Last year, we have the ASUS ZenBook Duo. It has a secondary strip of display that is called the ScreenPad Plus, and it brought an entirely new design as it makes use of the extra space on the laptop – but it has some issues. And today, we have the ROG Zephyrus Duo. It’s a next-generation upgrade of that design but branded within the Zephyrus lineup instead. With good reason, actually.
We’re approaching the Zephyrus Duo in two different perspectives – one as a content creator, and another as a gamer/streamer. We’ll only be focusing the content creator part in this part. If you want to know about how the Zephyrus Duo performs as a gamer/streamer machine, click here to check out that video from Tech Critter instead.
Let’s start off with some specs first because I don’t want to dwell on this any longer. The Zephyrus Duo is packed with the highest-end specs available so it doesn’t really matter that much.
- Intel Core i9-10980HK
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q
- 32GB 3200MHz RAM
- 2x 1TB NVMe SSDs in RAID 0
As for the display, the Zephyrus Duo comes in two different flavors – which is where the inspiration for separating this laptop review into two parts come from.
- 15.6-inch 4K 60Hz with 100% Adobe RGB; Pantone validated; G-Sync compatible
- 15.6-inch 1080p 300Hz 3ms response time with 100% sRGB; Pantone validated; G-Sync compatible
As for the secondary strip of display – which is also called the ScreenPad Plus, is at 3840×1100 resolution only. It is touch-sensitive, though.
This is a weird thing since the Zephyrus Duo is relatively lightweight for its size as it is made entirely out of magnesium alloy. It’s sturdy and lightweight for all the hardware that it packs inside. However, it’s a rather thick laptop – and also rather wide.
For a laptop with a 15.6-inch screen, it cannot fit into my laptop that I usually fit all laptops in.
In terms of ergonomics, the keyboard and trackpad is pretty much the same case as last year’s ZenBook Duo series. The keyboard is shifted down and the trackpad is moved all the way to the right side.
What’s new here is that the ScreenPad Plus now tilts upwards. Technically, it’s the reverse of the Zephyrus lineup’s iconic Active Aerodynamic System (AAS) that pops down instead.
This new design solves two issues that the ZenBook Duo series has – the first one being thermals as the ZenBook Duo series had the ScreenPad Plus stuck onto the main body, and blocked off the largest surface area for cooling.
Secondly, it made the ScreenPad Plus tilt, solving some of my complaints about its ergonomics. I don’t have to move my body to look at the screen that much, but still – I wish it’s user-tiltable instead of being at a fixed angle.
I know it’s not an easy task but I do wish that the engineers at ASUS will take on this challenge to make the Zephyrus Duo as perfect as possible. The ScreenPad Plus is a feasible idea, but definitely not perfect as of now.
Video editing experience
I find myself editing quite a number of videos using the Zephyrus Duo. I move the Premiere Pro timeline to the secondary display whereby the main display is used as the live preview. Needless to say, I had a great time.
But, there are a few problems. Firstly, the performance profiles. In the Armoury Crate software, we can select Silent, Performance, and Turbo mode. I tried Silent first since I edit videos using speakers anyway, and the fans were dead silent – but the performance is atrocious as well. Premiere Pro was chugging along and stuttering all over the place.
So, I turned on Performance mode and it worked out well. Turbo mode gives us the best possible performance, but the fan is pretty much at a high speed all of the time.
Editing videos on the included 65W charger?
The Zephyrus Duo does come with another 65W USB-C charger since it supports USB-PD charging too, just like the Zephyrus G14. Given that this is a relatively thin and light laptop, I guess some people will take it out for traveling and editing video on the go – when the borders are open again, of course.
First of all, don’t use G-Sync. It’ll drain the battery quicker than that 65W charger can juice up the laptop. Switching to Optimus mode is much better – but the battery still gradually goes down ever so slightly. It’s time-limited but takes virtually forever to drain.
Is it suitable for on-the-go laptop for creators?
Well… kind of. More like it’s a powerful machine that you can bring with you and plop down somewhere, but takes some setup time as you’ll have to set up your “station”. It’s not exactly a device I’ll use while on battery, but definitely great to bring around like a portable desktop.
While I do like the overall selection of the ports, my final complaint is simple – please move one of the USB Type-A ports from the right side to the left, and also move the power jack to the back of the laptop. Those ports at the back are not going to be disconnected unless we want to move elsewhere.
Is the ROG Zephyrus Duo for you?
For the price of RM19,999 (yes that’s right), I’d say it depends on your use case. As a content creator who lives within the realms of the Adobe Creative Suite of software, I’d say it’s powerful enough to handle everything I throw at it while being sleek and portable at the same time.
Sure, my workflow needs to be adjusted a little but I find myself enjoy using the Zephyrus Duo a lot more than the ZenBook Duo from last year. It’s just a lot more viable now.