The Asus ROG Flow X16 is a versatile, impressive laptop with ample gaming power, a top-notch display and impressive keyboard and speaker quality. But you’ll get more performance from traditional laptops, connectivity could be better, and this notebook gets a bit too hot
- Impressive hybrid design
- Great gaming ability
- Bold, high-resolution screen
- Satisfying keyboard
- Faster, cheaper rivals available
- Hot, loud operation during games
- Missing connectivity features
- UKRRP: £2799
- USARRP: $2699
- EuropeRRP: €2998
- A hybrid design to go beyond the conventional form factorIt’s unusual for a gaming laptop to have a hybrid design, but it works well on the Asus ROG Flow X16 – it allows users to play games and watch movies in tent mode, or to use the unit as a big gaming tablet or reading device.
- A high-resolution displayThe 2560 x 1600 panel has a 16:10 aspect ratio, so you’ve got plenty of space for games in all situations – and its 165Hz refresh rate delivers decent smoothness in every mainstream gaming situation.
- An internal mix of Nvidia and AMDThe Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti is a great mainstream gaming processor, and the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS is a pretty fast CPU – but it’s outpaced by Intel’s more popular silicon.
Asus has long been one of the most innovative laptop companies around, and the Asus ROG Flow X16 continues that tradition because it’s a gaming laptop that’s also a 2-in-1 hybrid device.
This design is usually found on ultraportables, but it makes plenty of sense to bring it across to a larger, more powerful laptop. It turns this 16-inch gaming notebook into a media playback device and a tablet, and could make it more versatile than rivals like the Razer Blade 15 and Alienware x15 R2.
But at $2699 in the US, £2799 in the UK and $2999 in Europe, this laptop isn’t cheap, and for that kind of cash you could buy one of the more conventional Razer or Alienware laptops. Is this experimental form factor worth the investment, or will the Asus ROG Flow X16 fall behind its more conventional competition and fail to trouble our best gaming laptop chart?
Design and Keyboard
- A sleek, effective convertible chassis with good build quality
- Reasonable connectivity, but no Thunderbolt and no HDMI 2.1
- A comfortable and fast keyboard despite the poor RGB LEDs
The convertible mechanism on the Asus ROG Flow X16 is a superb and straightforward bit of design. The display swings through 180 degrees smoothly on robust hinges, and the hybrid chassis adds versatility. Pitch the Flow into a tented position and you can prop it up to watch movies or play games with a pad.
Move it all the way around and it’s a large tablet for touchscreen gaming, or use it in portrait mode and it’s great for reading or web browsing – as long as you can cope with the increased size when compared to the average iPad.
The Flow’s aluminium and magnesium alloy body exhibits exceptional build quality throughout. It looks good too, with a lined aesthetic that eschews RGB LEDs for an industrial feel.
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)
The dimensions are reasonable, although the Flow doesn’t always beat the competition. Positively, the Asus only weighs 2.1kg and it’s 19.4mm thick – so it’s lighter and slimmer than 17.3-inch competitors like the Alienware x17 R2 and Razer Blade 17. Negatively, though, the Alienware x15 and Razer Blade 15 are both slimmer, and the Razer is a little lighter too.
The Flow X16 is a bit inconsistent when it comes to connectivity, too. This laptop does have pairs of full-size USB 3.2 Gen 2 and Type-C ports, with the latter handling DisplayPort and power delivery, and it’s got a microSD card reader. On the inside, you’ll find dual-band Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2, and audio comes from a quartet of speakers that produce decent bass and a crisp, clear mid-range – they’re easily good enough for gaming.
You don’t get wired internet, though, and the laptop’s HDMI 2.0b output doesn’t offer the same bandwidth as HDMI 2.1 connections. Its webcam has Windows Hello, but there’s no fingerprint reader.
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)
Unusually, the Flow x16 hides its second USB-C port inside the connector for the Asus XG Mobile external graphics dock, but Asus doesn’t sell the XG Mobile dock separately in many markets – and there isn’t a version available that outstrips the laptop’s RTX 3070 Ti GPU. It’s totally redundant.
Every competitor has HDMI 2.1 and faster Thunderbolt 4 ports – you don’t get the latter on the Asus. The Razer rigs have more full-size USB sockets and full-size SD card slots.
It’s a mixed keyboard, too. The buttons have 1.7mm of travel and it’s a satisfying, consistent unit that makes long gaming sessions feel good – but there’s no number pad and it’s only got unsophisticated single-zone RGB LED lighting. The trackpad is decent thanks to clicky buttons, but any keen gamer should attach a USB mouse.
If you really care about keyboard quality, you could buy an Alienware x17 R2 with a CherryMX mechanical unit, but it’ll cost you $3099/£2679/€3398, so in most markets it’ll cost extra.
- A large, high-resolution display with 16:10 aspect ratio
- Great quality for indoor and outdoor use
- Not available with the breadth of options you’ll find elsewhere
Unsurprisingly, the screen has a great specification – it’s arguably the most important component on a hybrid. The 16:10 aspect ratio and 2560 x 1600 resolution deliver a crisp, absorbing gaming experience with more vertical space than any rival – and the extra height makes it easier to read web pages and documents and provides additional width in portrait mode.
The touchscreen has a Gorilla Glass coating, and its 165Hz refresh rate comes with AMD FreeSync Premium Pro and a 3ms response time. Those latter specifications ensure smooth motion in single-player games and mainstream eSports situations.
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)
Asus says this screen hits a 500-nit brightness level, and it went beyond that in benchmarks with a 543-nit peak. That’s high enough for indoor and outdoor use and it means that the Flow’s screen delivers impressive vibrancy in bright colours. The black point of 0.5 nits is reasonable, and the resulting contrast ratio of 1086:1 ensures good depth.
Rivals are slightly better, with increased depth in darker areas, but that won’t hinder gaming in any serious way.
The Flow produced all of the sRGB and DCI-P3 gamuts with a solid Delta E of 3.06, so you’ve got enough accuracy and breadth for any game. But while games and films look great on this screen, you’ll still get improved accuracy from Razer’s panels – they’re better for colour-sensitive workloads.
Alienware and Razer’s 2560 x 1440 screens lose vertical space but have 240Hz refresh rates, which are better for eSports. Razer also makes its 15-inch and 17.3-inch notebooks available with 360Hz screens, and the Alienware x17 R2 is sold with 480Hz and 4K display options. And, as always, 17.3-inch screens are even more absorbing than the Flow’s 16-inch panel – albeit in far larger laptops.
- Great mainstream gaming power from the RTX 3070 Ti
- The AMD processor is good, but Intel’s equivalent chips are better
- The Flow is sometimes too hot to