Earlier this year we reviewed the Asus Zenbook Duo and were impressed with its innovative design and experience. Now Asus has sent us the gaming version of this, the ROG Zephyrus Duo 16, to check out.
A dual screen gaming laptop has extremely limited use for gaming but does add to the flexibility of the gaming laptop. We put the laptop to the test and came out impressed but convinced that it is an extremely niche use at this stage.
The config of the ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 that Asus sent us was an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX with Radeon Graphics processor, 32GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU, a 10GB graphics card.
The design outside of the laptop is subtle but still has a distinctive gaming feel to it. There are no RGB options or lighting on the outside, instead small indentations in the black matte surface and within these indentations are a reflective surface giving off colours depending on the angle of viewing.
Open the laptop and that is where the magic occurs. You are first greeted by a beautiful 16in mini LED display at the top and a sliding secondary display below.
The infra-red 720P webcam is located above the main display and given the lack of a fingerprint sensor is extremely useful for logging in with full Windows Hello support. It seemed to work well for me, although it failed when I had my glasses on compared with off when I had the glasses off when I saved the facial information.
The way the secondary ScreenPad Plus display slides up is for two main reasons – cooling and a better viewing angle. It is pretty cool the way it moves when you open the lid though.
Underneath the ScreenPad Plus display is a thin glass section over the top of internal components where RGB lights can be seen – although they are subtle. Below this is the keyboard and trackpad.
Once open there is so much going on there is no mistaking that this is a gaming laptop, especially with your Aurora lights going across the keyboard. If you are going to be doing a lot of typing on this laptop it may not be the most comfortable experience for you.
This is because the keyboard feels a bit cramped over to the left side of the bottom of the laptop with the smallish trackpad tucked into the right of the keyboard. This makes the trackpad very difficult to use, especially if you are using it extensively. If you are using a gaming laptop though it’s fair to assume that you are going to have a mouse attached to it – which I did at all times while using this.
The keyboard itself is placed right against the bottom of the laptop which isn’t super comfortable – palms rests are under-rated. Luckily Asus do include a palm rest in the box to use if you are going to be doing a lot of typing with this device. Of course this cannot be used if typing on your lap but certainly can while on a desktop or table – and it worked well when used in those situations.
Overall the build quality of the ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 is solid thanks to the metal chassis it is built on which is great – you don’t want your gaming laptop flexing and moving while you are in the middle of an intense game session. This unfortunately makes the laptop relatively heavy (2.60kg) so don’t expect to comfortably carry this laptop around for extended periods of time.
The ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 can be specced just how you like it like most laptops. The review laptop specs included an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX with Radeon Graphics processor, 32GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU, a 10GB graphics card.
Other options for your specs include changing the GPU down to a 3070 Tito save a few dollars if you prefer. The display can also be purchased with either an FHD+ 16:10 (1920 x 1200, WUXGA) IPS-level display or a QHD+ (2560 x 1600, WQXDA) Mini LED display. Both display options have an option of 165Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response time.
You can only buy the laptop with 16GB of RAM (2 x SO-DIMM) but you can add more to make it up to 64GB yourself if that takes your fancy. Storage in your laptop will only be available in a single 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 Performance SSDs
The ports included in the laptop are:
- 1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack
- 1x HDMI 2.1
- 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A
- 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C support DisplayPort™ / power delivery / G-SYNC
- 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C support DisplayPort™
- 1x RJ45 LAN port (ethernet)
The ports are located on the sides and the rear of the device with the rear housing the HDMI port, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port and the ethernet port.
Unfortunately, and strangely, the power cable plugs into the left-hand side of the laptop – which is not always a bad thing, but Asus and ROG have decided to place the port to the left of the keyboard, not towards the rear. With the location of the keyboard this cable may get in your way if you are a left-hand mouse user. Strange decision by Asus but it seems that the location of the cooling fans underneath the ScreenPad Plus display are preventing the power cable from attaching there on the side. It would be much better if the cable attached to the rear of the laptop.
In the design section above I talked about the keyboard and how cramped it might feel but although it can give that feeling it is pleasant to type on. The keys have very quiet activations with a decent amount of travel, especially for a laptop keyboard. I used it to type this review and did not have any issues working on it.
This is a gaming laptop though so it would have been nice for Asus and ROG to include some form of a mechanical keyboard. Other manufacturers have managed to include a low-profile mechanical keyboard giving the user that gaming tactile sensation and sound.
Other inclusions are Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 support so you can be sure you’ll be getting the fastest wireless speeds possible wherever you are.
The speakers are extremely impressive for a laptop. The 6-speaker (dual-force woofer) system with Smart Amplified technology provides for a loud sound with decent clarity for those who prefer to not use headphones while gaming.
The 16-inch display on the review laptop is the mini LED version, what ROG call their ROG Nebula HDR Display. It has the full DCI-P3 support of 100% and supports refresh rates of up to 165Hz and a response time of 3ms.
You can of course opt for the IPS display which has a higher resolution and refresh rate (3840 x 2400, WQUXGA). It still has a DCI-P3 of 100% so expect decent colours but you won’t get as black blacks.
The display is great for gaming and with the refresh rate set at 165Hz while gaming had no issues with any ghosting or lag. The display is not a touch display but I’m not sure why you’d need that on a gaming laptop so it’s no great loss.
There is of course the secondary display which is a touch display. This ScreenPad Plus is a 14-inch 3840 x 1100 (4K) IPS-level display with support for not just touch but also a stylus/pen.
The secondary ScreenPad Plus display is a multi-tasker’s dream. You can fill it with pages you want to continually monitor while working or gaming on the top display such as chat, timelines or Photoshop or video editing software controls. I used it to have a browser with my Gmail in one half and Telegram in the other – this was while gaming on the top. Of course, you can also use the ROG Amoury Crate here to constantly monitor the system while you are gaming/working.
There are some games which apparently have a setting in them to support the ScreenPad Plus display with some content overflowing to there. One of these is Dying Light 2 which places weapon choices in the additional display to allow for easy selection without having to pause the game. Over time you can be sure that more and more games will have this functionality built in.
You may think the ScreenPad Plus is a gimmick at first but it means you have a multi-display laptop which is how so many people work on a desktop, so why not a laptop now?
The ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 comes with ROG’s usual Armoury Crate which is used to control all the gaming features of the laptop including the CPU speed, GPU speed, RGB lighting as well as a place to launch all the games from. It will automatically scan for games as you add them and put them in the game library but you will most likely have to manually add some yourself – which is a simple thing to do.
You can of course set game specific settings for RGB and performance mode within the Armoury Crate which is handy because not all games will require the full GPU and CPU load of performance settings.
Laptops are a strange thing when it comes to performance. No matter the specs they very rarely go even close to matching the performance of similarly specced desktops. In saying that the 3DMark benchmark results for the ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 were over 11,500 which placed it “better than 72% of all results”.
In every day gaming the laptop performed perfectly. It did not miss a beat while playing any games that I threw at it, even at full 165Hz refresh rate and full performance mode. I was able to drive the streets of Asphalt full speed collecting extra points for running into trees (bonus for a bad gaming driver like myself). First person shooter games were also lag and stutter-free whichever game I was playing – yes I tested out quite a few of them.
As with all gaming laptops the laptop chews through the power when it is not plugged in. Even while just working mostly but with a little bit of gaming thrown in it did not last three hours. To get the full use out of this laptop you will want to have it plugged it — it will throttle a lot of the hardware otherwise.
The battery is a 90WHrs battery that is charged using a 280W AC adapter so it can charge very quickly as required. Just carry that charger around with you as you will need it. As we experienced with the ZenBook Pro Duo review, the dual screen spec really loves chugging down that power.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 a great laptop for gaming. The display offers great colours and blacks while also offering a decent refresh rate (165Hz) — although some others are higher in that spec.
The secondary display will most likely be used for more conventional uses while gaming but there are some games that support it as part of the game — hopefully there are more developed in the future as it offers that added functionality you normally only see on a desktop PC.
The best thing about the laptop is its multi-tasking — watch your emails, chat etc while gaming on the main display. The keyboard could be more gaming styled with a more mechanical feel to it but as a productivity keyboard it functions really well. The touchpad is small and cramped and to be honest won’t be all that useful — carry a mouse instead.
If you are serious about your gaming but also want a multi-tasking beast then this is one laptop you should be checking out.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 is available at good PC retailers in two different specs. The version with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti Laptop GPU and the FHD+ display will set you back around $4,499 while the version with the QHD+ display and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Laptop GPU will cost you $5,899.
Spec sheet: ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo 16
|Model Name||GX650RW-LS102W / GX650RX-LO146W|
|Marketing Name||ROG Zephyrus Duo 16|
|Dimension (W x D x H)||35.5 x 26.6 x 2.05 ~ 2.05 cm|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen™ 9 6900HX Mobile Processor (8-core/16-thread, 20MB cache, up to 4.9 GHz max boost)|
|Weight||2.50kg / 2.60 Kg|
|Graphic||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti Laptop GPU / NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Laptop GPU|
|Graphic Wattage||ROG Boost: 1445 MHz* at 165W (1395MHz Boost Clock+50MHz OC, 140W+10W Dynamic Boost in Turbo Mode, 140W+25W in Manual Mode)|
|Graphic Memory||16GB GDDR6|
|Resolution||FHD+ 16:10 (1920 x 1200, WUXGA) 165Hz / QHD+ 16:10 (2560 x 1600, WQXGA) 165Hz|
|Response Time (G2G)||3ms|
|Total System Memory||16GB DDR5-4800 SO-DIMM *2, 64GB max.|
|System Storage Installed||1TB PCIe® 4.0 NVMe™ M.2 Performance SSD|
|Wi-Fi/Bluetooth||Wi-Fi 6E(802.11ax) (Dual band) 2*2 + Bluetooth 5.2 (*BT version may change with OS upgrades.) -RangeBoost|
|I/O Ports||1x RJ45 LAN port|
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C support DisplayPort™
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C support DisplayPort™ / power delivery / G-SYNC
2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A
1x card reader (microSD) (UHS-II, 312MB/s)
|Display output||1x HDMI 2.1|
|Audio||1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack|
|Webcam||720P HD IR Camera for Windows Hello|
|ScreenPad™||ScreenPad™ Plus (14″ 3840 x 1100(4K) IPS-level Panel Support Stylus)|
|Speakers||6-speaker (dual-force woofer) system with Smart Amplifier Technology|
|Operating System||Windows 11 Home|
|Battery||90WHrs, 4S1P, 4-cell Li-ion|
|Power||ø6.0, 280W AC Adapter, Output: 20V DC, 14A, 280W, Input: 100~240C AC 50/60Hz universal|
|Bundled Peripherals||Palm rest|