THE ASUS PROART range is square-on aimed at hard working creatives, and the StudioBook 16 is the company’s latest professional flagship. Looking through its long list of impressive specs it certainly appears to have it all, but then again well-intentioned design doesn’t necessarily mean that a machine is going to have the clout to do a job for you in the real world.

In short, it’s critical to ensure that the laptop you choose to invest in has the ability to get the job done, and that becomes all the more important when, like the StudioBook 16, it happens to cost the best part of £3000. To help you decide whether this powerhouse of a product has what it takes to justify the investment we’ve gone hands-on to see how it performs under pressure and to answer the question of whether it really does have enough about it to justify that price tag.

Design Quality

Ease open the StudioBook’s robust lid and the first thing your eyes are drawn to is the rig’s key feature, namely the Asus Dial. This rotary control sits between the keyboard and trackpad, and it adds an extra dimension to the onboard tools.

Creatives can intuitively twist and click the Dial to change brush sizes, switch layers or deploy more than 70 different functions. It can be used to perform both complex  operations  and   basic   tasks,  such   as   scrolling

through websites or changing volume, and it also comes with a multi-function system to allow users to skip through up to eight different tasks. The Dial works with Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and After Effects and is customisable. This means that it supports Microsoft Wheel movements and allows you to add functions in other apps. There’s more app support on the way as well according to Asus, though, to date, that’s yet to emerge.

The Asus Dial is a superb and innovative addition, and the StudioBook also impresses in more conventional areas. The magnesium alloy chassis, for example, offers solid build quality and sleek looks, thanks to a dark matte coating. The dimensions are decent as well: this 16in machine is just 21mm thick and weighs 2.4kg. While you’ll notice it in your bag, it’s in no way a hefty or bruising beast.

On the rig’s left-hand edge you’ll find two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C sockets, and these support DisplayPort and power delivery alongside a full-size USB port and an HDMI 2.1 output. On the right-hand edge there’s another full-size USB port, a Gigabit Ethernet socket and an SD Express 7.0 card reader. It’s good connectivity for sure, but the AMD chipset means there’s no Thunderbolt, and ports on the right-hand edge might interfere with your mouse hand. Faster Ethernet and USB ports would also have been welcome.

The feature set rounds off with a Windows Hello webcam with a privacy shutter, and a power button with a fingerprint reader. On  the inside   there’s   dual-band    802.11ax

wireless, Bluetooth 5.2 and TPM 2.0. And, if you want to upgrade, it’s easy to pop the base off to enable access to memory and storage slots.

This is a well-equipped, practical laptop, and the keyboard continues that trend. It’s got a numberpad, full-size and textured cursor keys and an extra customisable button. The keys themselves are great, with a crisp, consistent and satisfying typing action. The large, accurate touchpad comes with an extra mouse button – handy to control additional functions in creative apps – and the pad supports 1,024 pressure levels for use with an MPP 1.51 stylus. Sadly, however, no stylus is included with this rig.

OLED Display

The StudioBook 16 features a dazzling and nicely future-proofed OLED display, which works with individually-lit pixels instead of a backlight, enabling it to produce perfect black tones and contrast.
The panel impresses beyond its incredible vibrancy. Validated by Pantone and Calman, it produces 100% of the sRGB gamut, 95.7% of the Adobe RGB space and 98.6% of the DCI-P3 colour range. Combine that with the delta E of 1.61 and you’ve got a screen that accurately produces almost any shade required.

The colour temperature of 6,427K is excellent, and the 550cd/m2 peak brightness means you can view and edit HDR content. Out of the box, we measured the brightness level at 396cd/m2, which is ample for any task outside of the HDR gamut – and outdoor use too. The screen’s 3,840 x 2,400 resolution delivers crisp imagery and loads of space, and the 16:10 aspect ratio provides a bit more vertical space than a conventional 16:9 screen.

This is a fantastic display for creative tasks, with only got minor flaws. While certainly vibrant, it’s not as bright or as nuanced as a desktop display when it comes to HDR. Also bear in mind that, while OLED displays provide incredible vibrancy, you should still be considering an IPS alternative if you prefer a more muted tone.

High-Class Performance

The high-end AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor has eight multi-threaded cores and a top speed of 4.6GHz, and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 deploys 5,120 stream processors and 8GB of dedicated memory. The specification is completed with 32GB of DDR4 memory and a 1TB SSD array.

It’s powerful silicon. In Geekbench 5’s single- and multi-core tests the Asus scored 1,477 and 8,975, with both results far better than the popular Intel Core i9-

10980HK. The RTX 3070’s 3D Mark Time Spy score of 7964 is solid, and it means you’ve got loads of graphical grunt, and you’ll only want to look at other options if you need a professional chip with ISV certification. The SSD’s read and write scores of 5,710MB/sec and 5,926MB/sec are good, rather than record-breaking, and won’t slow down your workflow.

The on-board AMD chip will handle any photo and video-editing tasks or design scenarios until you encounter situations that need proper desktop workstations, and multi-tasking is no problem.

While there’s no doubt the StudioBook 16 has power, the ever-moving component market means that alternatives are already available. Intel’s newer Core i9-12900H is faster than AMD’s chip in some situations, including in creative apps like Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Premiere Pro. The Cinebench R23 test provides evidence: the 5900HX delivered a great multi-core score of 12,149, but the i9-12900H exceeds 15,000 points in the same benchmark.

If you do want the AMD machine, don’t fret: the Ryzen 9 5900HX is hugely quick. But, if you do loads of Adobe-based work, the Intel Core i9-12900H will provide an upgrade. That rig will likely cost around £3000 as well, and it will feature a slightly better RTX 3070 Ti graphics core. And if you want even more computing ability, wait until later in the year – AMD’s upcoming Ryzen 9 6800HS should be even faster.

No matter what components you choose, don’t expect great battery life. The 90Wh power pack lasted for three hours and forty minutes on a work benchmark, and that figure will decline by around an hour if you push the hardware. And if you’re really careful, this notebook will only last until lunchtime. The StudioBook is about performance, not longevity.

Verdict

WHILE THE I9-12900H offers better Adobe performance than this machine’s Ryzen 9 5900HX, the AMD chip is no slouch – it’s easily got the power to tackle creative workloads.

No matter which chip you choose, there’s loads to like. The Asus Dial is intuitive, the StudioBook has a great keyboard and trackpad and the OLED display is stunning, and great for sharing with clients. It keeps the noise and heat levels down, and is packed with features.

The StudioBook isn’t perfect. Its wired internet could be faster, it could have more USB ports, and other laptops – albeit with lesser internals – undoubtedly will last longer. You’ll also get more CPU power if you wait for newer StudioBook models.

However, those are relatively minor issues, and the StudioBook’s OLED display, helpful Dial and all-round quality mean that you’d be easily justified in buying this machine instead of sacrificing those attributes for a bit of extra processing grunt. For photo-editing and creative work, this is a quality laptop that will do a great job for creatives of all shades.

More information: ❚ asus.com

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