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Are dual-spec panels the future of gaming displays? I certainly hope so

Amid the innovation around higher resolutions and refresh rates announced at CES 2022, one smaller display announcement caught my eye that might be even more important.

Asus announced an update to its popular ROG Zephyrus Duo 16, which is already quite an unconventional gaming laptop. But this year’s update makes it even more interesting by offering what Asus calls a “dual-spec” monitor.

A woman using the ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 at a desk.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What’s a dual-spec monitor? Well, quite literally, it’s a display that can run at two different specifications — or more specifically, at two different refresh rates. That means a gaming laptop that could, for example, provide the option to adjust the display to a higher resolution with a slower refresh rate — or a lower resolution with a faster refresh rate.

That’s exactly what the new ROG Zephyrus Duo 16 can do. It can display UHD at 120Hz or FHD at 240Hz. Presumably, switching between the two is just as easy as switching resolution in a game.

Until now, the maximum refresh rate of a panel in gaming laptops has been set in stone. Buy a 4K 60Hz panel? Well, that means your 1440p and 1080p gaming is also going to be stuck at 60Hz. That made slower 4K panels out of the question for PC gamers, even if you’d appreciate that 4K panel outside of gaming.

But if a panel could support two different refresh rates, you wouldn’t be restricted by that single refresh rate.

Asus announced the Zephyrus Duo 16 laptop.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The reason this is so advantageous? Well, different games call for different specifications. You’ll be more competitive in a fast-paced shooter on a lower resolution with a higher refresh rate. Meanwhile, you’d appreciate the higher resolution of a slower-paced adventure title that has an emphasis on immersion and fidelity.

A dual-spec panel, like the one on the new ROG Zephyrus Duo 16, would allow the player to adapt their screen to the game they’re playing beyond just resolution.

Asus only offers the dual-spec panel as one of the display options for its Zephyrus Duo 16. The other is a more conventional QHD mini-LED display. And while there’s no reason it couldn’t offer a gaming monitor with the same feature, we haven’t seen one announced yet.

Suffice to say, the dual-spec panel is still very much an experiment. But I, for one, am hoping that it catches on.

Luke Larsen
Luke Larsen is the Senior editor of computing, managing all content covering laptops, monitors, PC hardware, Macs, and more.
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