ASUS has been in pursuit of the next wave of technological advancements when it comes to PCs and laptops. Their new technologies have changed the way we work and game remotely. A few weeks ago, I reviewed the impressive two-in-one ROG Flow X16, which is a gaming laptop that doubles as a tablet. This comes off the back of the impressive Duo lineup we’ve seen over the years for both the Zephyrus and Zenbook ranges. This time around, we review another addition to the latter in the form of the ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo (UX8402ZE).
The brand is not only expanding its range of products with newer technologies based on customer needs but also enhancing those already existing. This is to align with enhancements in specifications across the board and improve on what has gone before.
So, how does the ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo (UX8402ZE) take the next step forward?
ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo Build & Design
From the previous version of the Zenbook Duo, there aren’t all that many noticeable updates at face value. Many of the changes aren’t what you’d consider ‘aesthetic’ with only a few minor tweaks here and there.
If you compare the two units side-by-side, their sizing on dimensions is nearly identical. However, there is a slight difference in the overall weight, with the ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo (UX8402ZE) shaving off some 150g in excess weight. This means that it has a 1.7KG overall weight, which isn’t bad for portability. Although, you still have to factor in that extra 420g additional weight on the charger if you’re going to be away from your desk for a while.
One of the key differences between the two models lies in the hinge. There are two major differences. For starters, when you open the lid on the updated model, it also lifts the secondary screen, so it doesn’t lie flush with the keyboard. This makes for better overall use. Additionally, when opening the lid, you don’t get the sharp endpoint that would eat into your thighs during longer uses. These two elements look visually different, while at the same time adding a much more streamlined design performance.
One aspect of the ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo (UX8402ZE) design that is still a bit on the wonky side is the compact keyboard and touchpad. While I don’t often use the touchpad on many laptops, it’s so small on the Duo that you probably wouldn’t be able to use it all that much. As for the keyboard, its compact nature also means that it makes typing a bit trickier, even without the issue of not having palm rests.
Connectivity and Ports
Although the ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo (UX8402ZE) is quite compact, it doesn’t mean that you’re left wanting when it comes to your connectivity requirements. It positions the ports on the left and right-hand sides, while also using the rear for the larger-sized ports.
On the left-hand side, you have the dual audio 3.5mm jack. This is positioned in front of the side ventilation. The right-hand side features a few more ports in the form of x2 Thunderbolt Type-C ports, and one USB 3.2 Gen 2 port. The rear of the units houses the DC-in, a microSD card reader (which is often left out in recent laptop releases), as well as a full HDMI 2.1 port.
Overall, it’s not the biggest selection of ports available on a laptop but covers all the basics very well.
Screen and Display
One of the big improvements in the range of Zenbook Duo units is the switch from LED to OLED screens. In addition to this, the ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo (UX8402ZE) increases the screen size slightly with its 14.5” panel. This new OLED panel offers up to 2,880×1,800px resolution, which is not a standard resolution size. It’s not quite 4K but better than 2K – something in between.
For the previous model, the Zenbook Duo sported a more conventional LCD panel, which also had a standard refresh rate of 60Hz. The Zephyrus Duo, on the other hand, provided two options – a 1080p panel at 300Hz and a 4K panel at 120Hz. An impressive stat about the unit is that it’s the world’s first OLED laptop to sport a 120Hz refresh rate. What really stands out here, however, is the 0.2ms response time. This makes for super clear images that load within a fraction of a second.
While the above-mentioned are great in terms of on-paper specifications, the real-world tests also play a huge role in overall performance. Thankfully, the ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo (UX8402ZE) delivers. It has a 100% DCI-P3 Colour Gamut rating and VESA DisplayHDR True Black 500 certification. This means that it provides quite realistic and vibrant colours, while simultaneously offering the deepest blacks. And this is very visible to notice even for a moderate user.
This makes the picture brilliant for all your editing needs, so you don’t have to worry about colour reproduction on images and video developed. It may not be listed as a gaming unit but is capable of delivering great visual performance for all your gaming needs while offering immersive visuals for your movies to boot.
All of that and I haven’t even touched on the evolved ScreenPad Plus display as yet. It, too, offers a 100% DCI-P3 colour gamut range, although on a smaller 12.7” display. This is slightly larger than the previous, 12.6” variant.
One of the negative aspects of the previous Zenbook Duo was the uncomfortable hinge, both on the main and secondary displays. ASUS has swapped the older ErgoLift hinge for the AAS Ultra hinge. It lifts the secondary display to about 12° for comfortable usage. It still doesn’t have palm rests around the area, so you’ll need to disable the keyboard if you want comfortable writing on the touchscreen.
What I noticed most of all, in terms of improvements, is the much faster response over previous models. It would often take a few seconds to open any of the taskbar apps. That is no longer the case with the new ScreenXpert 3 software. This also allows for better cross-screen multitasking, switching apps and windows easily between the two screens.
The ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo (UX8402ZE) has quite a number of configurations, mostly as a result of the three variations on the CPU. The three options include the 12th-generation Intel Core i5 (12500H), i7 (12700H) and i9 (12900H). This is coupled with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti GPU, which is standard across the range.
This computational hardware is backed up with up to 32GB DDR5 (4,800MHz) RAM with up to 2TB PCIe NVMe m.2 SSD. In terms of the battery, there are two variations as well. The first 70Whr battery is fitted for the i5 and i7 CPUs, with a higher-capacity 76Whr battery for the i9 variant. In terms of the operating system, you have the option of Windows 11 Pro or Windows 11 Home.
The unit we received for review was a high-end model, sporting the Intel Core i9 CPU, GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, 32GB RAM, 1TB NVMe SSD and Windows 11 Home.
Performance and Battery Life
There are three modes in which to use the ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo. This includes Performance, Standard and Whisper Mode. I don’t think there is any explanation required as to which is which.
When switching to run on battery, you lose the capability of using the Performance mode. This means that the CPU is throttled and less wattage is consumed while in use. However, running on Whisper and Standard modes does make for much quieter running. Whisper mode itself runs at nearly 40% lower noise levels (measured in dB) which in itself is about 20% less than Performance mode.
ASUS attempts to use the raised ScreenPlus display as an additional entry point to draw in cool air to cool the hardware. The exhaust vents are located on the sides, which are away from your general usage area. Compared to other laptops within the same category, it runs at about 15-20% higher temperatures. When compared to the previous Zenbook Duo model, however, it keeps things about 10% cooler – small but useful progress.
Both the performance modes and cooling tie in with the battery performance of the laptop. Additionally, the newly added OLED panels also have a huge impact on the overall runtime when using the battery. On average, the previous Zenbook Duo model had a runtime of around 10 hours of battery life. This would fluctuate by an hour increase or decrease depending on the load. When switching off the secondary screen, it would boost battery life to around 12 hours.
The Zenbook Pro 14 Duo doesn’t fair anywhere near as well. In fact, it struggles to keep up with its predecessor, eking out a measly 7 to 8-hour uptime on average and boosted to about 9 hours when turning the secondary screen off. That’s a drop of 2 to 3 hours in total, even with the additional 6Wh (76Wh battery).
When it comes to the performance of its hardware, however, it more than makes up for this loss of battery life. When comparing the average benchmark scores on the various laptops, you’ll find that it averages some 20-30% better across the board. Compared to the previous model Zenbook, it has a 5-10% performance boost, which isn’t bad. When compared to the MacBook Pro 14 and Lenovo Yoga 9i 14, which are fairly similar models on paper, it outperforms them by 60% and 30%, respectively.
These benchmark scores were run in Performance mode, which drops slightly when using the Standard mode, which is to be expected. It’s also worth noting that there is a bit of a performance drop as the laptop heats up but then returns to normal processing performance once the fans kick in to cool the internals. This wouldn’t have a major impact on any of the activities or tasks you’re running on a daily basis.
Although it isn’t geared towards gaming, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti is still more than capable of running many of the latest AAA titles. Its performance is very good as well. Using the 2K resolution within games, the frame rates vary depending on the graphics settings. For Low settings, it can easily eke out over 120FPS on most games, including GTA V, The Witcher 3, Far Cry 5 and more. Switching to Medium settings and drops to an average of around 100-120FPS. On High, we start to see quite a significant drop-off, averaging around 60-70FPS and on Ultra drops further to around 30FPS, which is still manageable. These are still impressive returns for a device not marked with a gamer tag.
Is the ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo (UX8402ZE) Worth It?
As is always the case, ASUS does a lot of enhancements across the board on their new range of laptops. While most of these year-on-year would typically feature the new chipsets for CPU and GPU performance, the brand has gone a bit further with the ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo (UX8402ZE).
With its impressive new OLED screen, it takes the visual element to the next level. And, to be honest, this would be more than a sufficient update on the device with the difference it makes. However, the list of enhancements is across the board, and really makes an impact on overall performance.
As stated in the specifications section, there are multiple variants of the Zenbook Pro Duo range. The most notable difference lies in the CPU, with options ranging from the Intel Core i5, i7 and i9 CPUs. With the new OLED screen, the pricing does take a bit of a knock, increasing with a starting point of around R40,000. However, that’s not bad for the range of specifications and performances.
ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo (UX8402ZE)
- Brilliant OLED screen
- ScreenPlus is much more efficient
- Great for designers
- Trimmed and lighter chassis
- Compact still cramped
- Stylus would’ve been a handy addition
- Battery life isn’t as great
Ease of Learning
Ease of Use
Value for Money