Skip to main content

ASUS ZenBook Duo vs. MacBook Pro 13-inch: Which is a better buy?

ASUS ZenBook Duo
ASUS ZenBook Duo (Image credit: Windows Central)

It's hard to truly compare a Mac and a Windows laptop because the core of the experience is very different, even if the hardware is not. But, the ZenBook Duo represents a genuine alternative to Apple's smaller MacBook Pro if you're not invested in Apple's software ecosystem already.

ASUS ZenBook Duo vs MacBook Pro 13-inch - tech specs

CategoryASUS ZenBook DuoMacBook Pro 13-inch
Operating SystemWindows 10macOS
Display14-inch, 1080p non-touch
12.6-inch ScreenPad Plus touch-enabled
13.3-inch Retina 2560 x 1600 non-touch
ProcessorIntel Core i7-10510UIntel Core i5 or i7 (quad-core)
GraphicsNVIDIA MX250 2GBIntel Iris Plus Graphics 645
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655
Memory16GB 2133 MHz LPDDR38GB or 16GB LPDDR3 2133 MHz
Storage512GB PCIe SSDUp to 512GB SSD
Ports1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Audio combo jack, 1 x MicroSD card readerUp to 4 x USB-C Thunderbolt 3, 3.5mm headphone jack
Battery70WhUp to 10 hours
Weight1.5kg (3.3lbs)1.36kg (3.02 lbs)

The case for the MacBook Pro

MacBook Pro

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The case for buying a MacBook Pro essentially hinges around Apple's software and ecosystem. If it's something you're already invested in, then switching away might not be for you. And you can always dual-boot Windows 10 on it if you do also need to be able to access Windows for whatever reason.

It may sound simple, but Apple uses hardware you'll find in a bunch of Windows laptops, like Intel's processors, and on the 13-inch MacBook Pro, you're not even getting the newest, 10th Gen chips either right now.

Apps like Final Cut Pro alone can still be the reason to get a MacBook Pro.

That also means pretty poor graphics performance, so basically, you're buying a MacBook Pro less for the hardware (though it is good) and more for what Apple gives you on top. Something like Final Cut Pro, for example, if you're into video editing, may well be reason enough to get a Mac.

One party piece that the MacBook Pro does have, however, is Thunderbolt 3, something the ZenBook Duo doesn't. That means you have access to a host of accessories that support the standard from monitors to docks, and even eGPUs. So when you're at home or in the office, at least you can overcome the graphical inadequacy of the laptop by hooking it up to a full desktop graphics card.

The ZenBook Duo is a great value

If you're not attached to the Apple ecosystem, then there's a strong case to go for the ZenBook Duo instead. For one, it's priced similarly to a mid-spec MacBook Pro 13-inch but offers the latest 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and a dedicated GPU in the form of the NVIDIA MX250.

On a sheer performance comparison, the ASUS has the edge, and if graphics power is something you'd like to have in a compact laptop, then the MX250 is a solid performer. It's not really for gaming, but it'll do nicely to give your creative workflows a little added grunt.

The ScreenPad Plus is what the Touch Bar would be if it were truly useful.

Lots of the hardware is comparable, and while the ZenBook Duo has a lower resolution display, it's hardly a dealbreaker at this size, and the color reproduction is still excellent. The big draw, however, is that ScreenPad Plus.

ASUS's secondary display is what the Apple Touch Bar would be if it were truly useful. Instead of being a sliver at the top of the keyboard that apps can put some controls and features on, it's an entire display panel with both touch and digital pen support. You can tap it, you can write on it, you can use it to display any application the laptop can run as well as some custom ones ASUS designed to help you get the best from it.

The best for most

For most people, the ZenBook Duo is a smarter overall choice. It's powerful, has that second display panel, dedicated graphics, and excellent battery life.

It's quite chunky for a 14-inch laptop, but that's a small tradeoff to make for all the brilliance on offer. The key feature is the ScreenPad Plus, and it genuinely changes how you're going to use a laptop. It makes Apple's Touch Bar look a bit weak by comparison.

Currently, it's not available in the US, but it is slated to go on sale there before the end of Q1 2020.

The Mac is still good for Apple fans

When looking at the base model MacBook Pro, in particular, the biggest reason to get one over the ZenBook Duo is that you're already a Mac fan, and you're invested in Apple's ecosystem.

There's nothing wrong with that, apps like Final Cut Pro are tremendous, and the MacBook Pro continues to be a good laptop. You can even put Windows on it if you want. But take the Apple software experience out of the equation, and you're not getting anything better for similar money.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.