PC makers have been catering to creative professionals in recent years with a growing number of special designs, and the Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 (starts at $1,599.99) is a great new example. Our configuration of this laptop combines a beautiful 16-inch OLED screen with 4K resolution, a high-end AMD Ryzen 9 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 Series graphics, and a unique keyboard dial with contextual tool commands for Adobe creative apps. The exact price of our test model won’t be available until closer to its November launch, so we’ll withhold a final judgment and our five-star rating scale for the time being, but we’re impressed with the (no doubt expensive) package as it stands.
Built for Creatives, From OLED to Ryzen
As a 16-inch laptop with serious horsepower, it’s not surprising that the Studiobook isn’t a small system, but it’s perhaps more compact than you’d expect. The machine measures 0.77 by 14.3 by 10.4 inches and weighs 5.29 pounds, certainly not the most portable power user’s laptop available but pretty reasonable considering its intended audience and uses.
As far as quality, the build is sturdy on the whole—well-made and reflective of its price tag. The keyboard offers a satisfying typing experience; the keys don’t have any special feedback but are quite snappy and bouncy. The keys do seem a bit small for a laptop this size, which may take some adjustment, but at least there’s a clear reason: The physical dial (which we’ll discuss in detail below) takes up some of the vertical space. The keyboard is shifted slightly upward, too, so it may feel as if you’re reaching for the keys at first. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s odd that a keyboard feels somewhat cramped on a 16-inch laptop.
One of the most important aspects of a content-creator laptop is its display, and this one’s a beauty. Our review unit features a gorgeous 4K OLED display, though the Studiobook is available with IPS screens as well. The 16-inch panel bears a 16:10 aspect ratio and 3,840-by-2,400-pixel resolution, resulting in a super-sharp and vibrant screen in combination with the rich colors and deep blacks of OLED technology. Needless to say, when seen in person this display turns heads with its brilliant colors and vibrancy.
The panel is also factory-calibrated for color accuracy to meet Pantone Validated standards, with additional Calman Verified certification. Asus claims 100% coverage of the DCI-P3 color gamut (you can find our first-hand color testing results in the performance section below).
Many of the laptop OLED screens we see are smaller than this panel, but a vivid display of this size is a stunner—Asus calls it the first 16-inch OLED laptop screen. For creative professionals, the color accuracy and inky blacks are a boon for content creation, color matching, and more. Our guide to the best OLED laptops includes a more detailed explanation of the many advantages of OLED technology.
Dial In Your Workflow
Outside of these important fundamentals, there’s the eye-catching physical dial, dubbed the Asus Dial. It’s a knob embedded slightly into the chassis so the top is flush with the keyboard deck, with the outer edge textured for grip. It spins with ease, but also has a satisfying ratcheting feeling for tactile feedback.
When you’re just on the Windows desktop or browsing the web, pressing down on the dial brings up a digital radial menu, on which you can click to select screen brightness or audio volume, then adjust either by rotating the dial.
That’s a handy extra, but the Asus Dial really comes to life in the Adobe Creative Suite. With Photoshop open, pressing the dial brings up a unique menu complete with a brush options group (which in turn has options for sizes, flow, hardness, opacity, and the like), layer zoom, and undo. In After Effects, the options change to time axis adjustment, layer browsing, moving along the timeline, and so on.
Each application has its own set of options relevant to that software, adding efficiency to your workflow. It’s possible that your muscle memory for keyboard shortcuts is faster (or will be at first), but it soon becomes comfortable to keep one hand on the touchpad and the other on the dial to swap tools quickly. This concept may be new to laptops, but it’s definitely reminiscent of the Microsoft Surface Dial made for that company’s Surface Studio desktop and Surface Pro tablets.
I am, admittedly, not a graphic designer or artist, so I can’t definitively say how useful the Asus Dial will be for creative pros, but I did find it both satisfying and genuinely useful. Even just using it as a volume scroller, I’m happy for its inclusion. I also messed around with different software and set up a mock workflow, trying to make using the dial second nature, and before long was definitely flying through menus quicker than when I started. I can’t vouch for everyone’s individual workflows (maybe your personal shortcuts are in fact faster), but I can certainly see how the gadget makes flipping through tools easier without having to move the cursor.
Speaking of which, the ProArt’s touchpad also features three mouse buttons instead of two, including the middle button popular with computer-aided design (CAD) software and other independent software vendor (ISV) applications. The left and right buttons are the usual left- and right-click, with the middle serving as a “hold” button.
The Studiobook 16 is also outfitted with plenty of ports, though I wouldn’t say it’s bursting with them. In total, there are two USB Type-C ports, two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, an HDMI connection, an SD card slot, and an Ethernet jack. Creative professionals often need a lot of connectivity, so I hope nobody is left short, but this array covers more than the basics.
Components and Performance Testing: Pro-Grade Speed
Now that we’ve run through the display and build, let’s shift to the components, which will be just as important to creative pros with demanding workloads. The model we have, which Asus dubs the H5600, comes with an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, 32GB of memory, and a 2TB solid-state drive.
Note that the unit we were sent has 32GB of RAM, but the retail version will sell with 64GB. This should impact the performance numbers for the better. The least expensive Studiobook 16 starts at $1,599.99 and includes a 2,560-by-1,600 display with 120Hz refresh rate, an AMD Ryzen 7 CPU, a GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, 32GB of memory, and a 1TB SSD.
It’s important not to confuse the Studiobook 16 OLED with the Studiobook Pro 16 OLED, which is more explicitly positioned as a workstation with Nvidia’s ISV-certified RTX A2000 and A5000 professional GPUs rather than the creative- and gaming-oriented GeForce RTX silicon. Available in two flavors (W5600 and W7600) and offering Intel Xeon processors, the Pro targets the most demanding 3D design and rendering tasks and starts at $2,499.99.
Now we come to our actual benchmark testing, to see what the ProArt’s components can do. The table below shows similar systems whose test results we’ll compare to the Asus’, including another OLED laptop with dedicated graphics, a mobile workstation, a gaming machine, and a general-use 16-inch laptop. This should give you a full range of perspectives.
The main benchmark of UL’s PCMark 10 simulates a variety of real-world productivity and content-creation workflows to measure overall performance for office-centric tasks such as word processing, spreadsheeting, web browsing, and videoconferencing. We also run PCMark 10’s Full System Drive test to assess the load time and throughput of a laptop’s storage. (See more about how we test laptops.)
Three benchmarks focus on the CPU, using all available cores and threads, to rate a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 uses that company’s Cinema 4D engine to render a complex scene, while Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5.4 Pro simulates popular apps ranging from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning. Finally, we use the open-source video transcoder HandBrake 1.4 to convert a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p resolution (lower times are better).
Our final productivity test is workstation maker Puget Systems’ PugetBench for Photoshop, which uses the Creative Cloud version 22 of Adobe’s famous image editor to rate a PC’s performance for content creation and multimedia applications. It’s an automated extension that executes a variety of general and GPU-accelerated Photoshop tasks ranging from opening, rotating, resizing, and saving an image to applying masks, gradient fills, and filters.
The Studiobook 16 should be one of the fastest machines here, even among these high-end competitors, and indeed it is. The ThinkPad P15 Gen 2 workstation is its toughest rival, but the ProArt’s Ryzen CPU gave it a slight edge over the Core i9-11950H. The media tests are of special interest to this type of laptop, and there’s no question that the Studiobook 16 is ready to crunch through photos and videos.
One aspect I want to call attention to is the storage throughput, which as you can see is much lower than the rest. While I didn’t notice any lag in boot time, opening files, or launching programs, there was some odd behavior and a long delay when I tried to move my files from my test drive to the Windows desktop. Perhaps this unit just has a tetchy drive, because I can’t imagine Asus choosing a slow SSD for this machine, but it’s something worth noting.
Graphics and Gaming Tests
We test Windows PCs’ graphics with two DirectX 12 gaming simulations from UL’s 3DMark, Night Raid (more modest, suitable for laptops with integrated graphics) and Time Spy (more demanding, suitable for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs).
We also run two tests from the cross-platform GPU benchmark GFXBench 5, which stresses both low-level routines like texturing and high-level, game-like image rendering. The 1440p Aztec Ruins and 1080p Car Chase tests, rendered offscreen to accommodate different display resolutions, exercise graphics and compute shaders using the OpenGL programming interface and hardware tessellation respectively. In GFXBench, the more frames per second (fps), the better.
Not all creative or media tasks lean on the GPU, but plenty do, and users with such workloads will be well taken care of. The Studiobook 16’s GeForce RTX 3070 may not be a workstation GPU like the ThinkPad P15 Gen 2’s, but as a top-end gaming GPU it still has plenty of muscle for graphically intensive tasks. The ThinkPad soars past it in raw power, but for most creative pros the Asus is extremely capable.
Battery and Display Tests
We test laptops’ battery life by playing a locally stored 720p video file (the open-source Blender movie Tears of Steel) with display brightness at 50% and audio volume at 100% until the system quits. We make sure the battery is fully charged before the test, with Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting turned off.
We also use a Datacolor SpyderX Elite monitor calibration sensor and its software to measure a laptop screen’s color saturation—what percentage of the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 color gamuts or palettes the display can show—and its brightness in nits (candelas per square meter) at Windows’ 50% and peak screen settings.
While it trounced the Alienware gaming rig, you can see that the Studiobook’s battery life is just okay, short of its rivals by a good few hours and less than what we’d call all-day stamina. Six hours is still better than two or three, but it won’t get you through a full workday. With gaming and media creation, any real workload is better done on AC power, but you should be able to use this system on the road as needed, though both its weight and its battery life argue against it.
As for the display testing, the 16-inch OLED panel delivers above-average brightness and color coverage. If you’re editing photos or doing prepress color-matching work, OLED goes a long way.
A Mobile Creation Station
Between the Asus Dial, OLED display, and ample CPU and GPU power, the Studiobook 16 adds up to a potential dream laptop for creative professionals. The keyboard dial is genuinely useful (and, okay, also kind of fun), and the display both looks brilliant and offers wide color coverage. We do offer a word of caution regarding our test unit’s storage speed, but that may be a one-off flaw. Otherwise, the Asus is a powerful and well-made laptop with specific benefits for creative workers that’s likely priced below mobile workstations. Stay tuned for our final score when we learn the dollar-sign bottom line closer to launch time.