Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 review: Great for gamers, overkill for rest
- Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo starts at a price of ₹2,49,990.
- The gaming laptop can be configured with AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX Processor.
- There are four options for GPU with the highest configuration going upto Nvidia Geforce RTX 3080 Ti.
Price and Availability
Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 16 is available in 4 variants. The base variant starts at ₹2,49,990 that features AMD Ryzen 7 6800H Processor with Nvidia Geforce RTX3060 GPU. Then there is a variant with similar specs and added accessories available for ₹2,51,990. The third variant is available for ₹3,61,990 and is powered by AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX processor paired with Nvidia Geforce RTX3080Ti. The flagship variant comes for a price of ₹3,91,990 with similar configurations to that of the 3rd variant and a ROG Nebula HDR display. You can buy the Zephyrus Duo 16 from Amazon, Asus ROG’s website and offline Asus retail stores.
The review unit with me is the high-end variant with a price tag of ₹3,61,990. And before jumping into the review, I want to clarify that this is overkill for most consumers. Yet, I would like to appreciate the boundaries Asus has pushed with this machine.
Asus charges a hefty premium for the top-of-the-line variants of the Zephyrus Duo 16 (model numbers - GX650RXZ-LS228WS & GX650RXZ-LO227WS). This price you are paying starts reflecting from the get-go. The gaming laptops are shipped to your house in considerably bigger boxes, the size of a PC build. The box contains many accessories, including a ROG ranger BP2701 gaming backpack, a ROG delta headset, a Palm rest, a ROG chakram core mouse P511 and a ROG X DL2 thankyou card. While this doesn’t change the fact that you are paying almost 4 lakh rupees for a laptop, it does add to the experience of purchasing a machine of this calibre. Anything less than this would have been underwhelming. Things are not as fancy on the base variants, with the boxes being shipped with just the palm rest as an added accessory.
Asus clearly went with a go big or go home approach on the Zephyrus Duo 16. This laptop is undisputedly the most eye-catching machine I have come across in a long while. That’s a serious compliment considering I have been using the Zenbook Pro Duo 15-inch for over a year. A laptop that shares its syntax with the Zephyrus Duo 16.
Starting with the aesthetics, the Zephyrus Duo looks and feels like a complete set-up. The laptop comes in a pitch-black colour scheme, with dotted patterns on the back with a ROG logo. There is also a line slashing across the back panel with the words republic of gamers engraved on its edge. This aesthetic treatment sits well with the overall colour scheme. A knit pick here, though is that the back panel registers some serious smudges and noticeable dust, which is not uncommon on black colour. So maybe apply a skin to it to avoid those.
The build quality on offer is also stellar. The polycarbonate chassis is as solid as one can get and is also why the laptop weighs just 2.5 kg. I say ‘just’ because, given the hardware on board, it could have broken the scale. The treatment doesn’t stop at weight management but also how thin the laptop is. At just 2 cm, it’s not until you open the machine that you realise the complexity of the design. This is truly a sight to appreciate.
Asus gives plenty of ports on the Zephyrus Duo-16, which also signifies that it can go beyond being just a gaming laptop. For example, you get a Micro SD card reader on the laptop’s left edge. Right next to them, you will find a USB Type-A port, a USB Type-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and an AC port. On the right side, you will find another USB Type-C port. On the back, you will find a USB Type-A port, HDMI video out and an ethernet port. The port distribution and placement is satisfactory. But if I had to make a request/suggestion to Asus, it would be to place the AC port on the back. That will make cable management better when your laptop is placed in a dedicated spot. Which holds for the Zephyrus Duo 16 in particular. Given the big size, you would not be using it on your lap like a generic laptop.
AdvertisementOpening up the laptop, you are greeted with an improved execution of the dual display set-up.
The primary display is virtually bezel-less and opens up with ease, I will touch upon its quality and performance in the display section. Asus has improved the hinge mechanism for the secondary display and now it lifts in an inclined position, facing towards the user more directly. The utility of the display does improve because of the more upright position. After lifting it leaves about 24.5mm of space underneath. This solves another problem which I found on the Zenbook Pro duo. With the secondary display lifting a bit more, you can clean the laptop more thoroughly. At the bottom of the secondary display, there is a clear glass panel that gives us a look into the motherboard. Lit with RGB set-up, does add to the overall appeal and vibe.
Now, coming to the keyboard. Does it suffer from the same plague of miniaturized keys, no palm rest and odd touchpad placement? Yes. But has Asus tried and improved upon it? That, too, yes. The keyboard on the Zephyrus Duo feels more tactile and better to interact with, and the travel time is also respectable. Keys are robust and softer at the same time. Gaming with it is a delight; there it won’t trouble you. I can say that even for video editing. Simply put, for activities where you are not constantly interacting with the keyboard, you won’t be bothered by the treatment. Yes, if you are someone who types a lot, then it might get tiring. In that case, you can invest in a Bluetooth keyboard.
Right next to the keyboard is the touchpad with an in-built number pad as well. The touchpad is responsive, and, this time, doesn't get two physical buttons on the bottom. Rather the hard touch buttons are placed underneath the uniform panel. Asus, in all its understanding, knows that the placement of the touchpad is inconvenient, hence they provide you with an option to convert the secondary display into the touchpad. You can also open just a window on the secondary display for the cursor, while moving forward with other apps. This is well thought out and might help some consumers. However, I didn’t use that either, and depended on a mouse. Don’t get surprised though, we have established this machine is mostly to be used on a table.
The primary display of the Zephyrus Duo 16 is a 16-inch QHD panel with a 16:10 aspect ratio. This display is a mini LED panel, a fairly new technology in laptops. Asus dubs it Nebula HDR. And yes, it is perhaps a great screen for any kind of content you would want to watch on it.
Starting with content - with 1100 nits of peak brightness, you can stream HDR content on it without any hiccups. The colour accuracy is top-notch, without any surprises considering Asus claims it has 100% coverage of the DCI-P3 colour gamut. The colour gamut quotient is also interesting if you are into colour grading on your laptops. Now, the display is super reliable if you are doing photoshop or just making corrections in Premiere Pro. I would say it would meet up with the requirement of the majority of the professionals working in the internet space. However, if you are a professional filmmaker, you should rely on a professional monitor for better colour accuracy.
The HDR on display also works smoothly with Z blacks on the screen. The images truly just pop out when you are watching content on the screen. Yes, it might not be as bright as an OLED panel, but does it make up for it? I would say yes. It also supports Dolby Vision which shows up when you are watching compatible content. It does add a bump to both the visual and audio experience with more clarity and detail.
While being so fit for content, the display doesn’t lag in gaming, either. The panel has a refresh rate of 165Hz. There is just no lag on this screen when interacting with it in a game. I have clocked in 12 hours of counter strike on the laptop, and the refresh rate is a solid reason I boot up the game repeatedly. The smoothness of the panel is also a sight to behold when you are on a website just casually scrolling. I do wish we had an adaptive refresh rate feature for the display, that way the performance could have been more versatile. Now unlike my Zenbook Pro Duo, the Zephyrus Duo’s primary display is not touch capacitive and I am not complaining about it. I feel a touch sensitive primary display makes more sense when a laptop is a convertible. I can say that with confidence with my experience over the years using conventional laptops with a touch sensitive panel. A lack of it here makes even more sense considering at the core the Zephyrus Duo is in fact a gaming laptop, and we don’t really need a touch panel on a gaming laptop.
But, that is not the only display here. The duo in its name stands for the secondary panel on offer which is dubbed Screenpad+. This is a 14-inch touchscreen unit with a resolution of 3840x1100P. The refresh rate is a 60Hz, which is fine considering your interaction with it is limited.
AdvertisementI need to make a confession here. On the Zenbook Pro duo, I didn’t utilize the Screenpad+ that much. The canvas of the primary display for me was enough. When I eventually did try to make a use of it, it was mostly limited to setting up a footage bin in Premiere Pro.
I was more open minded this time, and this venture was supported by the Zephyrus Duo. Before I get to the dedicated apps on the Screenpad+ I have to mention that the transition between the screens is smooth. I could select multiple windows and pin them on the Screenpad+. There have been situations when I could do a split screen on the primary screen and open three windows on the Screenpad+. And as gimmicky and extra it might sound it was productive for my use case which was writing captions, editing a video and updating Slack at the same time. Another nice touch is how the windows can flow from primary to secondary display with ease like one giant tab.
The display has an anti-glare coating which doesn’t make it the right choice to watch videos on. Other than that, if you are a gamer you can open your chat on this display. Asus heavily promotes dials and controls for Adobe apps on the Screenpad+. I am not a fan in particular for this, but I did show some opinions from professional video editors. Common consensus suggested that while it is great in execution, they would prefer just clicking on the toggles. Another major factor can be that most professional video editors have their macros set-up. So it’s very difficult to change muscle memory.
The display is paired with a six speaker set-up. It comprises two 2W dual-force woofers and two 2W tweeters. This set-up is loud and bassy. It’s more than efficient for gaming and fairs well for watching content on it as well.
Before closing down this section I want to touch upon the webcam on offer as well. This is a 720P HD IR webcam, which is decent. As is the case with most webcams on offer, this one is also just about okay. The image quality is decent for video calls, but if you are planning to stream professionally then I would recommend getting a 3rd party webcam. It does however work seamlessly with Windows hello and unlocks the laptop in a snap.
AdvertisementPerformance & Software
The unit with me packs in an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX processor with a Nvidia RTX3080Ti GPU. This combination by itself can take on pretty much any task you throw at it. So, let’s start with gaming.
My review unit combines the GPU with 140W of power. This can be further increased by 25W once I turn on dynamic boost. Which I did only while playing super heavy games like GTA 5. The game ran smoothly on QHD resolution and maintained a respectable fps rate between 90-100 throughout the game play. The animations were smooth with virtually no render times and I had a ton of fun playing it here.
Lighter games like CS:GO can easily push past 200 fps and with a stable internet connection can maintain them for long spells of time. I have played CS:GO on virtually every machine and software to date but the performance on Zephyrus Duo 16 is on another level. The game feels fresh thanks to the UHD graphics and smooth frame rates displaying up on a big screen.
To get the best performance out of the system I ran the games with Turbo Fan Profile with the mux switch tuned towards the dedicated GPU.
Yes, as one would expect the gaming performance is stellar and uniform, but what about the heat management? I would say it holds up. Asus has done a bunch of measures to control the thermals on this laptop, like a new design for the fans in the machine dubbed arc flow. More complex solutions include the AAS Plus 2.0 system which raises the Screenpad +. Asus says it is supposed to increase the airflow by 30%. Another measure taken by Asus is applying thermal grizzly’s new conductonaut extreme liquid metal instead of a standard thermal paste. This as per Asus is supposed to reduce an additional 15 degrees from the CPU.
The heat management is satisfactory especially when you consider the amount of power the laptop is using at a given time. By no means it is a silent machine, yet if some fan noise means I get stable performance without worrying about frying my hardware, I am good. In my experience so far, the keyboard area of the laptop doesn’t get as hot compared to the display panel.
I also ran a Geekbench and cinebench score on the laptop.
In GeekBench on Turbo mode the laptop scored 145988 which is the highest I have seen on a gaming laptop tested by me.
I also ran a Cinebench R23 test on the gaming laptop and there were no surprises here as well.
Cinebench R23 delivers a score to indicate the creative prowess of a GPU like rendering and encoding. The single core score for cinebench was 1585 while the multi core score was 14369 points.
The cinebench score fits with my editing experience on the Zephyrus Duo 16 with Adobe Premiere Pro. I usually edit 4K videos which require me to create proxies especially when I add animations. There are also times on my edits when I have to create multiple streams and layers. Usually on the Zenbook Pro Duo I see some lag especially when rendering heavy files even in turbo mode. That was completely absent on the Zephyrus Duo 16. I could export two minute long 4K files within 60 seconds with lower third, music and sound effects. This is astonishing given the same timeline would export in about two and a half to three minutes on the Zenbook Pro Duo with Intel Core i9.
Scrubbing through the footage is also buttery smooth here. But yes, it might twitch a bit if your timeline is over ten minutes since there is more data to render.
I got the best results with the laptop plugged in with its massive power brick. I will touch upon it in a while when I talk about battery life.
Coming back to the performance, the 32GB dual channel LPDDR5 RAM is extremely efficient. It can not only handle heavy applications like GTA 5 and Premiere Pro but can brush past light weights like Google Chrome without breaking a sweat. You can also upgrade the RAM to 64GB.
The form factor of the Zephyrus Duo doesn’t make it an office laptop by any means, but doing general everyday tasks on it is a treat. As naive as it may sound, writing emails and posting on Twitter from this laptop feels disrespectful considering the power in hand. But if you decide to do it, it will never disappoint you.
My variant packs in 2TB NVME PCIe 4.0 storage which gives blazing fast read and write speeds. And if you are someone who's heavily into gaming then this is enough storage to hold heavy titles.
As for software, we get Windows 11 Home on the Zephyrus Duo which is very well integrated with the hardware on board. It works in sync without any glitches or lag. The execution and adaptation of Windows 11 for the secondary display is also commendable. As mentioned in the display section, we can pin multiple tabs together and play around without any issues. There is a uniform stability across it.
Wrapping this section with my observations about the battery life. Zephyrus Duo packs in a 90Whr battery which has to handle heavy hardware and two screens. And yet it holds on pretty well. I was getting an average battery life of upto three hours without playing heavy games on it with generic tasks. But it dropped down significantly to about 1 hour 45 minutes if I started editing or playing GTA 5. This is expected, a gaming laptop in general doesn’t fare well in terms of battery, what can we expect from a gaming laptop of this prowess.
Battery life by itself is not a sore spot for me, but it is the size of the charger that gets to my nerves. It’s a 240W adapter which does its job really well delivering necessary power to this animal. Still it’s very inconvenient to carry around. I won’t call this a drawback but rather a heads up for potential buyers.
AdvertisementAsus Zephyrus Duo 16 is truly a gaming set-up miniaturized in a notebook form factor. It looks mean, is powered by the top of the line hardware and can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. By my review you can establish that Zephyrus Duo 16 by itself is a winner, and yet it is not for everyone.
As is the case with high-end laptops, this machine is for a niche set of consumers. Like a professional gamer who will happily substitute his PC build for a portable set-up. But if you are looking for a machine for another use case, like video editing and graphics. Then there are plenty of options out there including some from Asus creator series laptops. And it goes without saying that a regular user should not look at it.
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