With the last ZenBooks we tested, we told you that ASUS is bringing the innovation game to another level. However, little did we know what the ZenBook Duo UX481 was about to offer us. Amongst laptops that have second displays (like the HP Omen X 2S) or use their touchpads as an additional screen – as ASUS’ own ZenBooks all of them had a certain flaw. They were too little and their options were too limited.

However, this device changes everything. In fact, it rethinks the way laptops work, as it includes a beefed-up version of the ScreenPad – the ScreenPad Plus. It takes the entire top half of the base of the device and measures 12.7″ in size. In fact, it is exactly the same length as the main 14-inch display and thanks to some software enhancements it should work super intuitively and seamlessly in combination with the main panel itself.

There is more to it than “just” the ScreenPad Plus. It comes with the latest Comet Lake CPUs from Intel and can be fitted with a GeForce MX250. However, let’s keep some of the details for later.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/asus-zenbook-duo-ux481/

Contents


Specs Sheet

Asus ZenBook Duo UX481 – Specs


OS


Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10, Windows 10 Home


Dimensions


323 x 223 x 19.9 mm (12.72″ x 8.78″ x 0.78″)

Ports and connectivity

  • 1x USB Type-C 3.1 (3.1 Gen 2)
  • 1x USB Type-A 3.1 (3.1 Gen 2)
  • 1x USB Type-A 3.0 (3.1 Gen 1)
  • HDMI
  • Card reader MicroSD
  • Wi-Fi 802.11ax
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Audio jack 3.5 mm combo

Features

  • Web camera IR webcam with Windows Hello support
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Microphone Array Microphone
  • Optical drive
  • Security Lock slot

What’s in the box?

This device comes in a pretty beefy box. However, inside, you are going to find another – a very sleek one. Only when you open the second one – you can find the ZenBook Duo UX481 and its 65W power adapter. Moreover, there is a dedicated stylus that works with the ScreenPad Plus.

Design and construction

In terms of build quality, the ZenBook Duo UX481 is built like a tank. It incorporates aluminum predominantly in its body, while obviously the second half of the base is covered by glass. However, in order to fit everything inside this chassis, they had to make it slightly bulkier than what we are used to when we see a ZenBook. Hence, the laptop has a height of 20mm, yet it weighs only 1.50 kg.

We mentioned that this laptop has some extra features. One of them is the redesigned ErgoLift hinge, that now gives the laptop a tilt of 5.5 degrees, which is quite drastic when you view the laptop from the side. Because of that, this laptop is one of the few ZenBook devices that cannot be opened with a single hand. By the way, not only has ASUS provided enough space for a camera above the display, but it also has IR face recognition sensors inside of it.

Then at the base, is where the magic happens. Let’s give you a quick tour of the keyboard and then we are going to discuss the second display. While it is a very decent board with a bright backlight, good key travel, and clicky feedback, we don’t think it is particularly comfortable. It all starts from the location.

Even though it has a good tilt, the proximity to the bottommost part of the laptop is just too tiny. This results in a quite unnatural positioning of the wrist, which leads to exhaustion. Not to mention the time you would need to get used to this keyboard. Additionally, despite the good size of the arrow keys, they are just crammed in the other ones, making it difficult to press the proper one without taking a peek at the keyboard.

Moreover, the location of the touchpad is horrendous. So, it is definitely not the first laptop we’ve seen with it, as there are a bunch of gaming notebooks out there that share the same principle. However, that doesn’t make it more comfortable. It is a kind of weird navigation with a portrait-oriented touchpad through a landscape-oriented screen. On the bright side, the accuracy is great, as are its dedicated buttons.

Now, let’s tame that ScreenPad Plus. The second display works best in “Extended” mode, but you can also duplicate your screens or use them only by itself. In terms of versatility, you can do practically everything on this display. You can assign shortcut icons, use it for multitasking, transform handwriting into digital text, and more importantly (for content creators), put your toolbars, timelines or even working boards on it, so you can do whatever you need.

What is great about it is that it works with ASUS’s dedicated Pen. Additionally, the manufacturer states that it has worked closely with Corel in order to optimize their pixel, vector and motion-manipulating software for the ScreenPad Plus. In our experience, however, the pressure detection of either the Pen or the display is a little narrow. Another possible downside for drawing our sketching would be the super-wide aspect ratio.

Lastly, let’s see what’s on the bottom panel on this notebook. There you can see a not-so-big ventilation grill, as well as the speaker cut-outs in the corners. Hot air is directed towards the screen, and we hope that this won’t present any issues in the long run.

Ports

Left side – power plug, an HDMI connector, USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen. 2) port, and a USB Type-C 3.1 (Gen. 2) port.
Right side – a USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen. 1) port, an audio jack, and a MicroSD card reader. Sadly – no Thunderbolt connectivity.

Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance

Apparently, ASUS has tried to beat HP in the game of hiding their screws. However, their engineers were not able to outfox us with their petty rubber thingies they put on top of their screws. There are a total of 10 (6 with caps) Torx-head screws you need to remove before you pop the bottom panel with a plastic pry tool.

Inside, you are going to find a familiar cooling system, that employs two medium-small-sized fans and one rather bulky heat pipe.

Upgradability must be ZenBook Duo UX481’s weakest point, as there is only one M.2 PCIe x4 slot for expansion and nothing else.

Finally, there is a huge 70Wh battery pack that we expect would be plenty to drive both of the displays of this fancy machine.

Display quality

ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481 sports the same Full HD IPS display as we saw on the Acer Swift 3 (SF314-55) and Acer TravelMate X514-51, model number Innolux N140HCE-EN2 (CMN14D5). Its diagonal is 14″ (35.56 cm), and the resolution – 1920 х 1080. Additionally, the screen ratio is 16:9, the pixel density – 157 ppi, their pitch – 0.161 x 0.161 mm. The screen can be considered Retina when viewed from at least 56 cm (from this distance, the average human eye can’t see the individual pixels).

Its viewing angles are excellent. We have provided images at 45 degrees to evaluate quality.

The maximum measured brightness is 291 nits (cd/m2) in the middle of the screen and 282 nits (cd/m2) average across the surface with a maximum deviation of only 5%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen and at maximum brightness is 6700K (average) – slightly colder than the 6500K optimum for sRGB. The average color temperature through the grey scale before profiling is 6900K.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. The illustration below shows how matters are for operational brightness levels (approximately 140 nits) – in this particular case at 68% Brightness (White level = 142 cd/m2, Black level = 0.134 cd/m2).
Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work (a maximum tolerance of 2.0 ). The contrast ratio is very good – 1060:1 (1010:1 after profiling).

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is an essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers just 98% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

According to our tests, the gamma curve is flat across all grey levels, with an average value of 2.23.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481 with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

The next figure shows how well the display can reproduce dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 28 ms

Health impact – PWM / Blue Light

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481’s 1080p IPS panel doesn’t use PWM to adjust the brightness above 75 nits. This combined with the high frequency of the flickerings below that value makes the laptop comfortable for use during long working periods.

Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Conclusions

ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481’s IPS display has a Full HD resolution, good contrast, comfortable viewing angles, and very good default settings. With the appropriate profile, its colors are matching the standards of sRGB pretty accurately. Additionally, it covers 98% of sRGB. When you combine all of the aforementioned, this notebook can be very useful for Web designers.

Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481 configurations with 14.0″ Innolux N140HCE-EN2 (CMN14D5) ( (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS panel.

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia’s products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work - screen profile

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming - screen profile

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

All

Sound

ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481’s speakers produce crisp sound with good quality. It has Harman Kardon branding, which naturally means not that the hardware is supplied by this company, but rather the tuning is done by them.

Drivers

You can download all of the drivers and utilities for ZenBook Duo UX481 from here: https://www.asus.com/Laptops/ZenBook-Duo-UX481FL/HelpDesk_Download/

Battery

Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. With the latest power-efficient processors from Intel a bigger battery should mean – a wild battery life, right?

Exactly the case here! We got more than 20 hours of Web browsing and around 15 hours and a half of video playback with the second display off. According to ASUS, turning the ScreenPad Plus on should result in around 6-7 hours less battery life, which is still great.

CPU options

At this point, the ZenBook Duo UX481 can be bought with either the Core i5-10210U or the Core i7-10510U.


GPU options

GPU-wise, you can pick between the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620, or the GeForce MX250 with 2GB of GDDR5 memory.


Gaming tests

cs-go-benchmarks

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

Intel Core i5-10210U (15W TDP) 0:02 – 0:10 sec 0:15 – 0:30 sec 10:00 – 15:00 min
ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481 3.26 GHz (B+104%) @ 94°C 2.77 GHz (B+73%) @ 98°C 2.06 GHz (B+29%) @ 71°C
Lenovo Yoga C640 (13) 2.87 GHz (B+79%) @ 73°C 2.89 GHz (B+81%) @ 85°C 2.23 GHz (B+39%) @ 87°C
Dell Vostro 5590 3.50 GHz (B+119%) @ 94°C 2.68 GHz (B+68%) @ 97°C 2.36 GHz (B+48%) @ 79°C
Lenovo Yoga C740 (14) 3.09 GHz (B+93%) @ 96°C 2.66 GHz (B+66%) @ 97°C 1.96 GHz (B+23%) @ 71°C

We recorded a pretty decent graph from this laptop’s temperature and frequency values. It starts off great at 3.26 GHz and gradually brings down its clock speed to 2.06 GHz and 71C stable at the end of this test.

Comfort during full load

One of the key advantages of moving the keyboard towards the user is that it is practically never going to heat up. Hence, the hottest spot on this notebook’s base was around the middle-left portion of the ScreenPad Plus and we measured it at the mere 34C. However, as we thought, the hot air blowing at the display results in the highest temperature on the entire surface of the device to be recorder there – but still, it shouldn’t present any harm to the screen, as it reaches the only 47C.

Verdict

So much to talk about and so little time to spare. How pitty it is that we can’t give the ZenBook Duo UX481 more, when it offers such possibilities, compared to a standard clamshell device. Starting with the ordinary things – the CPU performance on this thing is great! Especially for a ULV device. We can say that it is exceeding expectations.

Sadly, though, you won’t be able to upgrade your memory, as all of it is soldered to the motherboard. Additionally, there is no 2.5″ SATA bay to be found, nor you will see a Thunderbolt, either. On the bright side, you can put M.2 drives that work with four PCIe lanes.

Then, let’s focus the talk on something more… exotic. The keyboard on this laptop. While its form is rather normal, its placement is not. Especially for a work-related device. While the keys themselves are comfortable and in a different scenario would be perfect for typing, we weren’t very comfortable with the unnatural wrist position when working on it. Moreover, the aspect ratio of the touchpad is terrible, in contrast to the good accuracy and the dedicated mouse buttons.

So far, this device would be just the next ordinary laptop that takes more than it gives. However – this is no ordinary device. This one lifts the backside of its base two miles above sea level, not only to give more breathing space but to make the usage of their ultimate ScreenPad Plus more fluent and intuitive.

With this secondary display, you can do practically whatever you want. From multimedia consumption – to multitask enhancement, shortcut bay or even toolbox holder for your favorite editing program. If this is not enough, then take the touchscreen and the dedicated Pen that comes inside the box of this thing.

Combine this with the main display which has a 1080p IPS panel (Innolux N140HCE-EN2 (CMN14D5)), comfortable viewing angles, good contrast ratio, and great default settings. Moreover, it covers 98% of sRGB, doesn’t use aggressive PWM to adjust its brightness and with some minor help of our Gaming and Web design profile, the color accuracy drops below an Average dE of 1.0.

Last but not least – the battery life. This device is able to carry on Web browsing for 20 hours straight – only on a single charge. Then when you play videos it will last up to 15 hours with the ScreenPad Plus off.

Currently, the ZenBook Duo UX481 and its entire family of Duo devices are unprecedented. This gives them the upper hand in this industry. Props to ASUS for that, and we are hoping that soon enough, we would see more and more laptops with similar or even better concepts to hit the market. Tell us down in the comments, would you get a laptop with a second display? What would you use it for? Is this concept going to take over the market, or it won’t last even a year?

Pros

  • ScreenPad Plus rules the game
  • Astonishing battery life – 20 hours of Web browsing
  • Covers 98% sRGB (Innolux N140HCE-EN2 (CMN14D5))
  • Average dE value of 0.9 with our Gaming and Web design (Innolux N140HCE-EN2 (CMN14D5))
  • Doesn’t use aggressive PWM to adjust screen brightness (Innolux N140HCE-EN2 (CMN14D5))
  • Has a Pen inside the box, which is super useful in combination with the secondary display
  • Great performance output

Cons

  • No Thunderbolt connection
  • Poor upgradability options
  • Uncomfortable keyboard positioning

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/asus-zenbook-duo-ux481/





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