Two displays on a laptop. It’s a trend that’s been going on for the past year or so, with some brands coming out with concepts and others coming out with an actual product. Last year, I took a look at the ZenBook Duo and while there were flaws, it was certainly interesting.
This year, Asus has decided to refine that design, and so here’s the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15.
This, in my opinion, is a really unique laptop. The clue’s in the name; there are two built-in displays right on the laptop itself, and the design has definitely seen an improvement compared to the ZenBook Duo.
As you lift the lid of the display, you’ll find that the secondary display props itself up and rests at an angle.
Not only does this make it much more usable, but it also has the additional advantage of allowing the fans to push more air through the fin array, thanks to that additional gap of space between that display and the chassis.
And if you’re worried about structural rigidity and the overall build quality of that display, don’t fret. It’s really solid, wouldn’t flex even with quite a bit of pressure, and definitely feels premium to the touch.
For the display itself, which Asus terms as the ScreenPad Plus, you get a half-height 4K display, that fully supports touch. It supports a maximum resolution of 3840 x 1100 and a second resolution that’s half that on both axes.
Just like the ZenBook Duo, Asus included some nifty features like 3-way split-screen for 3 programs side by side, the ability to instantly shift programs between the two displays and more whenever you drag a window or program around, and a quick side menu where you can select your saved layouts, pin and launch your favourite apps and more.
Honestly speaking, as a content creator, having dual displays is kind of like a bare minimum. For video editing, it’s always great to have your timeline and your main project window on the primary display, while you have things like references, or perhaps music selection on the secondary display, and you can interact between all your necessary programs without having to alt-tab.
Even for gaming, and perhaps more so for streamers, you can enjoy your game on the primary display, while having things like OBS and your Twitch chat open on that secondary display.
Now, of course, you won’t be getting maximum efficiency as compared to a full-sized second monitor, and it depends on your own use-case scenario. But the fact that you can even do so in the first place is quite amazing, and it’s all self-contained, as it’s built-in right on the laptop itself.
I do, however, still feel that it can be improved.
I would’ve liked to see the secondary display tilt at a much steeper angle, to make it more ergonomic, or better yet, allow the tilt angle to be adjusted manually.
So that’s the unique thing about this laptop, but of course, we have to mention the rest of it as well.
For the main display, you get a choice between a 4K 60Hz IPS panel or a Full HD 300Hz IPS panel with a 3 millisecond response time, that we have right here.
To cut to the chase, it’s a great display. Full HD is still the most popular resolution for gaming, and 300Hz makes for a really enjoyable experience. The display also does cover 100% sRGB, is Pantone validated, and does also support G-Sync.
But though it’s a great display, and I do like it, I’ll still point out the fact that 300Hz is not really necessary, you can’t really tell the difference between 240Hz and 300Hz, or even 144Hz for that matter. But disregarding that, the main drawback to 300Hz panels at this point in time, with regards to the industry, is that the panels just don’t get that bright. Most of them top out around 300 nits, and it’s the same case with the Zephyrus Duo.
If you’re looking at the Zephyrus Duo for gaming, I would say you’ll be plenty happy with this display. But, if you’re looking at it as a creative… for the first time, I’ll actually recommend getting the 4K option instead, simply because it offers better colour accuracy, 100% Adobe RGB, but also because it can get much brighter as well.
As for webcam quality… there isn’t one.
For the keyboard, as you can see, it’s been shifted down to make way for that second display. The keyboard itself feels fine, but it’s not really a great experience for typing or gaming, simply because there is no space for your wrists to rest on. Now Asus does include a wrist rest which does make it much better, but I hardly think you’ll bring it around everywhere you go.
It’s the same case with the trackpad. It works fine, tracks well and everything. But because of the design, the trackpad is pretty small, and it’s squeezed into the right. You’ll get used to it, no doubt, but I strongly feel that most of you who have this laptop, will be reaching for a mouse 90% of the time.
The speakers on this laptop aren’t too bad either. While there are only two down-firing speakers on either side, it does get quite loud without distorting and does sound clear with a little bit of bass. It’s not amazing, but it’s all right.
For a 15.6-inch device, you do get quite a number of ports. On the left, you have your power input, along with a headphone/mic combo and an additional mic jack, while on the right you get two standard USB 3.2 as well as a Type-C port which supports Thunderbolt 3, and last but not least, you do also have RJ45 Ethernet, another standard USB 3.2 as well as HDMI 2.0b.
Now, with the Zephyrus Duo, you can kit it up to the maximum. You’ll get an Intel Core i9-10980HK, Nvidia RTX 2080 Super Max-Q, 32GB of RAM and two 1TB NVMe drives in RAID Zero.
As you can expect, it performs well in Cinebench R20, scoring a multi-core score of 3659, and a single-core score of 477, pretty much in line with most of the other laptops that feature the same chip.
While in DaVinci Resolve, it managed to render the 10 minute 1080p edit under 6 minutes, and the 15 minute 4K edit in just over 18 minutes.
As for gaming, well, it can basically take on any game you throw at it, and as mentioned, with that 300Hz display, it’s going to be a fantastic experience, especially for eSports titles like CS:GO or Apex Legends, where frame rate really matters.
Despite packing such high-performance components, the Zephyrus Duo manages temperatures rather well, with the CPU averaging around 84 degrees Celsius and the GPU hovering around 7-degree Celsius for both creative and gaming workloads.
I would say one of the reasons the results are pretty good, was because Asus decided to go with liquid metal for their CPUs, which really does help bring down those temperatures a tonne. And for those of you concerned with fan noise, it definitely can get loud, but it’s not overbearing.
With regards to battery life, the Zephyrus Duo does get an average of about 5 hours of general real-world usage with its included 90Wh battery. I would say, considering the specs it has, that’s not too bad. Though do note that that was on Optimus. If you do enable G-Sync, the battery life will definitely drop quite a lot.
In all, this has been a really interesting laptop that, in my opinion, makes for a great mobile workstation or for gaming.
It’s got a great design, plenty of performance, and it’s definitely an upgrade over their ZenBook Duo. It is, however, a very expensive laptop, as you would expect. So for those of you who are interested, you really have to ask yourself if you need that second display, and even if you do, do you need it built-in, or can you just grab a portable monitor instead?
Just remember that this is the expensive option.