ASUS ExpertBook B9

Early last year, I got my hands on the ROG Flow X13. That was – and still is – one of my favorite laptops ever. It’s compact and has a convertible form factor yet comes with powerful specs so that I can play high-end games on it at a high refresh rate on its 13-inch screen.

So, ROG decided to take that laptop and make it bigger. Introducing, the ROG Flow X16. Of course, it does come with a few upgrades other than the size and I have shortlisted a total of 5 reasons why this is my new favorite laptop – and also one reason it is not.

Acer Nitro 5

Let’s begin.

#1 Screen

We’ll start off with the obvious – the screen. Of course, it has been upgraded to a larger 16-inch screen, hence the name Flow X16. This larger screen also got more pixels as it has 2560×1600 pixels in resolution and has 165Hz refresh rate – but the 3ms response time is by enabling the panel overdrive in the Armoury Crate software.

ROG Flow X16 review

And while we’re here, we need to talk about the “backlight control” option. No, it’s not for the RGB keyboard but it’s actually to control the backlight of the screen. We can select either one-zone or multi-zone. I advise you to just use it in one-zone mode since turning on HDR will automatically switch to multi-zone backlight and also achieves higher display brightness.

ROG Flow X16 review

This option is because earlier this year, ROG also announced that they will have their own standards and classifications of laptop displays. It’s called Nebula and there are a few sub-classes within the Nebula umbrella – and this Flow X16 has the Mini LED Nebula HDR display.

ROG Flow X16 review

I was an idiot since I enabled HDR mode when my room was pitch black and I was blinded by the brightness of this mini LED backlight. Our colorimeter reported that it 1084 nits of brightness – which is only 16 nits shy of what ROG claims to be this laptop’s peak brightness. That is truly impressive!

Then, I turned off HDR and the maximum brightness is at about 500 nits. After that, I lowered the brightness even further to 100 nits only to proceed with our color accuracy test. And this display reports virtually 100% coverage on both sRGB and DCI-P3 color gamuts.

ROG Flow X16 review

I’ll have to give ROG 4 thumbs up for this amazing display – if I have 4 hands, that is.

#2 Performance

Our unit of the Flow X16 comes with this list of specs:

  • AMD Ryzen 7 6800HS
  • NVIDIA RTX 3070 Ti Laptop GPU
  • 16GB DDR5 RAM at 4800MHz
  • 1TB PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD

I have to say, the performance of this laptop is amazing. Best of all, I tried out a lot of games on this laptop and it performed amazingly well. It didn’t push 165Hz all the time – but it still provides a really smooth gaming experience and that is thanks to the inclusion of FreeSync Premium Pro on our particular version.

ROG Flow X16 review

I played GTA V, Halo Infinite, and everything was at the highest graphical settings.

ROG Flow X16 review

Control, on the other hand, did struggle. At first, I turned everything to the highest – including ray-tracing, but disabled DLSS. The performance obviously is not going to be good but I still got at least about 30fps. I can either turn the other graphical quality a bit lower or just enable DLSS to get higher frame rates.

ROG Flow X16 review

The GPU ran at around 125W maximum and I think that’s pretty impressive.

Granted, in the Armoury Crate menu, I was using it in the “standard” GPU mode. This GPU mode setting is technically the MUX and NVIDIA Optimus switch but they do offer a few governors for us to choose from. I personally just use it in “standard” since I want the balance between performance for some of my apps and games and also battery life. I don’t want to keep restarting to change modes.

ROG Flow X16 review

#3 Thermals

Ah, the thermals. The temperature is kept below 80° Celsius on both the CPU and GPU. I guess that is thanks to the triple fan setup that the Flow X16 has. If we are to take apart the bottom panel, we can see the usual two big fans at the corners, and one more smaller fan in the middle part.

ROG Flow X16 review

I think ROG did a fantastic job here and it is necessary since this laptop is so thin (relatively speaking) and this is the most effective way to cool the laptop.

ROG Flow X16 review

Surprisingly, it didn’t burn me when I used this laptop on my lap.

#4 Upgradability

And since we got the back panel opened, what about its upgradability? I have to say, this is the best laptop motherboard I’ve seen so far. Remember, this is a relatively thin laptop with lots of powerful components and triple fans alongside a bunch of heatpipes.

ROG Flow X16 review

But, we still have double M.2 2280 SSD slots. One of them is taken by the included SSD, of course- but the other one is left empty for us to do whatever we want. Both the DDR5 SO-DIMM slots are also easily accessible. If you think 16GB of RAM is not enough, then yank it out and upgrade to 32GB or even 64GB.

ROG Flow X16 review ROG Flow X16 review

Those fans can also be easily accessed and cleaned – and that is just amazing.

#5 Ports

One complaint I had on the ROG Flow X13 was the ports. I mean, I kinda get it since the X13 is small so the amount of space available for ports is also less. And I’m glad that ROG took advantage of the space available on the X16. The USB-A port position is still unfortunate but hey – we have two of them now.

ROG Flow X16 review

We also have two USB-C ports on this laptop but one of them is covered by a rubber flap since it is technically a part of the XG Mobile connector. Honestly, I suggest you keep the rubber flap back in the box so you can use both USB-C ports.

ROG Flow X16 review

Also, for our specific variant of the Flow X16 with the RTX 3070 Ti Laptop GPU, I think it doesn’t make sense to buy the XG Mobile. The highest spec XG Mobile comes with the RTX 3080 Laptop GPU and the performance difference is just not justifiable. You could use the XG Mobile as an expensive dongle for external display and USB hubs but that introduces a slew of other issues in terms of user experience. Check out our video here to know more about the XG Mobile.

Other miscellaneous things to mention

The battery included in the ROG Flow X16 is a massive 90Wh battery and for my use case of heavy Chrome web browsing with Spotify music streaming and a few YouTube videos, it lasts for about 5-6 hours at SDR color mode, 65% brightness, and at silent power profile.

ROG Flow X16 review

Of course, still convertible and carried over the iconic design from the X13 – and we still have a webcam. That last point deserves some emphasis as many ROG laptops in the past does not have a webcam.

ROG Flow X16 review

The biggest caveat

Okay, so what’s the catch? It’s a big one – and it’s not a fish. It’s the size and weight.

Okay, the size is obviously a double-edged sword. Some people liked the Flow X13 but wanted a bigger version – so the X16 is perfect. However, I think most of us didn’t expect the extra heft. The Flow X16 weighs 2.1kg, which is a huge increment over the 1.3kg of the Flow X13.

ROG Flow X16 review

Combined with the even larger 200W power brick, the total weight of the Flow X16 is nothing to scoff at.

ROG Flow X16 review

Should you buy the ROG Flow X16?

I think the Flow X16 is a very unique laptop. I absolutely love this laptop – way more than the Flow Z13 that my colleague reviewed over at Tech Critter. It doesn’t need a kickstand to be used as a laptop and I don’t need to constantly attach and detach the keyboard if I want to bring it around. The Flow X16 can become a tablet by just flipping it around. It also comes with a stylus in the box too, by the way. And I think that the price of RM11,999 is actually justifiable.

ROG Flow X16 review

Out of the two variants, which one is recommended?

There is another cheaper version of the Flow X16 at just RM9,499 but I think it has two drastic downgrades that make its price unjustifiable. First, you don’t get the mini LED backlighting. Secondly, it’s only powered by the RTX 3060.

ROG Flow X16 review

So, I think paying RM11,999 for a higher-end version is actually worth the price.

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