ASUS ZenBook Duo Laptop Review – 2 Screens On A Budget?

ASUS ZenBook Duo Laptop Review – 2 Screens On A Budget?


The ASUS ZenBook Duo laptop has two screens,
but is around half the price of the more expensive Pro Duo version that I’ve previously covered.
In this review you’ll find out what features this cheaper version has to offer and find
out if it’s worthwhile. Starting with the specs I’ve got a 10th
gen quad core Intel i5 CPU, Nvidia MX250 graphics, 8gb of memory in dual channel, two screens
which we’ll look at in depth soon, and a 512gb M.2 NVMe SSD. For network connectivity it’s got the latest
WiFi 6 and bluetooth 5, no ethernet port though, so you’ll need to use an adapter if you
need it. It’s available with different specs though,
including i7 CPU, up to 16gb memory or 1TB SSD, you can find examples and up to date
pricing linked in the description. The ZenBook Duo is basically the baby version
of the ZenBook Pro Duo that I’ve covered previously on the channel. The pro model is
larger and offers all the bells and whistles, while the Duo we’re looking at here is meant
to be more of a budget friendly option, so it’s lower specced and not quite as feature
rich as a result. On the spun metal lid we’ve just got the
ASUS logo on the celestial blue finish. The interior is the same colour, and we can see
that second screen above the keyboard which is pushed down to the front as a result with
the touchpad on the right. Overall the build quality was good, the all metal design was
solid and there were no sharp corners or edges anywhere. ASUS list the weight at 1.5kg or 3.3 pounds,
and mine was just a little above this. With the small 65W power brick and cables for charging
the total weight rises to just below 1.9kg, it’s quite portable. As a 14” machine the width and depth are
noticeably smaller compared to the 15” laptops I typically deal with, and it’s not too
thick either. The height will change when you open the lid.
When you open it up, the bottom of the screen props up the rear. This has the advantage
of improving cooling as more air can get in underneath. It also improves the viewing angle
for the second screen, the keyboard is raised to be on a better angle for typing, and the
speakers aren’t pressed flat against the desk. With the basics out of the way, let’s get
into the most interesting part of this laptop, the dual screens. The bottom screen, what
they’re calling screenpad plus, is a 12.6” touchscreen with a 1920 by 515 resolution
with a 60Hz refresh rate. It’s got a matte finish and 178 degree viewing angle. You can
use either your finger or pen, however mine didn’t come with a pen in the box despite
there clearly being a spot for it, so I’m not sure if that’s meant to be included,
it’s not listed as included in the box on the website though. The primary display is a 14” 1080p 60Hz
panel, however there’s no touch screen functionality here, only on the lower screen. It’s got
8mm screen bezels based on my own measurements, giving it a 90% screen to body ratio. I’ve used the Spyder 5 on both screens,
for the main 14” panel we’re looking at 95% sRGB, 66% NTSC, and 72% AdobeRGB. The
12.6” screenpad on the other hand wasn’t quite as good, I measured it with 67% sRGB,
48% NTSC and 50% AdobeRGB. I don’t think it’s a big deal if it’s not as good, it’s
mostly meant to be used for showing extra things like tools or additional content rather
than being the primary display source, so doesn’t need to be as impressive as the
main screen. The primary panel was also a bit brighter
at full brightness, and also had a higher contrast ratio, overall it did look better
to me than the screenpad. As for backlight bleed, there was a little
in the main panel, but I never noticed this when during normal use. The screenpad was
harder to get a photo of, but it also appeared to have a little bleed, however this will
vary between laptops and panels. That’s a lot of information on the screens,
now let’s get into how they actually work. Basically the screenpad, so the one on the
bottom, acts as a second monitor. This means you can simply drag things between the two
screens in Windows, just like with dual monitors on a desktop PC. The ZenBook Duo comes with the ScreenXpert
software installed, and this helps you manage the second screen. It’s got some useful
features, for example if you start dragging a window on either screen it offers a shortcut
for you to quickly move it to the other screen. You can also use the ViewMax option on the
end to make the window fully take up both screens, and you can drag an application to
the pin icon which adds it to the app launcher. On the bottom screen it’s easy to set two
windows side by side with the standard Windows method of dragging the windows over to the
far sides, however the software also lets you set three side by side. I didn’t find
a limit of apps I could have on the bottom screen, it’s just a second monitor but the
software only lets you easily tile 3 side by side. On the second screen there’s this faint
arrow icon on the left that you can press to bring up the screenpad options, and this
displays the app launcher, allowing you to quickly open apps you’ve added here, and
you can also change the order or remove icons. This is also where you adjust the brightness
of the lower screen, I wasn’t able to change it through Windows. If you go deeper in to
the settings you get more granular brightness control. The next option lets you configure up to four
task groups. Basically you set up the apps you like using on the screenpad how you like
them, click the capture button and it will remember them. That way you can easily select
the task group and it will automatically open up the same apps. If you have more than 3
apps when making the task group it will only show the first three tiled side by side, and
you can only have up to four groups. Below that is a shortcut to quickly swap the
windows open on each screen, so the windows up top move below, and the ones on the bottom
screen move up to the top one. There’s also a dedicated key on the keyboard to do this
as well just above the touchpad. The next option is the app navigator, which
just lets you see the open apps on the screenpad so you can swap between them. The last icon locks the keyboard, preventing
the keys from being used. This could be useful for drawing on the screenpad without worrying
about pressing keys with your hand. Otherwise there’s also the screenpad settings,
which along with what you can see here allows you to make that hovering arrow icon disappear
until you need it and other options. If you don’t want to use the second screen,
you can quickly disable it by pressing the button next to the power button, this lets
you turn it on or off. I could spend 10 minutes going through possible
use cases for the second screen, but instead I’ll refer you to the review of the pro
duo linked in the description, as you can use it for the same things, which includes
streaming, gaming, editing and more. It’s literally just a second monitor, so you can
use your imagination as to how it would benefit your workflow. There was only a little screen flex, the metal
lid was fairly sturdy. I wasn’t really able to film it, but the hinges are out towards
the far corners which helps with stability. Despite feeling lightweight I was still able
to open it up with one finger, so weight is distributed fairly. It was a little awkward
feeling using it on my lap due to the way the back raises it up, but it worked well
enough. Although the screen has a thinner bezel, the
720p camera is still located up the top, and it’s got IR for Windows Hello support. The camera looks pretty blurry, but the audio
sounds pretty good. Although typing on the keyboard normally is pretty quiet, with the
camera on you can hear it quite a lot. I found the 5.5 degree angled keyboard fine
to type with, so long as you’ve got adequate space on your desk to push it back a bit as
it’s right down the front. Unlike the more expensive Pro version, no wrist rest was included. The keys have 1.4mm of key travel, and here’s
how typing sounds to give you an idea of what to expect, note how much quieter it is compared
to what we heard through the camera. The keyboard has white backlighting which
can be adjusted between three levels or turned off with the F7 key, and all keys and secondary
key functions are illuminated. Despite being elevated off the desk, there
was minimal keyboard flex even when pushing down hard, the metal chassis was fairly sturdy,
and I found the letter keys needed 56g of force to actuate. As a result of the keyboard being right down
the front, the precision touchpad has been moved over to the right. It’s smaller and
narrow so you’ll probably want to use a mouse, however after a bit of use I did get
used to it. The touchpad itself doesn’t actually click down, it’s instead got physical
left and right click buttons which weren’t too loud to press. Unlike the pro model, there’s
no option of turning this into a numpad. Fingerprints don’t really show up on the
keyboard and touchpad, after a lot of screenpad use they were a bit more obvious but it was
easy to clean. They’re easier to see on the metal lid, but as it’s a smooth surface
they were easy enough to clean. Although it does slide around a bit like this, when actually
open it was a bit more stable due to the rubber feet on the back which come into contact with
the desk when open. There’s nothing on the front side. On the left from the back there’s the power
input, HDMI output, the version isn’t specified but I could only run a 4K monitor at 30Hz
so it’s not 2.0, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port, and USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port, no Thunderbolt
though. On the right from the front there are a couple
of status LEDs, a MicroSD card reader, 3.5mm audio combo jack, and a USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A
port. Underneath there’s just some small air vents
in the center, we’ll check out thermals soon. The two speakers are found towards the front
left and right corners, they sounded above average with a little bass, and perhaps better
due to the extra space between them and the desk which is caused by the back being raised
up. They seemed fairly loud when playing music at maximum volume, and the latencymon results
looked good. The bottom panel was easy to remove after
taking out 10 TR5 screws. Inside we’ve got the battery down the front and single M.2
drive, that’s pretty much it, the memory is soldered to the motherboard and can’t
be upgraded, so you have to buy it with what you need from the start. The ZenBook Duo is powered by a 4 cell 70wh
battery. I’ve tested it both with the two screens on, and also with just the main screen
on and second screen underneath off. Both screens were at 50% brightness for this test
and keyboard lighting was disabled. As expected, with both screens on the battery drains faster,
however even with it on the results are still well above most other laptops. Although the game test ran the longest, it’s
important to note it only ran at 21 FPS rather than the usual 30 FPS from the Nvidia battery
boost cap, as the battery didn’t seem to be able to provide enough power to run it
higher. It was still usable, until there was 5% left where it dipped to 5 FPS, where it
lasted for a further 9 minutes than what I’ve shown on the graph. The small 65 watt power brick seemed to be
adequate for these specs, I didn’t have any battery drain during any of my testing.
You can use the MyASUS software to change the charge level limit though, I left mine
set to 100%. Let’s move onto the thermal testing. The
cooling solution is just a couple of fans in the middle with three total heatpipes.
Air is pulled in from underneath and then exhausted out below the screen. The MyASUS software allows us to pick between
the default auto mode for best performance, or silent mode which runs quieter with slower
fan speed. Thermal testing was completed with an ambient
room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius. At idle the temperatures were quite cool. The
rest of the results are from combined CPU and GPU stress tests and are meant to represent
a worst case where both are being loaded up. I’ve used Aida64 with the stress CPU only
option checked and the Heaven GPU benchmark at the same time to fully load the system.
Even worst case in silent mode the CPU is reaching 75 degrees Celsius, there was no
thermal throttling under sustained heavy load. These are the clock speeds for the same tests
just shown. The GPU speed basically doubles by enabling auto mode, and we also see a boost
to the CPU clock speed as the CPU TDP limit increases to 15 watts, which is the default
of the i5-10210U CPU. Undervolting then helped improve things just a little more, the main
limitation here was that 15 watt power limit. Here’s how CPU only performance looks in
Cinebench. Auto mode improved performance a little as the CPU power limit on average
rose from 11 to 15 watts, however we could get a fair boost to multicore performance
with the small undervolt, granted this seemed to negatively affect the single core result. As for the areas where you actually touch,
at idle the keyboard area was quite cool. The screenpad looks warmer comparatively,
but most laptops at idle are around the same 30 degrees Celsius, so not really an issue.
With the stress tests running the keyboard is a little warmer, but still on the cooler
side. The screenpad was now warm, up to 40 degrees, this is expected given the heat generating
components are directly underneath, and right up the back is in the mid 50s as air gets
exhausted just below the screen. Here’s what the fan noise sounded like while
running these tests. At idle it was completely silent. WIth the
stress tests running in silent mode the fan was extremely quiet, I could only just hear
it by putting my ear right next to it, then in auto mode it’s still realistically fairly
quiet compared to most other laptops I’ve tested. All things considered, there were no issues
with the thermal performance at all, it ran on the cooler side due to the lower specs
with low power limits. The fan noise is on the quieter side, even under worst case load,
but I’m not sure how the screenpad will go long term with the hot CPU and GPU below,
I presume ASUS have considered this though and put something between them to protect
it. Next let’s take a look at gaming. Although
the ZenBook Duo only has Nvidia MX250 graphics, it should still be capable of playing some
lightweight titles, so let’s see what it can do. Fortnite was tested with the replay feature,
and it was only really running well with the low setting preset, at any other setting level
the frame rate seemed to drop quite substantially. Dota 2 was tested playing in the middle lane,
and at maximum settings it was still playing ok with above 60 FPS averages, however medium
and below was much better, where even the 1% low was higher than this. Overwatch was tested in the practice range
with a 100% render scale, medium settings was needed to average above 60 FPS and it
was playable, but higher settings weren’t running too well. CS:GO was tested with the Ulletical FPS benchmark
tool, and medium settings was able to score above 100 FPS in this test, however the 1%
lows were quite weak. You can still play esports titles pretty well
even at 1080p, however lower settings are needed as we just saw. For more demanding
games you’ll either want lower resolutions or ideally a laptop with more powerful graphics
if gaming is a priority. I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the
512gb NVMe SSD, and it’s performing ok, but according to the ASUS spec sheet it only
uses 2 PCIe lanes, the 1TB option is apparently 4 lane though. Unfortunately I can’t test
the Micro SD card slot as I don’t have any cards that size. For updated pricing check the links in the
description, as prices will change over time. At the time of recording however, I can’t
really see it for sale in the US so it may not be available quite yet. Here in Australia
with the specs I’ve got, it’s available for $1700 AUD, which with taxes removed and
converted is about $1030 USD. Alternatively we can get double the memory, double the storage
space, and i7 CPU for $600 AUD more, or about $365 USD extra. For comparison, The ZenBook Pro Duo is substantially
more expensive, however it does have more powerful specs, OLED screen and option of
upgrading further to the i9 version. It’s just a way more premium option, you can check
my review linked in the description for more information on that one. With all of that in mind let’s conclude
by going through the good and bad aspects of the ASUS ZenBook Duo laptop. Basically it’s a cheaper alternative to
the more expensive and feature rich ZenBook Pro Duo. It still offers the key feature of
the Duo series, being the two screens, however the non pro version we’re covering here
has fewer features and weaker specs which is why it’s cheaper. With that in mind though, it’s still one
of the few laptops available with a somewhat large secondary screen built in, so if that’s
going to be useful to you and you aren’t made of money then it’s definitely worth
considering. Overall I found the second screen beneficial,
and the screenxpert software helped in managing it. It will depend on how you plan on using
the screen, for instance getting games to make use of it will vary wildly based on the
specific game, but for simply being able to watch a video or have a browser window in
view that you couldn’t before it’s a nice addition. The content creator side of it was also interesting,
but again it will depend on the application. When it comes down to it, it’s just a physically
separate screen below the main one, so you can use your imagination as to how that might
benefit your individual workflow. An external screen may be more beneficial
as it can be larger, but that’s an extra piece of hardware to carry around with you.
Despite the secondary screen, we’ve still got a fairly small and lightweight 14” laptop
here. The main tradeoff with the unique design is forward placement of the keyboard and requirement
for an off to the side narrow touchpad, however if you have desk space to push the machine
back typing was still fine, and you can always use a mouse. The additional screen does affect
battery life, but you’ve got the option of disabling it if not in use, but either
way the battery life was quite good. As the specs are on the lower side, thermals
weren’t an issue, it ran quiet even under heavy load and didn’t feel too warm to the
touch in the areas where you’ll actually be placing your hands. The MX250 graphics
is a nice step up over Intel integrated graphics, however in terms of gaming it’s still only
able to handle lightweight esports titles at lower settings at 1080p. It’s not really
a gaming laptop, but light gaming was possible, and the graphics would be beneficial for GPU
acceleration in some content creation workloads like video editing. There’s not much room in the way of upgradeability,
all you could do is swap out the M.2 drive, but that would require either cloning the
drive or installing Windows fresh as there’s only room for one slot. The memory, CPU and
GPU can’t be upgraded, so you’ll have to try and buy with the future in mind. I
thought there was a fair selection of I/O, but I think Thunderbolt on a machine like
this would have been great to see. For the price I think the ZenBook Duo is an
interesting laptop, it’s offering a second screen at a cheaper price point compared to
the Pro Duo model while still maintaining a good build quality, and there’s just not
much else to compare it to at the moment, it’s quite unique. If you think you may
benefit from more screen real estate and don’t want to pay more for the higher specced Pro
model then it’s definitely worth considering. Let me know what you thought about the ASUS
ZenBook Duo laptop down in the comments, and if you’re new to the channel consider getting
subscribed for future laptop reviews and tech videos like this one.

47 thoughts to “ASUS ZenBook Duo Laptop Review – 2 Screens On A Budget?”

  1. can you do a video, if possible a laptop with thunderbolt 3 running the pro display xdr or a similar display that runs primarily on thunderbolt

  2. Which laptop is better for casual gaming like fortnite,roblox and csgo and doing homework. ACER Nitro 5 (2019) 8th gen i5 with gtx 1050 or Lenovo ideapad l340 same specs and your video?

  3. this dual screen thing is just cool looking, I would like to try it out but the keyborad is potentially not comfortable when you are not using on the table but I would learn to live with it 😁

  4. I can definitely see the second screen being a huge benefit for tablet artists like me where the extra screen real estate means room for references without needing to whip out a phone or spending extra on a portable monitor. Saw this at JB HI FI the other day but I wasn't too sure how it would fare out spec wise so great review haha.

  5. Hello there, allow me to have one question that is really important for me,
    I want to get a very good looking laptop, with a stunning 4k display for media, and thin bezels, and also has the ability to play some games.
    I am mostly going to use it for college so I need some battery ability…

    I was considering the dell xps 15, it is gorgeous but you said that it has throttling issues so it is not so worth it…

    I am loving the zen book pro duo, with rtx 2060…

    My main concern is that it has short battery life,…

    So the question is,
    If it turn the 2nd screen off, and reduce resolution to 1080 while I am in the college, and only using Microsoft apps and some browsing…
    Can it last ,say 4 or 5 hours?
    It is really difficult to Carry the power plug..

    Thank you so much

  6. hey jarrod can you make a video about acer predator helios 700 ? because ive changed my mind about the msi gt76 titan

  7. Jarrod, first off thanks for all the awesome reviews! Is there any chance you could make a detailed comparison video featuring Alienware m17 r2 and the Asus Zephyrus S gx701? Would be very interesting to see how those two fare against each other.

  8. Why not just make it two entire screens and the lower one changes into a touch keyboard when you need it to? I believe there is something like that about to come out but it is a foldable screen.

  9. Hi Jarrod and comments. I'm in the market for a gaming laptop, preferably a cooler one temp wise (as I'd be using it alot on my lap). Mainly for semi modern games (Overwatch, WoW) and a bit of light video editing. No budget. What would you recommend I look at from the top of your head? Thanks! 😍

  10. Hey Jarrod! Great review on this interesting machine!
    One question though. Being a 14" laptop, it looks like the keyboard is shrunk to a size similar to what we find on 10" or 11" tablets, which are frankly half-decent at best. Does it feel cramped to type on the Zenbook Duo?

  11. Another Great video! Not sure a mx250 will be able to handle too much tho. BTW still waiting on the Razer blade stealth with 1650 max-q review!

  12. I'm happy to say I have this laptop I have been watching Jarrod'sTech and asking him questions and he has replied to them all I'm so greatfull, so the duo screen on this laptop is mind blowing I edit vids on the top and have the desktop open on the bottom with you tube next to it also, the bad points are the keyboard it's taking getting used to and tge side track pad, the battery life isn't as long as they advertising I think but it's decent, and not having a sd card reader and using the dongle port adapter takes very long to import files from a sd card, the screen is bright enough it looks decent tbf, but the duo screen trumps any negative about this laptop it unbelievable what you can do on this thing it really is

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