WE TOOK A first look at the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo 15 in our last issue and now the fully-functional version of the machine has arrived we can truly see what the highly innovative dual-screen UX582 laptop has to offer professional photographers and videographers. It’s time to seriously ask whether it’s able to justify its hefty £2999 price tag.

First let’s take a quick walk around this ground-breaking machine to see what it has to offer, and the best place to start of course is the double screen, which opens up some very interesting new possibilities. The main panel is a 15.6in OLED touchscreen with 4K resolution and an included 4096-point stylus, while the ScreenPad is a 14in IPS touchscreen offering 3,840 x 1,100 resolution.

The primary panel offers superb quality. Its maximum brightness capability of 374cd/m2 can handle any indoor or outdoor scenario, and the OLED display means perfect black levels and sensational contrast – better than any IPS panel. The average Delta E of 1.52 ensures accurate colours, and the temperature and Gamma levels of 6,609K and 2.22 are both superb.

When tested the screen rendered 100% of the sRGB colour space and delivered 94.4% and 99.1% results in the Adobe RGB and DCI-P3 spaces with volume beyond 100%. The display also has Pantone and VESA DisplayHDR True Black 500 validation. In short, this screen will handle any colour-sensitive photography task you might choose to throw at it: you’re only going to get more accuracy if you’re working with high-end desktop monitors.

The lower panel meanwhile has a peak brightness of 377cd/m2 alongside middling black point and contrast results of 0.39cd/m2 and 966:1. The colours are understandably less accurate here, and the relatively shallow angle makes everything look a little washed-out. That’s not a big issue, however: this display is designed to hold timelines, media players, web browsers and chat tools, so it doesn’t need to aspire to the same quality levels.

The last creative laptop we had in for review was the Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel, which coincidentally comes in at the same price point. That laptop offers the same colour accuracy and resolution as the UX582’s main display, and it features an innovative tilting hinge and a built-in Wacom touchscreen. However, IPS technology means you don’t get the same deep black levels, and there’s no other laptop on the market at present offering a second screen in the style of the ZenBook Pro Duo.

Performance

High-end internals further bolster Asus’ brilliant screens. Intel’s Core i9-10980HK processor has eight multi-threaded cores and a theoretical peak speed of 5.3GHz, and the Asus uses Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 graphics (see Box Out). There’s 32GB of memory on board and a 1TB SSD. All of this means there’s more than enough power available to allow advanced photo and video editing to be tackled, along with office applications and multi-tasking.

While the UX582 offers tremendous power, it’s not necessarily the best option. The Acer’s Core i7 processor was a little quicker in most benchmarks, while there are also other machines at this price and less with the AMD Ryzen 9 5900H, 5900HS, and 5900HX. Also look out for Apple’s MacBook Pro 16 when it appears with the M1 processor – that’ll be quicker, too. If you look elsewhere for more power, however, you’ll forego that second screen.

Don’t expect exceptional battery life, either. In a conventional work test the UX582 lasted for 4 hours 20 minutes and, in a more challenging scenario, it lasted for just over an hour. That former result is better than older dual-screen Asus laptops, and it means you’ll get a reasonable stint out of this machine if you don’t push the components. But longevity unsurprisingly plummets in tougher applications, and using the battery restricts CPU and GPU performance. This machine is at its best when it’s plugged in.

On the Outside

The magnesium-alloy body looks sleek, and build quality is consistently excellent. It weighs 2.34kg, respectable for a high high end machine, and the 22mm width is reasonable. It’s also been MIL-STD-810G tested to ensure that it’s going to be able to survive drops, vibrations, altitude, humidity and extreme temperatures.

Beyond this, the Asus strains against its dual-screen design. The second screen pushes the keyboard to the front of the laptop. The keys themselves have reasonable travel and are fast and responsive, but the layout is cramped, and the only way to get a numberpad is to use the virtual option on the trackpad. To be fair Asus does include a wrist-rest in the box, but in truth this is small and not particularly comfortable.

Meanwhile the trackpad is shoved to the right of the keyboard and it’s small and narrow, so anyone serious about working will use a USB mouse. The ports are inconsistent too: use an external mouse and you’ll occupy the only fullsize USB connection. The Asus does have two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports and an HDMI output, but there’s no card reader or wired netword. On a machine designed for creativity, that’s disappointing. More pleasing are the additions of Wi-Fi 6 and a Windows Hello webcam.

FEEL THE GEFORCE

THE RTX 3070 on board the ZenBook Pro is one of Nvidia’s best laptop graphics cores and, in this laptop, it’s complemented by Nvidia Studio drivers. That’s helpful, because these have been optimised to deliver better performance and reliability in creative applications. Studio drivers likewise enhance the Adobe Creative Suite and dozens of other tools.

The RTX 3070 laptop chip includes 5,120 stream processors that use the Ampere architecture alongside 8GB of memory and ample Ray-Tracing ability. It’s enough power to tackle any creative task. Bear in mind, however, that the latest Nvidia laptop graphics cores rely on variable power limits to improve efficiency and thermal performance. In this machine’s standard performance mode the RTX 3070 peaks at 80W, which is the minimum available for this chip. If you deploy the UX582’s performance mode, that figure rises to 105W.

On paper, the RTX 3070 laptop core peaks at 125W, but you’ll only find that in the beefiest gaming laptops, and the UX582 just doesn’t need that much grunt. Instead the Asus strikes a good balance.

Verdict

THE ASUS ZENBOOK UX582 is innovative and powerful and has plenty of plus points: the main screen has brilliant photo-editing quality, the second display adds versatility in loads of creative situations and the UX582 has impressive performance levels.

There are some negatives as well though. The components are impressive, but it’s still easy to find more powerful processing. Meanwhile the second display hinders the keyboard and trackpad, and battery life is unsurprisingly mediocre. It’s expensive too, and its connectivity is surprisingly inconsistent.

If you’ve got the cash and feel that second display could play a crucial role in your photography or video workflow then the UX582 does make plenty of sense – especially if you work with a USB mouse and you’re happy to stay rooted to the mains. But before you shell out be aware of the UX582’s limitations, because they mean this machine will not suit every creative.

More information: ❚ asus.com

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