Dual screens are having a moment. With legions of former office workers now ensconced comfortably at the kitchen table, portable USB second screens and full-fat gaming monitors have seen precipitous spikes in popularity. After all, there’s a big gap between what’s comfortable and convenient for an hour or two in a coffee shop and a setup that’ll suit a seven hour workday. However, there is an alternative to an add-on screen: an ultra-premium laptop that builds a second screen into the lower chassis, giving you that dual-screen experience from a single allegedly portable* device. Asus first introduced their take on the concept with the creative-focused Zenbook Pro Duo last year, but we’re looking at the next iteration: the gaming-grade ROG Zephyrus Duo.
Five months after first going hands-on with this laptop in a cramped Bath pub, I’ve had the chance to test this ultra-premium dual-screen laptop in the comfort of my own home over the past few weeks – and I’m delighted to report that the Zephyrus Duo has exceeded my expectations in terms of power, portability and practicality. However, there are still several drawbacks that need to be overcome before this innovative laptop form factor can earn a full-blooded DF recommendation.
So: that second screen then. It’s a 14-inch IPS panel with a resolution of 3840×1100, sitting beneath the main 15-inch display that on our unit is 4K at 60Hz; a 1080p 300Hz screen is also available. Unlike the similar second screen on the Zenbook, this one is mounted on a pair of levers that push it into a comfortable viewing angle of around 15°, an action that happens automatically and silently when the laptop’s lid is opened. This elevation also allows access to a 29mm air intake below the screen, allowing the powerful CPU and GPUs within the chassis to breath – our unit came with a Core i9 10980HK and RTX 2080 Super Max-Q, so they definitely will take advantage of all the airflow they can get.