A few months ago, we looked at the Asus ZenBook Duo 14 and were left impressed. Fast forward to today, the ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED is available in the region. Borrowing much of the same design philosophy, it is a full upgrade in terms of processing power. Owing to this being a pre-release machine, we were not able to pass a full verdict. But was performance still up to scratch?
Design and build quality
The ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED is slightly on the heavier side. It features a 2.34kg magnesium-aluminium chassis that is 21.5mm thin. But considering the power onboard and the improvements over its previous generation, Asus has done well. Like many of Asus’ other laptops, you find the trademark ZenBook pattern on its lid that goes nicely with the Celestial Blue colour finish.
Asus has also improved the ErgoLift experience slightly, with a new hinge design. In practice, you may not notice this. But the more robust build gives the secondary display some much needed rigidity. It also raises the display up a bit more, which makes genera usage more comfortable than before.
Display technology and user experience
The bigger screen on the ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED is a 15.6-inch 4K 3,840 x 2,160 resolution touch panel. One of its biggest selling points is its OLED technology, which comes in handy for daily work and multimedia. You find features such as a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and 0.0005nits of deep black brightness alongside 100 per-cent sRGB coverage and low blue light certification for eye-care.
Pairing with this is a 14.1-inch IPS touchscreen sporting a 3,840 x 1,110 resolution. This is a 400nit panel, which is slightly less than the primary 500nit panel although the difference is brightness is not that noticeable, which is great. But having this extra panel opens up new realms of possibilities when it comes to multitasking. In our use case, having two programs open on the two displays was useful. And with a button to switch between either display, our workflow remained smooth. Especially for video editing, this was useful to have our timeline on one screen and a video preview on another.
But instead of just relying on this as a second display like usual, Asus has done more. The ScreenPad Plus can also be used for enhanced productivity with various software baked in. For instance, you can use it for handwriting input when required or as a number input when doing calculations. But the most useful feature as a creator is Asus’ Control Panel.
With support for Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Photoshop and Lightroom Classic, this allows you to open a corresponding panel on the second display for controls. You can customise preferences here and access features such as zoom, brightness and contrast via sliders, buttons and dialers. While this brings a sense of intuitiveness for many programmes, we would like Asus to take this one step further. Access to a set of controls is not the most useful when using Premiere and in this case, Asus could look to dynamically adjust your video’s timeline onto the second display for better interaction. This is a topic we touched on with the ZenBook 14 review and we hope to see it introduced into Control Panel over the next few months.
Keyboard and connectivity
Given that the secondary display of the ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED takes a large amount of the laptop’s deck space, the keyboard you find here requires adjustment. It is lower than your average laptop keyboard, but once you are used to the layout, typing is comfortable.
Furthermore, the dish-shaped keys and the long 1.4mm travel give you a satisfying feel. But, the trackpad is by far the most subjective aspect of the machine. With it on the right-side, it does not cater to left-handed people. And in an age where gesture input is growing, the cramped space is limiting. So, if you plan to make this your primary workstation, perhaps consider getting an external mouse. If you need a dedicated number-pad though, at least the trackpad doubles as one when required.
Other connectivity options for the ZenBook Pro Duo OLED 15 include the standard. You find a set of I/O including an HDMI 2.0 port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a Type-A USB 3.2 Gen 2 port and two Type-C USB Thunderbolt 3 ports. Being a machine aimed at content creation as well as gaming, it would have been nice to see the provision of an SD card reader and an Ethernet port. As for wireless connectivity, you find both WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 which works well.
Processing power and battery
Quite naturally, driving the experience on the ZenBook Pro Duo OLED 15 is a combination of some serious hardware power. You find up to an Intel Core i9-10980HK with 32GB of DDR4 memory and 1TB of PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD storage. Furthermore, you find the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU here.
Whether it is for productivity driven tasks or gaming, the ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED is more than equipped. For instance, we played a bit of Call of Duty: Warzone and Apex Legends without any issue. However, with this being a pre-release version of the machine, performance was not as consistent as it should be with random spikes and drops. Moreover, we did face some overheating issues with the chassis. But Asus claims these should not be present in the final version of the device.
To top off the internals, you find a 92Whr battery. In our use case, which involved video editing, browsing and general multimedia consumption, we saw a 3.5-4 hour backup. To recharge, you can use the proprietary charging port which takes just over two hours.
From a raw power perspective, the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED is fully equipped. And despite this being a pre-release unit, we are confident that its performance will be up to scratch. However, something to also consider is the recent emergence of the 11th Gen Intel Core H-series processors. While Intel will still continue support its 10th Gen lineup, when you are paying a premium price tag like Dh11,999, you may want to hold out for the best.