With plenty of grunt and a professional-grade display, the Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED is aimed at high-end content creators happy to lug around a powerhouse.
While many laptops aspire to be ever thinner and lighter, you’ll still find those high-end workhorses which focus more on power than portability. Terms like “desktop replacement” and “portable workstation” seem to have gone out of fashion in the age of working from anywhere, but the concept is the same – letting you work away from your desk with minimal compromises on performance.
So it is with the Zenbook Pro range, which is often touted as a Windows-based competitor to Apple’s powerful MacBook Pro. The Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED combines a ton of grunt with a professional-grade display and a few other handy features to help high-end content creators get things done wherever they are.
Even for a 16-inch laptop, there’s no denying that the Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED is big and heavy, something you might want to avoid if you’ll spend more time carrying it than working on it.
The aluminium alloy unibody gives it a solid, premium feel, but in return, it tips the scales at a hefty 2.4 kg. That’s before you allow for the power brick with a footprint that matches a large smartphone. The brick and AC cable add about 600 grams to your carry bag.
The laptop’s wedge-shaped design is more than 20mm wide at the back once you allow for the feet, meaning you might end up investing in a new bag for lugging it around.
Place the laptop on the table and you’re presented with an elegant slab of black, only featuring Asus’ understated A-shaped Zenbook logo, which has a bit of a Star Trek vibe. Lift up the lid and the first thing you’ll notice is that the keyboard rises up at an angle, similar to the mechanism in the Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED which elevates the secondary screen.
The backlit chiclet keys are well-spaced and offer impressive travel which should satisfy wordsmiths, even though this laptop is absolutely overkill for people who spend most of their day simply typing. The choice of half-height arrow keys will frustrate some people, although it’s not an uncommon compromise.
Along with tilting the keyboard up and forward to mimic a desktop keyboard, this design also helps with airflow and cooling, which Asus dubs Active Aerodynamic System Ultra (AAS Ultra). The airflow gap looks like a bit of a trap for dirt and other foreign objects.
Below the keyboard sits a generous trackpad with haptic feedback. It’s capable of performing a few impressive tricks such as converting into a large number pad although, once again, the Zenbook Pro’s strengths are perhaps wasted on people who are primarily focused on data entry.
To the left of the trackpad lies something that does take advantage of the Zenbook Pro’s strengths; a touch-sensitive Asus Dial designed to work with creative applications from the likes of Adobe.
By default, the dial lets you switch between controlling the system volume and screen brightness but you can customise it using Asus’ ProArt Creator Hub software. In creative apps its advantages include easily switching between tools like brush size, enhancing saturation, adjusting layer opacity or quickly undoing actions.
FHD camera with IR function to support Windows Hello, with privacy shutter
1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 2x Thunderbolt 4 supports display / power delivery, 1x HDMI 2.1 FRL, 1x 3.5 mm Combo Audio Jack, SD Express 7.0 card reader
96WHrs, 3S2P, 6-cell Li-ion
Wi-Fi 6E(802.11ax) (Dual band) 2*2
Windows 11 Pro
Fingerprint reader Windows Hello facial recognition BIOS Booting User Password Protection Trusted Platform Module (Firmware TPM)
35.50 x 25.10 x 1.69 ~ 1.78 cm
Under the bonnet, the Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED packs the choice of a Core i7-12700H 2.3 GHz or Core i9-13900H 2.6 GHz powerplant to ensure it can meet the demands of high-end content creation apps (ASUS tells me only the Core i7 model is available in Australia).
The 16-inch screen offers a 3840×2400 pixel resolution and 16:10 aspect ratio, with the 120Hz OLED HDR display offering an exquisite picture surrounded by a thin bezel. It will suit those with a need for colour accuracy, supporting 100% of the DCI-P3 colour space (PANTONE Validated). It’s also VESA DisplayHDR True Black 500 certified.
Digital artists will also appreciate that it’s a touchscreen with support for the optional Asus Pen 2.0 supporting 4,096 pressure levels, four interchangeable pen tips and fast USB-C charging.
As for audio, it features built-in 4-way stereo speakers for delivering full-bodied sound.
It’s worth noting that opting for the Core i9 requires stepping down slightly to 3200×2000 resolution, but in return, it steps up to a 120 Hz refresh rate. In other areas, you’re forced to step up to the Core i9 for improved features such as storage, RAM and GPU, which might be frustrating if the Core i9 is otherwise overkill for your needs.
Laptops that focus on portability tend to compromise on connectivity, but you’re in good hands here. A single USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port doesn’t seem very generous, but if you’ve mostly made the move to USB-C then you’ll appreciate the two Thunderbolt 4 ports which support external displays and power delivery. Add to that an HDMI 2.1 FRL port, SD Express 7.0 card reader and 3.5 mm combo audio jack.
The Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED doesn’t disappoint when it comes to grunt, with the Core i7 packing 16 GB of RAM delivering respectable GeekBench 6 CPU scores of 1,956 single-core and 8,037 multi-core when running on batteries. Plug it into the wall and that jumps to 2,269 and 11,867.
Meanwhile, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 sees it score 77,233 on GPU OpenCL testing. Again, plug it into the wall and that jumps to 82,480.
You’re likely to pay for all that grunt when it comes to battery life. You’ll get around five hours of average usage, which means you probably can’t leave that chunky power brick at home. Keep in mind that you’ll get less than five hours if you’re actually making the most of all that power under the bonnet.
When it comes to multimedia, the OLED screen is stunning, but the speakers don’t quite do it justice. The sound is impressive for a laptop, crisp and clear with minimal distortion even when you crank it. Unfortunately, it’s still found a little wanting in the low end compared to what you’ll get from a 16-inch MacBook Pro.
The Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED is an impressive piece of engineering, the display is exquisite and it’s powerful enough to handle whatever you throw at it. Yet it’s certainly not for everyone. To justify the expense, you’d need to be making the most of its impressive display and hefty grunt while out on the road.
Unless you’re regularly working with demanding high-end content creation applications, you’d be better off looking for a portable productivity tool that costs less, weighs less and offers a longer battery life so you don’t need to lug around the power brick. If this notebook would stay chained to your desk, then you’d get more bang for your buck from a desktop PC.
But if you can’t afford to compromise on grunt and multimedia performance when you’re on the go, the Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED might deserve a place in your travel bag.
Would I buy Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED?
Not unless I was a high-end creative always on the move.
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Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED
With a stunning display and tons of grunt, the hefty Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED will appeal to creatives with deep pockets and a strong back.