Asus ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED Core i7-10870H 10th Gen (2021) Review:

The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED resembles its predecessor in appearance. However, there are several enhancements this time around, the majority of which feature what we’ve always wanted this computer to have.

While the primary OLED is the star of the show here, the secondary IPS panel is also a welcome feature that will allow you to fully use the strong internals.

So, I’ve been using the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED as my primary machine for a few of weeks now, and I think I’m ready to offer my experience and ideas about this laptop, which should help you decide whether or not to buy it .

Specifications for the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED

  • Processor: Intel® CoreTM i9-10980HK 2.4 GHz (16M Cache, up to 5.3 GHz, 8 cores)
  • NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 3070 graphics card, featuring a boost clock of up to 1440MHz @ 90W (110W with Dynamic Boost), and 8GB GDDR6 memory.
  • Onboard DDR4 memory is 32GB.
  • 1TB M.2 NVMeTM PCIe® 3.0 Performance SSD
  • Display: (39.62cm)15.6-inch,OLED,4K UHD (3840 x 2160) 16:9,Glossy display,440nits,DCI-P3: 100%,Pantone Validated
  • ScreenPad Plus (14″ 3840 x 1100(4K) IPS-level Panel Support Stylus) as a secondary display

OLED Display ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15

This time, I’m going to go right into the display because those two touchscreens are the key selling factors of this laptop. The primary screen, as the name says, is an OLED display that measures 15.6-inches and has a 4K resolution.

The secondary display, commonly known as ScreenPad Plus, is an IPS panel. ASUS has used the same ultrawide 32:10 implementation as before. It is 14 inches and is half-4k, so it will be just as sharp and gorgeous as the main display.

Both screens accept touch and pen input, although the main screen is glossy, whilst the lower screen has an anti-glare coating to reduce reflections from the main display.

For obvious reasons, there is a significant disparity in image quality between the two. Even gazing at the laptop with both displays switched on, it’s clear.

The ScreenPad’s hinge mechanism, which was lacking on the predecessor, helps a little, but you’ll still be gazing at this display at an angle all the time, so viewing angles are sure to be an issue.

Now, for the display test, I ran our standard series of tests on the primary OLED panel, but I skipped the Screenpad display.

That’s because I believe that if you buy this laptop, you should solely utilise the primary display for your day-to-day tasks. For example, if you are a picture or video editor doing colour sensitive work, you should run them just on your primary display and utilise the Screenpad only as an extension for your background programmes. So, just keep that in mind, and you’ll be OK.

As a result, the OLED screen in this case is bright and vibrant, with outstanding colour coverage and viewing angles.

According to my tests, the display covers 100% of the sRGB colour space and 99.5 percent of the DCI-P3 colour space, which is more in line with what ASUS promises.

Having said that, the ColorChecker study informs me that there is a lot of discoloration going on here. It gave me a DeltaE score of 7.5, which is rather high, and even manual colour calibration couldn’t completely resolve the problem.

On the good side, the display is plenty bright, even if it isn’t as brilliant as ASUS advertises, and it has excellent contrast ratios and deep blacks.

Overall, I believe this laptop has an excellent main OLED display. However, I am sceptical of how the colours strayed from the desired values, with the maximum deltaE value reaching 12.

Even though both the sRGB and DCI-P3 colour spaces are totally covered, this means it’s not ideal for colour sensitive tasks. Having said that, it’s a fantastic display for content consumption and even gaming because the colours jump and everything appears lively.

Performance of the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED

My review unit is a high-end configuration outfitted with a 10th generation Intel Core i9-10980HK Comet Lake processor with 8 cores and 16 threads.

This CPU has a base clock frequency of 2.40GHz and a maximum turbo frequency of 5.3GHz. This is a 45W TDP CPU that OEMs may design with up to 65W, providing the chassis and cooling system allow it.

For memory, you get 32GB of DDR4 RAM in Dual-channel mode, as well as a 1TB NVMe SSD with fast read and write speeds. In terms of graphics, you get an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU with 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM and a basic TGP of 90W, which can be up to 110W depending on the title and performance level.

In the CineBench R23 test, I noted that the Core i9-10980HK CPU did reach 5GHz, but there was a lot of variability in the clock speeds, as seen in the graph below. This isn’t uncommon on computers that throttle due to power or temperature, but I’m delighted it produced the findings despite this behaviour.

In Cinebench R23, the laptop achieved a single-core score of 1276 and a multi-core score of 10180. It is comparable to the 2020 Zephyrus Duo, but its multi-threaded performance falls short of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 15 powered by the Ryzen 9 5900HX.

I had comparable findings with the Cinebench R20 as well. The ZenBook Pro Duo scored 5931 on PCMark 10, which is lower than the ASUS Zephyrus G15’s score of 6927 when powered by the Ryzen 9 5900HS. In fact, it’s lower than the MSI Pulse GL66, which we tested with the 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11800H CPU. As a result, the older CPU is clearly exhibiting its age here.

Before I go into the creative workloads, I’d want to discuss the gaming performance of this laptop since I believe many people will play games on it despite the fact that it’s not a gaming laptop. The RTX 3070 will provide strong gaming performance, as seen by the benchmark statistics listed below –

Even though it features a 4K display, I recommend playing games at 1080p or 2K resolution only. Running games at 4K will push you to reduce your graphical settings in order to get that elusive 60FPS.

Moving on to the 3DMark test results, the ZenBook Pro Duo received 9,137 on the Time Spy test, 4,463 on the Time Spy Extreme test, and 18,351 on the FireStrike test. The results aren’t spectacular, but they’re about what you’d expect from an RTX 3070 GPU.

Creative Workloads on the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED

The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo is primarily a notebook for creators. These twin touchscreens are excellent for multitasking and provide additional space for creative activities like as photo and video editing programmes. But how does it fare? Let’s take a closer look –

I started with various Workstation-related loads in Blender, and the results are shown below. To put the creative workloads to the test, I launched Adobe Lightroom and exported 50 RAW files in 2 minutes, 100 RAW files in 3 minutes and 45 seconds, and 200 RAW files in 7 minutes and 16 seconds.

In Davinci Resolve, the ZenBook Pro Duo exported a 5-minute 4K project in 4 minutes and 45 seconds, which is not terrible.

Overall, the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo OLED runs about as well as I expected given the Core i9 and RTX 3070 combination. The laptop impressed me with high power allocations and high clock rates under longer duration loads, but there’s only so much an i9-10980HK can accomplish when pitted against newer CPUs on the market, so there’s that.

Thermals on the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED

In terms of thermals, the CPU here runs hotter than the RTX 3070. The CPU was reaching its TJMax temperature of 100°C more frequently than I had anticipated. As a result, I saw a lot of clock speed changes and heat throttling.

The GPU, on the other hand, remained very cool during the testing period. Regardless of load, the GPU was always around 80°C, and I never observed it go beyond that when playing 4K games.

ASUS tweaked the design somewhat to include two massive vents on the sides to force hot air out of the chassis. And, because I was using the laptop in Performance mode during the testing, the fans started up very immediately and became extremely noisy.

However, as a result of this, the surface temperatures were substantially below the allowed range. And, because the keyboard is positioned at the bottom, away from the internal cooling system, I was only able to record temperatures on the keyboard deck that were less than 40°C. So there are no issues here.

ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED Keyboard, Touchpad, and Input/Output

The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo’s keyboard includes a regular layout with an additional set of keys on top of the clickpad. I’d say the typing experience is mediocre at best.

The keys feature 1.44mm of travel and are quite comparable to the rubbery keys seen on other ZenBook notebooks. Yes, they are nice to type on, but if you are coming from a mechanical keyboard, don’t expect much from these chiclet-style keys with little travel.

One of the most significant difficulties for me is the laptop’s keyboard positioning. To create place for the ScreenPad, ASUS has moved the keyboard to the bottom of the deck. That’s reasonable, but I’ve never liked this keyboard design, and my opinion hasn’t changed.

Do not expect to be able to type comfortably when holding the laptop on your lap or in a confined place. To get any significant use out of it, you’ll need a large workstation with a palm rest.

The same is true for the touchpad. I’ll never get used to this touchpad positioning, and to be honest, I don’t want to.

It’s a terrible experience, so please acquire an external mouse. Yes, it’s an excellent surface for using gestures, and it comes with Windows Precision drivers. It even functions as a NumPad, due to the white LED Numpad layout, which matches the white keyboard backlighting colour. But none of it was going to help me get used to it.

Moving on to the ports, I appreciate how they are evenly spread on both sides. Unfortunately, due to the massive vents mentioned before, there isn’t enough area to house many of them. On the right side, there are two USB Type C Thunderbolt 3 connectors and one USB Type A 3.2 Gen 1 port.

On the left side, you’ll find an HDMI 2.1 port, a 3,5mm audio connection, and a charging port for the laptop. The only thing lacking here is an SD card reader, which is strange given that this is a creator-focused laptop. Keep in mind that you will not receive an RJ-45 connection.

Design and Build Quality of the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED

Anyway, let’s get into the design and build quality now. ASUS hasn’t made many changes to its predecessor’s design. The design, including all angles, colours, and materials, is nearly identical to last year’s ZenBook Pro Duo 15. Even the lid, which has the same concentric circle texturing as the ASUS logo, is fingerprint-prone.

The inclusion of this innovative hinge mechanism for the secondary display is the key difference this year. As you open the laptop’s lid, the secondary display now rises higher. To be honest, the system appears to be frail.

When you press down on the secondary display, it even shows signs of flexing, but I can assure you that it’s tough and won’t break down that easily. In reality, the chassis’ overall stability is excellent. BTW, the ASUS Ergolift mechanism is still present, so when you open the lid, the chassis rises off the ground.

As previously stated, ASUS has also increased the number of vents on the chassis to improve airflow. I wouldn’t call it a little laptop, but it is slightly slimmer than its predecessor. The laptop weights about 2.5Kgs, making it similar to some beefier gaming laptops and workstations, and you should think about using it as a desktop replacement.

Battery Life of the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED

When you have strong internals like the ones found in this computer, you can’t expect much from a laptop’s battery.

Not to mention the fact that there are two 4K screens. The ZenBook Pro Duo OLED, on the other hand, has a 92Whr battery inside, which is significantly larger than the predecessor’s. In PCMark 10’s Battery Life test, the laptop only lasted about 3 hours, which I am not surprised by.

On a daily basis, you’ll only get around 4-5 hours of usage at most, and that’s when the brightness isn’t set to its maximum amount.

I recommend that you turn off the ScreenPad display when not in use to preserve battery life, and that you utilise Dark Mode and black-colored themes because this is an AMOLED display and your mileage may vary depending on what’s displayed on the screen.

The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED is a 15-inch laptop with an OLED display.

Verdict

So, those are my last comments on this laptop. Let me tell you, this isn’t your typical 15-inch notebook. That should be evident given the machine’s price of Rs 2,39,990 as well as its form factor.

However, you are paying a premium for the level of engineering that has gone into this gadget, with its high-resolution dual touchscreens, OLED panel, and strong internals.

But, at the same time, it has its fair share of compromises in terms of weight, size, and overall usability as a laptop. For starters, it’s quite large for a 15-inch laptop.

There are considerably more portable laptop choices with comparable specs available, such as the ROG Zephyrus G15, which I just reviewed. Because of the down-shifted keyboard, it’s also inconvenient to operate without a desk.

Not to add that it only has a 10th generation CPU. It should be adequate for most tasks, but I would have preferred an 11th Generation processor.

So, if you’re looking to buy this laptop, I’d recommend looking at other options such as the ROG Zephyrus G15 or even the ROG Zephyrus Duo, which also has two screens like this. So the concept of having dual screens is not unique to this laptop, which makes it a strange recommendation in and of itself.

You may also look at the MSI Pulse GL66 gaming laptop, which I just reviewed. Yes, it doesn’t have the same form factor appeal, but it comes with one of the latest Tiger Lake H45 processors, which can handle creative tasks extremely well. That being said, I am extremely interested to see where ASUS takes this series with the newer variants next year.

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