- ASUS OLED Display makes its return and looks beautiful
- Impressive specification in such a solid chassis
- ASUS Pen included and works better
- Keyboard gets a Wrist rest unlike the non-pro variant
- Thunderbolt Support for extensive connectivity
- Improved ScreenPad+ with ScreenXpert 2 Software
- Still no SD Card reader to be seen
- The price * gulps *
- i9 is overkill for this particular laptop,
If you look for dual-display laptops in the market, the first thing that pops up on your search result is going to be anything ASUS has made so far: the Zephyrus Duo for gaming and the Zenbook Duo for Creators. Unlike others who bring something interesting to the table, ASUS decided to act and improve on that and today we have the refreshed ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo 15 with good amount of improvement – both in functionality and performance.
Improved Display, now in OLED
Lately, ASUS has been pretty proud with the things they are doing with their products, and it started with the Zenbook Flip, which you can read all about it here. In the whole lineup of laptop that are currently available under the ASUS umbrella sans ROG, is getting the OLED treatment with the Zenbook Pro Duo being the second laptop to get the OLED display with more laptops boasting en route to the Malaysian Market. That said, the main display is a 15.6” LED-backlit OLED Panel in UHD. There’s only one word you can use to describe the moment you look at this display: Delicious. Imagine a plate full of colorful treats that you cannot resist, that’s how beautiful it is – popping with colors on a panel that’s validated by PANTONE and support for 100% DCI-P3 Color gamut, sealing the deal with fruitful amount of flavor a creator can’t resist.
That said, the display is also touchscreen enabled and the best part is – the Zenbook Pro Duo 15 comes with an ASUS Pen stylus, supporting 4096 pressure levels. So, drawing on this display and be able to draw finer particles onto a CAD application or SketchBook, this display does it well. Only thing that does get to me is the glossy finish display, which is a magnet for reflection under bright light, given that you can’t move the display flat entirely to draw and there is a chance that the light is going to bounce on the display to give the glare. So, when you do draw, angle it in a way that its easy on the eyes and to your hands.
Remember I mentioned this is a dual display laptop, the Screenpad has improved in both the software and hardware department.
The ScreenPad+ with ScreenXpert 2
The second screen we have here is a 14.09” UHD touch enabled display but it isn’t OLED but that is alright – given that this is a custom ratio that stretches side to side means that making an OLED display in this dimension is only going to make this laptop a lot more expensive. Thank god they didn’t, as if it isn’t expensive enough.
There was one thing I wanted ASUS to do to the second display, to angle it like the Zephyrus Duo for a much nicer viewing and user experience, they sure did – offering a fixed 9.5-angle lifting mechanism that positions the display in a way that both the main and the second display flows in a nice way – creating this illusion of using one big display. If you are worried about the hinge, don’t be – because ASUS re-engineered the hinge with 3-linked structure to reduce the coaxial movement. In fact the choice of material, Zinc Alloy helps with the durability and giving enough strength.
Thing about the Zenbook Pro Duo is: the last time ASUS sent us for review, we got hooked to the dual screen experience which did help with our multitasking in so many ways – with video editing, photo editing and so on. We can say the same for this Duo Pro because we got attached, but it did make the experience better – thanks to the improved software.
ScreenXpert 2 is the key software behind the dual display experience – the one that creates the synergistic flow between screens and its hella better, in more ways that you can think. To put it simply, the Zenbook Duo back in 2019 was a hit and miss in this department – but ASUS took it back to the drawing board, come up with a better one.
The new Control Center is nice – snappy to the touch and quick to react and you get the usual brightness, task swap, app navigator, task groups, keyboard lock, Back to Desktop, Setting and two new controls: Link to MyASUS and All App – basically the launcher that handles all your favorite application.
Remember those utilities we saw with the first generation? It’s improved and way better: Handwriting detects the text input via ASUS Pen better than I remembered, Quick Key for all my go-to shortcuts to be just one tap away, although my muscle memory couldn’t help it but to go to the good ol’ CTRL+ whatever and finally my favorite, the Control Panel.
Okay this feature, I have to show it to you – so you can watch it in this video below:
Keyboard and Trackpad Changes
One of the things I couldn’t get behind the Zenbook Duo in general is the keyboard position as it does add some discomfort to the typing experience – and you need a handrest to have a good typing flow. ASUS fixed that by including a Zenbook Pro Duo handrest, specially made for the laptop that just slips through seamlessly and looks whole. The keyboard layout has been altered with proper right shift keys and arrow keys, typing on this chiclet style keyboard is nice and that clicky feel is nice to get used to.
Say bye to the dedicated left and right trackpad button as they are now incorporated under the trackpad. I thought this wouldn’t be a good idea but as it turns out it is because not only the buttons are below the trackpad, you get more space to move the cursor making it easy to get used to.
Performance and Benchmark
Now we come to the performance because as you should expect, this laptop does not shy away from top shelf parts under the hood:
- Intel 10th Generation Core i7-10870H
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 with 8GB GDDR6
- 32GB 2933MHz DDR4 RAM (Soldered to the Motherboard)
- 1TB Samsung M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 Performance SSD
- Intel Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax and Bluetooth 5.0
We performed our usual benchmark application to get the performance data to get an idea on how it should performance. But by the looks of the specification, you already know that it uses the best specs for that buttery smooth experience. You can check out the scores we obtained from Cinebench R20, PCMARK10, 3DMARK, Geekbench, CrystalDiskMark and Blender.
To be very honest, this specification is too good and more than enough on a mobile machine of this caliber – it hits the right spot without having too much of a high-end specification that only gets bottle necked at this form factor. This laptop is capable of whatever you throw at it, I wouldn’t personally recommend gaming on it although you could because the OLED display isn’t rated for higher refresh rate, and it doesn’t have features like Adaptive Sync to reduce tearing and give the smooth experience you’d need on a gaming laptop. How about investing in a good monitor like the ASUS TUF Gaming VG271, which you can read about it by clicking here.
There is an Intel Core i9 version – essentially a much powerful processor but the rest is the same. As much it sounds like a beast which I’d agree as well. If you really don’t have reason to purchase with that amount of power, you’re better off with the i7, even we find the i7 more than capable.
I/O and Portability-wise
Say whatever you want, the only improvement I want to see in a laptop at this point are Thunderbolt ports and guess what, it’s got em’ – 2 x Thunderbolt 3 USB-C Port supporting upto 40Gbps, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type A supporting up to 10 Gbps, 1 x HDMI 2.1 (which means say hello to 4K 120Hz on a HDMI 2.1 supported monitor) and an Audio combo Jack.
The reason why I expect a laptop like this to feature Thunderbolt port is that, when you do settle down and get work done, you’d want to rely on a fast external storage for better transfer speeds or even hook up to multi setup monitors to take your productivity further and the specification below is capable of doing that – the Thunderbolt port gives the expandability at one’s fingertip. A very good advantage to have and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
But I do have one question: where is the SD Card Reader? ASUS should really consider including with their laptop because sometimes its simple things like these defeats the purpose of a creator laptop.
The new ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo OLED is still based on the core fundamentals which they announced in 2019. Every time looking at this laptop, I can’t help it but to feel my heart skip a beat – if it wasn’t for this Zenbook Duo, we wouldn’t even have a dual-display laptop that we could carry on the move and still have that synergy. The Duality. The fluidity.
But that Synergy, Duality and Fluidity comes at a price – RM 12,999 for the i7 and 15,999 for the i9. Honestly, you don’t need the i9. If you want the Pro Duo, then get the i7 because pricewise it sounds justifiable and paying extra RM 3000 for i9 is a bit too much.
We are giving the ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo OLED 15 Gold because of its improvement over the predecessor.