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CES 2021: Asus launches convertible ROG Flow X13 gaming laptop with tiny eGPU

Asus ROG Flow X13
(Image credit: Future)

Asus never fails to impress, especially during CES. At CES 2021, the company is rolling out something truly extraordinary: the Asus ROG Flow X13, one of the first 2-in-1 gaming laptops. That in itself is some exciting news, but the X13 is bringing a friend. 

Bundled with the gaming laptop is the ROG XG Mobile, which is one of the smallest eGPUs I’ve ever seen. The pair are bundled together and available for pre-order for $2,999.

Asus ROG Flow X13

(Image credit: Future)

Asus ROG Flow X13

It bends and transforms and games? The Asus ROG Flow X13 is one of the first 2-in-1 gaming laptops on the market. I say one of the first because the Acer Nitro 5 Spin did happen. Nevertheless, the X13 is unlike anything I’ve seen starting with its design. 

The notebook’s black lid has a ridged textured surface that’s fun to touch. When the lights hit it just right, you can see subtle two-tone shading. A small metal strip with the Republic of Gamers logo adds a nice pop of flair. The notebook’s interior lacks the ridges of the exterior, but the black finish is still pretty fetching. 

Asus ROG Flow X13

(Image credit: Future)

Similar to other 2-in-1s, the X13 has a pair of 360-degree hinges that allow the laptop to transform from a clamshell to presentation mode to tablet and back. The laptop weighs 2.9 pounds and is only 0.6 inches thick. The Razer Blade Stealth 13 weighs 3.1 pounds and measures 12 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches. 

The notebook’s 13.3-inch touchscreen Corning Gorilla Glass panel is available at 1920 x 1080p resolution with a 120Hz or a 4K screen both with a 16:10 aspect ratio and Pantone color calibration. Other specs include a 4.8-GHz AMD Ryzen 9 5980HS processor, up to 16GB of RAM, a 1TB PCIe SSD and an Nvidia GeForce 1650 GPU. For ports, you get a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, a full HDMI 2.0b port, a headset jack and a power port. 

Asus estimates the X13’s battery life at 10 hours. However, most gaming laptops tend to fall significantly short of the mark, especially when gaming so we’ll have to see how the X13 stands up during testing. 

XG Mobile

Asus ROG Flow X13

(Image credit: Future)

So a GTX 1650 GPU isn’t really powerful enough to play games like Witcher 3 or Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. For demanding AAA titles, you’re going to need a lot more oomph. That’s where the XG Mobile eGPU comes in. Weighing a mere 2.2 pounds and measuring only 6.1 x 8.2 x 0.4 inches, the XG Mobile might be the smallest and lightest eGPU I’ve ever laid my eyes on. And this is despite its ability to house up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU in its enclosure. Seriously, you could stash this in your bag without any back strain.

Asus ROG Flow X13

(Image credit: Future)

When connected to the X13 via its proprietary port, the XG Mobile transforms what was once a moderately powerful ultraportable into a certified gaming beast. Once connected to the laptop, XG Mobile uses a custom PCIe 3.0 x8 interface that Asus says is faster than Thunderbolt 4. The custom interface dedicates 63Gbps of bandwidth for graphics for higher performance than competing enclosures.

And when it’s time to assemble the battlestation, the XG Mobile has you covered with a smorgasbord of ports including a DisplayPort, HDMI, four USB Type-A ports and a MicroSD card reader. 

Outlook

If you’ve ever felt like you’ve ever had to choose between power and portability as a gamer, the Asus ROG Flox X13 might be your new best friend. On its own, it isn’t the most potent rig on the market. On the contrary, it’s far from it. But combined with the XG Mobile eGPU and an Nvidia RTX 3000-series GPU, it can stand toe-to-toe with any of the big boys. 

And thanks to its 360-degree hinges, it offers a level of versatility that most gaming laptops can only imagine. However, the $2,999 price will leave many gamers on the outside looking in. Here’s hoping Asus can come up with a more cost-effective version down the road.