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ROG Flow X16 already looks like contender for best new gaming laptop

Asus has announced the ROG Flow X16, a new laptop in its 2-in-1 gaming line with a focus on ultra-portable PCs. The Flow X16 shares a lot in common with the Flow X13, only stretched out to the larger 16-inch form factor.

It’s still a convertible 2-in-1 using a 360-degree hinge and a touchscreen to be used as a tablet.

The ROG Flow Z16 with its lid open.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Of course, being a 16-inch gaming laptop, it’s not as much a standout as the ROG Flow X13 was in terms of its size. The Flow X13 was an engineering wonder just based on its size alone. Who has ever heard of a 13-inch gaming laptop that weighed under three pounds?

The Flow X16, on the other hand, weighs 4.4 pounds and is 0.76 inches thick. That’s small, but it’s no thinner than popular laptops like the Razer Blade 15 or MSI GS66 Stealth. It’s actually even heavier than Asus’ own ROG Zephyrus M16, strangely enough.

Still, the Flow X16 brings its unique 2-in-1 approach to the gaming laptop space, now in a bigger screen size. It’s not just a larger display, either — it’s a better one, too. It has a mini-LED panel with 512 dimming zones — not the kind of screen you typically see on your average gaming laptop. Asus says the display goes up to 1,100 nits in HDR, meaning it’s been certified for DisplayHDR 1000.

Again, that’s basically unheard of in the gaming laptop world outside of Asus’ ROG Nebula Display technology, which debuted in the ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 earlier this year.

Of course, the QHD screen also has a high 165Hz refresh rate with a 3ms response time for some ultra-smooth gaming. It’s not as fast as the Razer Blade’s 240Hz QHD OLED screen, of course, but it’s certainly an upgrade over the 120Hz screen on the ROG Flow Z13 or the 60Hz screen on the Flow X13.

Someone watching a video on a Flow Z16 laptop.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

But let’s be real — the real advantage to having a larger version of the X13 is performance. Both the Z13 and X13 were limited to an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti, and the extra space afforded by this larger chassis allows for a much more powerful GPU. Asus didn’t mention all the configurations that would be offered, but the top option is an RTX 3070 Ti, which has a max TGP (total graphics power) of 100 watts.

Unfortunately, the Flow X16 features only a 35-watt processor, the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS. These are the latest 8-core chips from AMD using the Zen 3+ architecture with a base clock speed of 3.3GHz and support for DDR5 memory. The difference in gaming won’t be too noticeable, but you might see slower performance in certain creative applications than if it had a 45-watt processor such as the Ryzen 9 6900HX.

Asus has some new tricks up its sleeve to keep this thing cool, too. A larger, heatsink covers many of the internal components to absorb heat, while the inclusion of a third fan keeps hot air moving toward vents located along the chassis.

Configurations are offered with up to 2TB of SSD storage and 64GB of DDR5 4800MHz memory.

Someone playing the ROG Flow Z16 with accessories nearby.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The ROG Flow X16 has a typical arrangement of ports for a gaming laptop, including one USB-C 4.0 port, two USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports, one microSD card slot, HDMI 2.1, and a headphone jack. Lastly, the Flow X16 supports the proprietary XG Mobile port as well, which provides an additional USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port and connection to the XG Mobile external GPU. It makes less sense here than on the less powerful Flow laptops, but it’s still available if you already own one.

Other features not commonly found on gaming laptops include a 1080p webcam, a Windows Hello IR camera, and a quad-speaker setup. Too often, even premium gaming laptops leave out these important quality-of-life updates that non-gaming laptops enjoy.

The Flow X16 will be “available soon,” according to Asus, starting at $1,950. Of course, if you want the more powerful options, prices will range up from there.

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Luke Larsen
Senior Editor, Computing
Luke Larsen is the Senior editor of computing, managing all content covering laptops, monitors, PC hardware, Macs, and more.
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