Hands-On, Laptop

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 Hands-On: Two Screens on a Gaming Laptop?

This is the new Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 gaming laptop, and if it looks familiar, you wouldn’t be wrong. See, it has a striking resemblance to the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo, which means it is a gaming laptop…with two screens. One at the top, and another at the bottom, right above the keyboard.

This may seem like an especially odd concept – especially for a gaming machine – but Asus does present some interesting use case scenarios that take advantage of the secondary display. I spent a brief time with the Zephyrus Duo, and while I’m not entirely sold on the concept, I do see how it can be appealing to some users.

So let’s talk about the secondary display first. Unlike the one on the ZenBook Pro Duo, the Zephyrus Duo’s bottom display (dubbed ScreenPad Plus) props up at an angle when the lid is opened. It’s a much better implementation, as it gives better visibility of the bottom screen.

According to Asus, the ScreenPad Plus can display a number of things that will benefit a wide range of users. The company further elaborated that it is already working with a number of developers to create specific content for the secondary display, which include Adobe and Techland for Dying Light 2.

Asus itself has also made apps with Overwolf to work with selected games like Fortnite, League of Legends, and even Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Evidently, Asus poured quite a bit of effort to make the Zephyrus Duo’s secondary display more feature-rich. But exactly how useful it’ll be, especially to gamers, still remains to be seen. Personally, I don’t quite see the utility of it, but I’m sure some folks will appreciate the additional screen.

Hardware wise, the ScreenPad Plus is a 14.1-inch 3840 x 1100 touch-enabled screen. It’s a good quality display that can get reasonably bright with punchy colours and wide viewing angles. The matte finish of the screen also allows me to effortlessly glide my fingers on the surface while also reducing glare.

As for the Zephyrus Duo’s main 15.6-inch IPS panel, it is available in two options: a 4K 60Hz screen, or a 1080p display with a much faster 300Hz refresh rate. Regardless of which option you go for, both panels are Pantone Validated – promising good colour accuracy – with G-Sync support.

The Zephyrus Duo I spent a brief time with was equipped with the 4K display, and it’s certainly a very pleasant screen to look at. It’s not quite as impressive as the gorgeous 4K OLED screen of the ZenBook Pro Duo with true blacks and vibrant colours, but it’s certainly befitting of a premium gaming machine.

Under the hood of the Zephyrus Duo are the latest components from Intel and Nvidia. The highest-end configuration comes with the recently announced Core i9-10980HK processor paired with 16GB of on-board RAM, a GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPU – there’s also a more affordable RTX 2070 Super model – and 1TB of fast M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD.

I wasn’t able to run any games on the Zephyrus Duo, but rest assured, you will get one of the best gaming performances on a gaming laptop with it. After all, the RTX 2080 Super – which impacts gaming performance more so than the processor – is currently Nvidia’s most powerful mobile GPU.

Even with all of these beefy hardware, the Zephyrus Duo is surprisingly quite a slim gaming laptop too. Its chassis measures only 20mm thick, which is quite impressive for a notebook as powerful as this. That being said, tipping the scales at 2.4kg, it is not a lightweight machine.

Of course, even if the Zephyrus Duo can deliver amazing gaming performance, it wouldn’t be a very enjoyable experience if the keyboard isn’t up to par. Thankfully, this laptop has a very comfortable keyboard. It is tactile, it has just enough key travel to not feel shallow, and I like the “pillowy” typing experience.

As for the trackpad – which also doubles as the numpad – it’s good enough for most tasks. While it can accurately track my finger movements, I do wish it was a little bit wider for a more comfortable experience. Regardless, I appreciate the trackpad’s smooth surface, making it a breeze to use.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 offers a unique experience with its two-screen design – something that you don’t often find on a gaming laptop. While I personally don’t quite see the appeal of it, I do think it will suit the needs of certain consumers. This is a feature no other laptop offers, except for the company’s own ZenBook Pro Duo, of course.

Malaysian availability of the Zephyrus Duo has not been revealed yet by Asus Malaysia, but the gaming laptop is expected to hit global markets sometime in June 2020. Given the premium appeal of this machine, expect it to cost quite a bit of money. In the US market, for example, the Zephyrus Duo retails from $2,999 – that comes up to about RM13,065.