Perhaps ASUS’ most noteworth product from the COMPUTEX 2019 reveal, we finally see the ZenBook Pro Duo hit the market globally. For those unfamiliar, the ZenBook line of laptops is ASUS’ dedicated line for mainstream and business users. Much of the high-performance parts have always been dedicated for the ROG and ROG Strix family but that changes with the company leaning towards a more content creator-friendly approach. ASUS is heavily investing in creating a dedicated multimedia professional and content creator lineup and much of that rests in the ProArt series for other things but for their laptop line, the job falls on the ZenBook line. That said, the ZenBook Pro Duo was shown in Computex 2019 behind closed doors a short time just before its official unveiling during the ASUS 30th Anniversary Event.
The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo is a dual-screen, the main one being a 4K OLED touch display, intended for professionals after more screen space to increase productivity. Its major innovation comes in the form of a secondary screen which acts serves to provide more screen real estate to suit any possible need. From content-creation, office productivity to gaming, ASUS is pulling out all the stops for the ZenBook Pro Duo.
Its specs sheet is clearly impressive: either a Core i9-9980HK or i7-9750H CPU, 32GB of DDR4-2666 memory, 1TB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage and an NVIDIA RTX 2060 graphics card. This laptop is also listed as NVIDIA Studio-certified, bolstering its position as a content-creation platform. NVIDIA Studio certification allows users to use NVIDIA drivers aimed for creative content and allows the device utilize the GPUs resources for advanced features on compatible software.
The ASUS ZenBook Pro duo is announced at $2999 for the top-end i9 model. The Philippines release pricing is Php199,995 for the Core i9 model and Php169,995 for the Core i7 model. Both of which share the specs listed above.
- ScreenPad Plus: 14 inch 4K matte touchscreen, giving your endless way to optimize your multitasking experience by extending the screen or split windows and apps on both displays
- 15.6 inch 4K UHD NanoEdge touchscreen glossy main display
- Latest 9th generation Intel Core i7-9750H Quad Core Processor (12M Cache, up to 4.5 GHz) with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
- Detachable palm rest and ASUS active stylus pen included
- Fast storage and memory featuring 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD with 16GB DDR4 RAM
- Built-in IR camera for facial recognition sign in with Windows Hello.Bluetooth 5.0
- Exclusive ErgoLift design for improved typing position, optimized cooling system and enhanced audio performance
- Extensive connectivity with HDMI, USB Type C with Thunderbolt, Gigabit-class Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) (*USB Transfer speed may vary.
The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo features an all aluminum build with a blue tinge. ASUS logo offset to the side with the brushed metal tooling radiating from the logo.
Over at the bottom we see light perforations for intake but nothing really worth noting. As you can see you cannot service this by yourself without tearing the whole thing apart. Also notice the giant anti-slip feet which helps in improving this laptops stability as it is touch-capable so you don’t want it sliding when in use.
And now view the ZenBook Pro Duo from the side which really shows us how much of a big boy this laptop is. The left side hosts the AC jack, an HDMI output and a USB3.1 Gen2 Type-A port.
Over to the right we have a Thunderbolt-3 Type C, a unified 3.5mm audio jack and another USB3.1 Gen2 Type-A port. The ZenBook Pro Duo utilizes the same hinge technology as recent ZenBooks, dubbed ErgoLift, which raises the unit a few millimeters off the surface for improved cooling efficiency.
Opening up the top shell we the two screens: the top main 4K OLED and the 4K ScreenPad. Both of which are touch capable. The main screen is where most of the action will happen and ASUS has followed suit with their top-end screens, equipping the ZenBook Pro Duo with a DCI-P3 100% coverage screen. The bottom screen also known as the ScreenPad is also a 4K screen (3840×1100) and features the same responsive touch experience.
ASUS is devoting a lot to the color performance of their screen with the main one of course being an OLED screen. It also features 100% DCI-P3 color coverage as well as 133% sRGB and features HDR500 True Black certified and Pantone-validated.
The keyboard layout is similar to the GX531 Zephyrus S design but with some refinement: the Fn keys now serve dual-purpose full-time with a Fn toggle to change the key functions. The number pad also doubles as a trackpad and vice versa via a button on the pad.
The keyboard has a light blue glow. Tactile feel isn’t as good as most of the newer keyboards and feels noticeably mushier. Notice also that a lot of the keys are dual function most especially the Fn row. The arrows keys are also half-height and serve dual-purpose as page navigation keys.
Touch functionality is quite functional and works well with both touch and active pen. We really don’t see much use for touch on the top screen unless you’re using it for artist usage. We do understand its quite easier to drag windows by touch to the lower screen with this method but the gap between screens only limits that possibility. ASUS does have their own built-in tool for managing multi-screen usage which makes moving windows easier.
As precise as the top screen for touch, the bottom screen and its smaller size is a bit more limiting. Precision dragging on window sizes can be a pain and you will really rely on ASUS’ ScreenPad Plus tools. ScreenPad Plus is a big and far evolution from last year’s ScreenPad.
The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo mirrors most of the top-end ROG Strix laptop which means its got plenty of gaming horsepower. Still, an RTX 2060 will not fluidly drive 4K UHD. Taking down resolution to 1080p helps in improving frame rates but as you can see, the ScreenPad doesn’t really play well with games. You can still play no problem but some games will force you to set in-game menus to select the exact monitor or toggle borderless fullscreen to allow continued usage of the ScreenPad.
The sample we have right now is a 16gb variant, available internationally but not sold locally. That said, this performance review is for reference only but as memory speed, not capacity, factors in our benchmark more, we stand by these numbers as conclusive. All tests are sampled on 3 runs and averaged out for consistency. All tests are performed on a 25*C room. We’ve decided to cutdown on our benchmarks for the ZenBook Pro Duo as it is intended for a more multimedia-production field but we’ll expand if and should we get a local variant.
Rendering tests are benchmarks designed to gauge performance during multimedia and professional workloads like 3D rendering or video encoding. This gives us a good idea on how a certain system will perform during a certain predefined workload.
MAXON Cinebench CPU Benchmark R15
Cinegy Cinescore 10 – Ultra HD
Test Hardware: ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo For a full-hardware workout, visit https://benchmarks.ul.com for our system warm-up and stress test of choice. For benchmarking methodology please see our game benchmark method guide. Frame rates and frame times of a 60-second game play were recorded using FRAPS v3.5.99. The test results are the average of 3 benchmark runs. Since this is a GPU review, we benchmarked the area of the games that put heavy load on the GPU. All our test runs are repeatable, click the links below for area and details. Read our benchmarking methodology.
- DOTA2 – Kiev Major Grand Finals Game 5: OG vs Virtus.Pro (54:05 – 55:05)
- The Witcher 3 – Woesong Bridge
- Grand Theft Auto V – Palomino Highlands
- F1 2017 – Benchmark Mode (Australia, Clear Weather, Morning)
- Battlefield V – Nordlys
- Rainbow Six: Siege – Benchmark Mode (30 second)
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider – Kuwaq Yaqu
See our Youtube playlist for benchmark sequences. Note: Some proprietary technologies of NVIDIA like PCSS, HBAO+, and HairWorks work on AMD GPU’s BUT to maintain uniformity amongst GPUs, these have been turned OFF.
The most popular game on Steam and the biggest competition in eSports; DOTA 2 is powered by the Source 2 engine. The game is fairly light on low to medium settings but maxed out with heavy action on screen especially during clashes can really stress most systems especially with Reborn update. This is a game where frame times matter as responsiveness is very important in high-stakes competition.
DirectX9 (default) Best-Looking slider setting (Ultra) FPS_MAX 240 Vsync OFF
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
CD Projekt Red’s latest installment in the Witcher saga features one of the most graphically intense offering the company has to date. As Geralt of Rivia, slay monsters, beasts and men as you unravel the mysteries of your past. Vast worlds and lush sceneries make this game a visual feast and promises to make any system crawl at its highest settings.
Frame Rate: Unlimited Nvidia HairWorks: Off Ultra Settings Motion Blur: Off Blur: Off Anti-aliasing: On Bloom: On Sharpening: High Ambient Occlusion: SSAO Depth of Field: On Chromatic Aberration: Off Vignetting: On Light Shafts: On VSync OFF
Gaming experience on this notebook is really dependent on how you want to experience the game. You can get away with 4K gameplay but for the most part, most games will be more than rewarding in 1080p. All these tests are done in 1080p max settings with the laptop plugged in for maximum performance. The data presented is for relative comparison only but should is a definite indicator of the gaming performance for this laptop. Note that since we don’t have a direct comparative RTX 2060 notebook, we’re presenting the data as is. As a rule of thumb, we want frametimes as low and stable as possible (less stutter) and we want frame rate to be as high as possible (more fluid).
As the ZenBook Pro Duo follows a more ROG-style engine, it has to have a matching cooling design. The ZenBook Pro Duo still utilizes its own unique aesthetic than the likes of the Zephyrus or ROG Strix class of laptops but ASUS has still employed a more custom design for the ZenBook Pro Duo. The official product page doesn’t go through much of the details, albeit none at all, about cooling. Looking at thermal images and studying the layout, we can see the ZenBook Pro Duo intakes cool air from the bottom and vents them directly on the vents on the side.
This is exactly the reason why this thing is so thick, relative to the entire ZenBook line; the ScreenPad rests directly on top of the components which means we really can’t see thermals creeping up the top side with the monitor on the way.
The layout of the exhaust vent works for the ZenBook Pro Duo as the ScreenPad pushes the keyboard downwards which doesn’t put the hands on the venting holes.
How good this cooling is remains to be seen especially for the overclocking potential of the Core i9-9980HK. For our sample, it does well with the stock settings. ASUS included a turbo fan button to instantly increase fan speeds for improved cooling. At higher fan settings, the ZenBook Pro Duo does get audible but nothing noisy or irritating. Still, people’s threshold for noise vary.
The concept of multi-monitor laptops isn’t new but done the way ASUS has done for the ZenBook Pro Duo, they definitively set a incredibly high-standard for usability. Still, this usability may vary on what kind of user you are. ASUS has marketed heavily for multimedia professionals like video editors, music products and heavy office users and to some extent, gamers. For the most part, all those listed will benefit greatly from the increase in real estate if their workflow already integrates these things and their level of expertise can utilize the screen greatly. That being said, the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo isn’t ready-to-go, plug-n-play kind of solution and requires a certain level of familiarity with their workflow that would justify the increased cost of the screen, otherwise an ROG laptop would easily surpass the ZenBook Pro Duo in specs and performance.
Talking about performance, the ZenBook Pro Duo goes toe-to-toe with more performance-tuned offerings with memory performance proving a very good strongpoint as professional applications are very memory-reliant. In other things, its a toss up with rendering on par clock-for-clock with similar class laptops in our test but given the more refined and aggressive clocks of previous-gen, the CPU is a few hair below older CPUs but nothing deal breaking especially with the improvement in temperatures. This can easily be offset with a manual overclock especially for the higher-end i9 model.
For professional duties, it will do everything rather quickly. Editing and rendering a video will behave the same way as on a ROG Zephyrus GX502 with a similar processor and RAM configuration. Which leads us to the main feature of this laptop, and that’s the dual screen configuration. The addition of the secondary screen means nothing if you can’t maximize productivity using your available tools panel for your software. This means that you must have a level of familiarity with your software which will let your maximize using the tool e.g. Premiere Pro’s bin or timeline panels, pallettes and layers on Photoshop, and other similar windows in other software. While it may be enticing for new hobbyist to want the screen, learning how to use along the way may be enticing but sticking to a more traditional screen to learn the tools would be more helpful.
ASUS does try to increase productivity with the ScreenPad Plus tools but it will be a long, learning process and it still remains to be seen how open ASUS is in accepting professional inputs given the highly varied professional world they are about to embark on. Working with these professionals means allowing the software to grow and hopefully integrate new features they may not think of on their own.
Going back to the laptop itself, as with any high-specced laptop, battery life isn’t too kind and similarly, the thickness and weight isn’t something you’d want to lug around on multiple meetings. Still, compromises need to be made and if you think that the interface can help you speed-up your workflow then the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo is an excellent tool in the right direction for your production and in ASUS case, we do hope they integrate feature requests from professionals for the ScreenPad tools as limiting it their own updates and ideas will only slow down the pace of development for the software meaning its biggest strength is still its biggest weakness if not updated properly.
At Php199,995 for the Core i9-9980HK and Php165,995 for the Core i7 model, price is a little bit on the premium side but looking at it from a professional’s standpoint, you don’t get the same level of portability that the ZenBook Pro Duo has versus any multi-monitor solution for a laptop.
At the end of the day, the productivity bonus of the ZenBook Pro Duo falls on the user and if he/she cannot utilize the secondary screen then a phone dock would’ve been better for just playing Youtube videos or Spotify on the second screen.
ASUS backs the ZenBook Pro Duo with a 2-year international warranty. We give the ZenBook Pro Duo a B2G Silver Award for Innovation!
ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo
At the end of the day, the productivity bonus of the ZenBook Pro Duo falls on the user and if he/she cannot utilize the secondary screen then a phone dock would've been better for just playing Youtube videos or Spotify on the second screen.
- Excellent OLED display
- Great touch response from both screens
- Decent cooling
- Excellent color quality on displays
- Good audio
- Keys may feel mushy
- Battery stamina a bit low due to 2 screens
- Some games need setup to use only 1 screen
- Doesn't come in other colors