The new 13-inch gaming PC converts between a laptop and tablet via a 360-degree hinge and gets a performance boost from an external GPU.
Gamers looking for desktop-class power in a mobile machine may be intrigued by a new gaming laptop that can connect to an external graphics processing unit.
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Announced by Asus Republic of Gamers (ROG) at CES 2021 on Tuesday, the new 13-inch Flow X13 convertible laptop is packed with an 8-core AMD Ryzen 9 5980HS processor and a dedicated GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. Buyers can choose from two 16:10 display options—a 120 Hz FHD screen and an ultra HD 4K screen. As a convertible, the Flow X13 is constructed with a 360-hinge that lets it bounce between laptop mode and tablet mode.
To supplement the new laptop, ROG is also introducing an external GPU dubbed the XG Mobile. Outfitted with a GeForce RTX 3080 processor, the XG Mobile connects directly to the Flow X13 through a custom PCIe 3.0 interface. A 280W AC adapter built into the XG Mobile supplies both the laptop and the external GPU with power.
ROG Flow X13
Designed to be thin and light, the Flow X13 is 15.8mm (0.62 inches) thin and weighs 2.9 pounds. With the 360-degree hinge, you can use the X13 as a regular laptop for hardcore gaming or as a tablet for more mobile games. Plus, the hinge allows for stand mode and tent mode, both of which offer less obstructed access to the cooling fans to reduce the unit’s temperature.
The touchscreen itself is covered by Corning Gorilla Glass to resist scratches. The X13 sports a textured exterior to provide a more secure grip when being carried. An integrated one-touch login wakes up the unit relatively quickly.
The laptop is charged by a lightweight 100W USB Type-C AC adapter that measures just 75mm x 75mm x 28.8mm (2.9 inches by 2.9 inches by 1.1 inches) and weighs only 10.6 oz, which is smaller and lighter than the power bricks typically needed for gaming laptops. The battery can help squeeze out 10 hours of video playback on a single charge and be replenished from 0% to 50% in 30 minutes, ROG said.
For power, buyers can go as high as AMD’s Ryzen 9 5980HS mobile processor with 8 cores and 16 threads. The Ryzen 5000 series comes with a “Zen 3” architecture that benefits from a large on-chip cache of up to 20 MB. The HS designation in the name signifies that the CPU has a 35W power envelope optimized for a thin chassis but can be scaled up to 54W when feasible.
A special Flow X13 Supernova Edition will launch later in 2021 with a Ryzen 9 5980HS CPU that can rev up to 4.8 GHz on a single core, ROG added.
The Flow X13 is outfitted with a GeForce GTX 1650 GPU that can hit clock speeds up to 1255 MHz at 35W in Turbo mode with ROG Boost.
For memory, buyers can go as high as 16GB. The Flow X13 incorporates LPDDR4X-4266 RAM, which uses 50% less power and generates less heat than the usual DDR4 memory. A PCIe SSD offers up to 1TB of capacity. On the display front, users can work with the standard 120 Hz FHD panel for smooth gameplay, while an optional 4K Ultra HD display packed with more pixels is better suited for artistic work, ROG said.
The X13 provides virtual 5.1.2-channel surround sound powered by Dolby Atmos. And for times when you want to chat with friends or fellow gamers, a two-way AI noise cancellation mode removes unwanted sounds from both the input and output, according to ROG.
Finally, the Flow X13’s edge-to-edge keyboard offers a full-sized, desktop style layout. When the unit is opened, a hinge raises the back of the keyboard for a better typing angle. The keys themselves feature curved caps and a 1.7 mm travel distance for more comfortable typing.
ROG XG Mobile
Designed to offer a performance gaming boost to the X13, the XG Mobile is around 6% of the size of a typical external GPU, weighing around 2.2 pounds and measuring 155mm by 208mm by 29mm (6.1 inches by 8.1 inches by 1.1 inches).
The XG Mobile connects to the X13 via a custom PCIe 3.0 x8 interface considered faster than Thunderbolt 4, according to ROG. This interface kicks in 63Gbps of bandwidth just for the graphics. A separate USB 3.2 Gen 2 connection adds 10Gbps for input/output. The XG Mobile includes a multiport hub with four USB Type A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a full-sized SD card slot, and a Gigabit Ethernet port.
The XG Mobile can be outfitted with a GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, which is based on the new NVIDIA Ampere architecture. The vapor chamber cooling keeps the unit at the right temperatures despite its small interior.
Pricing and availability
The X13 and XG Mobile will be sold only together as a bundle. The XG Mobile is designed to be paired with just the Flow X13, according to ROG. The bundle will be available in North America starting in the first quarter of 2021.