This 2-in-1 gaming laptop is built for work and play.
I've reviewed my fair share of ASUS ROG laptops as of late, and if one thing has remained consistent among each device, it's their high quality and ability to play video games incredibly well. With that being the case, it should come as no surprise to hear that the latest laptop on my docket, the ROG Flow X16, also hits the mark when it comes to being a very good gaming laptop, even if it does have unique features and design points that turn it into more than simply a piece of hardware to game with.
But before I dive into the various features that the Flow X16 brings to the table, let's talk tech. This review unit is a bit of a beast, as it comes with an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS processor, as well as an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti graphics card, and 32GB of DDR5 RAM clocked at 4800MHz. All of this makes for a computer that can run the most demanding of games on the highest graphical settings and still deliver on frame rates over 70. Forza Horizon 5 for example, clocked in at 72fps on average on Extreme settings, and even went as high as 82 average fps when the cooling solution was set to Turbo. It should be known that this is when connected to the mains, as the frame rate gets chopped in half when running solely on battery power.
This all works very well, as the display is a QHD panel, which means you get 2K graphics (1440p), which even supports HDR for extra vibrant and colour ranges. But as the Flow X16 also has a display that runs up to 165Hz, the option to lower graphical settings for better performance is there, and this also works like a dream for the system.
The really unique part about this device and its display however is that it is also a touchscreen, which is attached via a full 360-degree hinge. This essentially means that you can go from having a standard laptop to having a tablet by simply pushing the display all the way around. And the touchscreen nature of the display is also incredibly well done, and is responsive and fast, and even works with certain games (you can play the entirety of As Dusk Falls without ever touching the keyboard or hooking up a controller). This is a bit of a stark contrast to the touchscreen that the ROG Zephyrus Duo offered up, as that device's touchscreen came across as more of a niche and gimmicky feature. The Flow X16 on the other hand is more akin to a jacked up, gamer-version of a 2-in-1 laptop, and even though it's quite big and bulky when compared to regular tablets, it works rather well.
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As has also been consistent in other ASUS ROG laptops, the Flow X16 has a pretty impressive cooling solution. By having a triple fan module, the Pulsar heatsink, Frost Force Technology and Ambient Cooling Technology means that the laptop remains at a fairly low temperature even when under stress. And because the largest exhaust vents are on the right side and the back of the Flow X16's body, the heat dissipation never starts feeling uncomfortable when resting the laptop on your legs. It's not always the quietest of devices when gaming, in fact when you switch the cooling to Turbo it's actually rather loud, but this works vice-versa, meaning when not under stress (i.e. when using it for web browsing, streaming videos, or word processing) the Flow X16 is almost inaudible, even more so when the cooling is set to Silent.
On the topic of audio, the Flow X16 comes with a quad speaker system and Dolby Atmos support, which all combine for great audio clarity when playing without headphones connected. In fact, this system itself does a lot to counter any noise the laptop produces, as the speaker system is potent enough to drown the humming of the fans out on most occasions.
It should also be noted that the Flow X16 has a rather broad array of connectivity options. You get a HDMI port, as well as two Type-A USBs, one Type-C USB, a 3.5mm audio jack, an SD card slot, and an ROG XG mobile interface port to give the PC a bit of extra oomph if you're interested in that and have the correct supporting hardware. And this is all on a body that is generally speaking rather thin and quite light for gaming laptop standards. There is a noticeable lack when it comes to an ethernet port, and likewise all of this technology puts a lot of strain on the 90Wh battery, meaning you won't really get much gaming time if you intend to play without a plugged in power source, but still this system is not to be sneered at if you're looking for a device that has a great balance between productivity and playtime options.
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And that about sums up my experience with the ROG Flow X16. While the majority of the ROG line-up I have tested has impressed me, this one does so in a way that the others haven't, because it really does feel like ASUS has nailed it when it comes to having a good balance between hardware and productive features. From a purely technological standpoint, it's hard to knock this laptop, and it's also very easy on the eyes, with a great colour palette of silvers and blacks giving it a premium appearance. That being said (and this has been the case with a lot of ASUS ROG's line-up), this device is not cheap, and it will cost you an arm and a leg, but if you have the cash and are looking for a truly premium, and fairly future-proofed system, you can't go wrong with the Flow X16.