ASUS is the gift that keeps on giving. Not only has the company been working really hard to avail premium laptops to the masses, but they have been so kind as to send me another beauty to review. I only had the ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481 for a week, and I have to admit that this ended up being one of my most productive weeks. At the end of the week, I was sure that this is the machine for creative professionals who value productivity.
ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481 is an upgrade from the ZenBook Pro Duo version, which was released in the year 2019. Unlike the ZenBook Pro Duo version, ZenBook Duo is smaller and has longer battery life. This, combined with other aspects such as the performance, second display, gorgeous colour, and solid build, makes this machine one of the best ultrabooks that I have tested yet.
The Dual-Screen Advantage
The highlight of this laptop is definitely the dual display. The laptop has the main monitor and another screen just above the keyboard. The main screen is a 14″ 1920 x 1080p Pantone colour certified display. What I loved the most about this screen is its ability to display richer colours as it allows 100 percent sRGB coverage. Therefore, it would be the perfect laptop for people who spend a lot of time editing videos and photos.
The second screen is a 12.6 matte touchscreen that offers the same width as the primary display. I loved having two monitors as it allowed me to multitask. Specifically, I would stream tutorial videos in the ScreenPad Plus while I edited my videos on the primary screen. I could also move specs sheets to the second display while I wrote reviews on the main display. This saved me a lot of time and made my work a lot easier.
Although the laptop’s biggest advantage is the second display, it is also one of the main disadvantages. If you have programs running on both monitors, it is evident that the viewing angle for the second screen is wider than that of the primary monitor. Therefore displays on the ScreenPad Plus are not as sharp as the displays on the main screen.
Keyboard and Touchscreen
It is a shame that the second screen advantage came with sacrificing a vital necessity that is the keyboard. The positioning of the ScreenPad Plus forced the keyboard to be pushed up front such that there is no deck to rest your wrists while typing. This means that typing is uncomfortable, especially in tight spaces, and will take some getting used to. Also, the keys are quite narrow. I sometimes found myself pressing the Page up key instead of the right shift button.
However, this drawback on the keyboard has been compensated by the backlit keys, whose brightness can be adjusted in three levels to allow typing in any condition. Also, the keys allow a 1.4mm travel with crisp feedback and are free of clatter.
The touchscreen, although in placed in an awkward position, has a soft finish and dedicated mouse keys just below it. I have to acknowledge the fact that this made my clicks easier. Also, the pen that came with my unit allowed me to navigate using the touchscreen easily.
One of the most disappointing elements of Zendesk Duo is the fact that it does not have Thunderbolt 3 port. Any premium laptop ought to have the Thunderbolt 3 port to enhance transfer speeds and connect to 4k monitors. However, it compensates for the lack of Thunderbolt 3 with a MicroSD card slot that allows transfer speeds of up to 1GB in 13 seconds.
On the right side of the machine are a USB 3.1 Type-A port, the MicroSD slot, and a microphone jack/headphone port. On the left side of the Zenbook Duo was a power connector, an HDMI port, a USB 3.1 Gen Type-C port, and a USB 3.1 Gen Type-A port.
There was no rear connectivity.
ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481 Performance
In terms of performance and capacity, this laptop is a beast. As is the norm with most high-end ultrabooks, ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481 has a GeForce MX GPU and Core U-class CPU. The memory clock rate of this GPU is very fast at a speed of 932MHz and 1502MHz. On the other hand, the CPU can turbo up to 4.9 GHz and perform without any hiccups.
My unit came with 16GB RAM, which was more than enough for my needs. I was with the laptop for about a week, and not once did I see it choke as I surfed the web, streamed movies, or downloaded movies.
System Noise and Temperature
This machine’s cooling system is composed of two fans, 30 mm and 35mm, and three heat pipes. I tested the system noise while the laptop was idling, while multitasking, and while running heavy loads. While the laptop was idling, the fans also remained idle, hence offering an utterly silent experience. While multitasking on both monitors, the fan noise was also unnoticeable. However, as I increased the load, the fan noise increased but was generally so minute that it was a non-issue.
We also did not observe any electrical noise from our test unit.
Moving on to the temperature, I noticed that the keys remained pretty cool, regardless of the onscreen load. In addition, with very high loads like the Running Witcher 3, the CPU and GPU temperature stabilized to 65 C and 67C. The ErgoLift design of the laptop is especially useful in keeping the laptop cool as it lifts the base of the laptop a couple of centimetres off the ground once open.
I played my favourite jams on the ZenBook Duo and would, at times, forget that the sound was coming from a laptop. In fact, it would have been easy to convince someone that I was playing my jams on a Bluetooth speaker. While the percussions were crisp and clear, the drums also hit heavily, thus producing a satisfactory beat output.
ZenBook Duo Battery Life
I was a little worried that this laptop’s battery life would be underwhelming since it has two monitors. Although ASUS claims that the 70Wh 4-cell lithium-polymer battery can last up to 22 hours, this is only possible if the second monitor is off. I tested the battery by operating both screens at 50% brightness, with a music video playing in the background at 50% speaker volume. In this test, the battery lasted 10 hours. This means that the battery will serve you the whole day on a single charge, which is pretty impressive considering its performance capabilities.
Also, I observed that charging the battery from empty to full takes under two hours.
Let’s just say that when the time came for me to return this computer, I was really sad. I had gotten so used to the laptop, and, to be honest, I was not looking forward to going back to working on my HP Pavilion.
Pity party aside, I think that the ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481 machine is a great option for anyone who handles multiple tasks at once. The two screens will ensure that you can work effectively without distractions from overriding programs. Although the keyboard might take a little time getting used to, let it not hinder you from seeing the bigger picture. Besides, within two days, your hands should be used to typing on this beast.
If the ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481 fits your needs, you can find it at Textbook Center, going for Kshs 235,000.
ZenBook Duo UX481
The ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481 machine is a great option for anyone who handles multiple tasks at once. The two screens will ensure that you can work effectively without distractions from overriding programs. Although the keyboard might take a little time getting used to, let it not hinder you from seeing the bigger picture. Besides, within two days, your hands should be used to typing on this beast.
- 10 hours battery life.
- CPU can turbo up to 4.9 GHz and perform without any hiccups.
- Dual screen display.
- Two monitors allow you to multitask.
- Does not have Thunderbolt 3 port.
- Second screen takes up keyboard space.