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2022 Flow x13, xG Mobile: We hope ASUS hears us

Level 7
So the primary use case of the XG Mobile is that you use the x13 on the go or maybe on your bed, and then you dock into the XG Mobile for an enhanced GFX experience, or so we hoped at least, I share with you the below reddit, and the source URL, please also check all the comments on the original Reddit describing their similar experiences.
What I hope to accomplish by this thread is that ASUS notices the major flows in the ASUS Flow x13+XG Mobile combos, which I am sure ASUS can fix and produce a newer model which gives us a truly worthy experience.

I’ve seen some people on here talking about their experiences with the ROG Flow X13 but I’ve yet to see anyone talk about using it with the XG Mobile. I thought I’d share a little bit about my experience using the XG Mobile as a dock over the last ~10 days in case it’s useful to others considering purchasing it. Briefly put: it's a bit more painful than I was hoping it would be.

I should probably preface this by saying: I suspect my use case is a less common one. The reason I got this laptop/eGPU was because I wanted one computer I could do everything on: write software for work, edit photos as a hobby, and play video games in my free time. The XG mobile in particular appealed to me because it seemed like I could use it like I might a thunderbolt dock. I could leave it on my desk, connected up to my monitors/keyboard/mouse/ethernet cable, and plug my laptop into all that with a single cable when I sat down at my desk. I didn’t plan on bringing it around with me on the road much to use strictly as an eGPU.

What I’m finding is that it is not nearly as seamless as a thunderbolt dock. Connecting it up actually requires a few steps. Once the cable is plugged into the laptop and locked in place, a prompt comes up on the screen of the laptop asking you if you want to connect the XG Mobile. If you hit OK, it then pops up a list of programs that are actively using the GPU and need to be “stopped” before the GPU switch can happen. Invariably, this list includes literally every running program (even the Windows Search app gets listed). You click OK on that, one more click to confirm that you really, really mean it, and it finally pops up a screen that says “connecting” and gives you a progress bar.

This is perhaps the most interesting part. The progress bar slowly and smoothly moves across the screen for exactly ten seconds every time. No more, no less. And every time, after it finishes, it’ll pop up a little message that says it successfully connected. When you disconnect, precisely the same process plays out. You click through all the prompts, you get a 10-second progress bar, and it pops up telling you it’s successfully disconnected. What I’ve learned somewhat painfully is that none of this actually has any bearing on whether the connection or disconnection has in fact completed successfully. It seems to be entirely faked.

Sometimes it actually connects up quicker than the progress bar. My external monitors will pop on while the progress bar is still only halfway through. Multiple times, though, I’ve gone through the process of “disconnecting” the XG Mobile, been told it “disconnected successfully”, and unplugged it, only to hard crash Windows. Laptop screen goes black, I have to hard reset the laptop. Once it comes back up, it then scolds me for disconnecting the XG Mobile unsafely. Clearly, it had not “disconnected successfully”.

I figured out that there’s a little LED on the XG Mobile connector and I should only unplug it if that LED is white. If it’s red, no matter what Asus’ software tells me about a “successful disconnection”, it’s actually still connected and I need to figure out which program is using the eGPU and preventing the XG Mobile from disconnecting successfully. Once I’ve closed the suspected program, I then tell the software to connect the XG mobile (since I already “successfully disconnected” it, I now, of course, have to “connect” it again), wait out the progress bar again, then again attempt to “disconnect”, wait out the progress bar a third time, all just to see if I did in fact kill the right program and get a white LED. If it’s still red: wash, rinse, repeat until I finally get that blessed white LED.

So yeah… not the smooth experience I was hoping for. I’m hopeful that this is just a software problem and Asus can improve it over time with updates. I know it’s possible to do this better. My previous laptop was a Surface Book and it does essentially the same thing when you disconnect the screen from the base. It swaps over from the dGPU in the base to the iGPU in the screen. That nearly always only takes a few seconds and if it doesn’t work, it’ll tell you exactly what programs are causing the problem. In the meantime, though, if you are thinking of buying an XG Mobile to use as a dock and are planning to dis- and re-connect it frequently, I might hold off until Asus gets the software piece sorted out.