Asus usually divides its gaming laptops into three categories: eSports (Strix), hardcore (Zephyrus) and casual (TUF). Strix is where you’ll find the most powerful components, while the latter is where you’ll save. But with a new generation of AMD Ryzen CPUs set to compete with Intel’s Tiger Lake soon, plus new Nvidia mobile RTX models just around the corner, Zephyrus and Strix look more tempting than ever at this year’s CES. That’s in no small part thanks to software innovation on Asus’ end that strives to show these components in the best light.
Asus Zephyrus Duo SE
Screen-obsessed gamers can rest easy knowing that this year, Asus is bringing the improvements it made in the Zenbook Duo line to the Zephyrus Duo as well. The Zephyrus Duo line sets itself apart from other best gaming laptop competitors by incorporating a long, thin “screenpad plus” just above its keyboard. It can be used for notes, videos, music control and productivity. The Zephyrus Duo has been around since last year, but this year’s Zephyrus Duo 15 SE refreshes it with new internals and software.
The Zephyrus Duo 15 SE is all about displays. Its main screen is 15.6 inches, Pantone-validated, IPS and has both 1080p at 300 Hz and 4K at 120 Hz options. Its touchpad screenpad plus, meanwhile, is 14.1 inches, IPS and comes in either 1920 x 550 or 3840 x 1100 resolution. The screenpad plus sits at a 13-degree angle when the laptop is open, for both easy viewing and touch control.
Powering both of these screens is either an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor or a Ryzen 7 5800H. The Zephyrus Duo 15 SE also has a discrete GPU, with options for the RTX 3070 with 8GB of VRAM or the RTX 3080 with 16GB of VRAM. It’s also got 16GB of DDR4-3200MHz RAM out of the box, which you can expand up to 32GB total. In that same fashion, the Zephyrus Duo 15 SE also has two M.2 SSD slots and comes with either 512GB or 1TB of storage pre-installed in one slot.
Debuting with the Zephyrus Duo SE is more advanced screenpad software with a new control center hub for quickly accessing screenpad apps, plus pre-built shortcut menus for Adobe programs. Asus will also make its screenpad app development tools open source shortly after CES, which means we may potentially see new tools for use with streaming apps and other software that might benefit from setting custom controls on a secondary display.
Rounding all of these features out is a backlit keyboard with 1.4mm of key travel and 4 speakers including two downward firing woofers. There’s also a microphone array with AI noise cancellation, though no webcam.
All of this utility means a fairly large body at 14.2 x 10.6 x 0.8 inches and a hefty weight at 5.3 pounds. The chassis comes in a stylized black finish, which has a slash across that separates a plain matte black area from one decorated with abstract pixels.
If a screenpad doesn’t seem necessary to you, you can also opt for either the refreshed Zephyrus G14 or Zephyrus G15. These have the same aesthetic design and next-generation AMD CPUs and RTX mobile GPUs. The G14 limits its display to 1080p at 144 Hz or 1440p at 120 Hz, while the G15 has options for 1080p at 144 Hz and 1440p at 165 Hz. Both also have the same memory and storage options as the Duo 15 SE.
Apart from their lack of a screenpad, setting these two laptops apart is their AniMe Matrix display, which uses the pixels on the back of their lids to show GIFs and other custom animated or still designs.
Asus ROG Strix Scar eSports Laptops
Asus also announced today refreshes of the ROG Strix Scar 15 and ROG Strix Scar 17, plus their slightly smaller G15 and G17 counterparts. These are Asus’ eSports laptops and represent the pinnacle of its gaming machines. The new SKUs come with AMD’s next generation of mobile CPUs and Nvidia’s next generation of mobile GPUs, plus 32GB of memory and up to 1TB of storage. Displays range from 1080p at 144 Hz to 1440p at 165 Hz, depending on your configuration.
The chassis is colorful, with full per-key RGB keyboards and, on the G-series, colored rubber armor on the back of the laptop hinge. Thickness varies across models but generally hits 1 inch. We don’t yet know how much Asus’ new Strix laptops weigh.
Asus has yet to announce pricing info on any of its newest laptops but has confirmed that the Zephyrus Duo 15 SE will be available in North America in Q1 2021.
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Michelle Ehrhardt is an editor at Tom's Hardware. She's been following tech since her family got a Gateway running Windows 95, and is now on her third custom-built system. Her work has been published in publications like Paste, The Atlantic, and Kill Screen, just to name a few. She also holds a master's degree in game design from NYU.