Asus ZenBook Pro 16X OLED review: Colorful creator

Asus ZenBook Pro 16X OLED review: Colorful creator

OLED is one of the big buzzwords in display technology, and it’s easy to be skeptical of any innovation until it’s proven to get the job done. Fortunately, hands-on time with the Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED was enough to allay our fears immediately.

Beyond an incredible display panel, this high-end creative laptop implements powerful components and innovative control methods, so it could be the perfect companion for artists, designers, and photographers.

However, new technology always comes at a premium, and you’ll have to shell out almost three thousand dollars if you want to supercharge your creativity. When can you buy a MacBook Pro 16 for £2399, does that make the Asus too much of a sell?

Display: OLED-ing the way

Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED Display

Regardless of the price, there’s no denying that the Zenbook’s display is amazing. OLED displays use individual self-illuminating pixels to provide color and illumination, providing perfect black levels and contrast in a way that conventional LCD backlighting can’t match. In real-world terms, that means the OLED display offers more punch, depth, and nuance than any IPS display, and it also improves on the Mini LED technology used in the MacBook Pro.

As expected, the Zenbook’s display highlights sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 color gamuts with sub-1.0 Delta E, providing top-notch color in any creative situation. It is also Pantone Validated for guaranteed accuracy. For photo and video design and editing work, this is one of the best displays out there – you’ll only find improved quality in the right desktop monitors.

The Zenbook’s screen also impresses beyond its OLED hardware. A 3840×2400 resolution means sharp images (even sharper than the MacBook, in fact) and the 16:10 aspect ratio offers additional vertical space.

The only slightly negative aspect is the maximum brightness level of 366 nits. That’s fine for indoor use, but not loud enough for good outdoor performance, and the MacBook Pro is better here. It’s also a glossy panel, so you may have issues with light reflections.

Build: A Heavyweight Contender

A high-quality display isn’t the only area where the Asus ZenBook Pro 16X OLED impresses. The CNC-milled aluminum chassis looks mature, with a brushed design coupled with clean edges and tiny bezels. There is no noticeable give in the panels so this rig will easily survive daily commutes and the branding is minimal.

Connectivity is also good. There are two Thunderbolt 4 sockets along with a full-size USB connector, and the Zenbook has an HDMI 2.1 output and an SD Express 7.0 card reader. Apple’s machine adds an additional Thunderbolt connector but removes the full-size USB port, so your workflow will determine your preference.

Inside there’s Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2, though there’s no wired internet. And you’re in luck if you want biometrics: the 1080p webcam supports Windows Hello (but can be turned off for privacy) and there’s a fingerprint reader.

You even get good audio: the Zenbook has six speakers that deliver loud, detailed, and low sound; they’re the MacBook’s partner here and good enough for creative work and background music.

The only misstep in design comes from the dimensions of the Zenbook. This laptop is 27mm thick once the rubber feet have been taken into account and weighs 2.4kg on the scale. It’s much bulkier than the MacBook Pro – those dimensions are more commonly associated with gaming laptops.

Performance: unparalleled processing prowess

Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED Cover

Intel is the current king when it comes to high-end laptop processors, so it’s no surprise that the Zenbook packs a Core i9-12900H CPU. It’s tremendous, with six Hyper-Threaded high-performance cores that max out at 5GHz, and in this laptop they’re bolstered by 32GB of DDR5 memory and a 2TB Samsung SSD with impressive 6566MB read and write speeds. /s and 5094MB/s.

More evidence comes from Geekbench, where the Zenbook returned scores of 1,712 and 12,318 in single and multi-core tests. The latest result outperforms the Apple M1 Pro chip you’ll find in affordable MacBook Pro platforms, and matches the M1 Max CPU inside more expensive Apple laptops. You’ll only get more creative power if you wait for the upgraded MacBook Pro 16 with the M2 CPU, or buy an even beefier Windows laptop or proper desktop workstation.

The Zenbook will handle tough design and photo editing tasks, and will edit 4K video. There isn’t much this team won’t do in terms of creative work and multitasking.

It could even manage half a day of work on the Zenbook’s 96Wh battery: In a daily app benchmark, it lasted nearly five and a half hours and played videos for seven hours. However, in more complicated creative workloads, the Zenbook ran out of juice after three hours. This is one area where the MacBook Pro is much better: Expect ten hours of longevity if you push that machine, and five more if you’re running less challenging software.

An Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 takes care of the graphics. While the chip is fine for creative workloads, and its Nvidia Studio drivers mean software optimization, it’s only mid-range when it comes to gaming. At 1080p it played Assassin’s Creed Valhalla at 54fps and was marginally faster in red dead redemption 2but it can’t handle games at the machine’s native resolution, and the screen’s 60Hz refresh rate prevents it from succeeding at esports.

At least we have no thermal concerns. If you push the hardware, you’ll certainly hear fan noise, but it won’t distract you from important work tasks – it’s not as loud as most high-end gaming laptops. It doesn’t get very hot either, which is impressive given the hardware inside.

Keyboard and touchpad: dial up

Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED Keyboard

The most interesting ergonomic addition to the Zenbook isn’t the keyboard or mouse: It’s the large, rotating Asus Dial that sits to the left of the trackpad. You can seamlessly adjust settings and options in Adobe software like Photoshop, Lightroom, After Effects, and Premiere Pro, and away from Adobe, you can tweak basic laptop settings like brightness and volume levels. It’s a welcome addition to your creative arsenal, though it’s a bit disappointing that it only works with Adobe apps.

There is more innovation on the keyboard. When you open the laptop, the keyboard tilts toward you at a seven-degree angle, so you get a comfortable typing position and the internals cool better. It’s very comfortable. to type, with large keys that are precise, nimble and fast, and have a sturdy base. This is a great keyboard to use all day.

They also have RGB LEDs, and you can modify their color and even choose to have the keyboard flash different shades depending on how your laptop behaves; you will receive email alerts or low battery warnings, for example.

The only big issue with the keyboard is the lack of a number pad. Asus allows users to overlay a software number pad on the touchpad, but it’s an awkward and complicated solution.

The touchpad is better in conventional areas. It’s made of glass, supports full gestures, and has impressive precision on its huge smooth surface. It also has haptic feedback, ensuring a great click anywhere on the pad.

Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED Verdict

Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED Verdict

Asus’ laptop division has never been afraid to experiment, and its innovations generally work well on this machine. The OLED display is one of the best ever seen on a laptop, its tilted keyboard is great, and the Asus Dial is a welcome addition if you’re an Adobe user.

Elsewhere, the Zenbook packs plenty of processing power, excellent speakers, solid connectivity, and impressive cooling, but it suffers with a thick, heavy chassis and lackluster battery life.

It has a lot of competition; Also: The MacBook Pro 16 is much cheaper if you settle for the slower M1 Pro chip, and the M1 Max model’s £3,299 price isn’t too far off the Zenbook. Stick with Windows, ditch the OLED screen and you’ll find i9-12900H laptops with faster GPUs for hundreds of pounds less.

However, for creative quality, the OLED screen is untouchable. The Zenbook then beefs up its display with great performance and a sleek chassis. It’s a powerhouse that any serious creative should consider.

Technical specifications of the Asus ZenBook Pro 16X OLED

Screen 16-inch, 3840×2400 OLEDs
CPU Intel Core i9-12900H Hex Core
Memory 32GB
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 6GB
Storage 2TB
Operating system Home Windows 11
connectivity 2x USB-C/Thunderbolt, 1x USB 3.2, HDMI 2.1, SD card reader, 3.5mm headphone port, Wi-Fi 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.2
Drums up to 7 hours
Dimensions 355x251x27mm, 2.4kg

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