Review: ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551 – Dual-Screen Dream or Disaster?
Last year, Asus dropped the ROG Zeyphrus Duo 15 GX550, a dual-screen laptop that didn’t disappoint. This year, the Zeyphrus Duo got an upgrade with the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551, so we’re excited to see whether this “new and improved” version is a hit or miss.
With the Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551, Asus added a 120Hz 4K display and took advantage of AMD’s octa-core Ryzen 9 5900HX processor. These specs alone will tell you that the Zephyrus Duo 15 SE is a monstrous device, but before you buy, let’s dig a little deeper.
The ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551 is extremely expensive. That said, it’s not the type of laptop that the vast majority of people would purchase on a whim. The cheapest model comes in at $2,999.99, giving you 16 GB of RAM and 1TB of M.2 storage. For this review, we’re using the $3,699.99 version, which includes 16 GB of RAM and 2TB of M.2 storage.
It doesn’t matter which model you go for — it is a splurge, so be prepared to break your bank account if you’re set on snagging the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551. Considering that its competitors, such as the MSI GE66 Raider and Acer Predator Triton 500, are similarly priced, it’s no surprise that the GX551 doesn’t come cheap.
First Look and Design
For the most part, the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551 bears a striking resemblance to its predecessor. It’s bulky but slim enough to pass as a “portable” laptop but not as an ultraportable. Weighing 5.29 pounds, it is better suited for stationary work, not as something you’d carry to the coffee shop.
The shell of the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551 is made of magnesium-aluminide, which keeps the weight down while delivering a deep black finish. Although its aesthetics are better, the semi-matte / semi-glossy finish does mean that smudges show up easier.
Its secondary screen, the “ScreenPad”, sits at the top of the keyboard, slightly inclined to improve viewing angles. The ScreenPad isn’t as essential as it seems — we’ve been using laptops with only one display for decades, and we didn’t have a problem with that. Sure, the dual-screen display is useful when it comes to gaming, but there’s really no other reason for it.
Unfortunately, the addition of another screen means that there’s less space for the keyboard. The ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551’s keys look like they’ve been forced to fit in there. The trackpad is tucked away in the righthand corner — not the most convenient place to put it, but Asus had to squeeze it in somewhere. By pressing the top corner of the trackpad, it transforms into a number pad, but still… it’s not the easiest thing to use.
And, since the ScreenPad takes most of the space, that means that there’s no room to rest your wrist. You’ll have to get yourself one of those padded armrests.
Surprisingly, there’s no webcam in sight. This isn’t a dealbreaker, though, since most built-in cameras could do better in terms of quality. The specs say that the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551 will come with a 1080 external cam, but our review unit didn’t come with one.
With aesthetic appeal out of the way, let’s move on to the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551’s port placement. The left side houses the power supply, audio jack, and microSD reader, while the right side houses two USB 3.2 ports and a USB Type-C port. At the back, you’ll find the ports for Ethernet and HDMI. Nothing out-of-the-ordinary about the port placement, but we do wish it had come with a full SD card reader instead.
So, is the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551 really designed for gaming? We compared it against the MSI GP66 Leopard and Aorus 17G by playing Rise of the Tomb Raider and Borderlands 3 on the highest settings.
For Rise of the Tomb Raider, the Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551 fell behind MSI GP66 Leopard, delivering 36 fps at 4K. For Borderlands 3, the Duo 15 SE delivered 36 fps at 4K, beating the Aorus 17G, but not the MSI GP66 Leopard, which was ahead by 11 fps.
We also tested the Zephyrus Duo 15 SE using 3DMark, comparing it against its predecessor, the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 GX550, and the MSI GS66 Stealth. The Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551 and Zephyrus Duo 15 GX550 were head-to-head when we ran the Sky Diver subtest, but they were both topped by the MSI GS66 Stealth.
Streamers that are looking for a laptop that they can use to play and edit will be pleased with the Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551. It was able to transcode a 4K video into 1080p in less than seven minutes using HandBrake. That’s significantly faster than the Aorus 17G, which took nearly nine minutes to do the same thing.
Our file transfer test showed that the Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551 can easily transfer 25GB of data at a rate of 1.42 GBps. Compared to the MSI GP66 Leopard and Aorus 17G, which transferred the same files at 1.06 GBps and 869 GBps respectively, the Zephyrus Duo 15 SE is an obvious winner.
After turning off the Wi-Fi, putting it in airplane mode, and fully charging the laptop, we put the Zephyrus Duo 15 SE in power-saving mode. With brightness at 50% and volume at 100%, it took 5.5 hours for the laptop to lose all of its battery life. With that said, the Zephyrus Duo 15 SE won’t last you a whole day, but it will last long enough unplugged.
We then tested its battery life while gaming and it managed to stay alive for two hours. It won’t get you through an entire playthrough of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, but as long as you have a power socket in sight, you should be fine.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551 has the form and function of a high-end gaming laptop. Its dual-screen design makes it a dream for streamers who want the convenience of having a secondary display for Discord and similar apps. And while it didn’t “game” as greatly as the MSI GP66 Leopard, it took the lead when it came to productivity tasks.
If you need a secondary screen and if you’re flushed with cash, the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551 is a convenient laptop that’ll let you game wherever you want. Ultimately, the only thing that justifies the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE GX551’s price is its dual-screen display. Other than that, you’re better off buying any other laptop.