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ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo 15: Dual-screen Gaming Bliss

The ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 is pricey, but worth it

Verdict: ASUS has refined its dual-screen laptop concept, and the result is very different from what we’ve seen from anyone else this year. Despite its quirks, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 is incredibly well-executed and brings the idea of dual-screen gaming rigs to the gaming space where it’s more appreciated. It is incredibly expensive though, but to be fair, the company has thrown in quite a lot of freebies to sweeten the package. People with deep pockets looking for something different might find the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 to their liking, even without the enticing freebies.

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 is priced at Php 249,995.

Pros

  • The dual-screen form-factor is more suitable for gaming
  • Incredibly powerful internals
  • Lots of freebies

Cons

  • Runs quite warm
  • The keyboard requires a little getting used to
  • Expensive

ASUS is taking all the lessons it’s learned with its first foray into dual-screen laptops and applying it to the implementation of the tech yet: the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15. This monster is the gaming version of their earlier ZenBook Pro Duo laptop and benefits from the refinements in the concept that ASUS debuted a year ago. Two screens plus incredibly powerful hardware make the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 the perfect laptop for hardcore enthusiasts, though its steep price tag will limit its appeal to people with money to burn.

Design

There isn’t’ a whole lot of ways you can integrate a large secondary display in a 15-inch chassis, so it’s not surprising at all that the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 uses many of the same design choices that ASUS made with their ZenBook Pro Duo.

Before we dive into the displays though, let’s take a look at the chassis first: despite sporting insane specs, the laptop isn’t decked out with ostentatious RGB lights in the chassis like the ROG G15, for example. In fact, RGB is mostly relegated to the keyboard, which may or may not be a good thing depending on how you feel about those pretty, pretty lights.

That’s one of the reasons why I like the overall aesthetic of the laptop. There are no over-the-top design elements to muddy the clean lines and sharp angles of the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15.

The chassis is made with a magnesium-aluminum alloy for strength, and opening the lid reveals the two displays in their full glory.

Because the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 is so large, there’s plenty of ports scattered in its body. There are two USB 3.2 Type-A ports on the right along with a Thunderbolt port, while the left side holds 3.5mm audio jacks as well as the charging port. The rear of the notebook holds even more ports – one USB 3.2 Type-A ports as well as an HDMI 2.0 port, and a gigabit Ethernet jack.

The notebook is quite thick and heavy, coming in at 20mm and 2.4 kilos respectively, which is about what you’d expect from a notebook that has two screens.

Display

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 comes in two display flavors: one with a 15.6-inch 4K display, and one with a 15.6-inch full HD display with a fast, 300Hz/3ms refresh rate panel.

All ROG Zephyrus Duo 15s sold in the Philippines will only come with the full HD variant, as there’s currently no 4K option that’s currently available in ASUS’ own website.

That 15-inch primary display is filled to the brim with premium features: the 300Hz refresh rate will be able to keep up with any game you play at any settings, and the panel is 100% sRGB and is Pantone Validated, which makes it a viable choice for anyone considering the notebook for serious color work.

Also take note that the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 doesn’t come with a webcam in the lid because of how thin the bezels are, though they do throw in a webcam in the package when you buy it.

As for the performance of the display, it’s pretty good. Colors are accurate enough that I edited photos for the site on the notebook’s primary display. The 300Hz refresh rate is a little overkill for casual gamers playing AAA games, but will probably be appreciated by competitive players who require the fastest display possible.

The headline feature for the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 is the secondary 3840 x 1100 display, dubbed the ScreenPad Plus, that’s located right below the main panel. This 14.1-inch display is reasonably sharp and is touch-sensitive and basically acts like a secondary display that you can use for whatever you need.

It can, for example, serve as a dedicated Super Chat area where you talk to viewers when you’re streaming, or even as an area to dock walkthroughs or guides when you’re playing complicated games like Crusader Kings 3, for example. I typically default to using the area as a dock for the Armory Crate software where I can keep an eye on the performance of the laptop while I play games, and ASUS is working with game developers to implement HUDs and other elements into the secondary display as well.

Keyboard and audio

The keyboard for the Zephyrus Duo 15 follows the layout of most of ASUS’ Zephyrus models: you get separated island-style keys with per-key RGB lighting, a trackpad situated on the right that instantly transforms into a virtual Numpad with a press of a button, and a distinct lack of an integrated wrist-rest that makes typing difficult (though ASUS does throw in a removable wrist-rest for free).

The keys are a little stiff, which when combined with the deep key travel threw me off a bit. Still, I did get used to it after a while.

The trackpad is serviceable, though its position at the right of the keyboard makes it a little hard to use. Thankfully ASUS throws in a freebie ROG Gladius II Core mouse to use with the laptop, which makes the trackpad superfluous in the grand scheme of things.

The Zephyrus Duo 15 has an ESS Sabre HiFi DAC on board, as well as two bottom-mounted speakers. The speakers themselves were pretty powerful, and is capable of filling a mid-sized room with decent sound, even with the volume up.

If that wasn’t enough, ASUS also throws in another, more expensive freebie for buyers in the form of the ROG Delta Headset, easily worth Php 10K on its own. After using the notebook’s speakers and the ROG Delta, I’ve pretty much given up on using the laptop’s speakers for gaming and resolved to just use the Delta exclusively.

Performance and battery life

ASUS has stuffed the Zephyrus Duo 15 with beefy hardware to support that dual-display goodness. The processor is a 10th-generation Intel Core i9-10980HK processor, paired with an RTX 2080 Super GPU with 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM. There’s 32GB of 3200MHz RAM, more than enough to keep Chrome happy, as well as two 1TB NVMe SSDs with RAID 0 support.

Moving to the benchmarks it’s not hard to see how well the Zephyrus Duo 15 worked out with its beastly specs in our synthetic benchmarks, easily surpassing many of the notebooks we’ve reviewed so far this year. And while PH customers aren’t getting that 4K resolution panel in lieu of the fast 300Hz full HD display, we’re not too bummed out. The Zephyrus Duo 15 easily pushes past 100 FPS in all of the games in our benchmark suite, and with the right settings in games like Valorant, DOTA, Overwatch, CSGO, and other competitive games, you’ll be nearing the limits of the monitor’s refresh rate.

*Note that the higher FPS for the Legion 7i for RDR2 will be re-validated this week, but for the sake of fairness we’re using the current score for this iteration of the review.

 

The Intel Core i9-10980HK is also a powerhouse when it comes to content creation, which should be useful no matter if you stream, shoot photos, or produce videos.

With so much power under the hood, ASUS had to use a few tricks to keep the laptop cool. The laptop’s chassis has raised feet to introduce more air into the components, and the ScreenPad Plus raises at an angle to allow even more air for cooling.

Unfortunately, the laptop runs a little warm, with the area near the QWERTY keys heating up to around 38-40 degrees Celcius during sustained gaming sessions. It’s not going to be enough to burn your fingers when you’re playing, though you will feel the heat a little bit through the keys. ASUS’ own reporting software logs temperatures as high as 93 degrees for the CPU and around 85 degrees for the GPU, which is a little high, but take note this is under the turbo preset. As for fan noise, they’re definitely audible when you’re playing, so I recommend cranking the volume up or using the included ROG Delta headphones when playing.

Battery life for a gaming laptop is usually something you can ignore, as they’re really not meant to be used away from the power socket because of their energy requirements. That being said, the Zephyrus Duo 15 clocks in at a measly 2 hours and 13 minutes. Interestingly enough, ASUS throws in a smaller USB Type-C charger for the laptop for when you’re traveling around with it, though it doesn’t supply enough power for gaming.

 

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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