ASUS ROG Flow X13 takes the fight to the Razer Blade Stealth
ASUS hits CES 2021 with the first real competitor to the Razer Blade Stealth, and it looks sensational.
What you need to know
- The ROG Flow X13 is ASUS' first gaming Ultrabook.
- Powered by AMD Ryzen 5000 processors and NVIDIA GTX 1650 graphics.
- XG Mobile external GPU has an RTX 3080 inside and a direct PCIe 3.0 connection to the CPU.
CES 2021 may well be a different type of event to past years but the big hitters are still heading to the virtual Vegas streets with some incredible new hardware. One of ASUS' standout new laptops is this, the ROG Flow X13, which is an Ultrabook built for gaming.
It's also, finally, some true competition for the Razer Blade Stealth in the "gaming Ultrabook" category. One that now has two members, at least.
So, why is it so impressive? Let's examine some specs, first.
|Category||ASUS ROG Flow X13|
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
Windows 10 Pro
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 7 5800HS|
AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS
AMD Ryzen 9 5980HS
|RAM||Up to 32GB LPDDR4x-4266MHz|
|Graphics||NVIDIA GTX 1650|
|Storage||Up to 1TB M.2 PCIe Gen3x4 SSD|
16:10 aspect ratio
|Ports||ROG XG Mobile interface|
Two USB-C 3.2
|Dimensions||11.77 x 8.74 x 0.62 inches|
(299mm x 222mm x 15.8mm)
|Weight||2.9 pounds (1.32kg)|
In short, the fact the Flow X13 is a 13-inch, thin and light laptop with an 8-core Ryzen 9 and NVIDIA GTX 1650 inside is remarkable. Where Razer's competing product goes with Intel, ASUS has used its partnership with AMD to squeeze the latest and greatest Ryzen Mobile chips into the Flow X13. Later in 2021 ASUS will release a special edition, the Supernova, with AMD's Ryzen 9 5980HS which clocks up to 4.8GHz on a single core.
The HS chips ASUS is using in the Flow X13 normally operate with a 35W TDP, but this can increase to 54W as required and when both power and thermal headroom allows.
Ryzen 5000 alone is enough to stand up and take notice, but everything else inside this laptop is pretty remarkable. You get a choice of either high resolution or high refresh rate displays, Up to 32GB of high-speed DDR4 RAM and up to 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. This thing is fast.
The GTX 1650 inside is pretty phenomenal on its own for something this size, but the party piece is its companion, the ROG XG Mobile. Whereas Intel-powered laptops usually rely on Thunderbolt 3 to hook up an external GPU, ASUS has decided to get a little more creative with its Ryzen system.
The ROG XG Mobile is a highly portable eGPU designed to expand the capabilities of the Flow X13. And expand, it does, with an NVIDIA RTX 3080 crammed inside along with a bunch of connectivity that turns this sleek laptop into a full desktop system.
|Category||ASUS ROG XG Mobile|
|Graphics||NVIDIA RTX 3080|
|Connection||ROG XG Mobile interface|
|Ports||Four USB-A 3.2|
SD card reader
|Dimensions||8.19 x 6.1 x 1.17 inches|
(208mm x 155mm x 29.6mm)
|Weight||2.2 pounds (0.99kg)|
Without using Thunderbolt, ASUS has crafted a solution that provides a custom PCIe 3.0 x8 interface that hooks the XG Mobile directly into the CPU. Better yet, ASUS says it's actually faster than Thunderbolt 4. Yowzers.
The GPU is clocked at 1810MHz with a 150W TDP, and the internal 280W power supply on the XG Mobile is also capable of keeping the laptop powered, so you only ever need one wall outlet. It's not even that big, either, weighing only 2.2lbs and occupying a laptop footprint. It truly is a portable eGPU.
Availability wise, there's still much we don't know. Right now ASUS is only saying that the Flow X13 should be available in North America from Q1 2021, with nothing concrete on the XG Mobile at this time. Pricing is still to be announced.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine