The unique ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 (GX550) wowed us final yr with its deftly executed dual-screen design, and now Asus has pumped up the efficiency. The 2021 GX551 mannequin (begins at $2,199.99; $3,699.99 as examined) brings each AMD’s new Ryzen 5000 cellular processors and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 30 collection GPUs to bear, delivering improved gaming and media-editing efficiency. Regardless of the sky-high value of our take a look at configuration (we might suggest one among Asus’ lower-cost fashions, for a number of causes), the bottom mannequin of the GX551 truly prices lower than its GX550 predecessor. A more-accessible entry level for this high-tech machine is a boon, and different tweaks and additions enhance the construct additional. The Zephyrus Duo 15 continues to be a expensive area of interest machine—a second display stays a luxurious quite than a necessity—nevertheless it’s a singular and interesting gaming laptop.
A Streamlined Twin-Display Construct
The design of the 2021 mannequin is extraordinarily much like the unique model, however its uniqueness warrants a rundown regardless. First, the plain: the twin screens are the marquee characteristic, and are executed in very streamlined style. We’ll contact extra on what they’ll do in a second, however the idea continues to be spectacular, as is the laptop computer’s staying slim and transportable whereas housing the twin shows. The Duo measures 0.82 by 14.2 by 10.6 inches and weighs 5.3 kilos, equivalent to final yr’s mannequin and no bulkier than many typical gaming rigs.
This yr’s version has some aesthetic modifications: The lid appears totally different, with some new design prospers, and Asus swapped the blue-gray colour for an all-black look. (It appears a bit paler below our studio lights within the above picture, however relaxation assured, the paint job could be very a lot a darkish black.) The system appears fashionable with the lid closed and modern and high-tech when opened.
As with the unique Zephyrus Duo, the second (“ScreenPad Plus”) show between the principle display and keyboard lifts on its hinges to angle itself towards you as you open the laptop computer lid. That makes it way more seen than a flat display from a standard place, and it opens up air flow beneath the show for improved system cooling. Asus has now utilized this structure each as a gaming resolution and, with the ZenBook Duo 14, for common productiveness, and it really works properly in each eventualities.
The ScreenPad Plus works as a completely usable second show, full with contact functionality. You may drag and drop any home windows from the principle show onto the second display as you’ll with an exterior monitor (although doing so is barely harder, as app home windows and the cursor seem pretty small as soon as you progress them onto the ScreenPad Plus).
Fortuitously, you get a pleasantly shocking number of software program customization choices for the display. For one, while you first seize a window, a tooltip-like bar pops up by your cursor and presents a few buttons to snap the window to the decrease display. This protects you the dragging, which could be awkward when carried out utilizing the touchpad. You may as well lock a persistent toolbar to the ScreenPad Plus, which presents a load of choices reminiscent of a brightness management, an app navigator, a handwriting mode, shortcuts to Asus’ system software program to regulate followers and lighting, and diverse sizing choices.
I would not name the ScreenPad Plus important—laptops have gotten by simply high quality all this time with one display, in any case—nevertheless it’s the kind of luxurious choice you pay further for, and in contrast to woodgrain trim in a sedan, a helpful one at that. Since you’ll be able to put nearly any window or software there, its usefulness actually comes right down to what you attempt to do with it.
Since this can be a gaming laptop computer, a number of utilization eventualities stick out to me particularly. Whereas I am taking part in video games, I’m usually also on Discord to voice-chat with pals. With a dual-monitor desktop setup, it is simple sufficient to have the chat on one other display, however taking part in on a laptop computer requires you to reduce your sport or connect a second display. The ScreenPad Plus permits you to have Discord, or another chat app, open always.
That is not precisely a game-changer, nevertheless it’s the type of comfort you get pleasure from when paying for a luxurious characteristic like a second show. A software program replace that can significantly enchantment to content material creators, in the meantime, is integration with Adobe’s inventive suite, within the type of a persistent management panel with customizable instructions and shortcuts for Photoshop, Premiere Professional, After Results, and Lightroom.
Two of the casualties of this distinctive display setup are the keyboard and the touchpad. The keyboard is shifted to the entrance fringe of the laptop computer to make room for the display, and it is largely high quality to make use of, however there’s actually nowhere to relaxation your wrists. The keys themselves are individually backlit, which makes for enjoyable customization choices, and their journey distance and suggestions make for a ok typing expertise.
It is the touchpad that suffers extra, compressed right into a slim right-hand structure that takes some getting used to. (Lefties could properly detest the situation.) Avid gamers are well-known for preferring exterior mice, however the pad is lower than best for common shopping. It may well, nonetheless, remodel into an LED-lit numeric pad on the contact of a button in its prime left nook.
Lastly, we come to the ports. The left flank holds the facility connector, a headphone jack, and a microSD card slot, whereas the fitting aspect is house to 2 USB 3.1 Sort-A ports and one USB-C port.
The remainder are positioned round again, possible as a result of the rear half of each side is dedicated to cooling vents. Right here you may discover an Ethernet jack, an HDMI output, and one other USB 3.1 Sort-A port, finishing an general stable port choice.
There isn’t any webcam to be discovered, which is an unlucky exclusion throughout this era of vastly elevated distant work. Asus did improve the audio system, including two forward-firing tweeters for richer sound.
Part Verify: AMD and Nvidia Carry Their Newest
With the minor aesthetic and have modifications out of the way in which, we will get to the internals. This laptop computer’s core parts are the celebs of the present, upgraded on each the CPU and GPU aspect due to AMD and Nvidia respectively. We first examined a Ryzen 5000 collection processor within the Asus ROG Flow X13 and it lived as much as excessive expectations, so I used to be desirous to see how one would carry out in a bigger 15.6-inch laptop computer. It is also intriguing to get one other take a look at Nvidia’s RTX 30 collection laptop computer GPUs, which arrived to nice anticipation after the success of their desktop counterparts however have confirmed one thing of a mixed bag in our checks thus far.
The primary show is available in two decision and refresh-rate combos: full HD (1080p) with a 300Hz refresh charge, and 4K UHD with a 120Hz refresh charge. The ScreenPad Plus is now accessible in full HD and UHD as properly. Beforehand, the secondary show was solely accessible in UHD (technically 3,840 by 1,100 pixels given its uncommon dimensions), however the lower-res choice successfully provides the system a decrease beginning value.
You may’t choose and select screens in any mixture—there are three fashions of the Zephyrus Duo, and the screens are tied to different parts. The $2,199.99 base mannequin combines a Ryzen 7 5800H processor, 16GB of reminiscence, a 1TB solid-state drive, a GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, and the total HD variations of each the principle show and ScreenPad Plus. This can be a important financial savings over the unique GX550, which began at $2,999.99. The center mannequin is available in at $2,899.99, pairing the identical shows with a Ryzen 9 5900HX chip, 32GB of RAM, and RTX 3070 graphics.
Our assessment unit is the top-of-the-line model, an eye-watering $3,699.99 with the UHD 120Hz show, UHD ScreenPad Plus, Ryzen 9 5900HX processor, 32GB of reminiscence, 2TB of SSD storage, and GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. Personally, I do not assume the large value bounce for the twin 4K screens and RTX 3080 are price it (extra on that within the efficiency part), but when your finances is aware of no bounds, this can be the all-out config for you. Not less than with this display, you are not giving up a excessive refresh charge for greater decision as with many 4K shows of the previous, even when gaming at 4K continues to be difficult even for top-end parts.
Efficiency Testing: Blistering Ryzen 9 Pace, RTX 30 Collection Enhance
To get a way of how the brand new parts carry out, I’ve put the Zephyrus Duo GX551 up towards not solely its predecessor however competing high-end gaming laptops. The desk beneath reveals their names and specs. (See extra about how we test laptops.)
The Alienware m15 R4 is our reigning Editors’ Alternative award holder for 15-inch gaming laptops and thus far the perfect RTX 30 collection performer we have seen, making its inclusion right here important. The MSI GS66 Stealth supplies one other take a look at an RTX 3080 as a direct competitor, whereas the Asus TUF Dash F15 brings Intel’s “Tiger Lake-H” processors into the combination. Lastly, the earlier Zephyrus Duo reveals us how Nvidia’s RTX 2080 Tremendous (Max-Q) stacks up towards its successor.
Productiveness, Storage, and Media Checks
PCMark 10 and eight are holistic efficiency suites developed by the PC benchmark specialists at UL (previously Futuremark). The PCMark 10 take a look at we run simulates totally different real-world productiveness and content material creation workflows. We use it to evaluate general system efficiency for office-centric duties reminiscent of phrase processing, spreadsheet jockeying, net shopping, and videoconferencing. PCMark 8, in the meantime, has a storage subtest that we use to evaluate the velocity of the system’s boot drive. Each checks yield a proprietary numeric rating; greater numbers are higher.
This Ryzen 9 chip is blisteringly quick, opening a niche in PCMark 10 that we hardly ever see in equal machines—in truth, the best PCMark 10 rating we have recorded from a laptop computer thus far. To some extent, a better rating on this take a look at would not matter an excessive amount of for every day use: previous a sure threshold, all of those laptops are greater than quick sufficient for on a regular basis jobs and multitasking. But it surely does trace on the potential for extra strenuous makes use of, which leads us to our subsequent checks.
Subsequent is Maxon’s CPU-crunching Cinebench R15 take a look at, which is totally threaded to utilize all accessible processor cores and threads. Cinebench stresses the CPU quite than the GPU to render a posh picture. The result’s a proprietary rating indicating a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads.
Cinebench is usually a superb predictor of our Handbrake video modifying trial, one other robust, threaded exercise that is extremely CPU-dependent and scales properly with cores and threads. In it, we put a stopwatch on take a look at methods as they transcode a regular 12-minute clip of 4K video (the open-source Blender demo film Tears of Metal) to a 1080p MP4 file. It is a timed take a look at, and decrease outcomes are higher.
We additionally run a customized Adobe Photoshop picture modifying benchmark. Utilizing an early 2018 launch of the Artistic Cloud model of Photoshop, we apply a collection of 10 complicated filters and results to a regular JPEG take a look at picture. We time every operation and add up the entire. As with Handbrake, decrease instances are higher right here.
As you’ll be able to see, the Ryzen 9 5900HX’s dominance continued in all three of those checks. The Cinebench and Handbrake outcomes display the chip’s superiority in longer multithreaded workloads, whereas it is not as dominant (however nonetheless extremely environment friendly) with the shorter burst duties of Photoshop. Intel’s tenth Technology Core i9 trailed considerably in Cinebench however much less so in the remaining, whereas something beneath that was largely left within the mud (together with the “Tiger Lake-H”).
This implies the Zephyrus Duo genuinely doubles as a media modifying and content material creation laptop computer. Some gaming laptops toe that line, and Core i9 machines often qualify, however the GX551 legitimately delivers workstation-class efficiency for a lot of these jobs. The twin 4K shows are helpful for productiveness and media modifying, too, so the entire idea comes collectively for work in addition to gaming.
So now we all know that the processor sings, and AMD has one other multi-threaded muscle chip on its arms. Will the GPU outcomes be as robust? On to the following checks…
Graphics and Actual-World Gaming Checks
3DMark measures relative graphics muscle by rendering sequences of extremely detailed, gaming-style 3D graphics that emphasize particles and lighting. We run two 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fireplace Strike, that are suited to several types of methods. Each are DirectX 11 benchmarks, however Sky Diver is extra suited to midrange PCs, whereas Fireplace Strike is extra demanding and made for high-end and gaming PCs to strut their stuff. The outcomes are proprietary scores.
Subsequent up is one other artificial graphics take a look at or gaming simulation, this time from Unigine Corp. Like 3DMark, the Superposition take a look at renders and pans by means of an in depth 3D scene and measures how the system copes. On this case, it is rendered within the eponymous Unigine engine, providing a special 3D workload for a second opinion on every laptop computer’s graphical prowess.
These artificial checks are useful for measuring common 3D aptitude, nevertheless it’s laborious to beat full retail video video games for judging gaming efficiency. Far Cry 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider are each trendy, high-fidelity titles with built-in benchmarks that illustrate how a system handles real-world gameplay at numerous settings. We run them at 1080p decision on the video games’ medium and finest image-quality presets (Regular and Extremely for Far Cry 5 below DirectX 11, Medium and Very Excessive for Rise of the Tomb Raider below DirectX 12).
Clearly, there is not any doubt the Duo’s RTX 3080 is objectively as potent as you’d hope for such a top-ranked GPU in such a top-priced laptop computer. The artificial scores present uncooked energy, whereas the sport body charges are far sufficient above 60fps to utilize the 120Hz display. That is why you purchase a flagship gaming rig when you’re an fanatic.
That stated, issues get much less rosy while you deliver the competitors into the combination. Not solely did the MSI’s GeForce RTX 3080 outrun its counterpart within the new Zephyrus, the latter didn’t surpass the Alienware’s RTX 3070. I additionally ran Metro Exodus as a ray-tracing take a look at, for the reason that 30 collection GPUs ought to present explicit enchancment there with the RTX 3080 essentially the most able to the batch. Utilizing the RTX settings preset, the GX551 averaged 66fps at 1080p and 40fps at 4K, whereas the Alienware was solely barely slower, at 61fps and 36fps respectively.
As mentioned in our initial testing deep-dive article, GeForce RTX 30 collection GPUs are configured at a variety of wattages, which may trigger efficiency to differ from one machine to the following. That’s additionally true for RTX 30 collection GPUs with the identical ostensible identify (say, one RTX 3070 versus one other, as you’ll be able to see by the outcomes from Alienware and the Asus TUF Sprint F15). On prime of that, Nvidia’s Max-Q nomenclature has develop into extra muddied and common if not outright imprecise, so it is tough to know what you are getting simply from the identify.
Frankly, it is laborious to see why you’d pay much more for a GeForce RTX 3080 laptop computer over an RTX 3070 mannequin based mostly on the testing information we have collected thus far. If one producer occurs to supply an RTX 3080 config that competes with and even undercuts the worth of one other’s RTX 3070, go for it, however in any other case there are clear diminishing returns as you go up the GeForce RTX 30 collection stack. Half numbers could let you know one factor on paper, however between various implementations and unpredictable value tags, it is extra necessary than ever to take a look at impartial testing. The Zephyrus Duo GX551’s efficiency is undeniably excessive, however not fairly commensurate with its stratospheric value. Once more, the saner-priced configs appear way more worthwhile.
Battery Rundown Check
After totally recharging the laptop computer, we arrange the machine in power-save mode (versus balanced or high-performance mode) the place accessible and make a number of different battery-conserving tweaks in preparation for our unplugged video rundown take a look at. (We additionally flip Wi-Fi off, placing the laptop computer in airplane mode.) On this take a look at, we loop a video—a regionally saved 720p file of the identical Tears of Metal quick we use in our Handbrake take a look at—with display brightness set at 50 % and quantity at 100% till the system quits.
This battery life is affordable sufficient, particularly when you think about the power-sapping parts and twin UHD screens. The Duo will not final you all day, nevertheless it will not die after a measly two hours like some gaming laptops. You’ll take a fast journey off the charger, or not should plug in as quickly as you plop down on the sofa.
Constructing a Higher Two-Display Machine
This ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 is a posh machine, and it is laborious to present a definitive reply as as to if it is price your hard-earned cash. The clearest takeaway is that this: The GX551 is usually a luxurious purchase given its value and non-essential dual-screen design, nevertheless it’s very properly executed, and the bottom value is definitely fairly affordable for what it’s.
The flagship configuration we reviewed, then again, is tougher to suggest except cash isn’t any object. The UHD screens and 2TB SSD deliver a major value hike, as does the RTX 3080 GPU, however you are not getting way more efficiency than you might squeeze from a inexpensive (however nonetheless fairly premium) laptop computer. The Alienware m15 R4 retains our Editors’ Alternative amongst premium gaming notebooks for its steadiness of value and energy, however the Zephyrus Duo stays a formidable and interesting machine.
Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 (GX551) Specs
|Laptop computer Class||Gaming|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX|
|Processor Pace||3.3 GHz|
|RAM (as Examined)||32 GB|
|Boot Drive Sort||SSD|
|Boot Drive Capability (as Examined)||2 TB|
|Display Measurement||15.6 inches|
|Native Show Decision||3840 by 2160|
|Display Refresh Fee||120 Hz|
|Graphics Processor||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080|
|Graphics Reminiscence||16 GB|
|Wi-fi Networking||Bluetooth, 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6)|
|Dimensions (HWD)||0.82 by 14.2 by 10.6 inches|
|Working System||Home windows 10|
|Examined Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)||5:31|