Twin screens are having a second. With legions of former workplace staff now ensconced comfortably on the kitchen desk, portable USB second screens and full-fat gaming monitors have seen precipitous spikes in recognition. In any case, there is a massive hole between what’s comfy and handy for an hour or two in a espresso store and a setup that’ll go well with a seven hour workday. Nonetheless, there’s an alternative choice to an add-on display: an ultra-premium laptop computer that builds a second display into the decrease chassis, providing you with that dual-screen expertise from a single allegedly transportable* system. Asus first launched their tackle the idea with the creative-focused Zenbook Professional Duo final 12 months, however we’re wanting on the subsequent iteration: the gaming-grade ROG Zephyrus Duo.
5 months after first going hands-on with this laptop computer in a cramped Bathtub pub, I’ve had the prospect to check this ultra-premium dual-screen laptop computer within the consolation of my own residence over the previous few weeks – and I am delighted to report that the Zephyrus Duo has exceeded my expectations by way of energy, portability and practicality. Nonetheless, there are nonetheless a number of drawbacks that have to be overcome earlier than this modern laptop computer type issue can earn a full-blooded DF advice.
So: that second display then. It is a 14-inch IPS panel with a decision of 3840×1100, sitting beneath the primary 15-inch show that on our unit is 4K at 60Hz; a 1080p 300Hz display can also be obtainable. Not like the same second display on the Zenbook, this one is mounted on a pair of levers that push it into a cushty viewing angle of round 15°, an motion that occurs routinely and silently when the laptop computer’s lid is opened. This elevation additionally permits entry to a 29mm air consumption under the display, permitting the highly effective CPU and GPUs inside the chassis to breath – our unit got here with a Core i9 10980HK and RTX 2080 Tremendous Max-Q, in order that they undoubtedly will make the most of all of the airflow they’ll get.
I mentioned in that authentic piece that the shifting second display is a marvel of engineering, and I used to be nonetheless considering that a number of weeks after unboxing the retail unit Asus offered on mortgage. Watching the mechanism at work is simply deeply satisfying, and it serves an important position in turning that second display from an costly gimmick right into a genuinely helpful function. It makes the display way more readable, so you do not have to be leaning over your laptop computer to get a great have a look at it.
I stored chat on the second display whereas streaming, music controls whereas working and recreation guides whereas taking part in single-player titles. It was genuinely uncommon to discover a state of affairs the place having a minimum of the choice for a second display wasn’t useful. The largest limitation I found was the peak of the display; at a facet ratio of roughly 31:9, you find yourself needing to scroll lots when browsing the online or studying textual content. Nonetheless, the excessive pixel density does imply you will get away with splitting the display into two roughly 16:9 halves and nonetheless have a readable end result.
Whereas Asus supplies a number of particular modes for the second display, I discovered them too clumsy to make use of, and as an alternative most popular to make use of it as an ordinary prolonged desktop, with key combos like Win + ←/→ to maneuver home windows round.
Nonetheless, I did respect the ‘disable keyboard’ perform, which allowed me to put a compact mechanical keyboard on prime of the laptop computer to improve the typing expertise considerably. (The built-in keyboard is not dangerous, actually, with fairly lighting and first rate suggestions, however the Print Display screen secret is on the underside row and there is a lot much less journey than you’d anticipate from a laptop computer of this thickness.) The trackpad can also be nothing a lot to write down dwelling about, and its logical however unorthodox place to the appropriate of the keyboard means you are higher off plugging in your favourite gaming mouse.
Hopefully you are not a lefty although, as a result of the barrel-type energy connector sits exactly the place you would be prone to go away your mouse. This oddity apart nonetheless, you may discover that the Duo is effectively geared up, with a USB-C Thunderbolt port, two USB-As and two 3.5mm ports on the perimeters, with gigabit ethernet, HDMI and another USB-A out again. There is a 90Wh battery inside, which produces round six hours for gentle work and nearer to at least one for no-holds-barred gaming.
Talking of gaming, the Zephyrus Duo is not any slouch in relation to efficiency. I recorded frame-rates of round 150fps in Fashionable Warfare (2019)’s multiplayer ranges at 1080p, with settings at low for essentially the most half. That implies you’d have the ability to make good use of the Duo’s 1080p 300Hz panel possibility for those who go that route. If reducing again settings does not sound like your model, you possibly can anticipate 80-90fps with the whole lot maxed out at 1080p, together with ray tracing.
In Valorant, a recreation designed to scale effectively from toasters to battlestations, the laptop computer achieved frame-rates of round 170fps – spectacular sufficient, particularly on condition that this was at 4K and with all settings pushed to their limits. It was related in CSGO, the place the laptop computer achieved 120 to 140fps at 4K with highest settings and 170 to 200fps with settings dropped to their lowest.
These outcomes exceeded my expectations, however the Core i9 10980HK and RTX 2080 Tremendous Max-Q in our check unit produced an unbelievable quantity of warmth and a great quantity of noise throughout gameplay. CPU and GPU temps have been generally into the mid to higher eighties, and the laptop computer turned noticeably heat to the contact – undoubtedly not appropriate for lap-top use! The vents on the perimeters of the chassis additionally dump out lots of warmth, one thing you may respect for preserving your mouse hand heat in these chilly winter months.
Fortunately, exterior of video games the laptop computer did not have related points. It was exceedingly snappy, as you’d hope given the high-end processor and storage configuration of twin NVMe SSDs in RAID0. I do not work in video manufacturing on the common, however I would wager this machine would make a superb cell workstation because of its surfeit of horsepower.
So the place does that go away us? On the one hand, the Zephyrus Duo may be very a cleverly designed piece of equipment; the dual-screen implementation is the perfect I’ve seen, its efficiency is top-notch and this laptop computer is even transportable sufficient to sling right into a backpack at slightly below 2.5 kilograms. In the event you can truthfully make use of that a lot firepower and the second display, then there’s an argument to be made – even given the few flaws I skilled and at this laptop computer’s ludicrously costly £2800 to £4000 asking price.
Nonetheless, for mere mortals, I feel it will be a case of ready for this form of dual-screen tech to filter right down to a extra affordable worth level. I would pay a number of hundred quid further for a laptop computer with a sensibly carried out second display, however one other thousand or two is hard to justify – particularly once I’ve been testing a £170 15.6-inch second screen that is extra handy to make use of and gives a full 16:9 facet ratio. Likewise, if I used to be after a pure efficiency powerhouse for cell video work, I would be extra prone to flip to one thing just like the XMG Apex 15, which Rich reviewed recently and incorporates a desktop-class Ryzen 3950X processor at round £2000 whereas remaining cooler and quieter.
Nonetheless, I respect the pioneering work that Asus are doing right here and I am desirous to see if we do see the dual-screen idea proceed to turn into extra refined and reasonably priced within the years to come back. Within the right here and now, the Zephyrus Duo 15 is an impressive laptop computer that is simply too costly to suggest.
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