Describe a laptop to anyone, and you’ll make two observations immediately: A computer that can go anywhere, contained with a screen and a keyboard. The design for laptops has barely changed over the decades that they’ve become more popular in. Basically, they’re another example of the old adage of it being impossible to build a better mousetrap.
But said mousetrap can be improved upon, which is exactly what Asus is looking to do with the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15. Not only is it a laptop with an astonishing amount of power inside of its frame, it also has a handy feature that reveals itself the second you pop the hood open: A second screen. This isn’t Asus’ first attempt at a dual screen laptop, but it’s easily its most refined use of the technology so far.
Before we get to that discussion though, let’s take a look at the entire device first. The actual core design is stunning stuff, feature sharp lines and a less ostentatious finish. I don’t know about you, but I like it when my tech lets its performance do the talking for it instead of assaulting your eyeballs with a design that looks like it was bitten by a radioactive can of Monster Energy drink.
As for the keyboard, you’ve got a satisfyingly squishy setup, albeit a cramped one as the touchpad is positioned on the right-hand side of the tray. That makes for a more claustrophobic experience for your hands, and the lack of a traditional numeric keypad may also be a turn-off to users who want the full typing experience. Granted, you can activate an electronic numpad on the trackpad with the tap of a button, but it’s just not the same.
For input, you’ve got a range of options: On the sides you can make use of headphone and microphone jacks, a thunderport port, and two USB 3.1 Type A ports. It’s worth noting that the machine is discless in nature, although I do find it odd that there’s no card reader to make use of here. What I genuinely did like though, is the placement of more essential ports at the rear of this laptop: An ethernet port, 10 Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2 port Type C, and an HDMI port, which makes for less wired clutter overall.
One major thing to be aware of though, is that the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 has no webcam at all. Strange, but I guess no one wants to see my ugly mug right now so I can’t blame them for the concession. The magnesium aluminide chassis also provides some significant heft and weight to this laptop, so do prepare yourself for a workout when lugging it around or using it as a bulletproof vest in case you stumble into a warzone.
That weight is felt thanks to the internals of the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, which somehow includes an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU, a 2TB NVMe SSD RAID, 32GB of 3,200 MHz DDR4 RAM, a 90Wh battery and a 4K 60Hz display. That’s a lot of hardware even in a standard desktop PC setup, and in action it works beautifully well.
Pretty much everything I threw at this laptop ran like a dream: Gears 5, Hitman, and Hellblade all managed to easily hit max settings at 4K when pushed, delivering an astounding performance along the way. I did dial the resolution back to 1080p though, as I’m still of the mind that with a 15-inch screen, 4K is an absolute waste on it.
Other games that I loaded up at maximum graphical settings and sticking to 1080p, included Grand Theft Auto V, Gears Tactics, Red Dead Redemption 2, Forza Horizon 4 and notorious system-hog Hotline Miami. Without breaking a sweat, the laptop ran these games with the confidence of a drunk peacock at a beauty pageant.
It’s safe to say that the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 is specced to run anything on the market right now, and will easily allow future games to be played with little to no foreseeable compromises for quite a while still. Being the genius that I am, I left my 3D Mark jpegs on the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 when I sent it back to Asus, but I can say that from memory, it was easily hitting over the 30,000 mark in 3DMark’s Sky Diver test.
That being said, you’re going to want to keep this beast plugged in. Even with its massive battery, all its hardware and various functions makes for a thirsty beast when you’re out and about. Gaming sapped it dry within an hour, while regular work and entertainment had me running to my nearest plug socket after around three to four hours. And that was with the second screen turned off. Still, I could get through an entire showing of Pacific Rim, so that’s a win in my book.
So what about that second screen then? Asus designed this feature to complement and enhance functions that your typical gamer and content creator would likely use, a piece of partner hardware if you will. In terms of numbers, the the 3840 x 1100 touchscreen sounds like pure overkill, but you can’t deny just how beautifully sharp the display is.
It also works wonderfully, provided that you’re willing to put time and effort into customising it for your particular needs. Out of the box, you can use that second screen to access multiple desktop functions a few other internal apps, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I can easily see this screen being a godsend for streamers, as you can group broadcast functions within it and create a more elegant experience for yourself and your audience. It’s likely better than dropping cash on an Elgato Stream Deck, saving you space when you’re out and about.
I did fiddle around in my OBS suite with it, and while I’m no streamer by any stretch of the term, even I can see just how useful it would be to have functions prepared and ready to be utilised at the mere tap of a finger. It is properly handy stuff, which can also be extended to just about any other application that a creative person may use: Think photoshop, video editing and sound mixing, and you can imagine just how essential this secind screen will become once you’ve become invested in it.
Asus is likely to continue exploring second screen options, but I’d say that right now, the hardware on the ROG Zephyrus Pro 15 is the benchmark for what they can do when they put their minds to the task.
So you may be wondering, if there’s a catch to all this. Well there certainly is, and it’s a big one: The price. For all this power and functionality, you’re looking at paying R90,000 for this laptop. I promise you I am not making this up, the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 genuinely costs that much money currently. That’s an absurd fee, and an impossible price barrier to justify.
I’m not saying it’s not worth its asking price, and I genuinely would sell my mom down the river to own one of these, but it’s an astonishing levy to demand. That’s the rate for this much power in a slightly flawed compact package, but it’s undeniably well within its rights to demand such an outrageous sum.
Last Updated: September 14, 2020