Asus ROG Flow X16 review: A nice gaming laptop for a niche … –

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Asus ROG Flow laptops combine generally good gaming performance with convertability. The Asus ROG Flow X16 continues that trend with a 16 inch Mini LED display. The screen is great, and it’s a fun machine to get your game on with, but I am left wondering how many gamers really need a big and heavy tablet device.
Image: Alex Kidman/Finder
Like the Asus ROG Flow X13, the Asus ROG Flow X16 sells itself on its flexibility, with a full 360 degree hinge that makes it capable of working as standard laptop, as a full tablet, or in that weird haflway “tent” mode if you really must.
The difference point here is that it’s equipped with a full 16 inch display with minimal bezels, which means it makes for a very large Windows tablet when fully flipped around. At 2.1kg it’s also a very heavy tablet, not likely to displace your Surface Pro 9 any time soon. Though if you slip the wrong way, it might just displace your wrists.
The Asus ROG Flow X16 features a 16 inch 165Hz capable QHD+ (2560×1600) Mini LED display with a claimed 100% DCI-P3 coverage. It’s very bright, and it’s very nice indeed whether you’re using it for a little Netflix binge or blasting away at your foes in your free time. Or, if you’re lucky enough to convince your boss to buy you one, peering over endless Excel spreadsheets, although that’s much less fun.
Because it is part of Asus’ Republic Of Gaming (ROG) line, the keyboard has RGB backlighting that by default pulses through its colour cycles, though you can configure this however you favour. Key response is decent and on the quieter side for a gaming laptop. That’s great for in-office use, maybe less so if you did want to intimidate your foes with your frantic keystrokes.
Image: Alex Kidman/Finder
In terms of connectivity, it’s Wi-Fi 6E capable, but lacks any form of direct ethernet connectivity. On the sides you’ll find a combo 3.5mm headphone/mic jack, HDMI 2.1, Dual USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB-A ports, a single USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB-C port and Asus’ own ROG XG Mobile interface socket hidden under a rubber flap.
One oddity here is that the Asus ROG Flow X16’s power button is positively tiny, tucked away at the front right hand side. If you’re used to big brash glowing power buttons as you find on so many other gaming laptops, you won’t find it here.
Image: Alex Kidman/Finder
Like so many of its laptops, the Asus ROG Flow X16 isn’t just one laptop with one single configuration. Depending on where you get it from, and it seems where on the planet you are, there’s a dizzying array of configuration options.
The model that Asus provided me for review in Australia was running on an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS CPU with 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and an integrated 8GB NVIDIA Geforce RTX 3070Ti GPU. There are other configurations, however, so check carefully when buying to ensure that you’re getting what you expect for your money.
Like a number of its other gaming laptops, the Asus ROG Flow X16 also supports the company’s XG Mobile eGPU via a specific side slot.
That will add a lot of bulk to the laptop if you’re taking it with you, as well as depleting your wallet by quite a lot when you buy it. Asus didn’t provide me with an XG Mobile to test with the Asus ROG Flow X16, so all my benchmark results are just for the basic model in a standalone configuration.
The whole idea of a convertible laptop like the Asus ROG Flow X16 is that it should be equally adept at crunching numbers from your desk at work as well as crunching foes in your own time. Comparatively, the Asus ROG Flow X16 does this quite well. Here’s how it compares against a range of gaming-specific laptops:
It’s not quite up there with the best we’ve tested, but for most games at all but the highest settings it’ll get the job done. Again, if you wanted to boost the Asus ROG Flow X16’s performance, you could opt to pair it to one of Asus’ XG Mobile eGPUs as well.
Most gaming laptops are frankly overpowered when it comes to everyday PC work, and I had few issues with the Asus ROG Flow X16 in this respect. When it came to gaming, it was also a nice unit to work with, thanks to both its excellent display and general gaming performance.
To put that in perspective, here’s how it compares using Forza Horizon 5’s inbuilt benchmarking tool:
Forza Horizon 5 basically strives just for 60fps, so the Asus ROG Flow X16 is well equipped to handle that without issue.
Testing more anecdotally across a range of games I had no real problems with visual output or response in-game, though I did note that the Asus ROG Flow X16’s fans tended to kick in a little more noisily than I’d like under heavy strain. It’s undeniably better for your pricey gaming laptop not to cook itself, of course.
Image: Alex Kidman/Finder
The Asus ROG Flow X16 is a thin and light model, and you just can’t do that while packing in loads of battery capacity – or at least, not until somebody invents a completely new battery technology, anyway.
The Asus ROG Flow X16 features a 90whr battery packed into its frame, although Asus doesn’t specify any expected battery life figures from it. Given that every vendor qualifies that with an “up to” tag anyway, that’s perhaps no loss.
To give an indicative idea of battery life performance, I ran the Asus ROG Flow X16 through PC Mark’s more challenging gaming battery test, as well as Finder’s own video rundown test, a much more gentle test. Here’s how the Asus ROG Flow X16 compared against a range of gaming laptops:
For standalone gaming the Asus ROG Flow X16 isn’t that impressive, only just scraping in over an hour’s performance without its included charger plugged in. However, for more everyday functions, it’s one of the better performers in its class, with an easy route to all-day productivity-based battery life.
While all of this is variable depending on the games you play and the apps you use, it does point to a system that should have generally good battery life for most purposes. Just don’t forget to pack the charger if you’re planning on a heavy gaming session, OK?
The Asus ROG Flow X16 is a good gaming laptop within its space, but it’s also one that sits in a curious niche. I can’t fault its general gaming power for the price, but I also wonder how many gamers need a very large tablet-capable device like this.
There’s definitely appeal in a 16 inch gaming laptop, as proven by the sheer number you can buy.
However, this particular one only really makes sense if you figure you will use it in tablet or tent mode some of the time, because other bigger units can often outpace it in performance terms or battery life when gaming.
The Asus ROG Flow X16 retails in Australia with pricing at around $2899
Asus loaned me the Asus ROG Flow X16 for the purposes of review. I tested it with multiple industry standard benchmarks, as well as Finder’s own test suite. As a gaming laptop I also tested it with a range of PC gaming applications to see how well it stood up. I can’t claim to be an elite gamer, but I can claim to have a wide range of PC gaming expertise, having written about the field since 1998.
As a product reviewer I’ve got more than 20 years of experience covering the consumer tech space. I’m a multi-time Australian IT Journo award winner, including winner of the 2022 Best Reviewer award.
A multi-award winning journalist, Alex has written about consumer technology for over 20 years. He has written and edited for virtually every Australian tech publication including Gizmodo, CNET, PC Magazine, Kotaku and more. He has also been the Editor of Gizmodo Australia, PC Mag Australia, and the Tech and Telco section at Finder. Alex has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New England and a serious passion for retro gaming.
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