ASUS continues to evolve its extraordinary line of dual-screen laptops, the ZenBook Duo. We first met them at Computex 2019 in Taipei, since then we have already had reviews of both the older Pro model and the more affordable ZenBook Duo UX481. Today we have an updated version of the younger model, ZenBook Duo 2021 (UX482E).
ASUS ZenBook Duo 2021 (UX482E) Review: Equipment
In a decent-sized box, you can find, in addition to the laptop itself, also a charger, a stylus, and a unique folding stand that is glued to the bottom of the case.
ASUS ZenBook Duo 2021 (UX482E) Review: Design, usability
In terms of dimensions, the new ASUS ZenBook Duo almost does not differ from the first generation model – except that it became 3 mm thinner in thickness (32.4 × 22.2 × 1.69 cm), the weight also remained approximately the same (1.57- 1.6 kg). As for a 14-inch model, the laptop by today’s standards is not the most compact and lightweight, but you can’t call it any oversized and bulky either: it doesn’t “pull off” the backpack, and it is quite possible to take it with you on the road regularly.
Like the ZenBook Duo UX481, the new model is also available in only one colour – Celestial Blue. It looks exciting and somewhat unusual; the body slightly changes its shade depending on the angle at which the light falls on it. The lid has a proprietary coating – the finest, almost imperceptible texture in the form of circular lines, which create their unique pattern when the lid “glares” by reflected light. Opening the laptop with one hand will not work – the hinges are quite tight so that when the lid is lifted, it pulls the base along with it.
The body is mostly made of metal; it looks good and feels good in the hands. There are no complaints about the build quality; all the parts are well fitted, when pressed or twisted, the case does not bend, creak, or backlash.
There are no ventilation holes on the side faces; they are placed in the gap between the displays, and in a normal situation, the user does not even see them, not to mention the feeling of hot air coming out of them.
On the left side, there is an HDMI 1.4 output and two Thunderbolt ports with support for video signal output and power supply; on the right side, there is a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, a MicroSD card reader, and a mini-jack for connecting a wired headset. In a typical operation, nothing more is needed. Still, if you need a wired connection to the network or, say, connecting additional peripherals via USB, then you cannot do without an adapter.
ASUS ZenBook Duo 2021 (UX482E) Review: Display
The main difference between the younger and older “firmware” is the IPS on both displays (recall that ZenBook Pro Duo is equipped with an OLED panel with 4K resolution). So, the main screen of the ASUS ZenBook Duo 2021 is a 14-inch IPS panel from AU Optronics (B140HAN06.B) with Full HD resolution. The touch screen, with small frames, occupies ~ 93% of the “cover” area. The screen is well calibrated (the laptop has Pantone certification). The color gamut closely matches the sRGB space. The color accuracy is also very high, and the brightness ranges from 15 to 270 cd / m²; the static contrast is about 1200:1.
Additional screen – ScreenPad Plus with a diagonal of 12.65 ″ and a resolution of 1920 × 515 pixels (panel – BOE NV126B5M-N42). It is noteworthy that for both screens, despite their “touch”, a semi-matte coating is used, which reflects much less than the traditional glossy one.
The main difference between the new ScreenPad Plus and what we saw in the first generation ZenBook Duo is the additional tilt angle (7 degrees) at which it is set after opening the laptop. This noticeably improves its readability compared to the previous model, where it was in the same plane as the keyboard.
The additional screen has a noticeably smaller color gamut, a slightly larger brightness range (from 10 to 290 cd / m²), and lower contrast (about 1000: 1). In terms of color reproduction, they turn out to be quite close, so that two parts of one image stretched across both screens differ slightly from each other, mainly in color saturation, which is higher for the main display.
Read also: Dell G3 15 3500 Gaming Laptop Review
ASUS ZenBook Duo 2021 (UX482E) Review: Two screens at work
The basic idea of using the second screen hasn’t changed compared to the previous models in this line. Additional windows can be displayed on the lower screen – for example, chats or other “side” applications that do not require a large area. You can open one window on both screens at once; in this case, the “bottom” will continue the tape, for example, the main page of a news site or social service. “Transferring” applications between screens is simple – pull the “header” of the window, and a panel with two icons will appear next to it; after that, without releasing the window, you need to drag it onto one of them. Besides, software developers can use the additional screen by placing various auxiliary windows on it: for example, a special version of the Adobe Photoshop photo editor was installed on a test laptop.
The second screen can also be used for handwriting with the included stylus – it is much more convenient to write on it than on the main one when you have to hold your hand on the weight. Its size is small, so applications with small interface elements or small print are not well perceived, especially people with poor vision. But the additional tilt that appeared in this generation of ZenBook Duo is a definite plus, now the angle at which the user looks at the ScreenPad Plus is no longer as sharp, and it is more convenient to read information from it compared to previous models. You can additionally increase the angle of inclination by using the stand.
ASUS ZenBook Duo 2021 (UX482E) Review: Keyboard and touchpad
In general terms, the keyboard layout remains the same as that of the previous ZenBook Duo: it is, quite understandably, located noticeably lower than the main screen than in traditional laptops, and shifted to the left to accommodate the touchpad on the right, while the laptop case “ends” almost immediately behind the keyboard block. This arrangement will be unusual at first, but you quickly get used to it.
The keys have a pleasant stroke with precise punching, and there is no indistinct “lubrication.” The pressing depth is 1.4 mm, which is not much less than that of “thin” desktop keyboards. In the first model review, we expressed our complaints about the not very good location of the “arrows” block – here it is made differently, the keys are half-sized and better separated from the rest, so it’s harder to miss them now.
The touchpad is the frankly small and unusual vertical format. It copes with its tasks well, but its modest size makes itself felt – so a mouse, in this case, obviously does not hurt.
Read also: 5 Best Laptops to Buy in 2021
ASUS ZenBook Duo 2021 (UX482E) Review: The hardware platform and performance
ASUS ZenBook Duo 2021 (UX482E) lineup can use Intel Core i5-1135G7 or i7-1165G7 CPUs, energy-efficient mobile processors the Tiger Lake-U family, introduced in September 2020. Both processors contain 4 cores of the Willow Cove architecture, with the ability to process up to 8 threads simultaneously thanks to Hyper-Threading technology. The younger model has a cache of 8 MB and a maximum frequency of 4.2 GHz when loading one core (3.8 GHz for all cores), the older model has 12 MB and 4.7 GHz (4.1 GHz), respectively. The chips are manufactured using an improved 10nm SuperFin process technology, TDP can be adjusted from 12 to 28 watts. The new integrated Intel Xe graphics are noticeably more powerful than the Iris Plus G7 in Ice Lake processors. In addition to it, the new ZenBook Duo can use Nvidia GeForce MX450 2GB discrete video.
Depending on the configuration, the laptop can be equipped with RAM from 8 to 32 GB LPDDR4X soldered on the board (not user-upgradeable), as well as internal M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD storage with a capacity of 512 GB to 1 TB (with an optional memory module Intel Optane 32GB).
A model of the following configuration came to our review: Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, 32 GB of RAM, SSD Samsung MZVLB1T0HBLR 1 TB, without a discrete graphics card.
The performance of the system is sufficient for any daily tasks, both office, and home. The noise level under a typical load is minimal; under a severe burden, it is expected to increase but remains within comfortable limits.
The integrated Intel Xe graphics show very decent results, in your free time you can play not very demanding games: in more or less recent projects with not the most “heavy” graphics, it is possible to get performance at the level of 30-60 fps in Full resolution HD and medium settings.
In the AIDA64 stress test under prolonged load, throttling manifests itself at the beginning of the trial, while the cooling system is just starting up; later, trotting was not noticed. Under long-term load, the processor temperature turns out to be around 60 degrees, the average CPU frequency with a load on all cores is around ~ 2.8 GHz.
Read also: GE76 Raider Dragon Edition Tiamat Laptop
ASUS ZenBook Duo 2021 (UX482E) Review: Autonomy
ASUS ZenBook Duo 2021 (UX482E) comes with a 70Wh battery – the same as the first-generation model. Despite this, the novelty shows a noticeably higher autonomy than it: in the office battery test PCMark 10 with a screen brightness of 120 cd / m², it lasted almost 11 hours (3 hours longer than the ZenBook Duo UX481). It seems that in terms of “gluttony,” the Tiger Lake-U processors, made on the 10 nm process technology, turn out to be more successful than the Comet Lake-U (14 nm), which were used in the previous ZenBook Duo. In the PCMark 10 battery test in idle mode with the screen on at the same brightness, the ZenBook Duo 2021 lasted 13.5 hours; also, the battery was fully charged for 9.5 hours of continuous video playback. In general, we can say that these are excellent results.
ASUS ZenBook Duo 2021 (UX482E) Review: Conclusion
ZenBook Duo 2021 is a modified and improved version of the first-generation model, a more affordable alternative to the “top” ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo. The main differences from the UX481 model are a new, more productive platform, a more thought-out arrangement of an additional screen, which increases the comfort of its use, and a noticeably increased autonomy, which was quite decent before.