Strix Scar 17in laptops, includes RTX 30-series GPUs

In addition to the Flow X13 announcement, Asus also unveiled updates to its twin-screened Duo laptop range. Two new 14in (UX482) and 15in (UX582) Zenbook Duo laptops are set to be introduced, with Asus bringing across the lifting Screenpad brought from the 2020 Zephyrus Duo.

The top-end Zephrus Duo is back, too, with an overclocked AMD Ryzen 5000-series CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series graphics, a 2TB RAID0 SSD array and either a 300Hz Full HD or 4K 120Hz Pantone-calibrated display.

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And at the top-end of the portable gaming spectrum is the new ROG Strix Scar 17in, which comes with an overclocked AMD Ryzen 9 CPU, 30-series Nvidia RTX GPUs and the choice of a 360Hz 3ms Full HD display or a 165Hz WQHD screen. Keen e-sporters will also appreciate the appearance of a new optical-mechanical keyboard, RGB lighting all-round and the ability to create 3D-printable components to customise the laptop.

Finally, for those on more moderate budgets, Asus is also giving its popular TUF Gaming laptops a shot in the arm in 2021 with the new Asus TUF Gaming Dash F15 FX516. Asus’ latest budget gaming machine has a slimmer, lighter design than last year, an improved 240Hz display carried across from the Zephyrus range of laptops (there’s also a 144Hz option), and USB Type-C charging. The range will also offer graphics from Nvidia’s latest 30-series mobile GPUs and Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake CPUs. 

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