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Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 review

Two screens, one happy gamer

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 review
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Laptop Mag)

Our Verdict

The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 brings its dual-screen technology to gaming laptops and introduces the evolution of the genre.

For

  • Gorgeous design ready for work or play
  • Beautiful displays
  • Powerful overall and gaming performance
  • Good battery life
  • Seriously fast SSDs

Against

  • Extremely expensive
  • Runs hot
  • Stiff keyboard

Asus has been delving into the dual-screen space for a while, but the company’s gaming laptops had been left on the sidelines for the most part. That changes with the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15. The laptop takes all the lessons Asus has learned from previous systems and fine-tuned everything to create the first step towards the ultimate gaming laptop. 

In addition to the dual 4K displays, you get a system with an overclockable Intel Core i9 processor, an Nvidia RTX Super GPU and a pair of blisteringly-fast SSDs. It’s just an outright beastly machine designed for gaming. But as its svelte, stylish frame reveals, this is still very much a laptop for content creators and productivity users. 

At $3,999 ($2,999 to start), the price of admission is steep. But if you can afford it, the Zephyrus Duo is a great first look at the evolution of the gaming laptop

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 pricing and configurations

Looking to double your pleasure? You can get the base model of the Zephyrus Duo for $2,999. This configuration gets you a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i7-10875H processor with 32GB of RAM, a pair of 1TB PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 configuration, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 GPU with 8GB of VRAM and a 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080p, 300Hz main display and a 14.1-inch, 3840 x 1100 secondary touch display. 

Need more power? The $3,499 model bumps you up to a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i9-10980HK CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB PCIe SSD, an Nvidia RTX 2080 Super GPU with 8GB of VRAM. 

I gamed and kicked my multitasking into overdrive with the $3,999 model, which has a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i9-10980HK CPU, 32GB of RAM, two 1TB PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 configuration, an Nvidia RTX 2080 Super GPU with 8GB of VRAM and a 15.6-inch, 3480 x 2160, 60Hz panel with a 3840 x 1100 secondary touchscreen. 

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 design

You’d never expect the amount of opulence waiting for you on the interior of the Duo 15 by looking at its exterior. Take away the large shiny ROG logo sitting slightly off-center in the left corner and the Zephyrus' midnight blue chassis reminds you of the one company’s StudioBooks

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

But like the semi-glossy line diagonally cutting across the aluminum lid and the cut-off portion showing off the status lights blinking seductively, the whole presentation is delightfully avant-garde. The sides of the lid are slightly chamfered, adding even more of a dark blue sparkle to the affair. It’s pretty clear that this ain’t your momma’s gaming laptop.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The laptop’s undercarriage is made of magnesium alloy and has six strategically-placed feet and vents. Four of the rubber feet are situated toward the front of the laptop surrounding a Republic of Gamers logo. The remaining feet, positioned in the back, are significantly larger than the others to assist with airflow. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Now on to the big show. When you open the Duo 15, it’s initially about what you hear. The sound of a weighty sword being unsheathed accompanied by the sea of red RGB rolls across the keyboard when you open the laptop, while the secondary ScreenPad Plus rises at a 13-degree angle. Is it a tad dramatic? Sure, but nothing about the Zephyrus Duo 15 is subtle. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Similar to the ZenBook Pro Duo and ZenBook Duo, the keyboard on the Zephyrus Duo 15 is pushed to nearly the end of the front lip of the laptop. The touchpad is pushed from its normal position to the far right.

With all those added bells and whistles, the 14.2 x 10.6 x 0.8-inch Duo 15 sits on the heavier side of 15-inch laptops, at 5.3 pounds. The Acer Predator Triton 500 (14.1 x 10 x 0.7 inches) weighs 4.8 pounds while the MSI GS66 Stealth (14.2 x 9.7 x 0.7 inches) is the lightest at 4.3 pounds. Naturally, the 17-inch Razer Blade Pro 17 (15.5 x 10.2 x 0.8 inches) weighs a bit more at 6.1 pounds. 

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 ports

The Duo 15 has a fair amount of ports, including a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports along the right with a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

On the left, you have jacks for a pair of headphones, a microphone and charging. There’s a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port in the rear with am HDMI 2.0 port and gigabit Ethernet jack.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 displays

Both of the Duo 15’s matte displays serve up 4K goodness. The 15.6-inch main panel is extremely vivid despite its anti-glare coating. Watching the trailer for Good Trouble, a documentary about the late Rep, John Lewis (D), my eyes were immediately drawn to the royal blue sash holding the civil rights hero’s Congressional Medal of Honor. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The red of the American flag worked to accentuate the golden drape in the background. Details were so sharp that you could see the delicate filigree pattern in the drapes as well as the golden decorative stand in the background. Although the details held up on the 14.1-inch, 3840 x 1100 secondary display, the color was a little duller than the main display. Still, the various hues it captured still looked pretty darned good. 

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt looked great on the Duo 15’s main screen. I watched as the sky transitioned from an inky black dotted by pale white stars to one seemingly painted with rose pinks, marmalades and golds. From there, it settled into a lovely shade of aquamarine as the sun reached its apex. With Nvidia’s HairWorks technology, Geralt’s ashen-white locks gleamed as he explored the countryside. When he fought a band of bandits, I could just make out the stitching in his clothing as he worked to strike and parry blows. 

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 review

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The main screen can reproduce 160% of the sRGB gamut, which is much more vivid than the 137% premium gaming laptop average. The Blade Pro hit 119% while the Triton and Stealth reached 117 and 116%, respectively. When we tested the ScreenPad, it reached 107%. 

The matte coating does not detract from the main panel’s brightness, averaging 402 nits, besting the 358-nit average. The ScreenPad wasn’t too far behind at 352 nits. The Stealth achieved 321 nits while the Blade Pro obtained 304 nits. The Triton averaged 277 nits. 

However, if the main display still isn’t vivid enough for you (or too vivid), you can make adjustments with the Asus GameVisual utility found in Armoury Crate. It has eight distinct settings such as Vivid, Cinema, Default and Racing to help you find your preferred color temperature. 

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 ScreenPad Plus

This isn’t Asus’s first rodeo with its ScreenPad Plus technology, but it is the first time the company has given the second display the full gamer treatment. When it boots up, you see a futuristic blueprint of a flying city, supported by a pair of large turbines on either side –– it’s all very Tron. Funky skin aside, this version of ScreenPad Plus has a noteworthy difference from previous versions: Armoury Crate. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Asus has added its Armoury Crate software to the ScreenPad Plus, which allows you to control the various performance modes, check system diagnostics, and launch games among several other helpful features. You can even drag and drop the tiles to create a more personalized experience.

Outside of the new skin and Armoury Crate, ScreenPad Plus shares many apps and features with the second screen on the ZenBook Pro Duo. You get MyAsus with utilities like Number Key, Handwriting mode and Quick Key, which allow you to quickly access Windows shortcuts, like cut, paste and copy via large buttons. You can also create your own Quick Keys by recording keystrokes.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

If I wanted to add an app to automatically open on the second screen, I would just dragged it onto the app launcher. This is where Discord, YouTube and Spotify landed. Dragging an app onto the launcher, I just dragged it down from the top display onto the launcher. To remove apps, I simply hit the edit icon and closed out of unwanted software. ViewMax is one of my favorite ScreenPad features as it essentially combines the two screens into one, providing a lot more real estate. And if I needed to maximize my multitasking Organizer, I could snap three separate Windows across the secondary display. 

That’s all well and good for productivity and content creation, but what about gaming? Asus is currently working with a number of game companies to optimize ScreenPad. So if I’m playing a game like Dying Light 2, all of my quest logs and inventory will be prominently displayed on the bottom screen, making the main screen gaming only. 

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 audio

The Duo 15’s pair of bottom-mounted speakers are surprisingly powerful. Listening to Chloe x Halle’s “Ungodly Hour,” I was immediately nodding my head to the mellow groove. The sisters’ vocals were nice and clear against the synthesized keyboard. And I had no problems discerning the snare drums and handclaps dotted throughout the track. My only complaint was the bass, which was a bit diffused. Still, the laptop did a good job of filling my small living room and dining room with audio. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

And this is when I had Asus’ Sonic Studio 3 software disabled. When I turned the software on, I got a much fuller audio experience. It’s not surround sound, but when I was listening to Spotify or Tidal on the Music preset, audio was a lot more dynamic. And when I switched to Gaming, some of the finer details in Witcher 3 really popped. 

Speaking of the Witcher 3, I resumed my saved game in the middle of a violent rainstorm. As I made my way to the next mission, my ears were bombarded by the sound of heavy raindrops accompanied by violent wind gusts, tree branches straining against the onslaught and of course, the low guttural growl of approaching monsters. As the lively fight music cued up, I heard the satisfying sound of metal leaving its sheath. The audio was rich and full of detail. 

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 keyboard and touchpad

One thing that can use some work is the Duo 15’s island-style keyboard. The per-key RGB keyboard is lovely to look at and the spacing between the keys is great. However, typing on the keys revealed some uncomfortable stiffness, which is a shame since the key travel is fairly deep. Still, at 68 words per minute on the 10fastfingers test, I wasn’t too far off of my normal 70-wpm average. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

If you're feeling creative, you can make a custom lighting setup via Asus’ Armoury Creator software. Not only can you choose lighting effects and individual key color, but you can also sync everything to other Asus products via Asus Sync. 

The 2.3 x 2.9-inch vertical touchpad isn’t the largest and it’s not in the most convenient place, but it gets the job done. I didn’t have any problems performing Windows 10 gestures such as pinch-zoom and three-finger flick. The pair of the discrete mouse buttons were a bit too mushy for my taste, but they weren’t horrible to use.

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 gaming

The Duo 15 is powered by an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPU with 8GB of VRAM. Needless to say, it’s far from a pushover when it comes to gaming. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

When we ran synthetic tests, such as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (1920 x 1080, Very High), the Duo 15 scored 58 fps, matching the premium gaming laptop average and beating the Stealth (RTX 2080 Super GPU). However, with its own RTX 2080 Super GPU, the Blade Pro reached 65 fps. 

During the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark, the Duo 15 obtained 69 fps, which was slightly below the 71-fps average and the Blade Pro’s 75 fps. Still, it was enough to surpass the Stealth and Triton (RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU), which produced 66 fps. 

On the Grand Theft Auto V test, the Zephyrus achieved 84 fps, matching the category average and defeating the Stealth and Predator, which scored 82 and 60 fps, respectively. The Blade Pro was the ultimate winner at 89 fps. 

The Duo 15 obtained 89 fps during the Far Cry New Dawn benchmark, beating the 85-fps average as well as the Blade Pro (87 fps) and Stealth (86 fps).

And in case you were considering investing in an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive, you’ll be happy to know the Zephyrus Pro Duo reached 8,549 on the VRMark Orange Room test, eking past the 8,530 average. The Stealth scored 8,075 while the Blade Pro got 7,771. 

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 performance

To help facilitate all that dual-screen multitasking, the Zephyrus Duo 15 has been outfitted with a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i9-10980HK CPU, 32GB of RAM and two 1TB PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 configuration. And if you need a bit more power, the processor is indeed overclockable. I launched 40 tabs in Google Chrome, some of which were running Twitch, YouTube and Tweetdeck. The laptop chugged through everything without any slowdowns. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The laptop performed equally well on our synthetic benchmarks, such as Geekbench 4.3 overall performance test, where it scored 32,056, demolishing the 27,596 premium laptop average. The Stealth, with its Core i7-10750H processor, reached 25,304 while the Blade Pro (Core i7-10875H CPU) hit 22,810 and the Predator Triton (Core i7-8750H CPU) reached 20,990.

The Duo 15 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 7 minutes and 22 seconds, smoking the 8:36 category average. The Stealth, Blade Pro and Triton posted times of 9:25, 9:31 and 11:04 respectively. 

During our File Transfer test (duplicating 4.97GB multimedia files), the Duo 15 had a transfer rate of 1,696.4 megabytes per second, tying the Stealth (512GB NVMe M.2 SSD) and the Triton (dual 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD) and beating 1,002.8 MBps average. The Blade Pro wasn’t too far behind at (512GB PCIe NVMe SSD) 848 MBps. 

On the Puget Photoshop test, which measures how well a system handles basic image manipulation tasks, the Duo 15 scored 873, beating the Stealth (757) and Blade Pro (730).

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 battery life

Now I know what you’re thinking. Hell, I was thinking it too: A gaming laptop with all those powerful specs and two displays has to have bad battery life. But the Duo 15 lasted 5 hours and 1 minute on the Laptop Mag battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi) with both screens enabled. With ScreenPad Plus disabled, the battery life rose to 6:12. Both times are longer than the 4:37 premium gaming laptop average. 

Those times were also better than the Blade Pro (4:41) and Triton (3:04). However, the Stealth was the last laptop running with a time of 6:36.

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 heat

Asus has instituted a number of measures to help the Duo 15 stay as cool as possible. First, you have the raised feet to allow the system to better diffuse heat. Then there’s the raised ScreenPad Plus, which uses Asus’ patented Active Aerodynamic System (AAS) and reveals even more vents that draw in cool air from the top. Inside, the laptop has 5 heat pipes designed to draw heat away from the CPU, GPU and RAM. There ares also 4 heatsinks with 252 individual heatsink fins.

So how did that pan out in real-world testing? Well, not so hot (and I mean that in a bad way). After 15 minutes of streaming a 15-minute fullscreen video, we measured key points on the laptop. The touchpad and center of the keyboard measured 99 degrees Fahrenheit, which is slightly over our 95-degree comfort threshold. The notebook’s undercarriage measured a hot 136 degrees. Although I have to say, I used the laptop on my lap for more than an hour with no immediate discomfort. 

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 webcam

Despite having a camera app (Thanks, Windows 10!), the Duo 15 is similar to the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 and Asus ROG Mothership in that it lacks an integrated webcam. If you’re looking to do livestreams or video calls, be sure to check out our best external webcams page. 

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 software and warranty

Asus preinstalled a robust suite of branded apps on the Duo 15, like the GameFirst V app which prioritizes network bandwidth for certain apps. There's also the MyAsus app, which can run system diagnostics and hardware checks on your system if you’d rather not use Armoury Crate. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Gamer-friendly third-party apps include Nvidia GeForce Experience, which serves up its own collection of utilities designed to optimize gameplay. XSplit Gamecaster and VCam are also included to better your streaming experience. 

And then you have Windows 10 bloatware like Farm Heroes Saga, Candy Crush Friends and Netflix. However, some software, like McAfee Personal Security and Dropbox (which gives you 25GB of cloud storage free for a year), are more helpful than others. 

The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 comes with a one-year limited warranty. See how Asus performed on our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands special reports. 

Bottom line

Bells, whistles and everything in between –– the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 has it all. The $3,999 stunner has everything you want in a gaming laptop and some things you didn’t know you needed. For starters, you’ve got the dual-screen setup, which Asus has wisely upgraded by incorporating its AAS cooling system into the mix and allowing the secondary screen to raise, making it easier for gamers to quickly glance down and keep track of the action. 

ScreenPad Plus is just as helpful for multitasking as ever, but by integrating the company’s gaming software, it’s a doable option for gamers who don’t have space for extra monitors. You get an Intel Core i9 processor, Nvidia Super GPU and a pair of ridiculously fast SSDs. And despite all that power, the laptop still managed to best our battery life average –– twice. 

If you’re looking for a more traditional gaming laptop experience, consider the Razer Blade Stealth Pro 17. It still costs a pretty penny at $3,199, but ticks off all the boxes that gamers/content creators would want. But if you’re looking to experience the future of gaming laptops, you can’t beat the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15.