The 2023 ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 (starts at $3,499.99; $3,999.99 as tested) from Asus features AMD’s and Nvidia’s newest Ryzen 7000 and GeForce RTX 40 Series hardware. Performance is unaffected by the small form factor and distinctive design:
This system had among of the fastest processing and gaming performance, and its beautiful look is great. You’ll pay for what you see here, but if you’re searching for a high-end gaming system, you might as well have the stunning design and quick frame rates. Lenovo’s Legion Pro 7i Gen 8, a conventional gaming clamshell, won Editors’ Choice for its value and layout.
Dual Displays: Better Than One
See the 2022 Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 for a comparable two-screen design. Asus Duo laptops include one large display and a smaller screen over the keyboard. When the laptop is opened, the ScreenPad Plus, a touch screen, faces the user. Over the years, these screens have changed size and features, but the premise remains the same.
As indicated, these screens have changed features per model, and this device is progressive and appealing. 16-inch diagonal, 2,560-by-1,600-pixel primary display. It’s a 16:10 QHD display. The panel has 240Hz refresh rate for great gaming.
The lower screen is a glossy touch display with an awkward-sounding 2,560-by-734-pixel resolution—still sharp, but significantly shorter than a conventional panel. It has adequate area to use, and both screens are sharp and bright. The main display is a small LED screen, which is brighter than most alternatives. This gadget produces great images.
What’s this second screen for? Use the smaller display as a second monitor by dragging any window or application. The second display offers a lot of digital space to an otherwise tiny system, making it ideal for a game walkthrough, music app, or chat app.
Its 0.81 by 14 by 10.4-inch (HWD) and 5.9-pound footprint is modest for a 16-inch dual-display gaming laptop. The Legion Pro 7i Gen 8, with its single display of the same size, is thicker and heavier at 1 by 14.3 by 10.3 inches and 6.1 pounds.
Despite its age, the Duo design continues to impress me. Since they’re thin and light, the Duo computers feel futuristic, even if they’re unnecessary and pricey.
This twin-panel design is beneficial and exciting in the otherwise stagnant gaming laptop market. (Like me, you may occasionally find windows in unexpected places.) A function button above the touchpad disables the second display. The ScreenPad Plus’s left side has a unique menu with shortcuts and customization settings.
The extra display makes the keyboard difficult. It’s not new to this Duo system, but it’s still an issue. The keyboard is at the front of the machine with no palm rest. Not a deal breaker, but it takes some getting used to. Despite the huge chassis, the keyboard is limited to the lowest portion, making it seem claustrophobic.
This also affects the touchpad. It’s confined to the lower right side and non-traditional. This product line isn’t new, but it’s hard to get used to. Even after acclimating, a larger, centered touchpad is better.
The second display improves ventilation, however. As you open the laptop, the second screen rises and exposes extra airflow. Creative and gaming laptops benefit from cooling airflow.
Asus packed the system with physical connectivity despite its thinness and odd form. The power jack, USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2, USB Type-C with charging and DisplayPort connectivity, microSD slot, and audio jack are on the left side. One DisplayPort-compatible USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port is on the right. The remaining ports—an HDMI output, an Ethernet jack, and another Type-A 3.2 Gen 2 port—are on the back.
ROG Zephyrus Duo 16: Top-End Power in a Mainstream Gaming Laptop
As mentioned above, the starting price is $3,499.99. Our review model goes all-out on power. The AMD Ryzen 9 7945HX “Dragon Range” mobile processor, the first Ryzen 7000 chip we tested, is the star. The first findings were impressive, but every laptop has a different CPU, so we were delighted to test it again.
32GB RAM, a 2TB SSD, and the powerful Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU complete the specs. Performance is affected by this laptop’s 140W GPU and 35W boost. When it launched, we tested the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU separately, but the same premise applies: different laptop implementation, different performance. The “base” model has an RTX 4080 GPU and 1TB storage.
Last year’s Duo 16 is a good 1:1 step-up comparison. The 16-inch Lenovo Legion Pro 7i Gen 8, with Intel’s 13th Gen Core i9 processor, is one of our best high-end deals. That silicon powers the 17-inch Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 and 18-inch Razer Blade 18.
UL’s PCMark 10 main benchmark mimics real-world productivity and content-creation workflows to measure overall performance for office-centric applications like word processing, spreadsheeting, web browsing, and videoconferencing. PCMark 10’s Full System Drive test evaluates laptop storage load time and throughput.
Three further CPU benchmarks evaluate a PC’s aptitude for processor-intensive workloads employing all cores and threads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 renders a complicated picture using Cinema 4D, while Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5.4 Pro mimics PDF rendering, speech recognition, and machine learning. Finally, we utilize the open-source video transcoder HandBrake 1.4 to convert a 12-minute 4K film to 1080p (faster is preferable).
Our last productivity test, PugetBench for Photoshop from workstation maker Puget Systems, uses Adobe’s Creative Cloud version 22 of Photoshop to evaluate a PC’s content production and multimedia performance. We’ll switch software versions or fix the compatibility issue with the new hardware soon.
The Zephyrus Duo was extremely quick. The longer version is that it scored first on two results, placed among the leaders, and excelled at content creation and editing while not gaming. AMD is closer than ever to matching Intel, if not surpassing it, thanks to Ryzen silicon.
Gaming and Graphics Tests
Two DirectX 12 game simulations from UL’s 3DMark—Night Raid (more modest, appropriate for laptops with integrated graphics) and Time Spy (more demanding, suitable for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs)—test Windows PC graphics. We run two GFXBench OpenGL benchmarks offscreen for different display resolutions.
We also test F1 2021, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Rainbow Six Siege’s 1080p benchmarks in real-world games. Simulation, open-world action-adventure, and esports shooter games, respectively. Valhalla and Siege are run twice (the former at Medium and Ultra quality presets, the latter at Low and Ultra quality), while F1 2021 is run twice at top settings with and without Nvidia’s performance-boosting DLSS anti-aliasing.
The odd design did seem to limit the Duo 16 compared to the finest, but not by much. Despite that small difference, the gaming results were impressive (as expected given the parts and pricing). Still, it delivered top-notch frame rates in a range of gaming settings. With the extra display for tutorials, conversations, music, and more, you can play any modern AAA title at high frame rates.
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, our most demanding game test, runs at over 100 fps at high settings. At 1080p, the Duo 16’s Ultra High preset averaged 91fps, while at QHD, it averaged 91fps. That resolution strains the system, but it can still get 60fps. This monitor doesn’t support 4K, but the GeForce RTX 40 Series GPU and Nvidia’s DLSS upscaling will help ray tracing and more demanding games.
Playing a locally stored 720p movie file at 50% brightness and 100% loudness until the system shuts down tests laptop battery life. Before testing, we charge the battery and turn off Wi-Fi and keyboard illumination.
A Datacolor SpyderX Elite monitor calibration sensor and its Windows software measure a laptop screen’s color saturation—what percentage of the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 color gamuts or palettes it can show—and its 50% and peak brightness in nits (candelas per square meter).
Battery life was terrible. On our test, the dual monitors, high resolution, and powerful components only lasted three hours. It’s frustrating because this device is relatively portable despite those problems, but it won’t last long off the charger.
This limits the product’s mobile usability, although pro-grade creative work and intensive gaming are unlikely on battery. This laptop operated its display several hundred nits brighter than most others in the test at 50% brightness, which likely shortened its battery runtime.
Creative professionals interested in this system will appreciate the extensive color coverage. The results validate the primary screen’s brightness. Mini LED backlighting makes this one of our brightest laptop displays. The ScreenPad Plus measured 181 nits at 50% and 364 at 100%.
Verdict: Best for Big Budgets
This laptop is cool and pricey, like previous Zephyrus Duo systems. The “value” may not matter for people with the deepest budgets, who will obtain an attractive twin-screen system with the fastest modern parts. The Duo 16 appeals to early adopters who demand the latest and greatest.
However, most can’t justify paying this fee. Gaming laptops can be quicker and cheaper. If speed is your major reason to spend large, an alternative like the Lenovo Legion Pro 7i Gen 8 is cheaper and speedier, making it hard to argue against it. If your budget is practically unlimited and the two screens are the most enticing design you’ve seen, you’ll love this cutting-edge machine. Its biggest drawback was battery life.
- Elegant, slim design despite dual displays and top-end power
- Top-tier gaming performance with Ryzen 9 7000 CPU, RTX 4090 GPU
- Super-bright mini LED main display with 340Hz refresh rate
- Genuinely useful second touch screen, with a helpful custom menu
- Awkward keyboard and touchpad layout
- Exorbitantly expensive, including the starting price
- Poor battery life
ASUS ROG ZEPHYRUS DUO 16 (2023) SPECS
|AMD Ryzen 9 7945HX
|RAM (as Tested)
|Boot Drive Type
|Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)
|Native Display Resolution
|2560 by 1600
|Variable Refresh Support
|Screen Refresh Rate
|Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090
|0.81 by 14 by 10.4 inches
|Windows 11 Pro
|Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)