Hands on: Asus ZenBook Pro Duo review

So much screen

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Asus ZenBook Pro Duo

Early Verdict

The new Asus ZenBook Pro Duo is an enchanting prosumer laptop promising high performance and a unique experience. It will probably be pretty expensive, though.

For

  • Beautiful displays
  • Screenpad Plus tech works great
  • Powerful hardware

Against

  • Awkward trackpad and keyboard placement
  • Kind of thick

These days, everyone wants to get their hands on a prosumer laptop – whether it's a Dell XPS 15 or one of the new MacBook Pros. However, one Taiwan company takes things to a new level at Computex 2019 with the new Asus laptops, more specifically the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo. This is an ultra-powerful prosumer laptop that takes the Screenpad tech shown off at Computex 2018 to a whole new level with a second "Screenpad Plus" display above the keyboard.

This laptop takes this unique design and packs it with powerful hardware – with up to an Intel Core i9 and Nvidia RTX 2060 – making for a compelling laptop for anyone that has a lot of work to do on the go. But, be aware that this combination of unique design and hefty power won't come cheap.

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo

Pricing and availability

We don't have any pricing information for the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo, but you can bet that it's going to be quite expensive. We do know that it will start shipping in July, so we should see it in stores by Q3 2019. Just brace yourself for the high price this laptop will inevitably boast.

Luckily, if the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo is too rich for your blood, there is a smaller and less powerful version, too. The Asus ZenBook Duo will pack up to an Intel Core i7 and an Nvidia GeForce MX250 behind a Full HD display with a Full HD Screenpad Plus secondary screen. This device is more in line with the performance everyday users need, and will likely be much more affordable.

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Design

The Asus ZenBook Pro Duo isn't thin and light like the MacBook Pro. Instead, it's thick enough to give its components some breathing room. It's not as thick as, say, a beefy gaming laptop, but it's bulky enough to weigh down your backpack while traveling.

But, with that added bulk, you're getting a lovely design. Borrowing from other ZenBooks, when you open the laptop, the back of the display will lift up the keyboard, making typing way more comfortable for long periods of time. 

The best part about this lifting hinge design? It brings the signature secondary display up, making it appear like one continuous display – at least at a distance.

Both displays are 4K: the main display is 16:9 at 3,840 x 2,160 with the wide Screenpad Plus coming in at 3,840 x 1,100 for a 32:9 aspect ratio. And, because both displays are the same width, as well as being OLED panels, your content will look amazing no matter which display it's on. 

But, why even implement this second display? Well, Asus gives us some hints on that. Creators will love the ability to run Adobe Premiere or Photoshop while having all the controls on the secondary display – making it possible to edit content in full 4K resolution. And, because the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo is equipped with an RTX 2060 gamers can use the second display to view chat while streaming – though we wouldn't recommend this as a gaming laptop.

Beyond the utility, though, the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo's displays, both of them, just look damn good. They're bright, colorful and big enough that you can get a ton of work done. 

As lovely as this laptop is, the keyboard and trackpad suffer a little bit. That secondary display pushes everything to the front of the laptop, making it a bit uncomfortable to type on. We're sure this is something you could get used to over time, as the keyboard itself is pretty great. Still, we would love some space just for ergonomic purposes. 

The Trackpad gets pushed all the way to the right, too, like we've seen on some gaming laptops. We don't know if its just muscle memory, but we just can't get used to the trackpad on the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo. It's accurate enough, and even doubles as a numpad, but the positioning just feels weird.

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo

Performance

We weren't able to push the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo to its limits, we'll have to wait until our full review for that, but we can say that it feels incredibly snappy. The operating system is smooth as butter, and even moving programs between the two displays is incredibly quick thanks to the similar resolutions. 

The demo unit is packed with an Intel Whiskey Lake Core i7 processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 and 16GB of RAM, so its easily able to keep up with any productivity tasks, and even some light gaming. However, if you are going to play PC games on this laptop, you'll have to turn the resolution down, that RTX 2060 just isn't strong enough to play games at native resolution.

But, because this laptop is available with up to an Intel Core i9 chip and 32GB of RAM, we can't wait to get this laptop in-house later this year to see how it fares against our benchmarking tests. 

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo

Early verdict

While we don't have pricing information, we're fairly certain that the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo is going to be an expensive laptop, which might narrow its appeal a little bit. However, anyone looking for excellent performance and unique features might be tempted to Asus' new flagship laptop. 

It's exciting to see Asus' Screenpad technology move forward in this way, and we can't wait to see what future devices are going to do from here. One thing is for sure, though: the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo is one of the most unique laptops to come out of Computex 2019 so far. 

Images Credit: TechRadar

Check out all of TechRadar's Computex 2019 coverage. We're live in Taipei to bring you all the breaking computing news and launches, plus hands-on reviews of everything from fresh laptops and desktops to powerful new components and wild overclocking demonstrations.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.