There is one section in the creators’ community that backs desktop computers, while the other section supports the idea of a notebook form factor. Clearly, there are no winners here but I do know that Asus’ ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED is a powerful mobile workstation that might change the idea of “pro” Windows laptops. This is a serious notebook that’s laser-focused on getting the job done. Which is why Asus has priced the StudioBook 16 OLED accordingly. I used Asus’ flagship notebook for a few days, and here’s my take on the ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED.
Asus ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED price in India (as reviewed): Rs 219,990
Asus ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED review: Design and aesthetics
The StudioBook 16 has a traditional form factor that serves the purpose. I mean, this machine is designed for creative use cases such as CAD work or video editing. There is a subtlety in the design, but that’s how a laptop aimed at a professional crowd should look like. It isn’t very light at 2.4kg nor is it ultraportable but it will slip easily in a big size backpack. But I must say the power adapter is slightly bigger, adding more weight to your bag. The notebook is sturdy and well-built, made out of aluminum. With MIL-STD 810H compliance, it means the laptop can withstand knocks and drops.
As a professional-grade notebook, the ProArt StudioBook 16 has plenty of ports and connectivity options. You will find two USB A 3.2 Gen 2 ports, two USB C 3.2 Gen 2 ports, an HDMI 2.1 connector, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The card slot is SD Express 7.0, meaning it supports speeds up to 985MB/sec which is useful when moving large amounts of data from a camera card. A 3.5mm headphone jack is also there and so is a fingerprint scanner and a Windows Hello-compatible 720p webcam. The webcam is good, but looking at the 16-inch MacBook Pro and its 1080p camera, the one seen on ProArt StudioBook looks hideous. Wireless connectivity options include Intel AX200 card offering Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2.
Perhaps a brilliant solution that adds real value to the user by introducing a design element that’s integral to functionality is the Asus dial. A rotary dial is placed between the keyboard and touchpad at the left end of the space bar. When pressed, it can be used to control brightness and speaker volume. But the Dial comes alive when used to access a range of features through an application called the ProArt Creators Hub. Right now, the Asus Dial only works with Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom Classic, After Effects, and Premiere Pro but the company says support for other programmes will be added in the future.
Asus ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED review: Display and speakers
The ProArt StudioBook has an incredible display, a 16-inch 16:10 4K (3,840 x 2400 pixel) OLED panel with a peak brightness of 550 nits. Professional users will probably like the display, because you can colour grade HDR videos and photos accurately. It supports 100% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut, and boasts VESA Certified DisplayHDR True Black 500 for high contrast and is Pantone Validated for colour reproduction.
Although these numbers don’t matter to average users, for professionals a high-quality display matters. The resolution combined with punchy colours, deep blacks, bright whites and excellent contrast ratio gives you the picture quality comparable to that of a high-end 4K TV but in 16-inch screen size. For regular people like me, that means colours pop when watching movies and TV shows. This kind of display on a laptop makes a huge difference if you know the advantages of a 4K HDR OLED screen. A high-refresh-rate display could have been an advantage but that’s ok.
Audio is a high point on the ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED. The Harman/Kardon-tuned speakers are way better than any other Windows laptop I’ve tested this year. They get plenty of loud and rich bass so you don’t need a Bluetooth speaker when listening to music and watching movies at home or on the go.
Asus ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED review: Keyboard and touchpad
I think the keyboard on all Asus laptops has greatly improved this year. The ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED does not disappoint. Keys are large enough with satisfying travel. Bloggers, writers, and other content creators will love typing on this. The trackpad is excellent too and has three physical buttons below it. The left and right do what you’d expect, while the middle one is designed to be used to pan, orbit, or rotate, common functions applied when using CAD software. Interestingly, the touchpad can function as a graphics tablet when used with a stylus. Although, unfortunately, Asus doesn’t bundle the stylus with the laptop.
Asus ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED review: Performance and battery life
Powered by a 3.3GHz octa-core AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor, Nvidia RTX3070 GPU, 32GB of DDR4 RAM and 1TB SSD, the ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED is blazing fast. It’s way more powerful than an average user like me needs for basic computing tasks. Developers, coders, graphic designers, or video editors would be needing a laptop of this caliber. This computer is able to run Photoshop, Lightroom, Indesign, and other “pro” programmes. It has enough RAM to run programmes without stutter or crashes. Also, a dedicated graphics card makes a lot of difference, though this notebook isn’t a substitute for a dedicated gaming laptop. If you are into coding or constantly exporting and hopping across programmes, you will appreciate this notebook. Keep in mind, you can access the two SODIMM slots and two SSD sockets in case you want to upgrade to the maximum of 64GB RAM and 4TB of storage.
The StudioBook’s 90Wh battery is quite good, even with a 4K HDR OLED screen and the specs it boasts, getting around 6.5 hours. Well, that’s not groundbreaking, but it’s actually good for a notebook that brings desktop-level performance in a portable form factor.
Asus ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED review: Should you buy it?
For a casual user, I probably wouldn’t recommend even remotely looking at the Asus ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED unless you have surplus money to burn. The base model starts at Rs 169,990, and the model I tested costs Rs 219,990. If you want a laptop for checking emails, watching movies, or just browsing the web, you can get a capable laptop for a lot less. If you are a programmer, designer, developer, or video editor, you need a device like this. This is a professional tool, a computer that offers the best Asus has to offer. All in all, the ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED is an investment, a notebook that combines portability and power. But I must say you will appreciate the raw power this notebook possesses alongside a terrific 4K OLED screen, fantastic speakers, unique Asus dial, plenty of ports, and excellent keyboard and touchpad.