ASUS ZenBook Pro 14 Duo review: Is this the dual-display notebook perfected?
Performance & Conclusion
Benchmarking the notebook
The ZenBook Pro 14 Duo is powered by Intel’s newest Alder Lake processor. It’s a big change for Intel because it features a big-core + little-core implementation. In this notebook, we have the Core i7-12700H – a mid-range H-series part with 6 performance cores and 8 efficiency cores (14 in total). It’s paired with 16GB of memory, fast 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD, and discrete graphics in the form of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB GDDR6. Let’s see how it stacks up against other ultraportable notebooks.
|ASUS ZenBook Pro 14 Duo||14-inch, 2.8K, OLED, touchscreen + 12.7-inch ScreenPad Plus||Intel Core i7-12700H||16GB||1TB SSD||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti|
|ASUS ZenBook Duo UX482||14-inch, Full-HD, IPS, touchscreen||Intel Core i7-1165G7||16GB||1TB SSD||NVIDIA GeForce MX450|
|ASUS ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition||14-inch, 2.8K, OLED, touchscreen||Intel Core i7-12700H||16GB||1TB SSD||Intel Iris Xe|
|HP Spectre x360 14||13.5-inch, 3K2K, OLED, touchscreen||Intel Core i7-1165G7||16GB||1TB SSD||Intel Iris Xe|
|Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 Carbon||14-inch, QHD+, OLED||AMD Ryzen 7 5800U||16GB||512GB SSD||NVIDIA GeForce MX450|
|Microsoft Surface Pro 8||13-inch, PixelSense Flow, 120Hz refresh rate||Intel Core i7-1185G7||16GB||256GB SSD||Intel Iris Xe|
|Vaio SX14||14-inch, Full-HD, non-touch (4K, as tested)||Intel Core i5-1155G7||16GB||512GB SSD||Intel Iris Xe|
Thanks to its discrete graphics, the ZenBook Pro 14 Duo posted the highest scores on PCMark 10. Scores on PCMark 10’s storage benchmark was good too thanks to its speedy PCIe 4.0 SSD. And even though it’s powered by the same Core i7-12700H processor as the recently reviewed ZenBook 14X OLED Space Edition, the ZenBook Pro Duo 14 managed higher scores on CPU intensive benchmarks like Cinebench and Geekbench because of its better cooling system.
The GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU in the ZenBook Pro 14 Duo gave it scores on 3DMark that was unmatched by any other ultraportable. So to make things a little more fair, we decided to include proper gaming notebooks in our gaming benchmarks. Performance on both Shadow of Tomb Raider and Deus Ex was decent. Granted, the tests were done only at Full-HD resolution, but even at maximum graphics settings, the ZenBook Pro 14 Duo managed very playable frame rates. Note also how much faster it was compared to ultraportable notebooks that relied on integrated graphics.
The ZenBook Pro 14 Duo has a performance mode which forces the fans to spin at their maximum speeds. This helped boost multi-core performance on Cinebench by around 15% and Geekbench by a more modest 5%. It also boosted 3DMark scores by around 18%. However, it had no effect on gaming frame rates. It seems performance gains are not consistent and depends highly on the app. Whether it’s worth using this mode is going to depend on your tolerance of fan noise because the fans get obnoxiously loud in this mode.
Note: Battery tests were conducted using PCMark 10's battery benchmark with display set to 100% brightness.
Despite the larger battery, the new ZenBook Pro 14 Duo lasted over 3 hours less than its predecessor. That can be chalked down to the displays which have higher resolutions and refresh rates, and also the more powerful discrete graphics. Still, a showing of over 4 hours is still pretty decent considering all that it offers. I also tested the notebook with the secondary display turned off and found that you can extend its battery life by an extra 1.5 hours.
Is this dual-display perfection?
I want to start with a disclaimer. Since ASUS hasn’t announced prices yet, it’s hard to give a conclusive verdict. So my assessment now is based solely on what the notebook offers and how it performs.
The new hinge and improved displays have had a profound impact on usability. The increased angle not only enhances the legibility of the secondary display but also makes it more coherent with the main display. The two now flow into each other even more seamlessly, and at times, it’s almost possible to imagine that in front of you is a single large display.
Performance has also been improved substantially thanks to Intel’s new Alder Lake processor and discrete NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics. This is now an even more capable machine for content creators. The inclusion of discrete graphics also means it can run most games decently as long as you dial back on the graphics settings.
That said, some problems persist. The most conspicuous one being the keyboard and trackpad. The location of both is not ideal and will require considerable effort to get used to. Furthermore, the trackpad is small. If it’s any consolation, at least ASUS nailed the feel of the keyboard.
The other issue with the ZenBook Pro 14 Duo is battery life. Despite the rather sizeable 76Wh battery, this notebook lasted significantly shorter than its predecessor – over 200 minutes less. Granted, much of this can be attributed to the higher-resolution, brighter displays and the presence of a discrete GPU, but that’s a considerable drop in battery life. Portability is not this notebook’s strongest suit.
In the end, despite the notable improvements, the ZenBook Pro 14 Duo still is a niche device that will likely appeal only to users who prioritise the dual displays over everything else. And if you are that kind of user, then you’ll find quite a lot to like about this notebook. As I said, the dual-display experience is better than ever and so is performance.
So has ASUS perfected the portable dual-display notebook? Perhaps not quite. But is this their best yet? Oh yes, without question.