DUAL-screen laptops are one of those ideas that sounds really good and have been developing nicely, but hadn’t quite made the push into standing on their own two feet as an established form factor – until now.
The Asus Zephyrus ROG Duo 15 is, as its name would hint at, a dual-screen laptop – and it’s very good. It’s not a gimmick, it’s not a proof of concept, it’s fully-fledged, fully functioning, fully useful dual-screen gaming computer.
The review unit was a ROG 550GLX, Featuring a 15.6in 1080p 300hz 3ms G-synch enabled 100% sRGB main screen and a 14.1-inch 3840 x 1100 touchscreen, the grunt of the system comes from the Intel i9-10980HKprocessor and Nvidia RTX 2080 card, backed by 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD.
Asus have done some superb work with dual screen laptops and this latest one builds on that to a solid platform that manages to be a decent gaming laptop with a genuinely useful second screen.
The screen is angled so you can easily see it, and designed in such a way with a default background that it’s not distracting if you don’t want to use it. The touchscreen aspect is a big help too, making it easy to move things around the second screen – whether it be windows, data files, or using a stylus to take notes/do graphic design work.
The cooling system in the ROG Duo 15 is particularly noteworthy because it’s really good – no matter how hard I pushed the system (and I’m talking Metro Exodus totally maxed out) it never missed a bit, the keyboard didn’t get super hot, and I never had any issues
It works because the second screen lifts up to expose the cooling vents, giving the laptop a lot more airspace to work with – and worth with it does.
All this awesomeness comes at a price, however – an RRP of AUD$5200, which is well into “serviceable used car” territory.
Is it worth it, though? Yes, I think it is.
While the system has a gaming focus, there’s a vast array of other uses for it, particularly in the video editing, content creation and social connectivity areas.
Given the price, you’d expect it to run everything you could throw at it, and it did, playing everything from Control to Metro Exodus to Fall Guys flawlessly.
I’d hoped to test Microsoft Flight Simulator on the system, but the 100GB+ download and Windows’ spectacularly opaque way of installing games meant that was going to be a lot of stuffing around – although the twin screen setup would be fantastic for the game, allowing instruments, maps, and other useful data on the second screen while having the main screen as the cockpit or external view.
The keyboard is backlit with the obligatory RGB lighting and has a 1.4mm travel on the keys, which makes it responsive for both gaming and typing. The touchpad is on the bottom right and also doubles as the numkeys via a toggle.
The laptop weighs 2.4kg, which is not bad either, and its power supply is an average size so it doesn’t feel like you’ve got a laptop plus an actual brick in your backpack.
On that note, I was really impressed with the battery life for general laptop work – I got several hours out of the unit before needing to plug it back in, which was great. Obviously that only applies to your garden variety internet/word processing/light Netflix/YouTube use, not proper gaming – in that regard, I found the Zephyrus Duo to be about the same as most of the high-end gaming laptops with maybe two to two-and-a-half hours about the limit.
It’s also a stylish bit of gear, managing to be surprisingly streamlined considering what it’s squeezing in, and it straddles that hard-to-find middle ground between “hardcore gaming” and “productivity” aesthetics.
The major criticisms I have are that it’s not cheap, and as soon as you take it off battery power the performance tanks hard. As with all systems you can fiddle around with the settings to get it to keep going without slowing down, but getting full performance on battery power is going to drain it faster than a pint glass at a university bar.
There’s no webcam either, which isn’t an issue at all for me (I’m not a streamer and have an excellent Logitech StreamCam I can connect to a USB-C port should I need to void screen warranties with my visage), but I can see how it might be an issue for someone who is Extremely Online (or just thinks that a AUD$5000 laptop should have a webcam in it).
The speakers were also a bit average, lacking the oomph I was hoping for in some of the more intense games, but since you should really be using a decent set of headphones for gaming anyway (and there’s a BlueTooth and 3.5mm jack to connect them), it’s hardly a dealbreaker.
I see a LOT of laptops as part of my work, so it is a true joy to review one that really is doing something different, doing it well, and clearly stands out as bringing something innovative, practical and (dare I say it) game-changing to the market.
If you want the twin-screen experience on a laptop without compromising on performance or quality, the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 is undeniably the way to go.