The Asus ZenBook Pro Duo, but make it gaming. Asus is finally bringing its dual-screen technology to gaming with the Zephyrus Duo 15. Available starting in June, the base configuration costs $2,999. Taking lessons from the original Pro Duo, the Duo 15 is slimmer and more versatile.
Asus has been pursuing a more understated design as of late. Well, as understated as a dual-screen laptop can be. While you’ll still find the enormous ROG emblem on the aluminum lid, you won’t find any ostentatious lighting on this baby -– just the distinctive bisected lid.
Opening the laptop reveals the keyboard is pushed forward into the area where the touchpad would normally sit. And similar to the Pro Duo and Mothership, the touchpad is elongated and located in the lower right corner of the keyboard deck. All of this is to make room for the 14.1-inch second display, called ScreenPad Plus perched at the top of the deck.
Similar to other Zephyrus laptops, Asus has incorporated its Active Aerodynamic System (AAS) into the Duo 15, but in a much different way than we’re used to seeing. Instead of revealing a large vent along the rear of the laptop when opened, the ScreenPad Plus is raised to a 13 degree angle to allow air venting, That allows the laptop to draw in cool air to help keep all those high-powered specs from overheating which could negatively affect performance.
Despite all the bells and whistles packed into the laptop, it’s pretty slim at 0.8 inches. It’s noticeably thinner than the Pro Duo (0.9 inches). However, they’re similar in weight with the former weighing 5.3 pounds and the latter 5.4 pounds.
Asus is the master of dual-screen technology, providing functionality to the eye-catching form. The 15.6-inch main display comes in two configurations. There’s the 1920 x 1080 IPS panel with a 300Hz refresh rate and a 3 millisecond response rate. You can bump the resolution up to 4K IPS panel with a 60Hz refresh rate. Both screens are non-touch and Pantone certified.
As impressive as the main panel control appears on paper, it’s the ScreenPad Plus that will draw all the oohs, ahhs and more than a few huhs. The 3840 x 1100 touch panel with a 60Hz refresh rate is extremely versatile. Asus foresees the secondary display as a means of streaming, content creation and of course gaming. It can also be used as a multitasking tool, allowing consumers to game on the main screen while checking email and watching a YouTube tutorial on the second panel.
Asus is also working with developers to organically incorporate ScreenPad Plus into gameplay. For instance, Techland, Dying Light 2 developer has been working with Asus so that co-op chats live in the ScreenPad Plus. You’ll also have the ability to download apps to keep track of real-time stats and builds for games like League of Legends, Fortnite, and CS:GO.
Both the main display and ScreenPad Plus are both Nvidia G-Sync compatible for silky-smooth rendering. I’m excited to get the Duo 15 in house to see how all of this works in practice.
Once you get past the dual displays, there are the specs to consider. The Duo 15 is outfitted with Intel’s new Comet Lake 8-core 10th Gen Core i7-10875H processor or you can get the overclockable Core i9-10890HK processor with up to 32GB of RAM. The laptop can fit 2 M.2 NVME PCIe SSDs that can go up to 2TB in RAID 0 configuration. For graphics, you can choose between Nvidia’s two new graphics cards: the GeForce RTX 2070 Super or the 2080 Super GPU.
Asus continues to innovate on the dual-display front. The ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, takes all the lessons learned from the Pro Duo and its successful line of Zephyrus laptops and created something with the potential to push the evolution of gaming laptops. The secondary ScreenPad Plus adds useful functionality once consumers get over the initial gimmicky feel. Add to sweeten the pot, the laptop is loaded with top-of-the-line components so potential consumers know that this is definitely a gaming laptop.
I can’t wait to get the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 into the office to put this powerful system through its paces. I’m especially curious to discover how the battery life pans out with the additional display and the high-powered specs. There’s also the question of cooling in regards to the AAS system and how well it will do its job. But in the interim, the Zephyrus Duo 15 has opened a load of tantalizing questions that I can’t wait to get to the bottom of them.
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Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.