Asus is making its first convertible gaming 2-in-1, with an eGPU-shaped twist. At CES 2021 today, the company announced the ROG Flow X13, a slim gaming notebook also designed for creative use. But the big surprise is the XG Mobile external GPU that is also a charger, with a proprietary connector to squeeze as much performance as possible from Nvidia's RTX 30-series mobile GPUs. It will release in Q1 of this year but pricing of both the X13 and XG Mobile dock (an optional accessory) were not immediately available.
Asus ROG Flow X13 Specs
|Up to AMD Ryzen 9 5980HS
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 (internal), Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 (XG Mobile)
|Up to 32GB LPDDR4x-4266
|512GB or 1TB M.2 2230 PCIe SSD
|13.4-inch, 16:10 IPS touchscreen, either FHD at 120 Hz or 4K at 60 Hz
|Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
|11.8 x 8.78 x 0.59 inches
|Flow X13: 2.87 pounds; XG Mobile: 2.2 pounds
The laptop on its own is 0.59 inches thick and weighs 2.87 pounds, with options for either a 1080p resolution with a 120 Hz refresh rate or a 4K screen at 60 Hz. Either way, it's a touch display, (which makes sense for a 2-in-1 with tablet and tent modes), in the 16:10 aspect ratio.
The system is powered by AMD's latest Ryzen processors, with up to 32GB of LPDDR4x RAM at 4,266MHZ and up to 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. For when you're away from the dock, there's an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650.
Asus XG Mobile eGPU
For enthusiasts, the interest will lie with the introduction of the XG Mobile eGPU, a 2.2-pound combination external graphics card, dock and power brick with up to a mobile RTX 3080. It adds extra USB ports, an Ethernet jack and display outputs (allowing for up to four monitors in total between the devices) and is also a 280W power adapter.
All of that connects to the laptop with the XG Mobile interface, a custom solution that, at the moment, only works with the Flow X13. Asus claims the connection, which uses over 67 wires in the cable, reaches PCIe 3.0 speeds of 63 Gbps, faster than Thunderbolt 4 eGPUs. That should mean better performance than a standard eGPU, though this is a mobile graphics card, and you can't swap it out.
On the laptop, Asus claims that custom cooling will provide drops of 7 degrees Celsius on the CPU and 8 degrees Celsius on the GPU, though this machine has different parts and a new chassis that wasn't available in last year's products.
The questions about this device, without an attempt to try it ourselves, are many. How many people will splurge on both the 2-in-1 laptop and the additional XG Mobile? How much better will the XG Mobile truly be over an eGPU? Is there an appetite for a mobile eGPU?
Many of these questions we hope to answer soon, once we have the chance to test the Flow 13, along with the XG Mobile, ourselves.
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Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon @FreedmanAE.mastodon.social.
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