Asus Zenbook Duo 2024 review
Image: Chris Button.

Asus Zenbook Duo (UX8406) review: two screens better than one

100% human
8.7

Dual-screen laptops might once have been a novelty, but if the 2024 Asus Zenbook Duo is anything to go by, they’re now a genuinely useful form factor.

A while ago, I tried out Asus’ Zenbook Fold device, which was essentially a giant tablet that folded in half. It showed promise but was somewhat gimmicky and cost in excess of $7,000. More sensibly, the design ethos has shifted towards a two-screen form factor instead of one huge foldable display. Previous iterations of dual-screen clamshell laptops included half-sized displays sitting above a compressed keyboard. A novel execution, albeit limited to very specific use cases.

Fast-forward to now, the Asus Zenbook Duo (UX8406) is the most fully realised version of the double-display formula. Well-built, intuitive, and aided by excellent OLED technology, it’s a multitasker’s dream. It’s also a great showcase for the new Intel Core Ultra processors, wielding impressively good graphical power.

Asus Zenbook Duo (UX8406) review

Asus Zenbook Duo first impressions

One thing struck me upon first looking at this laptop: despite its beautiful displays, it’s not the most exciting device to look at. Compared to the classy matte finish of the Zenbook S OLED range, the Duo’s understated design doesn’t set the heart racing. But does it really matter when you have two vibrant, full-sized OLED screens to gawk at?

Importantly, the Zenbook Duo feels rigid and sturdy. For a device that’s basically all screens, not once did I fear for its durability. It has enough weight so you can comfortably lift up the lid with one hand, without being too heavy to comfortably carry with you. This is helped by good-quality hinges that also enable opening the laptop completely flat at a 180-degree angle. A sturdy built-in kickstand also neatly sits underneath the laptop, letting you prop the device up to an ergonomic height and comfortably view its screens.

Asus Zenbook Duo 2024 OLED screens
It may look basic on the outside, but the inside is anything but. Image: Chris Button.

Like any Windows 11 PC, setting it up is relatively painless. There were a few too many pre-installed Asus programs for my liking, although some of them serve important functional purposes. Take ScreenXpert and App Switcher, for example, the software that drives much of the multi-screen experience. Moving windows and physically changing the Zenbook Duo’s screen configuration works seamlessly, ensuring you get full use out of both screens.

Basic aesthetics aside, the Asus Zenbook Duo is no mere gimmick, that’s for certain.

Asus Zenbook Duo (UX8406) specifications

CPUIntel Core Ultra 9 185-H processor
DisplayDual 14-inch 3K (2880 x 1800) 16:10 OLED touchscreen, 120 Hz refresh rate
Operating system Windows 11 Home
Graphics Intel ARC Graphics
NPUDual Neutral Compute Engine Dedicated low-power AI engine Broad SW support
Main memory Up to 32 GB 7467 MHz LPDDR5x (onboard)
Storage Up to 1 TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD
Connectivity Dual-band WiFi 6E (802.11ax) + Bluetooth 5.3
Camera ASUS AiSense Camera  FHD 3DNR IR camera with ambient light and colour sensor
I/O ports 2 x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C (Up to 40 Gbps, PD, DP supported)
1 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
1 x full-size HDMI 2.1 (TMDS) 
1 x audio combo jack
Battery 75Wh lithium-polymer battery
AC adapter 65 W Type-C power adapter
Dimensions 31.3 x 21.7 x 1.46 cm (without keyboard)
31.3 x 21.7 x 1.99 cm (with keyboard)
31.3 x 20.9 x 0.51 – 0.53 cm (keyboard)
WeightApprox. 1.35 kg (without keyboard)
Approx. 1.65 kg (with keyboard)
Price (RRP)$3,999
WarrantyOne year
Official websiteAsus Australia

Everyday use

Two screens are better than one, right? My usual workstation consists of a laptop nestled in a Twelve South Curve Flex stand to bring it to eye level, connected to an external monitor and other peripherals via a Belkin Connect Pro Thunderbolt 4 dock. One of several great things about the Asus Zenbook Duo is that it grants comfortable access to two displays, regardless of whether you’re at a desk or on the move.

Its different modes offer genuine utility so that you don’t lose out on a secondary display when you’re on a work trip or if space doesn’t permit another monitor. I spend a lot of time between monitors, looking at research on one screen while writing on another. Benefitting from this workflow regardless of where you are is one of the Duo’s best perks. Using the built-in kickstand provides a comfortably ergonomic space to work with, bringing the top screen closer to eye level, while making the bottom screen easy to glance down at.

Even when you can’t sit the laptop on a surface to prop its screens up, you can still use the Duo as a traditional clamshell device. It comes with a Bluetooth keyboard that attaches over the bottom screen, which I much preferred to using the virtual touchscreen keyboard. Almost as soon as the keyboard connects to its slot, the laptop quickly rearranges everything to fit the single-screen configuration. It’s a pleasantly frictionless experience.

The same goes for when you rotate the laptop into a vertical book-like orientation – it adjusts the layout accordingly without fuss. You can also lock the screen configuration, so it doesn’t change when you move around.

Asus’ included Bluetooth keyboard is also much better than it has any right to be. It’s extremely thin, yet still comfortable to type on thanks to its responsive keycaps. Seamlessly attaching on top of the bottom screen, it also works well as a portable solution when the laptop’s on its kickstand. The keyboard would benefit from a small retractable kickstand of its own, however, as it sits completely flat when detached and placed on a desk. Regardless, it’s an excellent and compact input device that brings the dual-screen experience together.

Double the screens, double the fun

No matter what you’re doing, the Asus Zenbook Duo’s OLED displays look incredible. They’re great for watching videos, playing games, working on creative projects, and anything else you can think of. More laptops are adopting OLED technology, and with good reason. An upgrade over traditional LED, you benefit from greater contrast levels, more vibrant colours, and a better viewing angle.

This latter point is a particularly important one for using the Duo as a work machine. When showing something to colleagues, it’s easier to see the displayed content from an angle, as the colours and lighting remain true. Plus, the ability to lay the Duo completely flat is also handy when sharing work among co-workers huddled around a table.

Importantly, both OLED screens are identical – one isn’t better than the other. Each one is a crisp 2880 x 1800 resolution, touch-enabled, and supports smooth 120Hz motion. It’s a boon for digital artists, who can draw on the bottom screen using the included Asus Pen stylus while using the top screen for reference imagery – all in the same colour profile and level of clarity.

Asus Zenbook Duo 2024 laptop mode
Although super-thin, the included Bluetooth keyboard is an excellent accessory that completes the Duo package. Image: Chris Button.

A digital artist’s opinion

I’m no digital artist, or an artist of any measure for that matter. My partner, on the other hand, is a talented hobbyist who draws using Procreate on an iPad Air with an Apple Pencil.

After spending a bit of time with the Zenbook Duo, she liked how responsive its touchscreens were while using Clip Studio Paint. Although bothered by the fact that the Asus Pen requires a proprietary tool to swap out tip sizes – and that the tips are named after pencil thickness grading despite not changing the on-screen output – she found it to be a comfortable drawing stylus.

To comfortably draw on the Asus Zenbook Duo, you need to use its included laptop sleeve. Its kickstand produces too steep an angle to write or draw on the bottom screen without excessive strain. Fortunately, the sleeve’s flap folds up to let you raise the laptop on a slight incline, which is much better for longer drawing sessions.

Benchmarks

From browsing, general productivity tasks, photo editing, and even gaming, the Asus Zenbook Duo is a strong overall performer. My everyday workflow isn’t the most intensive but I still appreciated the laptop’s smooth and responsive performance across all tasks.

It’s also my first time testing a PC equipped with an Intel Core Ultra processor, which had me licking my lips. Mentally, of course – I’m not a complete sicko.

When testing a computer, I typically run multiple synthetic benchmark tests to roughly quantify performance. Due to time constraints, I only ran a few tests, which still provided decent results.

BenchmarkScore
Cinebench 2023CPU single-core: 1,804
CPU multi-core: 13,019
Cinebench 2024CPU single-core: 105
CPU multi-core: 763
3DMark Time Spy3,235
Geekbench ML2,795
CrystalDiskMarkSequential read speeds: 5,000MB/s
Sequential write speeds: 3,500MB/s

Cinebench helps measure how well a computer’s CPU renders 3D images, putting it under decent strain. I ran both the 2023 and 2024 versions of the software, as the most recent version doesn’t have as many comparison devices yet.

The Zenbook Duo’s Cinebench 2023 single-core score is one of the best results from devices I’ve tested. It comes back to the middle of the pack with multi-core performance, which is still a decent result.

For disk speed, CrystalDiskMark measured sequential read speeds of 5,000MB/s and write speeds of 3,500MB/s. That puts it in between the SSD speeds found in Asus’ TUF A16 gaming laptop and the enterprise-focused ExpertBook B6. Not blazingly fast but not sluggish.

I found that Asus’ general use battery life claims of eight hours were reasonably accurate. As with any laptop, expect it to drain quicker under heavy loads like when rendering video or playing games. A 65W USB-C charger comes included, and the two Thunderbolt 4 ports both support fast charging, so it doesn’t take long to top up the battery.

AI

Of course, with the addition of the Intel Core Ultra chipset, you’ve no doubt seen the phrase “AI PC” bandied about. That’s because the high-end versions of the chip include a standalone neural processing unit (NPU) on an Intel laptop system on a chip (SoC) for the first time.

Put simply, it’s designed to take on low-powered sustained AI-based workloads, freeing up the CPU and GPU for other tasks. Cloud servers – which many large AI models rely upon – are extremely costly and power-hungry to run. So, it makes sense to assign some of that workload to local machines, in addition to avoiding the security pitfalls of sending potentially sensitive data online.

The only problem, and this isn’t an Asus issue, is that local AI tasks are so far limited in nature. Microsoft’s Copilot software, the generative AI assistant built into the operating system, struggles with many of the issues synonymous with the burgeoning technology. Inaccurate summaries, made-up responses, and derivative artwork are all par for the course. It comes in handy for idea brainstorming, but I wouldn’t rely on it for more complex work.

For now, the most helpful AI implementations come in the form of local processing tasks like noise cancellation and live video tweaks – like background blurring – during conference calls. Much of the current hype surrounds generative AI, but the most useful aspects of NPU technology are less exciting. Think, speech recognition, identifying text in photos, and reducing overall system load so that you can push your device harder without draining more power.

More useful in the here and now is the overhaul to Intel’s integrated graphics. It’s more powerful and efficient, which is great for video editing and gaming.

A surprisingly adept gaming machine

Not-so-secretly, playing games on an Intel Core Ultra chip is what I’ve been looking forward to since last year. With software and AI-enabled upscaling more prominent, could you play more demanding games without a discrete GPU? Resoundingly, yes. Aided by the top-of-the-line Ultra Core 9 chip, the Asus Zenbook Duo took on a range of big games and delivered impressive results.

Sure, it sounded like a jet engine taking off at times – as does nearly any laptop under heavy load – but you can absolutely play the latest and greatest titles on this machine.

Even without upscaling technology, each game ran in a comfortably playable state. Both the Hitman 3 Dartmoor and Forza Horizon 5 benchmarks produced consistent frame rates at higher graphical settings. With Intel’s XeSS upscaling enabled, Hitman 3 pushed close to 60fps. By tweaking a few quality settings, you could easily bump that number higher. Interestingly, upscaling made no discernible difference with the Forza test, which is why I only included the non-upscaled result below.

Asus Zenbook Duo 2024 dual screen
You can even use the bottom screen to look up guides while playing games. Image: Chris Button.

Baldur’s Gate 3, the epic RPG that won Game of the Year in 2023, also ran admirably on the Zenbook Duo. It defaulted to the Ultra graphical preset, with a sequence including a cutscene and combat averaging just under 40fps. Nudging the settings down to High yielded nearly six extra frames. Baldur’s Gate 3 doesn’t support XeSS but it does have FSR 2.2, AMD’s open source upscaling technology other GPUs can use. With this on, the average frame rate leapt above 60fps. Being a turn-based game, a high frame rate isn’t essential, but it does make the action look smoother.

Number crunching

Eager to push the Zenbook Duo and its Intel Core Ultra chip to the absolute limit, I booted up the PC port of The Last of Us Part I. It’s a tough game for any PC to run, let alone one without a discrete GPU. Even opening to the menu caused the laptop’s fans to scream with effort. Despite this, with the graphics set to Low, the game’s opening sequence averaged 30fps. Not too shabby. With FSR 2 enabled, it ran noticeably smoother, hovering above 40fps.

The moral of the story is that yes, the Asus Zenbook Duo is a decent laptop for gaming. As long as you don’t mind tweaking a few settings here and there, smooth gameplay is well within reach – even on notoriously resource-intensive games.

GameAverage frame rate (FPS)
Hitman 3 Dartmoor benchmark (High)41
Hitman 3 Dartmoor benchmark (High – XeSS balanced enabled)55.16
Forza Horizon 5 benchmark (High)50
Baldur’s Gate 3 (Ultra)39.9
Baldur’s Gate 3 (High)45.5
Baldur’s Gate 3 (High, FSR 2.2 balanced)66.1
The Last of Us Part I (Low)30
The Last of Us Part I (Low, FSR 2 balanced)42.4

Who is the Asus Zenbook Duo for?

When one screen simply won’t do, the latest iteration of the Asus Zenbook Duo is an incredibly well-designed laptop. Its brilliant dual OLED screens shine but it’s the overall design quality that coalesces the concept into a device with endless utility. The built-in kickstand makes it easy to make full use of both displays, while the included Bluetooth keyboard solidifies the experience.

Even though the double-display design is the star of the show, the 2024 Zenbook Duo happens to be a strong showcase for the Intel Core Ultra processors. Despite no discrete graphics card, this versatile laptop deftly tackles creative apps and gaming alike.

Your only real cause for pause is a $3,999 asking price. It’s an undeniably expensive laptop, albeit justified by the two-screen setup. You’d pay a similar price for a high-end laptop equipped with a top-of-the-line processor once an external monitor or portable display entered the equation.

As a multitasking device, the Zenbook Duo excels. Whether you’re drawing on one screen while watching a tutorial on the other, combing through swathes of text, or need more screen space when away from the desk, it’s an all-in-one wonder.

Asus Zenbook Duo 2024 (UX8406)
Features
9
Value for money
8
Performance
9
Ease of use
8.5
Design
9
Positives
Beautiful OLED screens
Intel Core Ultra 9 chip is impressively powerful
Included Bluetooth keyboard is compact yet comfortable to use
Sturdy kickstand and build quality
Negatives
Noisy fans don't take long to kick in
8.7