Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 review: Asus delved into the two-screen space for a while, but the company’s game-laptops had remained on the sidelines for the most part. That changes with the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15. The laptop takes all the lessons it has learned from previous systems and has polished everything up to make the first step towards the ultimate gaming laptop.
In addition to the dual 4K screens, you get a system with an overclockable Intel’s Core i9 processor, an Nvidia’s RTX Super GPU, and some lightning-fast SSDs. It’s just a downright beastly machine designed for gaming. But as the slim, stylish frame shows, it’s still a laptop for content creators and productivity users.
|Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15|
|CPU:||Intel Core i7-10510U|
|Storage:||two 1TB PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 configuration|
|Display:||15.6-inch, 3480 x 2160 (4K) + 14.1-inch, 3840 x 1100|
|GPU:||Nvidia RTX 2080 Super GPU|
|Battery life:||5 hours (ScreenPad Plus on); 6:12 (ScreenPad Plus off)|
|Size:||14.2 x 10.6 x 0.8-inches|
Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 review: Design
You would never expect the amount of luxury that awaits you on the inside of the Duo 15 by looking at the exterior. Take away the big shiny ROG logo in the left corner, and the midnight blue chassis of the Zephyrus is reminiscent of the company’s StudioBooks. But just like the semi-gloss line that runs diagonally across the aluminum lid and the cropped section that seductively flickers the status lights, the whole presentation is deliciously avant-garde. The sides of the lid are slightly beveled, making the case sparkle even darker blue.
The base of the laptop is made of magnesium alloy and has six strategically placed feet and vents. Four of the rubber feet are located on the front of the laptop around a Republic of Gamers logo. The remaining feet, which are placed at the back, are significantly larger than the others to promote airflow. Now on to the big show. When you open the Duo 15, it’s primarily about what you hear. The sound of a heavy sword unheated and accompanied by the sea of red RGB rolls over the keyboard when you open the laptop, while the secondary ScreenPad Plus rises at an angle of 13 degrees.
Just like with the ZenBook Pro Duo and ZenBook Duo, the keyboard of the Zephyrus Duo 15 is pressed to almost the end of the front lip of the laptop. The touchpad is pushed from the normal position to the far right.
The Duo 15 has a decent amount of ports, including a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports along the right side with a 3.2 Gen 2 USB Type-C port. On the left, there are a headphone jack, a microphone, and a charging port. There is a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port on the rear with an am HDMI 2.0 port and a gigabit Ethernet connection.
With all those, the 14.2 x 10.6 x 0.- inch Duo 15 sits on the heavier side of the 15-inch laptop category, 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 lightest at 4.3-pounds. Of course, the 17 inches Razer Blade Pro 17 (15.5 x 10.2 x 0.8-inches) weighs a little more at 6.1-pounds.
Keyboard and touchPad
One thing that could use some work is the island keyboard of the Duo 15. The RGB keyboard per key is beautiful to look at, and the distance between the keys is excellent. However, when typing on the keys, an uncomfortable stiffness comes to light, which is a pity because the key displacement is quite deep. If you are feeling creative, you can create a custom lighting installation using Asus’ Armoury Creator software. Not only can you choose light effects and individual key colors, but you can also synchronize everything with other Asus products via Asus Sync.
The 2.3 x 2.9-inches vertical touchpad is not the largest and is not in the most convenient place; however, it gets the job done. I had no problems running Windows 10 gestures like pinch zoom and three-finger flick. The pair of discrete mouse buttons were a bit too mushy for my taste, but they weren’t terrible to use.
Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 review: Displays
Both matte displays of the Duo 15 serve 4K goodness. The 15.6-inch main panel is extremely vibrant despite its anti-glare coating. When watching the trailer for Good Trouble, John Lewis (D), my eyes were drawn to the royal blue sash with the Congressional Medal of Honor of the civil rights hero.
The red of the American flag worked to accentuate the golden curtain in the background. The details were so sharp that you could see both the delicate filigree pattern in the curtains and the gold decorative stand in the background. Although the details remained on the 14.1 inches, 3840 x 1100 secondary display, the color was slightly duller than the main display. Nevertheless, the different shades it captured still looked pretty damn good.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was great on the main display of the Duo 15. I watched the sky change from an inky black dotted with pale white stars to a seemingly pink, marmalade and gold painted sky. From there, it settled in a beautiful shade of aquamarine as the sun reached its zenith. With Nvidia’s HairWorks technology, Geralt’s ash-gray ditches shone as he explored the countryside. When he fought a group of bandits, I could take off the stitching in his clothes as he worked to strike and parry.
The main display can reproduce 160% of the sRGB range, which is much livelier than the average of 137% of the gaming laptop. The Blade Pro hit 119% while the Predator Triton and the MSI Stealth reached 117% and 116%, respectively. When we tested Zephyrus’ ScreenPad, it reached 107%.
The matte coating does not affect the clarity of the main panel, averaging 402 nits, exceeding an average of 358 nits. The ScreenPad was not far behind with 352 nits. The MSI Stealth achieved 321 nits, while the Razer Blade Pro achieved 304 nits. The Triton averaged 277 nits.
However, if the main screen is still not vivid enough for you (or too vivid), you can make adjustments using the Asus GameVisual utility found in Armoury Crate. It has eight different settings, such as Vivid, Cinema, Default, and Gaming, to help you find the desired color temperature.
Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 review: ScreenPad plus
This is not the first rodeo from Asus with its ScreenPad Plus technology; however, it is the first time the company has introduced the second display as the full gamer treatment. When it starts up, you’ll see a futuristic blueprint of a flying city, supported by a few big turbines on either side. This version of ScreenPad Plus has a remarkable difference from the previous versions: Armoury Crate.
Asus has added its Armoury Crate software to ScreenPad Plus, which allows you to check the different performance modes, check system diagnostics, and launch games under various other useful features. You can even drag and drop the tiles to make a more personalized experience.
Besides 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 such as Number Key, Handwrite Mode, and Hot Key, which give you quick access to Windows shortcuts, such as cut, paste, and copy via large buttons. You can also create your Shortcut Keys by recording keystrokes.
Suppose you want to add an app to open automatically on the second screen, drag and drop it to the app launcher. Here Discord, YouTube, and Spotify have landed. When I dragged an app to the launcher, I dragged it down from the top screen to the launcher. To uninstall apps, press the edit icon and close the unwanted software. ViewMax is one of my favorite ScreenPad features, because it essentially combines the two screens into one, creating a lot more real estate. And if I had to maximize my multitasking Organizer, I was able to release three separate windows across the secondary screen.
That’s all well and good for productivity work and content creation, but what about gaming? Asus is working with several gaming companies to optimize ScreenPad. So when I play a game like Dying Light 2, all my quest logs and inventory will be displayed on the bottom screen, so the main screen can only be gaming.
Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 review: Audio
The Duo 15’s pair of subwoofer speakers are surprisingly powerful. As I listened to Chloe x Halle’s “Ungodly Hour,” I immediately nodded my head to the soft groove. The sisters’ vocals were beautiful and clear against the synthesized keyboard. And I had no problem in identifying between the snare drums and the handclaps that were spread all over the song. My only complaint was the bass, which was a bit diffuse. Still, the laptop filled my small living room and dining room well with the audio.
And then, I turned off the Sonic Studio 3 software from Asus. When I turned on the software, I got a much fuller audio experience. It’s not surround sound, but when I listened to Spotify or Tidal on the Music preset, the audio was a lot more dynamic. Finally, when I switched to Gaming, some of the finer details in Witcher 3 came out.
Speaking of Witcher 3, I resumed my saved game in the middle of a heavy downpour. On my way to the next mission, my ears were bombarded by the sound of heavy raindrops accompanied by strong gusts of wind, tree branches resisting the attack, and of course, the low throat growl of approaching monsters. As the lively fighting music emerged, I heard the satisfying sound of metal leaving its shell. The sound was rich and full of detail.
Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 review: Graphics and gaming
The Duo 15 is powered by Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPU with 8GB VRAM. It’s far from a pushover when it comes to gaming performance. When we ran synthetic tests, including Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (1920 x 1080, Very High), the Duo 15 scored 58 fps, which is the average of the premium gaming laptop and beating the MSI Stealth (RTX 2080 Super GPU). However, with its own Nvidia RTX 2080 Super GPU, the Razer Blade Pro reached 65 fps.
During the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark, the Duo achieved 15 69 fps, which is slightly less than the average of 71 fps and the Blade Pro’s 75 fps. Still, it was enough to outperform the Stealth and Triton (RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU), which produced 66 fps.
In the Grand Theft Auto V test, the Zephyrus achieved 84 fps, corresponding to the category average and beating the Stealth and Predator, which scored 82 and 60 fps, respectively. The Blade Pro was the final winner with 89 fps.
The Duo 15 achieved 89 fps in the Far Cry New Dawn benchmark, beating the 85 fps average and beating the Blade Pro (87 fps) and Stealth (86 fps).
Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 review: Performance
To facilitate all that multitasking on two screens, the Zephyrus Duo 15 is equipped with a 2.4GHz Intel Core i9-10980HK CPU, 32GB of RAM, and two 1TB PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 configuration. And if you need a little more power, the processor is indeed overclockable. I have launched 40 tabs in Google Chrome, some with Twitch, YouTube, and Tweetdeck. The laptop has swung through everything without any delay.
The laptop performed just as well on our synthetic benchmarks, such as the Geekbench 4.3 performance test, where it scored 32,056, beating the 27,596 premium laptop category average. The MSI Stealth, with its Core i7-10750H processor, reached 25,304, while the Razer Blade Pro (Core i7-10875H CPU) scored 22,810 and the Triton 500 (Core i7-8750H CPU) reached 20,990.
The Zephyrus Duo 15 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 7 minutes and 22 seconds, averaging the 8:36 category. The MSI Stealth, Razer Blade, and Predator Triton posted times of 9:25, 9:31, and 11:04, respectively.
During our File Transfer test (duplicating 4.97 GB of multimedia files), the Zephyrus Duo 15 had a transfer rate of 1,696.4 MBps (megabytes per second), with the Stealth (512 GB NVMe M.2 SSD) and the Triton (dual 512 GB PCIe NVMe SSD) paired and averaged 1,002.8 MBps. The Blade Pro was not far behind with (512GB PCIe NVMe SSD) 848 MBps.
Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 review: Heat
Asus has taken several measures to keep the Duo 15 as cool as possible. First of all, you have the raised feet to make the system spread heat better. 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 above. Inside, the laptop has 5 heat pipes designed to dissipate heat from the CPU, GPU, and RAM. There are also 4 heat sinks with 252 individual heat sinks.
How did this happen in practice? Well, not so well. After streaming a 15-minute full-screen video, we measured the most important points on the laptop. The touchpad and the center of the keyboard measured 99 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a little more than our 95 degrees comfort threshold. The base of the notebook measured a warm 136 degrees. However, I have to say that I used the laptop on my lap for more than an hour without immediate discomfort.
Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 review: Battery life
Now I know what you’re thinking. I’m thinking it too: A gaming laptop with all those powerful specifications and two displays should have bad battery life. However, the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 lasted 5 hours and 1 minute on our battery test (continuous surfing the web over Wi-Fi) with both screens turned on. With ScreenPad Plus turned off, battery life increased to 6:12. Both times are longer than the 4:37 premium gaming laptop category average. Those times were also better than the Razer Blade Pro (4:41) and Predator Triton (3:04). However, the MSI Stealth was the last laptop to run at a time of 6:36.
Price and configuration options
Want to double your fun? You can get the basic model of the Zephyrus Duo for $2,999. With this configuration, you get a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7-10875H processor with 32GB RAM, a pair of 1TB PCIe SSDs (RAID 0 configuration), Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2070 GPU with 8GB VRAM and a 15.6-inch, Full-HD (1080p), 300Hz primary display, and a 14.1-inch, 3840 x 1100 secondary touch-screen. Need more power? The $3,499 model bumps you up to a 2.4 GHz Intel’s Core i9-10980HK CPU, 16GB RAM, a 1TB PCIe SSD, Nvidia’s RTX 2080 Super GPU with 8GB of VRAM.
Our Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 review model costs $3,999 and has a 2.4GHz Intel Core i9-10980HK CPU, 32GB RAM, two 1TB PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 configuration, Nvidia’s RTX 2080 Super GPU with 8GB of VRAM and a 15.6-inch, 3480 x 2160, 60Hz panel with a 3840 x 1100 secondary touch screen.
Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 review: Conclusion
The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 has it all. The $3,999 beauty has everything you want in a gaming laptop and some things you didn’t know you needed. For starters, you have the dual-screen setup, which Asus wisely upgraded by including the AAS cooling system in the mix and raising the secondary screen, making it easier for gamers to look down and track the action quickly.
ScreenPad Plus is just as useful for multitasking as ever, and the integration of the company’s gaming software makes it a viable option for gamers who don’t have room for additional monitors. You get an Intel’s Core i9 processor, Nvidia Super GPU, and some ridiculously fast SSDs. And with all that power, the laptop still manages to exceed the average of our battery life – twice as long.
If you’re looking for a traditional gaming laptop experience, consider the Razer Blade Pro 17. It still costs $3,199, but it ticks all the boxes gamers and content creators would want. However, if you’re looking to experience the future of gaming laptops, you can’t beat the likes of Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 brings its dual-screen technology to gaming laptops and introduces the evolution of the genre.
- Gorgeous design
- Beautiful displays
- Powerful overall and gaming performance
- Good battery life
- Seriously fast SSDs
- Runs hot