The ASUS Zenbook Duo range with dual-screen has been a winner for ASUS, as wel as creators, gamers and anyone who enjoys more screen real estate. The dual-screen format is a divisive one though with a full width display located on the keyboard deck that can simply be a second display, or add in more functionality across creative apps at the cost of pushing the keyboard to the front of the lower section.

The latest model of the Zenbook Duo range on the review bench this week is the Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED (UX8402). Scott checked out the 15” model earlier this year, so we thought we’d check out the 14” model

Powered by an intel Core i7-12700H Processor with 16GB of RAM, 1TB of Gen 4 M.2 SSD and an Nvidia Geforce RTX 3050 GPU it’s got plenty of grunt, and the 14.5” OLED paired

with the 12.7″ ScreenPad Plus display offers a lot of versatility.

There’s a stiff price tag for these features, at $3,799 it’s not a bargain basement model, but the eye-catching design certainly attracts a lot of interest when you’re using it in public with a lot of questions about how it works and how it goes in terms of productivity. So is it worth the price, and does it improve your productivity? Well, I spent two weeks checking it out and here’s how it went.

Hardware and Design

The ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED (UX8402) is a good looking machine, carrying the new monogram ASUS logo on the dark blue magnesium-aluminium alloy front. Opening the laptop you’ll find the dual screen setup featuring the 14.5” OLED display up top and 12.7″ ScreenPad Plus display on the lower deck, just above the keyboard with trackpad located to the right.

The keyboard is decently sized, though the position of the keyboard at the front of the lower deck can be a little difficult to use with your hands necessarily resting on the desk. It takes a little getting used to, but you do. The keyboard is nicely backlit making it easier to see when working in dim light and you can choose from auto-brightness in the myASUS app. There’s also dedicated keys for disabling the ScreenPad Plus (saving battery life when not in use) or switch apps down to the second display without the need to drag and drop.

The touchpad beside the keyboard is cramped, but having both the ScreenPad Plus and main display touch enabled makes up for this a little when you’re using it – however I did end up using an external bluetooth mouse for much of the review.

There’s a good number of ports on the laptop, with USB 3.2 (Type-A) and dual USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports for plugging in peripherals and a HDMI port and microSD card reader on the rear. The HDMI port at the rear makes it a little more convenient to output to external displays without having a cable hanging out the side.

For internal connectivity you get Wi-Fi 6E(802.11ax) (Dual band) 2*2 for ultra-fast connectivity (if you’ve updated to a compatible router) as well as Bluetooth 5 for connecting accessories.

There is an audio jack on the left hand side of the laptop for audio, or you can use the internal Harman Kardon speakers which are located on the base of the laptop – and deliver a surprisingly decent sound. Alternatively you can use Bluetooth headphones.

Displays

The main OLED panel is high resolution at 2880×1800 and is now in 16:10 aspect ratio. It’s also the first 14.5” display to run at 120Hz refresh making it an excellent screen for any movement.

Overall, the main display is gorgeous, bright and easy to read inside or outside. It’s Pantone validated, and covers 100% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut, for excellent colour representation.

While there’s minimal bezel surrounding the main display, there is a little bezel with a slightly thicker one at the top to accommodate the 1080p resolution webcam on top which supports Windows Hello logins. Frustratingly there’s no privacy shutter on that webcam, so a piece of tape may be a solution if you’re at all worried.

The display has a glossy coating which makes it a little reflective with any light sources behind you which can be slightly annoying.

The lower ScreenPad Plus however has a matte finish, but it’s brighter and tilts upwards at 12°, up from 7° on last year’s model – which really improves the viewing angle and aids in cooling the machine when in use. There’s more cooling available on board the Zenbook, with vents at the side, rear and underneath allowing the laptop to intake as much air as needed.

The ScreenPad Plus display is very usable at this new angle and the utilities included by ASUS include a numeric keypad and handwriting recognition app for use with the ASUS Pen 2.0, sit on top of the display as an overlay. There’s also integration with the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite which uses the ProArt Creator Hub to turn the ScreenPad Plus display into an additional control area. In the Hub you can add Adobe Creative Cloud apps – and as a bonus there’s a 3-month Adobe Creative Cloud trial included with the Zenbook Pro 14 Duo.

If you’re not using the utilities in the App launcher, you can just simply use the ScreenPad Plus as a secondary display and just drag and drop windows back and forth between the displays (or use the dedicated key on the keyboard) which makes the utility of the ScreenPad Plus that much more valuable.

ASUS Pen 2.0

Since the days of the Palm PDAs I’ve been a fan of a good stylus, which has moved into the Samsung Note series and now Galaxy series phones and now into laptops with the ASUS Pen 2.0.

ASUS’ second generation Pen is super smart, and has a lot of utility. It has 4096-level pressure sensitivity for fine line works all the way up to thicker brush strokes.There are also four, interchangeable pen tips included in the box – 2H, H, HB and B for your personal preference.

The pen itself is comfortable to hold, weighing about the same as a standard pen, and no thicker. There are two buttons on the side for erasing work, or right mouse click, with a Bluetooth pairing button in the very end. A USB-C port for charging is hidden behind a slide up panel on the end of the pen and charging is fast – 30 minutes and you get up to 140 hours of use.

Both displays are touch enabled, and support the ASUS Pen which comes in the box. The Screenpad Plus supports a small Handwriting app which can convert your handwriting to more legible text – even with my admittedly terrible handwriting.

You can also use the handwriting app for use in Microsoft Word, or just load up your favourite graphics app and start drawing on the display.

There’s a slight delay between what you put on the screen with the pen and it actually appearing, but only slight and it’s a very usable accessory – but I just wish there was some sort of garaged housing inside the laptop for it so you could transport it more easily.

Performance

The laptop is offered with a range of 12th Gen Intel Core 12700H processors ranging from i5 through to i9. The review model includes the i7-12700H with 16GB LPDDR5 memory, 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD and an NVIDIA RTX 3050 discrete GPU with the Intel Iris integrated graphics.

It’s a powerful setup for your day to day work, including your usual web browsing, video conferencing and office work. The downside is it’s not a high-end gaming setup, with the RTX 3050 struggling a little under load for high-end games – but handling a lot of older games well, but even newer games with the settings dropped lower.

The cooling system works extremely well with minimal fan noise unless you really ramp up the performance on the machine – at which point you can definitely hear fans, but you also get that big performance boost.

I ran 3D Mark TimeSpy and CPU benchmarks on it and here’s how it went.

Battery and Charging

The Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED (UX8402) comes with a large 76WHr battery and a 180W Charger.

The bright OLED display can be a bit of a battery drain, with the secondary ScreenPad Plus adding to that drain as well. The ability to turn off the secondary display can help with improving the overall battery life though.

Testing out various combos, I found average use at 100% brightness with just the main display I could get just over four hours use, while with the ScreenPad Plus lit up it was closer to three hours. Changing the brightness down to 50% gave a better result, though was still fairly disappointing if you’re looking for a full day of life – with the added downside that you’re at 50% brightness.

Of course with an NVIDIA RTX 3050 TI graphics card inside you’ll want to try some gaming on it, but this too will run the battery down fairly quickly with around an hour of use.

Thankfully the included charger is fast, with a 30 minute charge bumping the laptop to 60% charge, even with the laptop turned on and both displays in use. You can get just over 30% charge from 15 minutes of charging which is also decent if you need a fast top up – or wait around 2 hours for a full 100% charge.

Software

The ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED (UX8402) includes Windows 11 by default. There’s a small amount of pre-installed software including McAfee and the usual Microsoft trials for Office and various utilities.

The most useful applications by far are the MyASUS and ProArt Creator Hub app for configuring the laptop and ScreenPad Plus.

There’s definitely room to uninstall some applications when you first setup the ZenBook Pro 14 Duo OLED, but for the most part the ‘bloatware’ is useful and can definitely enhance your experience overall – and with 1TB of M.2 SSD storage there’s definitely some spare room to play with.

Should you buy this laptop?

The ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED (UX8402) looks, feels and works great. It’s a complete package aimed at the creator who wants more screen real-estate with enough power to complete their projects and get the job done fast.

There are of course some caveats, with the fan noise when running in performance mode, a less than ideal battery life when the ScreenPad Plus display is in use and of course the ergonomics aren’t fantastic with the keyboard and track-pad at the front of the lower deck. The big bonus of the secondary ScreenPad Plus display though makes up for a lot of these inconveniences, and when used on a charger, it’s an excellent machine with plenty of power – unless you’re getting heavily into gaming.

The ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED is now on-sale in Australia, if you want to check it out you should head over to the ASUS website to check out the specs and find your nearest retailer.